St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 31 December 2019 No. 12
This time of year everyone knows that preparations are in order. For this reason we find that there is a nice comparison that can be made between the ordinary kinds of preparations people make for Christmas and the season of Advent.
For in Advent, too, we prepare. Christ is coming, we know, and not merely do we think of the annual celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord; we think of the return of our Lord in glory. Advent prepares us for both, which is a traditional junction of the way that leads to Christmas and the way that leads to Christ’s return. The readings for Advent Sundays reflect this junction, though they tend by and large to emphasize the preparations that are in order for Christ’s return.
St. Peter says this about that:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. (II Peter 3:10-13).
The heart of that admonition is this: the Apostle asks what manner of persons ought we to be in all holy conversation and godliness, which is a rhetorical question. It means, of course, that we ought to be careful to walk according to holiness of conduct (the KJV term “conversation” means conduct), that is, simply, in decency, kindness, brotherly love, forgiving one another in meekness. This is what is meant by godliness. It is the life of faith, which first trusts Christ’s holy promise and mercy, and then, because of this trust, bears oneself properly toward everyone on earth. And this, too, is what is meant by preparation for the coming of Christ: living this life of faith, by which we look for and hasten toward the coming of the day of God
So we conduct ourselves meekly: in penitence for our sins, desiring to receive Holy Absolution, to hear the Holy Gospel, and to partake in the Holy Sacrament, and in love toward our neighbor, desiring by holiness of conduct, good things for him.
Advent thus seamlessly continues the theme which had already been established toward the end of the church year.
+ Pastor Eckardt
As usual, we will hold three different Christ Masses this year: the first will be on Christmas Eve at 7:00; the second will follow at Midnight; and the third will be Christmas morning at 10:00.
Special Note for Altar Guild; First Tuesday Meetings Dec. 3
On Tuesday, December 3rd, Altar Guild meets as usual at 6 pm, and Elders at 7:15 pm. Between them we will hold vespers at 6:45 pm. All members invited.
Altar Guild members: please make an extra effort to attend this meeting, at which we are going to review the instructions for Altar Guild duty; it is good to do this periodically.
Mary Hamilton has moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana; Emmy Wear is at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield; Emilie Ricknell is at home; Dick Melchin is at Hammond Henry Extended Care in Geneseo; Bea Harris is occasionally at home; Dale Baker is occasionally at home.
Special Masses Wednesdays
Our 7 p.m. masses during Advent will be emphasizing the narratives of St. Luke 1 that are written in preparation for the nativity of our Lord reported in St. Luke 2. Come prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas, at the End of the World, and at the Altar.
On December 11th we will also have caroling and a party, as explained in a nearby article.
Caroling and Party Dec. 11
We plan to go caroling on Wednesday, December 11th. Meet at the church at 5 p.m. We will visit some shut-ins, and end up at the church for Mass at 7. Afterwards all are invited to the Eckardts’ annual Christmas Party at their home.
Decorating During Advent
As is our custom, we decorate little by little during Advent, until finally all is complete for Christmas. This year we plan to put up the tree Saturday, November 30th!
Our church’s website is www.stpaulskewanee.org, and it is very active. Twice a week there is usually a new post in the “Sermons” section, as a synopsis of the most recent sermon is given, with a link to the audio of the Gospel and sermon that you can listen to whenever you want, or share with your friends.
12/13 Jim and Carol Watson
Allan Kraklow, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells, Jim Hornback.
12/11 Kris Harden
12/13 Michael Eckardt
12/23 James Armstrong
The Bell Tolls
On the last Sunday of the year, we customarily toll the bell at prayers for each member of our parish who has died during the year. We remember this year one member who fell asleep in Christ:
Coming Up: Epiphany Seminar and Celebration, Saturday, January 4th, 2020
A day of reflection is planned for Saturday, January 6th, 2020. To open the seminar we will have mass at 9:00 in the morning. A seminar will follow. Here is the schedule:
9:00 a.m. Mass: the eleventh day of Chistmas
10:00 a.m. - noon Seminar (day of reflection):
The nineteenth retreat in the Theological Reflection series is entitled,
“THE NATIVITY OF MOSES”
Why is the nativity of Moses reported in such great detail in Exodus 2? What is the significance of these details? Questions like this will all be discussed and addressed.
Lutheranism is the Truth
from Gottesblog (at the Gottesdienst website, www.gottesdienst.org) November 11, 2019. Posted by blogger Rev. Sean Daenzer.
“. . . to be Lutheran and to be Christian are not in any way matters in tension. [I am] one who is a Lutheran because he is a Christian—who, if he were not a Lutheran, would not be a believer of any kind—one who sees the only logical alternative to his commitment to the Christian Lutheran faith to be Epicurianism in its most popular form: ‘Let us eat and drink and be merry, for tomorrow we are dead.’ I do not mean to say that it is more important to be a Lutheran than to be a Christian. If a Christian is properly described as one who is united with Christ by true faith in Him, then no church affiliation of any kind can be placed on a level with it, let alone on a level above it. To be a Christian, in the sense of accepting the Christian faith, is to be in the only condition in which salvation is possible.
“. . . One often hears the idea, variously expressed, that it is more important to be a Christian than to be a Lutheran. . . .” The sentence, I am a Lutheran because I am a Christian, [rather,] asserts (1) that the Christian faith is clearly revealed, (2) that it can be grasped and understood, (3) that it can be accurately stated, taught, and confessed, and (4) that this has been done in traditional Lutheranism. It is a further consequence of this conviction to hold that convinced members of other denominations would think exactly the same way about their view of the Christian message—and, thinking that way, would reject my views which are specifically Lutheran. It is only for such persons—those who take seriously their own view of Christianity and that of Christians who disagree with them—that I have any real respect. The big enemy of the true Christian faith is compromise, toleration, the spirit that we all are right—as if the important thing is not to be Lutheran but to be Christian without any denominational confession whatever.
“In my first paragraph I also voiced my view that Epicureanism is the only logical alternative to my Christian Lutheran faith. You may well wonder why . . . it is no idle comment; it is seriously meant. It is related between two contrasts: The one is the contrast between the Lutheran church and other churches, and the other is that between the Christian faith and all other religions.
“The first contrast implies that if I believe, as I do, that the gospel or the Word of God is witnessed to purely and truly in the Lutheran Confessions, then there is no point in thinking of forsaking the Lutheran church to seek membership somewhere else. On the one hand, what is true and good in other churches can always be acknowledged as such and made use of (like the excellent Anglican prayers and other liturgical material). On the other hand, what makes any of the other churches distinctively what they are (such as papal authority in the Church of Rome) simply has to be rejected by the Lutheran—and membership in that church must likewise be rejected. For me as a convinced Lutheran, there is no acceptable alternative to Lutheranism in the various other denominations; therefore, the only logical alternative seems to be abandonment of the faith in favor of Epicureanism.
“The second implies that there can be no rival of any kind to the Christian faith. God became a human being in Jesus Christ once and for all. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). Christianity is simply in a class by itself among the ‘religions’.
. . . “A careful reader will probably pick up another signal from these pages [of Hamann’s book.] There is in them an undercurrent of disappointment concerning the present state of Lutheranism in the world. As the late Dr. Sasse said very often, the ecumenical movement has destroyed dogma throughout the church. World Lutheranism is in a state of disintegration, and enthusiasm for the old faith seems to be disappearing, even in those parts of Lutheranism that used to make a great deal of their loyalty to the Confessions. Much is still said in those quarters about confessional Lutheranism, but a great deal of that talk is mere talk, pious conventionalism.”
New Year’s Mass:New Year’s Eve mass is 7 pm on December 31st.
In Our Prayers
Our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. Anyone wishing to update the list by addition or subtraction, please inform the pastor.
in our parish:
Mary Beth Jones
and beyond our parish:
Anna Rutowicz [granddaughter of Harrises]
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]
Kenneth Baker [Derrick’s brother]
Bud Harfst [Sue Murphy’s brother]
Tony Stoner [friend of the Murphys]
Carol Grigsby [Jewneel Walker’s friend]
Pastor Kenneth Wegener
Pastor Kenneth Wegener
Pastor Karl Fabrizius
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 [at request of Kris Harden]
Traven Wetzel [at request of Kris Harden]
Eric Verplaetse [Sandra’s grandson]
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
Persecution details [from www.persecution.net]:
SYRIA: Christians At Risk
Source(s): AINA, Middle East Concern, CBN
Date: 14 November 2019
When American troops pulled out of Syria, and Turkish troops moved in to establish a "safe zone" in northeast Syria, there were understandable concerns about the safety of the people living in this area. Turkish authorities gave assurances that their forces would not persecute religious minorities, including a significant number of Christians. However, recent reports have indicated otherwise.
Troops were reportedly told to not physically harm any Christians. However, that has not stopped them from driving civilians who practice Christianity out of their homes and land. Armenians and Syriac Christians in the region have been intimidated and forbidden access to their land, keeping them from harvesting their crops. As a result of the takeover, combined with bombings of towns and villages in the area, many Christians have been forced to flee. Witnesses describe it as a "soft ethnic cleansing."
Along with the danger posed by invading Turkish troops, Islamic extremist groups -- including self-proclaimed ISIS terrorists -- have been emboldened. On November 11th, an Armenian Catholic priest, Hovsep Bedoyan was murdered by gunmen, along with his father. Two others in the vehicle were also injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack. The terrorist group has also been responsible for some bombings that took place on the same day near a Chaldean church in Qamishli, leaving six dead.
IRAN: Recent Prisoner Updates
Christians in Iran face constant danger when living out their faith. This is particularly true for those who convert from Islam. For many, faith in Christ leads to torture and imprisonment. More information, including various reports, can be reviewed at our country report.
Ismaeil Maghrebinejad, 65, was taken into custody on January 25th of this year on charges of propaganda against the state (note previous report). In a hearing on October 22nd, charges of apostasy were added by the judge, even though Ismaeil had been a Christian for nearly 40 years. The next court hearing is expected in two months' time.
On October 31st, it was reported that Ebrahim Firouzi had been released from prison and would be facing two years of exile after a temporary leave (see this report). Ebrahim has now been sent to Sarbaz, a city that is located hundreds of kilometers south of his home and nears the border with Pakistan. Ebrahim was scheduled to arrive on November 12th to the city, where he will be learning of the conditions and restrictions enforced on him for the next two years.
Five other Iranian Christians are facing sentences between five and fifteen years for "acting against national security."
INDIA: House Churches Under Surveillance to Prevent Worship
Police in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu have put several house churches under surveillance in an effort to prevent their use for Christian worship. House church congregations in several villages were warned to stop meeting altogether. Pastors of these small gatherings have been harassed and ordered to get permission from district officials in order to conduct prayer services.
CHINA: New Regulations Bring Added Restrictions
Authorities in Zhejiang province have instituted a series of new restrictions on churches, including regulations forbidding the practice of baptismal services and the use of offering collection boxes. The monitoring of attendees, types of activities, service times and locations has been given to appointed government officials to ensure all the restrictions are followed.
Altar Guild Notes
Altar Guild members: please make an extra effort to attend our December meeting, at which we are going to review the instructions for Altar Guild duty; it is good to do this periodically.
Advent does not begin until the first weekend in December. The four Advent Sundays’ color is violet. If roses are obtained, they may be placed on the Third Sunday in Advent, December 15th.
For midweek masses, the color remains violet.
For Christmas Eve, the first Mass is at 7 p.m., and the color is changed to white. The three Christ Masses will be held as usual, 7 pm Christmas Eve, 12 midnight, and 10 am Christmas Day. Color is white for all three.
The Sunday after Christmas is observed on Sunday morning the 29th. Color remains white.
New Year’s Eve mass is held at 7 pm on the 31st. Color is white and remains white in January.
No mass is scheduled for St. Stephen, St. John, of Holy Innocents (26-28 December) this year.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443