Volume 33 May 2021 No. 5
Relationship between St. Paul’s and Gottesdienst made Official
A special voters’ assembly was held on April 25th, after mass, for the sole agenda item of making the relationship between St. Paul’s and the liturgical journal Gottesdienst official. This journal has had the status as a self-standing organization of St. Paul’s since 1995. The benefit to Gottesdienst was to enjoy the tax-exempt status of St. Paul’s as a not-for-profit organization. Donors could give gifts tax-free, as a legal benefit. In return, St. Paul’s has enjoyed the fact that Gottesdienst, the Journal of Lutheran Liturgy has been rightly understood as a mission arm of this congregation. On Sunday April 25th, this status was made official and legal.
Gottesdienst was formed by some alumni of the Fort Wayne seminary in 1992, as a quarterly publication of the newly organized Evangelical-Lutheran Liturgical Press. Its beginnings were humble and small, and within three years the editor wished to resign for other pursuits. At the time, the journal, having only about 40 subscribers, was about to fold, when I was approached by a member of the ELLP board, and asked to consider taking over as editor. I agreed, and began late in 1995, the same year my family and I moved to Kewanee and I became the pastor here. I asked for help from among other young pastors I knew, and soon the journal had a new, small editorial staff. Then I personally began to ask pastors in our district if they’d be interested in having a subscription, for the modest fee of $8.00 per year. The journal was eight pages, and remained quarterly. Members of this parish began as volunteers to help with the quarterly distribution. The journal then, as now, was known for the publication of sermons and liturgical commentary. The readership remained rather small, and the printing was accomplished locally, all with volunteer help. My main assistant was none other than our own faithful Judy Thompson, who was able to offer for our use the printer at Jager Agency where she worked. The first edition of which I was editor was printed in early 1996. It featured the first installment of my column Liturgical Observer, a column which remains active today. My first editorial was entitled, “Why Fred Flintstone Can’t Sing.” It has been reprinted in this newsletter.
The next few years remained quite modest and small in terms of the number of subscribers and copies printed, until the internet became popular after the turn of the century. We developed a web site and an opportunity to subscribe online, and this was a great boon for us. Within a few years our subscriber base had grown to about 700, many of them bulk subscribers, requiring us to print some 1100 copies of each issue. The volunteer group had grown to several assistants, including several people who have now gone on to glory: + Lillian Freeburg +, + Monroe Kemerling +, + Lucille Kemerling +, and + Lorraine Mohr +, as well as Steve Harris, Berniece Harris, Linda Rowe, Sandra VerPlaetse, Carol Eckardt, Bill Thompson, Michelle Armstrong, and Jim Watson. I may have missed some names of occasional helpers, for which I apologize.
In 1999 we began to print color covers, for which many have expressed appreciation. The journal today is 20 pages long.
Sometime in the early 2000s we began a blog, which started slowly and soon grew to surpass the print edition’s popularity. It became clear that it was necessary to employ the internet for the increase of popularity and influence of this journal. Today the blog posts number approximately 4-5 per week on average, and often get hundreds of hits (people seeing and reading them), sometimes over a thousand.
By 2015 we were recognized as a major factor in helping people—especially Missouri Synod pastors and lay people—to recover an appreciation for the best in liturgical worship and integrity in our churches. At the 2019 Synodical Convention in Tampa, Florida, we were able to play an active role in the reelection of the incumbent president, thus holding off to a degree the influx of worship styles that our members would not recognize as Lutheran. We learned this because of the vast number of words of appreciation so many gave us, as well as a marked increase in donations (which have been a major factor in the continued success of our journal).
Speaking of appreciation, I have been overcome by the many letters we received from avid readers over the years, from around the country (and sometimes from across the ocean). We have published only a small number of them. Yesterday I read one such letter, hand-written, which began like this: “Thank you for the teaching of Gottesdienst, both the magazine and the blog. They are a great blessing to me, and I appreciate them so much.” The letter goes on at some length. And such letters, I repeat, are myriad and common. And humbling.
Our editorial staff today is ten editors, four bloggers (though the editors themselves frequently write blog posts), and one copyeditor, Cantor Peter Eckardt of Mattoon (whom you may know).
It recently became desirable for us to enter into this legal arrangement, when we received a major contribution from a congregation in the San Diego area which, sadly, was obliged to close its doors and sell the property. We determined that it was time to do our part to preserve the future of Gottesdienst by creating a Gottesdienst Trust, with seven of the editors comprising the Board of Directors who are entirely responsible for the management of Gottesdienst. St. Paul’s is named as the Trustee, which simply means that this congregation remains the home of Gottesdienst. In the future, any change in personnel, or in the home congregation, now happens at the discretion of the Board of Directors. Both St. Paul’s and Gottesdienst are legally protected. No one person can alter the future of Gottesdienst, and the direction of the journal is solely under the leadership of the Board. Meanwhile, St. Paul’s is legally protected from anything which may happen—God forbid—to Gottesdienst. In short, the relationship of St. Paul’s to Gottesdienst remains the same, but now it’s legal and binding. As for the major donation, it has provided the seed money for an endowment fund providing perpetual operating funds for Gottesdienst into the future. We hope to use these funds for new projects like videos, conferences, and other future endeavors, all with the aim of promoting and preserving the historic Lutheran Liturgy, and with it, the proclamation and distribution of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Soli Deo gloria! – to God alone be the glory!
First Tuesday moved
Our Tuesday meetings this month are moved to May 11th, the second Tuesday: Altar Guild meets at 6, Vespers at 6:45, and Elders at 7:15.
Jim Hornback, Otis Anderson, John Ricknell.
Council meets on Wednesday May 19th at 5:30.
Rogation Days May 10-12
Special days of prayer on the calendar lead up to Ascension Day. The Sunday of that week is called “Rogate,” which means, “Pray.” Monday to Wednesday are called Rogation Days. Here at the church we will pray the litany on Tuesday the 11th at noon.
Ascension Day May 13th
There will be no mass on Wednesday May 12th. Instead, midweek mass will be on Ascension Day, Thursday the 13th.
5/2 Sheri Kraklow
5/6 Emilie Ricknell
5/10 Bill Thompson
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, Don Murphy, Dick Melchin, Bea Harris, Allan Kraklow, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Sovanski, Tara Wagenknecht, Grant Andreson, Jewneel Walker
and beyond our parish:
Anna, Katy, Jody Rutowicz [Harris relations]
Julie Ross [Svetlana Meaker’s daughter]
Elizabeth Godke [Sharon Field’s mother]
Oneida Hendrickson [Ricknell relative]
Janice Hart [Judy Thompson’s sister]
Caleb Cleaver [Ricknells’ grandson]
Dennis Hoag, Tim Newman [Shreck relations]
Matthew and Yvette Baker [Baker relations]
Theresa Moore [Ricknells’ niece]
Kathy Boeger [re Harrises]
Allison Leezer [relative of the Kraklows]
Bud Harfst, Everly Stoner [Murphy relations]
Dieter Michaelsen, Marvin Brown
Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter]
in the military:
Donny Appleman [at request of the Ricknells]
Richard Heiden [at request of the Eckardts]
Luke Van Landigan [Melchin relation]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
Eli Wetzel, Traven Wetzel, Shawn Wetzel
Eric Verplaetse [Sandra’s grandson]
Jake Mahaffey, Trevor Shimmin, Shad Draminski
James and Ann Lee Armstrong
any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Nigeria, Algeria, Sudan, Madagascar, Iran, Iraq, Syria, India, China, Vietnam, North Korea, and elsewhere.
Why Fred Flintstone Can't Sing
Burnell F. Eckardt, Jr.
A week at “Lutheran” camp is enough for me, thank you. But I must say, the weather was grand, the beach was clean and sandy, the sailing was superb, fishing was relaxing, the kids and their parents (my wife and I) had a splendid vacation a couple of summers ago. Add to this the fairness of the cost, and one wonders how I could even think of complaining. An all-expenses-paid week at camp in exchange for being the Pastor of the Week there, which includes various and sundry clerical duties, amounts to a rather fair exchange, all in all.
But there was nothing I could do about Fred Flintstone.
The camp has this custom of doing little camp songs, as is common, I suppose, in “Christian” camps who have come to be known for such pap as Noah and his arky arky. But it gets to be a bit much to hear what they’ve done to table prayers here. Never mind what wonders a week of constant exposure to Luther’s table prayers and such could have done for these malleable little minds; the expectations here are geared to the taking of familiar tunes from television and the big screen, and making of them prayers. Like, for instance, singing grace to the tune of The Flintstones theme song. Instead of “Flintstones; meet the Flintstones; they’re the modern stone age family” we’re supposed to sing, by the same tune, “Praise God; O Praise God; And we thank him for our food” and then bang our hands on the table; thence continuing with similar words in place of “From the town of Bedrock, etc.” At the close of this “prayer” the campers shout (what else?): “Yabba dabba doo!”
Similar adaptations were made to the theme song from The Addams Family (didididum *click click* didididum *click click* didididum didididum didididum *click click* . . .), the Kentucky Fried Chicken ad (“It’s so nice, nice to feel so good about a meal, so good about our Father’s many blessings”), and several others.
Now what’s so bad about that? Just a little fun, right?
My trouble was that I couldn’t help but think, during the Flintstone thing, about a big bronto-burger hanging out the window of my car, and that silly little polka-dot getup that Fred always wore more religiously than I wear a round collar. Or worse, that the kids here might start actually behaving like Junior Addams. And my old fuddy-duddy backwards thinking mind kept asking me, “Is this prayer?”
The answer is clear, of course, which is why I chose, like an old stick-in-the mud, to refrain from singing along. Perhaps no one noticed, but then again, perhaps it would have been good if they had; if they had seen that the pastor here doesn’t pray like this.
But why not?
The greater question is, I have come to realize, why they do seem to insist on praying like this. The answer, I have also come to believe, is a rather unsettling one. Christian freedom, they would undoubtedly affirm. We, they would likely add, are free in Christ; free from the law and its constraints. Therefore when the law tells us that we must behave a certain way, we demonstrate our freedom from it by behaving in a way that is inimical to that way. See, we are free! such behavior would seem to say. And look what fun it is to pray this new way: we can bang on the table, sing fun little ditties, and have a ball, all the while saying that this is our version of praise to Jesus.
It all sounds increasingly familiar in our midst, in varying degrees and called by various names.
It is unsettling because it is frankly not Christian freedom at all. I was troubled not only by the preponderance of focus on the law and commandants in the little songs, as always happens with fundamentalist guitar songs, but also by the rather clearly evident indications that these people were not really praying here at all; they were just having fun.
Thus freedom is freedom from prayer, freedom from the Word, freedom from Christ. Such freedom is not Christian.
But someone may say this assessment is unfair; perhaps there were some who were earnest about their thanks and praise in such an unlikely format. If so, what does this say of the God to whom they are praying? What are the not-so-subliminal implications here? That God is no deeper than Fred and Barney; that Christianity is finger lickin’ good and nothing more. There is an element here which is seriously malevolent to the Christian faith. It is the spirit of antichrist, says the apostle John, which denies that Christ is come in the flesh. The flesh alone, as we all know, is complicated. The incarnation is beyond comprehension. That the infant Child feeds the ravens when they cry calls for no other response than the bending of the knee, as the magi did. If at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, who are we to substitute the snapping of every finger? Or were the magi fuddy-duddies too?
The bottom line here is that Fred Flintstone cannot sing the praises of God; he was not created in God’s image. He is a cartoon character, created to entertain. And we, who have all seen his two feet peddle his coupe across our screen, were not created to be entertained. Being entertained is, to be sure, part of what we affirm as Christian liberty; but Christian liberty springs forth from the Gospel and its liturgy, which are from God. Let Christian liberty invade this territory and it will finally be lost.
5/17/1959 Allan and Barbra Kraklow
5/28/1982 Christine and Garry Erickson
5/28/1977 John and Charlene Sovanski
This year Pentecost falls on Sunday, May 23rd. Several languages will briefly be heard for the first verse of the Gospel. Also, a Pentecost vigil mass is on Saturday the 22nd at 5:30 pm.
Altar Guild Notes
at Redeemer in Fort Wayne, May 3-5. Pastor is keynote speaker, on Praying the Psalms.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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