The Virus Crisis and the Feast of the Resurrection of Our Lord
Our state of affairs and the whirlwind of terrible news that keeps coming to us every day has men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth (St. Luke 21:26). We hope and pray and mostly believe the worst will not come to pass, but we also recognize the pain already, as workers have been furloughed, small businesses shuttered and in some cases gone bankrupt as unemployment skyrockets. We’ll know soon enough how disastrous all this will prove to be, and chances are it will not be doomsday.
But whatever the outcome, one thing we know for certain, as I have already mentioned in my phone calls to members, this has been a period of chastening from the Lord. And the Lord is good, and knows our needs. I am reminded of the words of St. Paul: “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have receive the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father” (Romans 8:14-15). These comfort us because they tell us that we are bound to Christ through our Baptism and faith; we are united with him who is the only-begotten Son of God. How in the world dare we call God our Father, when God has only one Son? Only because of Jesus’ blessed work and invitation to come and live in his stead. Such a blessed estate, to be called sons of God! And since this is so, we know that as his suffering was itself a good thing, for it redeemed the world, and because it led to his resurrection, so our afflictions are themselves good for us, for they chasten us and bring us to our knees, which is exactly where we need to be, and because we, too, shall be glorified in him: “the sufferings of this present time are not worth to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18).
This is closely tied to the resurrection of our Lord, because he is the firstfruits of our own resurrection, and his resurrection has already occurred. In his resurrection we see already what shall happen to us, the glory that shall be revealed. Thus even in affliction let us rejoice, and daily gain comfort from this blessed Gospel. All is not lost, because “we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37).
+ Pastor Eckardt
Our temporarily suspended services
At this point, as this newsletter goes to print, we are still unsure about when the resumption of our schedule will be, whether in time for Easter or not. If not, we can expect to count on a day of great celebration whenever that occurs. We will not move anything on the church calendar per se—that is, we will not be able to move the Easter propers and readings to another day—but what we may well want to do is see about scheduling our special extras for that day of return, whether lilies, music, hymns, preaching, and all the expectations that we would normally have for Easter itself. So, for example, we might find ourselves returning the second Sunday after Easter (who knows?); then that day could become our special day this year, in terms of our celebrations.
As things develop, we will be able to make plans. Stay tuned.
NOTE: Please remember to mail in your offerings! Your fragile congregation needs them to survive! Mail them to the church at 109 South Elm Street, Kewanee, IL 61443.
The History of Images, and Our New Statue of St. Paul
In the eighth century, a burning controversy flamed over the use of icons and images. Was it idolatrous to venerate these? The Seventh Ecumenical of ad 787 settled the matter, noting the difference between veneration and worship. Images are venerated to show honor to the one they depict.
The iconoclasts (icon destroyers) were likely influenced by Jewish and Muslim ideas, since just prior to this debate the Muslim Caliph Yezid ordered the removal of all icons within his territory.
Within the church there were always those who objected that icons were tokens of idolatry, contrary to the extension of the first commandment: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 20:6). They conveniently disregarded the very next verse that explains further: “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” (Ex. 20:7).
St. John of Damascus (c. 676-749) successfully defended the use of icons, saying, “Icons are not idols but symbols, therefore when an Orthodox venerates an icon, he is not guilty of idolatry. He is not worshipping the symbol, but merely venerating it. Such veneration is not directed toward wood, or paint or stone, but towards the person depicted. Therefore relative honor is shown to material objects, but worship is due to God alone.”
A different kind of iconoclasts appeared in the days of Martin Luther, taking from the Reformation a false cue to destroy all vestiges of the Roman Church. When Luther was hidden in the Wartburg Castle under the protection of his prince, Frederick the Wise, these radicals barged into churches, ripped corpuses off crosses, and smashed statues. On hearing of this, Luther was enraged. Frederick was keeping him hidden because his own safety was at issue ever since he had been declared an outlaw by the Emperor in 1521. He likely would have been put to death had not Frederick taken this step. But now, in the following year, heedless of his own safety, he determined it was time for him to re-emerge. Disguised as a knight, he showed up at church during the first week of Lent and began to preach against the violence of the iconoclasts and the injury they were doing to the faith of the common people.
Luther explained that images are not to be worshiped, but there is no law against creating a statue or picture of something. If there were, God would never have commanded the making of the bronze serpent in the wilderness (Numbers 21:1-9). It was not until centuries later that people began to worship it and serve it with their hearts, and King Hezekiah had to destroy it (II Kings 18:4, cf AE 40:87).
There is much more at issue in the church’s various times of contention against iconoclasts, however. The real “scandal” to iconoclasts is that God himself has been manifested in the flesh, and has bound himself to his creation in the Person of Jesus Christ. There is no other God than this Man, and therefore one who looked at him was looking at God in the flesh. This is the mystery of the incarnation. God has adorned his world with his own essence, clothing himself in human flesh. This truth is not only wonderful to behold; it is also too hard for some to accept. They want to think of God as being transcendent, above all things created, a spirit and therefore untouchable by the earth and its substance. The incarnation has exposed all such thinking as false and unchristian, for the Word became flesh (St. John 1:14).
Therefore it is right to adorn our churches with beautiful images and objects; it is good to employ fine art and sculpture to assist us in our worship, for these things help us in implicit ways to remember that God is with us, and is forever bound to his creation.
Thus the new statue of St. Paul that has finally arrived is a welcome addition to our worship.
The sword he is holding is the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:17), and his serene, settled stance reminds us of his instruction that he has learned the secret of contentment in whatever situation he finds himself (Philippians 4:12).
The statue is also a healthy reminder of why this church was named St. Paul’s. It is, to put it in other words, “The Lutheran Church of St. Paul the Apostle.” That is, it is dedicated to his memory, for he was the great apostle to the Gentiles and writer of the great majority of New Testament epistles. His writings are the very word of God, and are therefore dear to our hearts. God used this man mightily to deliver his Gospel to us. His word did not drop down from heaven (as the Mormons falsely believe), nor was it mysteriously delivered in an extended dream to one man (as the Muslims falsely hold). Rather, “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). St. Paul, to whom Jesus first appeared in a vision on the road to Damascus, was transformed from an enemy of the church to one of its strongest leaders. God used him to proclaim the truths of the Gospel: that Jesus our Lord, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil. 2:6-11).
O thanks be to God for sending his great apostle St. Paul, whom we rightly venerate and honor with a lovely new statue.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Holy Week and Easter Masses
All scheduling of regular services is currently suspended due to the virus necessities laid upon us and the world. While this is in place, we have scheduled online streaming Matins on Sunday mornings at 8:30, and daily Vespers Monday through Thursday at 4:00 pm.
Pending the return of our schedule, Mass will resume at the usual times, as well as being held daily during Holy Week: Holy Monday through Good Friday, at 7 p.m.; the Great Vigil: Saturday, April 11th, at 7 p.m.; and Easter Sunrise Mass: April 12th, at 7 a.m. (Easter breakfast following). Easter Midweek Mass: Wednesday, April 15th, at 7 p.m.
There’s a sign-up sheet in the back of the gym. Cost. $15.00 apiece. If we are not able to return by Easter, we may possibly have in place a plan to decorate with lilies on the day we do return. Stay tuned.
Ladies, remember our hats tradition! Easter is the time to wear your best, and if you are able, set it off with a handsome hat! And by all means, leave them on for the Easter breakfast. Again, if our scheduling does not allow us back in time for Easter, we anticipate a later target date for these festivities. Stay tuned.
4/13/2002 Steve and Sheri Kraklow
4/3 Adam Shreck
4.14 Emmy Wear
4/19 Luke Wells
4/22 Grant Andreson
4/25 Mason Dooley
Oktoberfest is Moving to Detroit
After serious and careful thought, the difficult decision has been made to discontinue Oktoberfest, at least for this year 2020. The strain on the congregation has been heavy, and I determined that a reassessment was a prudent thing to do.
Meanwhile Father Braden at Lutheran Church in Detroit has expressed a willingness to take it over. Their St. Michael Conference is annually held in late September, and we have been in a discussion about merging the two events, so that this year’s St. Michael Conference will also be including an Oktoberfest element.
As part of this merger, I have been asked to be the keynote speaker at the St. Michael Conference. Every year I have attended that conference as a sectional speaker, so this will be a bit different.
Oktoberfest has been a successful and joyous event held here for 24 years, so there is a certain sadness involved in the making of the decision, and a thankful recognition of the willing support and volunteer spirit here that has contributed mightily to the success of those years.
While it remains possible that we could host Oktoberfest again in the years to come, there is nothing planned.
Thanks to all our willing volunteers!
Grant Andresen, Jim Hornback, Steve Harris.
Emilie Ricknell at home
Dick Melchin at Hammond-Henry extended care in Geneseo.
Emmy Wear at Williamsfield retirement home
Dale Baker, during the winter, at home
Bea Harris, when unable to get out, at home
First Tuesday meetings
Our First Tuesday meetings are tentatively scheduled for the second Tuesday this month, April 14th.
In Our Prayers
Our list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists below. To update the lists please inform pastor.
in our parish:
Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Emmy Wear, Sue Murphy, Don Murphy, Dick Melchin, DeAnne Anderson, Bea Harris, Allan Kraklow, Jim Watson, Dana McReynolds, Carol McReaynolds , Sandra VerPlaetse
beyond our parish:
Anna Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises]
Katy Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises]
Jody Rutowicz [Harrises’ daughter]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter]
Elizabeth Godke, Sharon Field’s mother
Brandt and Oneda Hendrickson [Ricknells’ relatives]
Helen Woods [Sue Murphy’s sister]
Janice Hart [Judy Thompson’s sister]
Caleb Cleaver [Ricknells’ grandson]
Dennis Hoag [Adam Shreck’s father-in-law]
Sue Harris [Steve Harris’s sister-in-law]
Nancy Callahan [Don Murphy’s sister]
Rachel Smith [Emmy Wear’s cousin]
Yvette Baker [Dale’s daughter-in-law]
Warren Williams [relative of the Kemerlings]
Bud Harfst [Sue Murphy’s brother]
Tony Stoner [friend of the Murphys]
Theresa Moore [Ricknells’ niece]
Carol Grigsby [friend of Jewneel Walker]
Tim Newman [Kemerling relation]
Melinda Fisa [Kemerling relation]
Kathy Boeger [re Harrises]
in the military:
Donny Appleman [at request of the Ricknells]
Richard Heiden [at request of the Eckardts]
Luke Van Landigan [grandson of Dick Melchin]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
Eric Verplaetse [Sandra’s grandson]
in trouble: especially
regarding the spread of diseased
any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Nigeria, India, China, Vietnam, North Korea, and elsewhere.
Altar Guild Notes
Pending the return to congregating.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443