THE MYSTERY OF THE INCARNATION
This article was first printed in this newsletter twenty years ago (December 1995) and reprinted ten years ago (December 2005).
The apostle speaks in Ephesians 3 of the Incarnation as mystery, the mystery hidden for ages and generations, that is, the mystery of Christ, This apostolic word, mysterion, ought not to be glossed over or missed. But I suspect that this is precisely what is happening in all too many of our churches these days, where we see the great lengths to which people will go to try to get the attention of the people. Churches have been confusing the appeal of the Gospel with the advertising methods by which merchants would bring us into their stores. The gimmickry and tomfoolery parading in our many of our chancels these days ranges from clowns in church to rock 'n' roll bands, as attempts are made to package the message of the Gospel in Madison Avenue wrapping, constrained even to provide trademarks for the flashy titles under which new‑and‑improved Bible‑study courses are marketed. Testimonials of excited customers bear jubilant witness, crying, "It works, it works, it really works!" ‑‑ all in an effort to bring us into their "store" where we will then purchase their materials in order that we may supposedly get closer to Jesus.
Permit me to suggest an alternative: let us leave the commercialism to our merchants, and let us not be bothered when we find it in the marketplace. After all, that is where it belongs (yes, even at Christmastide). But let us leave the "packaging" of the mystery of the Incarnation to God. And then what we shall find is a complete absence and exclusion of laughable attention‑getting techniques, but rather, the mystery of the Incarnate God, in as little‑expected a place as
Bethlehem, in a poor
stable and lowly manger, wrapped in swaddling‑clothes. When we behold how mysterious and wondrous
this is, that God Himself should so come to us, in these most meager of circumstances,
and bearing human flesh in his own Person, then perhaps we will begin to
understand why Madison Avenue does not belong here, and why it is far more
appropriate for the children of God to apprehend this mystery as did the
shepherds and wise men, on bended knee.
And then perhaps we will remember to treat the sacred mystery with a
greater reverence, being struck with the true wonder of it, when we realize
that God's gift, in God's chosen wrapping of human flesh and swaddling clothes,
is God Himself, for us men and for our salvation. And then we will begin to ponder aright, in
holy awe, the mystery of the Gospel, by which we thus begin to penetrate that
perennial, compelling question: What Child is this, who, laid to rest on Mary's
lap, is sleeping?
+ Pastor Eckardt
Advent for the church is a time of penitential preparation for the coming of Christ (that’s why the color is violet). It’s helpful to remember this as we also prepare our households for Christmas. Unlike the commercial and secular world, the Church’s celebration of Christmas begins with Christmas, and runs the twelve days of Christmas, until Epiphany. The finest way to prepare for the coming of Christ is by contrition and confession.
Decorating During Advent
As is our custom, we decorate the church little by little during Advent, until finally all is complete for Christmas. The day on which volunteers are needed help put up the tree is Saturday, December 5th, beginning at 9 am. Please help!
Epiphany Day Seminar and Celebration: Wednesday, January 6th, 2016
A day of reflection is planned for Epiphany Day, which is a Wednesday this year. Although it is a weekday, it is our appointed day when a good group normally comes for worship, so the following schedule is proposed:
1:00 p.m. Opening mid-day prayer service
1:30 p.m. Seminar (day of reflection):
The sixteenth retreat in the Theological Reflection series is entitled,
“PONDERING THE VISIT OF THE ISE MEN”
At this retreat, we’ll take an in-depth look at St. Matthew 2.
4:00 p.m. break for dinner
7:00 p.m. Epiphany Mass
7:45 p.m. Wine and Cheese reception
Mark your calendar!
First Tuesday Meetings Dec. 1
On Tuesday, December 2nd, Altar Guild meets as usual at 6 pm, and Elders at 7:15 pm. Between them we will hold vespers at 6:45 pm. All members are invited to attend.
Special Advent Masses on Wednesdays in December
During Advent, our Wednesday masses have appointed Gospels from the pre-nativity narratives in the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel.
On Wednesday, December 2nd, the Gospel is St. Luke 1:1-25, the announcement of the birth of John the Baptist.
On Wednesday, December 9th, the Gospel is St. Luke 1:26-35, the annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
On Wednesday, December 16th, the Gospel is St. Luke 1:39-56, Mary’s Magnificat.
Members are invited to make an extra effort to attend these services as part of your Advent preparation for the coming of Christmas.
12/11 Kris Harden
12/13 Michael Eckardt
12/13 Lynn Woller
12/20 Peter Eckardt
12/20 Rachel Rowe
12/13 Jim and Carol Watson
Allan Kraklow, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells.
Mary Hamilton at home; Anna Baker at home; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield.
The Lighter Side
While I was working as a store Santa, a boy asked me for an electric train set. “If you get your train,” I told him, “your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that all right?”
The boy became very quiet. So, moving the conversation along, I asked, “What else would you like Santa to bring you?”
He promptly replied, “Another train.”
Pastor Presenting Sectional Paper at Symposium
I am pleased to announce that my sectional paper proposal has been accepted and I will again be presenting, deo volente, at the Concordia Theological Seminary symposium in January, this time on the topic "What is Truth?: a Look at the Fourth Evangelist’s Use of the Term." Here's a synopsis: Among many other things that distinguish the Gospel of John from the Synoptic Gospels is its manner of employing the term ‘truth’ (aletheia), not only in Jesus’ own discourse, but elsewhere in his own narrative, and even in the famous retort of Pontius Pilate. This paper proposes that as part of the Evangelist’s design to draw the reader/hearer to faith, he is employing the term in a very precise and fascinating manner, worthy of special consideration.
We plan to have the Christmas issue ready for mailing by Wednesday, December 9th, so the Gottesdienst volunteers are being requested for that day, at 1:00. If you would like to join us, please come. It usually takes about an hour and a half, just up to our regular time for the radio-recorded Bible class.
Letter to Thrivent
November 19, 2015
625 Fourth Ave. S.
With disappointment we are returning the “Action Team” card you sent us several weeks ago, that we understand to be a $250 grant for out Oktoberfest event, held last October.
Although we applied for this grant, it has subsequently been called to our attention that you have recently made an unfortunate change in your policy, a change we cannot support. Specifically, your decision to cease providing support for pro-life organizations is a matter of great concern. We regard as feeble your attempt to hide behind the expediency of a statement purporting political neutrality (“certain organizations are not eligible to receive outreach support or funding. This includes, but is not limited to, organizations with a primary purpose of providing services for or advocating positions either supporting or opposing certain social, politically partisan, or health and human services causes and issues, such as abortion, sexual orientation . . .”), and we are saddened that you have opted not to take a stand for the lives of the most innocent and helpless people on earth, namely the unborn. This is not a matter of politics; it is a matter of life. You say that Thrivent is a “membership organization of Christians” but we find this decision of yours highly inconsistent with any reasonable Christian ethic, and urgently implore you to reconsider the change you have made in your policy.
Most sincerely in Christ,
Rev. Burnell Eckardt
In Our Prayers
In addition to our shut-ins, our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. Anyone wishing to update the list by addition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.
in our parish:
in our parish:
and our shut-ins.
Anna Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter]
Jill Matchett [at request of Diana Shreck]
Lorene Foglesong [at request of the Kraklows]
Cathy Van Wassenhove [re Sandra Verplaetse]
Shelly DeBord [at request of the Watsons]
Liam Hampton [at request of the Murphys]
Jackie Hampton [at request of the Murphys]
Maria Thorndike [at request of the Murphys]
Annie Eastman [at request of Svetlana Meaker]
Keith Ruggles [Barb Kraklow’s brother]
David Fowler [at request of the Murphys]
Robin Hampton [at request of the Watsons]
Melissa Hayword [at request of the Kemerlings]
Emily Corzine [Sarah’s sister]
Dennis Hoag [at request of Diana Shreck]
Nancy Popejoy [relative of Sharon Hartz]
Jeff Autery [friend of Chris Erickson, with cancer]
John Molburg [friend of Sandra Verplaetse]
Dave Colgron [friend of Tom Wells]
Michelle Campbell [Larry’s wife]
Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter]
Burnie Eckardt [recovering from surgery]
Denny Schoen [having tests]
in the military:
Donny Appleman [at request of the Ricknells]
Thomas Kim [at request of the Shrecks]
Michael Creech [at request of the Murphys]
Katherine Creech [at request of the Murphys]
Richard Heiden [at request of the Eckardts]
Carter Wills [grandson of the Thompsons]
Luke Van Landigan [grandson of Dick Melchin]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
especially any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan, Laos, North Korea, France, Belgium, Mali, and elsewhere.
and our own church
We Mourn the Loss
We are saddened to have heard that Jan Schoen’s father George Medernech passed away last month, but are confident that the family is comforted to know he is safe in the arms of his Savior.
The Bell Tolls
On the last Sunday of the year, we toll the bell at prayers for each member of our parish who has died during the year. We remember this year two members who have fallen asleep in Christ:
· Carol Kegebein
· Jean Russell
As usual, we will hold three Christ Masses this year: the first will be on Christmas Eve at 7:00; the second will follow at Midnight; and the third will be Christmas morning at 10:00. Each will have different propers, hymn schedule, readings, and sermon. Attend as many as you wish.
Altar Guild Notes
Advent begins November 29th. The four Advent Sundays’ color is violet. If roses are obtained, they may be placed on the Third Sunday in Advent, December 13th.
For midweek masses, color remains violet.
The three Christ Masses will be held as usual, 7 pm Christmas Eve, 12 midnight, and 10 am Christmas Day. Color is white for all three.
The Sunday after Christmas is white (December 27th).
We will observe Holy Innocents Day on Wednesday evening, December 30th. Color is red.