109 S. Elm,
Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 29 May 2017 No. 5
On the Use of Lay Assistants at the Altar
The matter of using laymen to assist at the Divine Service is something that could become a matter of some discussion yet again, when the Gottesdienst video is completed and becomes available.
That video, an instructional film on how to conduct the ceremonies and rituals of the Divine Service, is a project that has been in the works for about a year, and is almost ready. It is the recording of a service held in Hamel, Illinois, last May, as part of a Gottesdienst conference. The service was recorded and has been edited. Now, recently, I completed the commentary that will accompany the video, providing instructions for pastors and seminarians. The project has the full support and funding of the people at Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod Worship, as they determined it was worthy of their assistance.
Part of the commentary incidentally indicates that the use of laymen to assist with the actual distribution of the elements is not recommended, and that, I suspect, may get some debate.
So, preemptively, I have begun to study the matter of its history in Lutheranism. I hope to have the results of that study ready in time for the next issue of Gottesdienst, due in June.
Here’s what I found so far. It appears that the matter of using lay assistants to distribute the cup is an innovation. In Luther’s day, it seems to have been unheard of.
In 1523 Luther published two of his three liturgical orders, of which the Formula Missae is the more detailed. It contains the following rubric after the consecration, the Lord's Prayer, and the Pax Domini: “then let him [i.e. the celebrant] communicate himself first, then the people.” There is no hint of a lay assistant there.
In the Lutheran Confessions themselves, we have this: "Our churches teach that no one should publicly teach in the Church, or administer the Sacraments, without a rightly ordered call" (Augsburg Confession XIV). It has been argued that “administer” has to do with fact that the pastor is the one responsible for the service, and that therefore if he is the one overseeing the entire activity, he is still “administering,” even if not literally giving the Sacrament; but even if this allowed by a stretch of interpretation, the fact remains that the practice of lay assistants doing this seems to be a novelty, from everything I have seen so far in my studies.
Indeed our Synod’s web site has an interesting thing to say about carrying the Sacrament to the sick: “The LCMS Commission on Theology and Church Relations has addressed this practice briefly in the question/answer section of its 1983 report on Theology and Practice of the Lord's Supper. . . . The chief consideration regarding such a practice is that the role of the pastor in the sacramental life of the church should not be displaced . . . and to be a shepherd for the flock suggests that whenever possible the pastor will distribute the elements to the communicants (cf. pp. 13-15, emphasis added).” The CTCR had communion of the sick in mind here, but the categorical statement here seems quite applicable to the regular distribution as well.
At the same time, It needs to be made clear that the use of lay assistants, while less than ideal, does not change the validity of the Sacrament. The Confessions are quite clear on this:
Whether even a wicked priest can minister at, and dispense, the Sacrament, and whatever other questions like this there may be. . . . it is not founded upon the holiness of men, but upon the Word of God. And as no saint upon earth, yea, no angel in heaven, can make bread and wine to be the body and blood of Christ, so also can no one change or alter it, even though it be misused. - LC, Sacrament of the Altar, 15-16
On the other hand we ought to be striving for the best practice. The Synod’s web site makes a valid point (above) about the pastor being a shepherd to the flock.
Concerns are raised about the extra time involved, especially where there is a large number of communicants. The time of distribution can be shortened, however, if a lay assistant is used (as we do here) to prepare the chalice for the pastor between tables of communicants, thus shortening the time the celebrant must stand at the altar himself.
There should simply be no argument on one simple thing, namely that the best practice is always for the flock of Christ to receive their Feeding from the hand of their shepherd.
I hope to have my research finished within a week or two.
+ Pastor Eckardt
First Tuesday Events Moved to Second Tuesday this MonthPastor must be at the District Pastors’ Conference in Champaign during the first and second Monday of May. Therefore the first Tuesday events – Altar Guild, Vespers, and Elders – are moved to the second Tuesday this month: May 9th. Altar Guild at 6, Vespers at 6:45; Elders following. Make a note of it!
Renovation Continues in BalconyYou may have noticed that the work on the balcony is continuing: the ceiling is about to be painted, and soon we expect the entire balcony to be complete. Meanwhile we must assess the leak in the bell tower and get that repaired, per the direction of the special voters’ assembly last month.
A step in the west staircase to the balcony was also fixed.
May Anniversaries5/17/1959 Allan and Barbra Kraklow
5/22/1976 Ed and Lynn Woller
5/28/1982 Christine and Garry Erickson
5/28/1977 John and Charlene Sovanski
May Birthdays5/2 Sheri Kraklow
5/6 Emilie Ricknell
5/10 Bill Thompson
5/11 Tony Fisher
Rogation Days May 22-24An old tradition places special days of prayer on the calendar in the week leading up to Ascension Day. Sunday of that week is called “Rogate,” which means, “Pray.” Monday through Wednesday are called Rogation Days. Here at the church there will be an opportunity to pray the litany on Wednesday the 24th at noon. There is no mass that day.
Ascension Day is May 25thOur Ascension Day Mass will be Thursday, May 25th, at 7 p.m. Regular Wednesday evening Mass is cancelled this week, and people who like to come midweek are encouraged to the celebration of Ascension Day instead.
May UshersOtis Anderson, John Ricknell, Bill Thompson. In ushering news, we are pleased to report that Jim Hornback has agreed to serve wherever needed. Our crews have only three apiece, and sometimes in the event of an absence the number falls to two; so he has indicated he will be happy to help. Thanks, Jim!
Pastor Speaker at the 2017 Institute in July
The 2017 Institute on Liturgy, Preaching and Church Music is to be held July 25 - July 28 at Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. That’s not far from here, so members may want to consider attending. Pastor will be among a good number of sectional workshop presenters. The event brings pastors, musicians, and laymen together from all across the Synod. For details, visit https://calendar.lcms.org/event/2017-institute-on-liturgy-preaching-and-church-music/
Pentecost June 4thPentecost is June 4th this year. Pastor and Carol will be in Boston that weekend at a family wedding on Carol’s side, so the Pentecost Vigil will not be held this year.
Trinity Sunday June 11thTrinity Sunday comes on the Octave Day of Pentecost. Our Festive Trinity Mass will be preceded by a recitation of the Athanasian Creed.
In Our Prayers
Our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. To update the list please inform the pastor.
in our parish:
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
Dick Heiden [Carol Eckardt’s father]
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]
Trevon Wetzel [at request of Kris Harden]
any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Egypt, Syria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, North Korea, and elsewhere.
A prayer for mothers:
O Almighty God, who didst send forth Thy Son to be born of a woman, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and who by His holy incarnation didst in truth cause her to be the very Mother of God, thereby crowning and honoring all motherhood, grant Thy perpetual favor and blessing upon all of our mothers, that they in turn may be a blessing to all their children. Bless the memory of those of our mothers who have passed on from this vale of tears, and leave us not comfortless. Grant also to the Holy Christian Church, which is the Mother of us all, prosperity in faithfulness, that we through her pure milk of the Word may gain everlasting joy. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
A prayer for graduates:
O almighty God, bless the education of Thy people, that they may be well prepared in faithfulness to the several callings in which they in the future find themselves. Lead them with all of us to know that Thou alone art the giver of all our vocations in life, who giveth us the ability, strength, and courage to live with integrity. Above all give our graduates a hearty and steadfast faith in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they might be and remain faithful unto Thee all the days of their lives. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
A prayer in memory of those who have given their lives in service to their country:
O merciful Father in heaven, we remember before Thee all those who have lost their lives while serving in the armed forces of our nation, and we give Thee hearty thanks for their service, their dedication to duty, and the lives which they gave while serving the cause of this country’s defense and common good. Comfort all who mourn their loss, and bless this nation with dedicated servants who know the value of honor, loyalty, and dedication in service to this nation under Thee. Bless and protect this land, O God, though we have in no wise deserved Thy mercy and good gifts, yet through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior do we beseech Thee to continue to shower this country with Thine abundant goodness. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Altar Guild Notes• May 3rd (Wednesday) we observe SS Philip and James. Color is RED
• No mass on Wednesday, May 25th; instead, mass is on Thursday, May 26th, which is Ascension Day. The color remains WHITE
• For Sunday, June 4th the color changes to RED for Pentecost (no vigil this year), and for the following Wednesday (Whitsun week).
• The color changes back to WHITE for Trinity Sunday and the Saturday evening prior, June 10th. The color remains white through the following Sunday, June 18th, and is changed to Green after that Sunday mass.
Tuesday and Wednesday Afternoon at St. Paul’sUsually on a Tuesday at 5 p.m. a group of us meet in Pastor’s office to study Scripture at “Q and A on Jesus and the Bible.” Last week there were five of us; sometimes there are a few more. It’s always a lively conversation.
Generally there’s no assigned topic, but it’s an opportunity for people to bring discussion questions for us to discuss informally. Bring your friends and neighbors, or just come! One hour, 5 – 6 p.m.
On Wednesdays at 2:30 the radio program is recorded, and this, too, is an opportunity to gather and discuss the word of God. Anyone is welcome to join us for this half-hour session.
Always Remember SaturdaysEvery Saturday the church needs a crew of volunteers to help with cleaning, yard work, mowing, etc. If we get a nice group, we even like to enjoy a coffee break and lunch together sometimes. Join us if you can; the help is always welcome, and the more, the merrier.
We are always thankful for the volunteer spirit of our members, who put in so much of their time and treasure to help maintain the vibrancy of this little congregation.
Concordia Catechetical Academy Symposium in JuneThe 24th annual symposium on catechesis will be held at the Country Springs Hotel in Waukesha, Wisconsin from June 14-16. The topic this year is “Confessing Christ in a Hostile World: Catechesis under the Second Article of the Creed.” For registration information, see Pastor.
Reading Material in the NarthexOur reading rack in the narthex contains copies of Gottesdienst, The Lutheran Witness, and other reading materials which are available for the taking. Feel free to browse and take.
Sharon Field Appointed to Finance CommitteeThanks to our newest member Sharon Field for agreeing to be appointed by our chairman Bill Thompson to fill the vacancy in the finance committee. The spot was vacated by the death of our sister in Christ Lucille Kemerling. The spot had been vacant for several weeks.
Church Picnic? Maybe the Last Sunday in June, as in Former YearsAt this point nothing is planned for certain, but if we return to the former tradition, we would be having our church picnic the last Sunday in June. But nothing has been discussed thus far. Members can talk it over. At this point people could look their calendars over and pencil in the last Sunday in June; any definite plans or details will follow.
Pastor and Carol to Boston First Weekend in JuneThe wedding of Carol’s niece has been scheduled for the first Saturday in June, so Pastor and Carol have arranged to be there for it. A guest pastor will be here that weekend, therefore, and our Saturday service will be cancelled. This is our usual practice when Pastor is away.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443