Volume 33 June 2021 No. 6
Reflections on Pentecost and the Holy Trinity
This article was featured in the Kewanee Star Courier on Friday, May 21st, 2021.
This year the Feast of Pentecost was on Sunday, May 23rd, being followed by Trinity Sunday, which as always is the next Sunday, this year on May 30th.
The Church’s year is structured in such a way that we observe its three greatest Feast Days in connection with the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. That is to say, first, that on Christmas we celebrate the Father’s giving of His great Gift to the world in the sending of His Son. Second, Easter is when we rejoice in the resurrection of Christ, the Son Himself, from the grave. And then comes Pentecost, on which the Holy Spirit fills the Holy Apostles and they begin to preach the Gospel.
All three of these Feast Days are really about Jesus, of course, since Christmas is about Jesus’ birth, Easter is about Jesus’ resurrection, and Pentecost is also about Him, because the coming of the Holy Spirit is specifically the day on which the Spirit gives power to the Apostles to preach about Jesus.
By this understanding, Pentecost is really an outgrowth of Easter, as indicated by the final chapters of each of the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
St. Matthew records immediately after Jesus’ appearance to His disciples that they should go and teach all nations. St. Mark likewise reports that Jesus’ Easter appearances to the disciples were followed by His command that they go into all the world and preach the Gospel. St. John’s last two chapters report three appearances of the risen Lord to His disciples, the second and third of which contain snippets of the Evangelist’s own preaching as he was commanded: first, immediately after Jesus’ appearance to Thomas, John writes, “These are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ” (John 20:31). and second, immediately after His appearance on the shore, he writes similarly, “This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things” (John 21:24).
St. Luke is the only Evangelist who follows up His Gospel with an entire second book, the Acts of the Apostles, in which the details of Pentecost are given. Here we see the Spirit coming to the Apostles and filling them, whereupon they began to speak with other tongues (Acts 2:4). The tongues are listed by name, and the history of the birth and growth of the Church follows, beginning with Peter’s sermon about Jesus (Acts 2:14-26).
All four of the Gospels therefore make it clear that the coming of the Holy Spirit is really the beginning of preaching about Jesus and the spread of this preaching to all the world.
And therefore it is fitting that as soon as these three great Feast Days are observed, there immediately follows the Feast of the Holy Trinity, on the Sunday following Pentecost.
What we learn from this is that Jesus is at the center of everything which has to do with Almighty God and His relation to His created world. Jesus is begotten of the Father and born for us; Jesus rises from the dead on Easter Day; and Jesus is preached in all the world beginning on Pentecost. It must be this way of course, since our salvation entirely depends on Jesus. Without His holy incarnation there could be no payment for the sin of the world by His holy crucifixion. Without His resurrection likewise His crucifixion could not be turned from defeat into victory and salvation. And without the preaching of the Gospel we would never have learned of this, and so it would all have been in vain.
So let there be eternal thanks to God the Holy Trinity, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for His immeasurable grace and mercy.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Our Personal Need for Christ and One Another
by Burnell Eckardt. This article was printed in the newsletter one year ago; it’s from Gottesblog May 18th, 2020. It might be refreshing to read it again now, as coronavirus numbers and restrictions ebb and a return to normalcy is at last upon us.
During these difficult days of the Coronavirus and its sad consequences, we will all do well to remember that the Lord Jesus will not leave his people in a state of isolation from one another indefinitely. He will not leave or forsake us, and has promised to help us in time of need. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. He will not leave us comfortless; of this we may be sure, for he cannot lie to us.
Politicians and pundits may want to talk about a “new normal” that includes routine social distancing and awareness of the dangers of personal contact, and some people may even opine that this is somehow a good thing; but we Christians know otherwise, and we long for the day when this crisis is over.
For we know that we are creatures of God, who himself entered our race in his holy incarnation. The Word became flesh; he did not despise the womb of the Virgin; and in our flesh he ransomed us from death and the grave by the shedding of his sacred blood. Not only so, but this same Jesus, in this same flesh, rose from the dead on the third day, and showed himself alive to his disciples. And he said to them, “Handle me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” This same Jesus is he that took little children up in his arms and blessed them; he touched the eyes of the blind to make them see; he put his fingers into the ears of the deaf to make them hear. The Good Shepherd blesses his sheep by his warm embrace. And he feeds them his own Body and Blood in the Blessed Sacrament.
And since we are creatures of the Word made flesh, therefore we not only need continually to be thus receiving him, but to be with one another as well, for this is our innate need: for gathering, and togetherness, and touch, and embrace.
Love bears all things, and love never ends, says the Apostle. Thus while we may have to endure a period of trouble during which we find ourselves in greater or lesser degrees of isolation from each other (pity especially the poor elderly in nursing homes!), we also know that this crisis, this dreadful state of affairs, will pass; that it must pass. And we also know, because love never ends, that one day, hopefully one day soon, we will find ourselves free again just as we once were, free to be truly together again: free to mingle with one another, free to embrace our loved ones, free to find ourselves happily among excited crowds, free to visit the sick or the lonely, free to offer a hand to the weak, or personal service to someone who may need help with groceries, or the front steps, or the opening of a door, free even to walk with friends, to shake hands with people we meet, to play, to dance, to love. That day we await with fervent hope, confidence, and prayer. For Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!
6/5 Linda Rowe
6/16 Berniece Harris
6/29 Jim Watson
The council will be meeting on Wednesday, June 16th the usual third Wednesday. Please make a note of it.
Jim Hornback, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells.
Altar Guild Notes
Elders and Altar Guild Moved to June 8th
This month’s first Monday events are moved to the second Tuesday, June 8th, to accommodate Pastor’s schedule. Please make a note of it.
6/17/1967 Robert and Mary Beth Jones
6/18/1960 Sandra and John Verplaetse
6/18/1977 Fr. Burnell and Carol Eckardt
6/18/1966 Don and Sue Murphy
6/19/1977 Dana and Carol McReynolds
6/19/1966 Bill and Judy Thompson
On Pentecost Sunday (May 23rd) we were pleased to welcome Jeff and Tara Wagenknecht as new members, by transfer. Jeff and Tara live in Walnut. We are pleased and delighted to have them join our parish.
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, Dale Baker, Jewneel Walker
and beyond our parish:
Anna, Katy, and 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 [Dale’s son and wife]
Theresa Moore [Ricknells’ niece]
Kathy Boeger [re Harrises]
Allison Leezer [relative of the Kraklows]
Bud Harfst, Everly Stoner, Glenda Wallace
Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter]
Les and Trevor Lindsey [Otis Anderson’s relatives]
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]
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.
Once Creation Goes, Everything Else Falls Apart
By John Bussman, posted at Gottesblog (www.gottesdienst.org/gottesblog) on May 14th, 2021. Fr. Bussman is the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Cullman, Alabama.
I was recently talking to several people in the church about an article I had read concerning The Rev. Dr. Juhana Pohjola of the Evangelical Lutheran Mission Diocese of Finland. You may have heard of his situation there in Finland. As the conversation carried on, I kept hearing over and over, “I can’t believe that so many Christians have strayed so far from what the Bible says.” It’s true, isn’t it? So many denominations today live by only one rule: “anything goes!” all in the name of being “nice” and “loving.” Everyone is allowed to do whatever he/she/they/them/… wants to do, and you have to go along with it—or else!
I can certainly understand this from the world’s perspective. The ones outside the Church will assuredly descend into chaos, destruction, and despair. We’ve seen it in history over and over again. But why would these who believe so little of the Bible still confess to be Christian and send the body of Christ into such chaos as well? We have that issue with those who claim to be Lutheran but have forsaken Christ their Lord. It has all happened so quickly. That’s probably the most shocking thing about it. I’m even down here in the “Bible belt,” and it shocks me to see how many have begun to sacrifice to the gods of this age and how little they know about Jesus their Savior.
As I commented on the Pohjola article to my people, I summed it up this way: “Once the doctrine of creation is lost, everything else goes with it.” The very first line in the Holy Scriptures says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If that verse is quoted and a person says that they disagree, we have different Gods. It’s plain and simple. If from the very first verse we disagree, why should we ever expect to come to the same conclusion about the meaning of any other account in the Scriptures? The answer is very simply: “We shouldn’t because we won’t.” If you tell me that God didn’t create, you certainly won’t tell me that God literally sent a flood over the earth or that Jonah was literally swallowed by a big fish or that Adam and Eve were literally real people. (I seem to recall a controversy over this very matter…)
This world is in a mess. I could cite numerous examples, but you already know this for yourselves. It’s in a mess because the masses have rejected the very God who created it all. We have seen this spill into the Church as we see denomination after denomination fall completely out of the kingdom because they, too, have forsaken the Creator. Once creation goes, everything else falls apart. We must guard and defend this doctrine lest we, too, fall like so many others have and go the way of the world. In guarding and defending, we are not locking it safely behind closed doors. We are proclaiming it to a world (and to many churches) who have lost it. Bear in mind: in the proclamation, they will come for you as they have Rev. Pohjola. You will probably become the “intolerant church” in town. But if the confession ceases, we will eventually lose Christ our Lord and everything will fall apart.
Yes. That’s right. If God did not create, the whole purpose of sending Jesus is lost as well. If God didn’t create, there’s no reason to re-create. If the restoration of all things is not the goal of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, then why did He come? All of His healing, teaching, and miracles must take on a brand new interpretation. A God who doesn’t create would care nothing for re-creation or restoration. So at that point we have to come up with something completely new for the simplest thing the Scriptures teach! Jesus no longer comes to make all things new through the forgiveness of sins won on the cross. The new answers for Jesus’ coming are plenty: Jesus came “to teach me how I can live a meaningful life,” or “so that I am free to live how I want,” or “so that I don’t have to follow the Law,” etc. You’ve heard it all, I’m sure.
We mustn’t lose creation lest we lose Jesus. It might sound shocking or excessive, but it is most certainly true and will happen more quickly than you can imagine. Simply look at the evidence and see what’s happened to all of the others who sacrificed it first. The cross is absent, and anything goes!
Church Picnic in July, at Wells’ Home
This year our church picnic will be on the 18th of July, which is a little later than usual, at the home of Tom Wells. Tom lives on the road north to Annawan.
Take Hwy 78 north of town until you get to the last road that shoots off to the east before Annawan. You can see their blue house from the road; it’s pretty much the only house there. We’ll plan to go right after mass on Sunday, which is usual for Church Picnic Sunday. We get into our picnic clothes right after mass, bring a dish to pass, and maybe even bring some yard games to play. If you have no dish to pass, that’s fine; there’s always plenty. Arrive when you can; people will probably start showing up between 11 and noon. We should have some grilled meat etc. Bring your smiling faces and your summer hats!
At last, a return to normalcy
The table in the hallway has been removed. The mailboxes in the narthex are back in service. The table below the ramp for offerings has been removed. The offering plate is being passed after the sermon, as was formerly customary. Social distancing at the altar is no longer needed.
Be on the Lookout (on your computer)
This note comes from your trustees. If you are ever interested in surfing the internet, here’s something to consider: There are always gifts and grants available for church projects; it’s just a matter of finding them. For instance, we replaced the fluorescent lights in the school earlier this year by tapping into a grant that encourages people to get energy-efficient lights. It allowed us to purchase the lights at a net cost of just 33¢ apiece.
Right now, in particular we are we are looking for windows for the classrooms. So a grant of some kind for that would be nice.
You never know what you can find, but we won’t find anything if we don’t look for it. So, if you are ever in the mood, feel free to do some web browsing for your church, and see what you can find! Then just let Otis or pastor know.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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