Because the Father Himself Loves You: a Segue into Pentecost and Trinity
During Eastertide, I had the opportunity to preach on St. John the Gospel for Rogate, the Fifth Sunday after Easter. I was struck by a portion of that Gospel in particular, in a way I had not considered before, perhaps because I had not quite understood it. It’s these words:
“And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full. . . . At that day ye shall ask in my name: and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God” (St. John 16:23-27).
These words have to do, I believe, with a very special and important kind of love, and are worth pondering as we enter the Trinity Season. We know, of course, that the Father loves us. So does Jesus. And we know that his love is the reason Jesus came to redeem the world.
But the particular kind of love of which he speaks here is, I believe, of a more exalted character even than that, and it speaks of something that is, in a way, new and profound.
A close examination of these words reveals this. In the first place, Jesus says he is not going to pray for his disciples now, because they can do it themselves. This is not general but specific. It means they can pray now in his stead, as though they were he. No need, in other words, that Jesus should do the praying for them, because now he is inviting them to pray in unity with him to the Father, so that when the Father hears them it will be exactly the same thing as when the Father had been hearing Jesus.
This brings us, secondly, to the meaning of the Father’s love here. Why does the Father love you? For this reason, he says: because you have loved me; and this means, as he continues here, that you have believed that I came out from God. So then this, like the Father’s hearing of the disciples in Jesus’ stead, is now the love for the Father that he has always had for his eternal Son. Jesus is called the Beloved, because the love between him and the Father is an eternal relationship between these Persons of the Trinity. And now, the disciples (and we) are invited into this love, and are loved as though we were Jesus.
This is the result of our Baptism in his name, and what it means to pray in his name. When it comes to your prayers, there is no difference now, in the Father’s ears, between you and Jesus, and there is essentially, in a way, no difference between you and Jesus himself, when it comes to the love of the Father. Of course you are not Jesus; but the baptismal unity you have gained with him now provides this perspective.
This truth provides a marvelous segue into Pentecost and Trinity, which we observe during the month of June.
First, on Pentecost the Apostles begin their holy Ministry, and offer prayers in the churches as though it were Jesus himself standing at the altar. And of all the prayers, perhaps the most significant is this: “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven; give us this day our daily bread.” Because that prayer is essentially asking for the Sacrament, the very Body and Blood of Jesus, that is, that these precious elements may become here, in this place and at this time, Jesus’ Body and Blood, to be distributed to us. And we may have full confidence that this prayer is heard, because of the promise given here: “Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” This especially applies to the priestly prayer of the celebrant at the altar.
And next comes Trinity Sunday, a celebration of the three Persons of the Godhead. What this passage tells us about that is that the eternal love shared between the Father and the Son now welcomes us. Indeed the ancients used to say that this Love was none other than the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity. To have the Holy Spirit, then, is to be brought into the divine, eternal fellowship of the Triune Godhead.
That’s deep, I know. But then, does not St. Paul agree? “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and decisions and how unfathomable and untraceable are His ways” (Romans 11:33)!
Welcome then, O ye Christians, to the depths of God, to his abiding love. And come and be bound to it again and again, at the altar.
+ Pastor Eckardt
6/5 Linda Rowe
6/16 Berniece Harris
6/29 Jim Watson
The council will be meeting on Wednesday, June 15th the usual third Wednesday. Please make a note of it.
Jim Hornback, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells.
Altar Guild Notes
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:
Bill Thompson, Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Emmy Wear, Don and Sue Murphy, Bea Harris, Allan Kraklow, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Sovanski, Grant Andreson, Dale Baker, Jewneel Walker, Judy Thompson, Sharon Hartz
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]
Theresa Moore [Ricknells’ niece]
Kathy Boeger [re Harrises]
Allison Leezer [relative of the Kraklows]
Shannon Watson [Jim’s daughter]
Maxine Bitting [Judy Thompson’s sister in law]
Yvette Baker [Dale Baker’s daughter-in-law]
Richard Heiden [Carol Eckardt’s father]
Pastor Jacob Sutton, Pastor Justin Kane
in the military:
Luke Van Landigan [grandson of Dick Melchin]
Jaclyn Alvarez [daughter of Kris Harden]
Wetzel, Traven Wetzel [Kris Harden’s relatives]
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.
victims of warfare
our own church
Vespers and Elders June 7th
This month’s first Monday events are to be held on Tuesday, June 7th. This includes Vespers at 6:45 pm, followed by Elders at 7:15 pm. As of now, the altar guild no longer meets regularly; notification will be given when they do meet.
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
Emilie Ricknell at home; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield retirement home; Dale Baker at home; Jewneel Walker at Kewanee Care, Grant Andreson, at Friendship Manor in Rock Island.
Pentecost and Trinity
This year Pentecost is on Sunday, June 5th, and Trinity Sunday is June 12th.
5/2 Sheri Kraklow
5/6 Emilie Ricknell
5/10 Bill Thompson
5/24 Jeff Wagenknecht
Church Picnic Plans TBA
We still have not settled on a place for the church picnic this year, though we expect it will likely be held the last Sunday in June, which is the usual date. That will be June 26th. Announcement as to the place and details will be forthcoming.
Special Rules for Bibles or Books Containing Sacred Texts
By Ben Ball
Fr Ball is a Gottesdienst editor and a vice-president of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. This was posted on Gottesblog (the blog of Gottesdienst, for which see www.gottesdienst.org) on May 19th, 2022.
Our school principal purchased this edition of the Vulgate as a gift to our graduating Latin scholars. What was of great interest to me was the piece of paper inside the book’s cover. It included “Special Rules for Bibles or Books Containing Sacred Texts”. I thought our Gottesdienst readers would find them as interesting as I did; so here they are.
A Bible is not a ‘coaster’. Do not set drinks or food on a Bible.
Store in a clean, dry, and if possible, a prominent place so it is visible and easily accessed.
Avoid stacking books of lesser dignity on top of it.
When no longer of use to its owner, it should be given away or sold to another.
If it cannot be given away or sold, it should be thoroughly burned and the ashes buried in a suitable place. This will help prevent it from falling into the hands of those who might desecrate God’s Word. “Nolite dare sanctum canibus…Give not that which is holy to dogs…” (Matthew 7:6).
Do not ‘dog-ear’ or fold the pages to mark them. Use a thin strip of paper instead. Avoid using an excessive number of thick book marks or prayer cards. This puts stress on the binding.
Writing notes, underlining, or highlighting in a Bible is permissible if it is done discreetly and does not obscure the inspired text. Do not cross out words or cut and paste portions of the inspired text. If you do not like the translation of your Bible - get a different one!
Mr. Kennedy Goes to Washington
By Burnell Eckardt
This is another post at Gottesblog, from May 3rd, 2022.
A high school athletic director has been thrust into the national spotlight because he prayed in public. He took his case to court, and now, seven years later, the High Court has agreed to hear Kennedy v. Bremerton School District.
This is reminiscent of the recent kerfuffle over the two Christians in Finland who went on trial for publicly confessing their faith. Readers will recall the victory in a Finnish courtroom we celebrated over the unanimous verdict in favor of Mrs. Païvi Räsänan and Bishop Juhana Pohjola, both of whom are recipients of Gottesdienst’s Sabre of Boldness, because the court determined it was not right for the government to get tangled up in the matter of Bible interpretation and the public stifling of free speech. Hopefully that victory will not be short-lived, though it has been appealed, predictably. Opponents, still fuming over the challenge that evident reality poses for their unfortunate and arguably deranged views on sexuality and marriage, have no intention of backing down.
And now on this side of the pond, before the Supreme Court comes the matter of publicly praying. Oral arguments were heard last Monday.
Joe Kennedy, the complainant, explained in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal that appeared on the day of the hearing (April 25, 2022) that he had promised God that he would “take a knee by myself in quiet prayer at the 50-yard line following every game, win or lose.” This developed over years into a motivational talk when players became interested in what he was doing, but when the administration told him to stop, he gladly agreed to do so, and reverted to his previous practice of praying alone on the 50. But when the lawyers stepped in, the requirement changed to refraining from anything public or visible, with the suggestion that he go to a room far removed from the public eye. Mr. Kennedy determined that if he were to comply, it would send a message that prayer is bad and should be hidden, so he refused. He was suspended for that, though they admitted there was “no evidence that students have been directly coerced” to pray along. No matter. He was fired with a negative evaluation and the warning “Do Not Rehire” emblazoned on it. Mr. Kennedy, a former Marine, thus has made his plea to the Court.
The liberals on the Court have lined up against him of course. Justice Kagan opined that what he is doing still constitutes a form of coercion, because it “kind of puts undue press on student (sic) to participate when they may not wish to,” and Justice Sotomayor agrees, saying, “He chose to publicize his prayer, and he got down on one knee on the 50-yard line.” I frankly find this laughable. As Mr. Kennedy has said, “teachers could be fired for praying over their lunch” by that standard. And thankfully most of the other Justices seem to be on his side. Justice Alito has even indicated that religious expression should be treated no differently than the expression of political views, a protected right. The Court’s majority appears to be in agreement that Mr. Kennedy’s conduct should not be considered an endorsement of religion, and it’s widely believed that they’ll rule in his favor, come June (NBC News online April 25, 2022).
So here’s another example of religion, specifically Christianity, under attack in the public worldwide spotlight. First Finland, now here. For now it appears that public sentiment is coming down pretty heavily on the side of free speech, and that’s a good thing of course. But there’s no telling the future. I know I inherited my sainted mother’s perpetual optimism about things, but still I find in this an urgent need for continued prayer, not only on the 50-yard line. Martin Luther quipped that the world has no idea how much it owes the Christians for their prayers, and I, too, believe those prayers have certainly made a difference, and that Someone is listening. So let’s keep praying. And as for the future, it was once said that we don’t know what the future holds, but we know Who holds the future. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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