Thursday, January 26, 2017

February 2017

Phase II of our renovation project is about to begin. At our annual meeting in early January, the voters passed a resolution to move forward with Phase II of our renovation project, beginning in the middle of February.

Phase II is the repair and painting of the entire balcony area, and it includes care to protect our organ and will in the end involve retuning it.

Preparatory work—primarily the moving of large organ pipes for their protection—is already scheduled for Tuesday, January 31st, at 9 a.m. Anyone able to volunteer is invited to join us: some cleaning and light work will also be needed in addition to the heaving lifting.

Acknowledging that we were about $1,500 short of funds at the least (and we will probably be needing much more), the voters expressed a desire to publish our need among all members, in hopes that if all who are able could dig a little deeper into their pockets for this, we should be able to come up with the needed funds in time.

Later that day a good start on that shortfall was already collected: over $1200 of the needed shortfall already came in. The $1500 figure is an estimate, and as such things are, possibly a low estimate, and it does not include the retuning of the organ, which generally runs another several hundred dollars. That task is something we do every year in any case.

Still, we are optimistic that response to the publication of this notice will provide us with the funds. It is important, at the same time, to remind members of the need to continue to raise the needed donations for operating expenses. These challenges have in the past been met by a membership ever eager to see the parish maintain its solvency and thrive, and we (the council members) remain impressed by the amount we have been able to accomplish with the help of God in 2016.

As for the current project, in the middle of January a meeting was held with a number of hands-on volunteers, which was attended by our painter Bob Harrison, and our organ tuner Carroll Hansen. Mr. Hansen explained the importance of removing certain pipes in a carefully prescribed way, so as not to damage the organ. With several volunteers, it should not be difficult, especially if he is overseeing the project at the time.

The organ will still be usable, although many ranks will not be in service for several weeks. We may also have the lift machine blocking the main aisle for some of the time, although members will recall having to negotiate scaffolding during part of last summer.
On the whole, the time should be exciting, and members can look forward to a day, hopefully in early to mid-spring, when Phase II is complete, and the entire church from the back wall all the way to the chancel steps will be finished

Candlemas observed February 1st

The Feast of Candlemas (the Presentation of our Lord and the Purification of Mary) is set on February 2nd, so we will celebrate it on its eve this year, Wednesday, February 1st. It is a First Class Feast of our Lord. Invite guests!

Hand-candles are used in this service, in a procession while singing the Nunc Dimittis (the song of Simeon) and when the Sacrament is consecrated. The declaration by Simeon of the Christ Child as a Light by the priest Simeon is the reason for the ceremonial use of candles at this Mass. The use of these lights in connection with the Blessed Sacrament emphasizes the analogy of Simeon’s jubilation on receiving the Child with our own reception of Christ at the altar.

The name of this Feast, Candlemas, also subtly provides a link to the Feast from which it springs, that great feast of forty days earlier, namely Christmas.

Donations and your 2016 Taxes

Judy is asking for your help. Many of you gave additional donations for the renovation project, aside from your regular offerings, but through a bookkeeping oversight these donations did not get itemized when they were counted. So if you need an accurate statement from St. Paul’s for your tax purposes, be sure to let her know how much you gave in extra contributions, and she will make sure the statement reflects those donations. In some cases they were quite substantial, and would make a significant difference when you itemize.
Ash Wednesday March 1st

On Ash Wednesday, March 1st, there will be two opportunities to come to Mass, at 7 a.m. and again at 7 p.m. Different readings and sermons will be heard, if anyone wishes to come to both. The rite of imposition of ashes precedes the Mass.
  Shrove Tuesday February 28th

See the article on Shrove Tuesday and Private Confession below in this newsletter.

The season of Lent is a season of emphasis on penitence, in preparation for of Easter. Its span is forty days, like the forty days in which Jesus fasted in the wilderness, in fulfillment of the fast of Moses and Elijah on Mount Horeb.

The Apostles themselves left the specific manner of observance to Christian liberty, saying, “Let each be convinced in his own mind.” Leaving aside the question of what things one should fast from (whether sweets, or meats, or milk products, etc.), what is clear is that the custom of fasting itself is quite biblical. If Moses, Elijah, and Jesus himself fasted, certainly it must be a good practice. Indeed, on Ash Wednesday we hear Jesus saying, When ye fast, be not as the hypocrites, etc. Luther’s Small Catechism also declares, “Fasting and other bodily preparation is indeed a fine outward training.” Therefore we conclude two things: first, that fasting is a good thing, and second, that it is a matter left to Christian liberty.

Liturgically the Church fasts during Lent (as Israel fasted forty years in the wilderness). The color is penitential violet. Alleluias are not sung, and there is less music; flowers are absent, and weddings are not to be scheduled.

During the last two weeks of Lent, statutes, images, and crosses in the churches are veiled, and no Glorias are sung at all, except in the Gloria in Excelsis on Maundy Thursday.

In the midst of this penitential mood there is joy, at Laetare, the fourth Sunday in Lent ( ‘rejoice’). The entire penitential season is not to be sad, but joyful. For true joy of heart, born of the suffering and resurrection of Christ, transcends all parts of Christian life, even the deepest of sorrows, as we confess with David that weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Thus the forty days of Lent is followed by a contrastingly festive forty-day season from Easter until Ascension Day.
Robin sighting contest is on

Oddly enough, nobody has reported a robin sighting yet this year. Last year’s winner was Judy Thompson who saw one on the 23rd of January; the year before the trophy went to Carol Eckardt, and the year before to Michele Keehner (actually there’s no trophy, it’s just about bragging rights). Have you seen a robin? Report the date and the place to pastor, and we’ll announce the winner.
February Birthdays

2/2 Mindie Fisher
2/4 Joshua Kraklow
2/5 Tom Wells
2/17 Monroe Kemerling
2/23 Carol McReynolds

February Ushers

Otis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson
February Anniversaries

Council Meeting on Hold This Month

The regular council meeting is scheduled to meet on the third Wednesday, which is February 15th, at 5:30 pm., but at the January meeting it was determined that in view of Pastor’s planned absence that day, and the fact that others will also be away, we would skip February unless some emergency should arise.

Shut ins

Mary Hamilton at home; Emilie Ricknell at home; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield; Lucille Kemerling (temporarily) at home.

First Tuesday Vespers, etc.

February 7th, Altar Guild is at 6 pm, Vespers is at 6:45, and Elders is at 7:15, as usual.

Private Confession and Shrove Tuesday

Private Confession is always available to anyone between 6 and 6:30 pm on these Wednesdays (and also, as always, by appointment). Pastor is usually available as well on Saturdays, from about 4 pm until Mass. On Shrove Tuesday, February 28th, Pastor will make a special point of being available all afternoon (until 5 pm when Q and A class begins) for confession, on this day traditionally intended for this use to prepare for Lent.

From the Catechism:

What is Confession?

Confession has two parts. First, that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the pastor as from God Himself, not doubting, but firmly believing that by it our sins are forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?

Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.

Which are these?

Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?


2017 Sabre Goes to Rev. Dr. Gottfried Martens and Trinity Lutheran Church of Berlin

The Sabre of Boldness, an annual award for Christian courage given by the editors of Gottesdienst went to the Reverend Dr. Gottfried Martens and his congregation Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin, Germany, this year, for their steadfastness in the face of possible deportations, beatings, and threats of death for conversion to Christianity as over a thousand members of the congregation have come from Persia and other Muslim lands to the joy of knowing and being baptized into Christ.

Pastor Martens was a nominee for the second straight year. He had been pastor of St. Mary’s Lutheran Church in Berlin for many years, a church which has seen hundreds of refugees come in, Muslims seeking the truth and finding it under his preaching and catechesis, being baptized and brought into his congregation. His success among the immigrants has put his name in the German news, and so has put him personally at risk, due to the violence that so easily attaches itself to the Muslim extremists who do not take kindly to losing nearly a thousand converts to Christianity.

Dr. Martens has recently become pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Berlin-Steglitz, which is almost entirely comprised of immigrants who have converted to the Lutheran faith. But the German governmenthas recently begun to deny en masse the refugee claims of many of these converts, following what Dr. Martens is calling deeply flawed refugee hearings. The problem, Dr. Martens says, is that “Many [of those hearing the cases] are manifestly clueless about the situation of Christians in Iran and Afghanistan, and worse yet they are utterly clueless concerning questions relating to the Christian faith. But all of this does not prevent them from assuming the role of self-appointed experts, whose questions ‘unmask’ the supposedly deceitful Iranian asylum applicants one after another, even when those hearing the cases don’t even know the difference between the [Apostle’s] Creed, and the Our Father [Lord’s Prayer].” The challenges come after a year of other difficulties, as converts to Christianity have faced increasing persecution from Muslim refugees angry at their conversions from Islam. Congregational members and candidates for baptism are being attacked, sometimes beaten and threatened them with death, both in Germany and from their homeland to which deportation is threatened The refugees are instructed in the Christian faith prior to baptism—or excluded, if a genuine conversion is not evident. Currently baptisms sit at between 30 and 40 a month.

What the editors have chosen decided for this year is to offer the Sabre of Boldness for 2017 to Rev. Dr. Martens and his congregation, Trinity in Berlin-Steglitz.

Rev. Wilhelm Torgeson, a close acquaintance of Dr. Martens and an adjunct professor at the Lutheran seminary in St. Catharines, Ontario, was on hand to receive the award on their behalf.

Altar Guild Notes

Parament color is WHITE Wednesday, February 1st, Sunday, February 5th, and Wednesday, February 8th. Then it changes to VIOLET for the Septuagesima season which begins the next weekend. The color is VIOLET from Saturday, February 11th through the end of the month.

· Wednesday the 1st we will be observing Candlemas (WHITE). The hand candles are used.

· No mass on Wednesday the 15th or Wednesday the 22nd, as Pastor and Carol will be away.

Next meeting is Tuesday, February 7th.

In Our Prayers

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:
Lucille Kemerling, Denny Schoen, Sandra Verplaetse,
Emilie Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Kris Harden, Joyce Long,
Mary Hamilton, Emmy Wear, Ryan Van Wassenhove
and also:
Anna Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises], Jodi Rutowicz [daughter of Harrises], Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter], Jill Matchett [at request of Diana Shreck], Annie Eastman [at request of Svetlana Meaker], Nancy Popejoy [relative of Sharon Hartz], Dave Colgron [friend of Tom Wells], Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter], Noah Muske [relative of Kraklows], Steve Draminski [friend of Jim Watson], Kathy Nussear [Joyce Long’s daughter, cancer], Theresa Lewis [niece of Carol Eckardt], Bud Harfst [Sue Murphy’s brother], Pastor Kenneth Wegener, Yvonne Wegener, James Grier [relative of Judy Thompson]
in the military:
John Eckardt, 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], Trevon Wetzel [at request of Kris Harden]
in trouble:
especially any unborn children in danger of abortion; those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Egypt, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Germany, North Korea, and elsewhere.
and our own church

Persecution details, from  (See also Sabre 2017 article above).
- Remember to pray for persecuted Christians.
EGYPT: Case Relating to Mob Attack Dropped
Source(s): Fox News, AP 26 January 2017
Prosecutors have thrown out a case brought by an elderly Christian woman against several members of a militant Muslim mob who stripped her of clothing and forced her to parade naked through the streets, announced the woman's lawyer. Last May's assault in the central Minya province began after rumours spread that the son of the 70-year-old woman was intimately involved with a Muslim woman -- a taboo in majority Muslim and conservative Egypt.
PAKISTAN: Teen Girl Escapes Abductors
Source(s): Release International 26 January 2017
A 17-year-old Christian girl is presently in hiding after having escaped kidnappers who brutally abused her. As a result of the abuse, she is left pregnant and terrified. "Sara" (not her real name) was abducted seven months ago, allegedly by militant Muslim neighbours who invited her for a meal, then drugged her. For the next seven months, the teen was held captive and subjected to appalling abuse.
SRI LANKA: Church Continues Despite Disaster
Source(s): World Watch Monitor 26 January 2017
The leader of a Sri Lankan church destroyed by a mob earlier this month has vowed that the church will continue to meet. Kamal Wasantha, leader of the Kithu Sevana Prayer Centre, states: "No attack can stop us. We shall continue to meet and pray under a tree." Despite the attack leaving the Christian community of 15 families and 20 other worshippers nowhere to meet, they have no desire for revenge. "(We) shall not attack them in retaliation," he adds. "Judgement belongs to God."

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