St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 31 December 2021 No. 12
Preparations, Secular and Spiritual
December is always a time of preparing. Most people have extra to do. Shopping, cooking, Christmas cards, parties, etc. For some it is a time of greater stress, largely on account of this. Some recall tragedies or sorrows that have descended upon them during these days, and hence find them dark and depressing. And that, while certainly understandable, is truly a shame. What can be done? Here’s a suggestion.
Advent, of course, ought to be a time of anticipation and of penitential preparation in particular. The older traditional understanding of the season of Advent was that it was a time of fasting, similar to the time of Lent, if a bit less pronounced. The seasons surrounding Christmas have less longevity than the seasons surrounding Easter, for the simple reason that while Easter goes back to the time of Jesus’ resurrection itself, Christmas. There is even some evidence to suggest that the first two centuries of Christianity were times of strong opposition to the recognition of the birthdays of saints and martyrs in general, since their dates of martyrdom were considered the time of their birth in the Church Triumphant. How much more then, the reasoning went, should the date of Jesus’ birth not be observed. Of course, this reasoning is weak, and soon replaced with the greater importance of having a time to emphasize and rejoice in the incarnation of our Lord.
But it was not until the third century that the date of December 25th began to be recognized and observed as the date of Jesus’ birth, held then in conjunction with the winter solstice, under the view that it was fitting that the birth of the Son of God in the flesh be observed when the ‘birth’ of the sun occurred, the date when the days began to get longer again. In this way the Church could also supplant the pagan festivals that occurred on the solstice with a better one of her own. There is a second view that the date of Jesus’ conception in the womb was a fitting feast to observe on March 25th because it was the time of the spring equinox, which of course also puts his nativity at December 25th, nine months from that date (For details, see Britannica.com under “Christmas”).
As the celebration of the Nativity grew popular, so also did the preparation by fasting and penitence also accompany it, appropriately.
Hence arises this recommendation: if we can recover in some respects the need of spiritual preparation for the great Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, we might at least consider the strains added to our schedules, the stresses added to our lives, and the sorrows added to our minds as being in themselves another type of fasting, in a way. We do these things because we must, or because we have no choice, according to the time of year; but we can perhaps learn to do or endure them cheerfully if we consider the goal: a fitting celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord. How do we celebrate that? First, by attending the Christ Mass, certainly, and in preparation for that by attending Advent Masses and learning again of the importance of penitence, much as we do during Lent. Second, by preparing to make that day of Christmas a noble time of great joy and gladness. This we do by exchanging gifts, having festive meals, and joining
with family to do these things. And to this, of course, we must enter into all of our other preparatory arrangements of all kinds, in advance of Christmas. In short, it might be helpful to put our secular preparations into a spiritual perspective. Consider them additional preparations to make the appropriate joy of Christmas all the greater.
But some of use cannot do any of this. For those who, say, are alone at Christmas, it can mean that we simply have less of the trappings of Christmas, but not that Christmas itself should be lost on us, as to its meaning. It is still, for all of us, a time to rejoice in the incarnation of our Lord. And since he came for all, therefore none of us need feel left out, or unable to rejoice. Since his incarnation is a permanent coming of our Lord in the flesh, prerequisite to his death and resurrection in the flesh, and since it means that he has bound himself to us poor Christians forever, therefore there is always reason to rejoice, no matter how many or how few the accompanying frills.
Remember first of all, to come to Mass, both on Christmas and during Advent. During Advent, find some ways to fast. And remember also, in your private devotion, your need of penitence. Come to confession during Advent; it’s a most fitting time to do so. And pull out your hymnal. Read and sing the Advent hymns and the Christmas carols.
The secular need not be wholly separated from the sacred, in your preparations. Think of the secular preparations as being in some way preparations for the sacred day.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Two Christ Masses
There are two Christ Masses at St. Paul’s. The first is on Christmas Eve at 7:00, and the second is on Christmas morning at 10:00. Since Christmas Day is on a Saturday, the very next day will also have Mass. This year, that day being December 26th, will be the Feast of St. Stephen the Protomartyr. Then on Wednesday night the 29th we will observe Holy Innocents’ Day.
First Tuesday Dec. 7
On Tuesday, December 7th, First Tuesday Vespers will be held at 6:45 pm, and Elders will follow at 7:15 pm. All members invited and encouraged to come 0to vespers. The Sunday Epistle is normally read and preached on.
Choir Rehearsal Time Change
Choir rehearsals are scheduled in preparation for Christmas, and by mutual agreement, the time of rehearsals has changed on Wednesdays. Rehearsals ae now scheduled for 5:30 pm except on December 15th, when we intend to go caroling (see below). Choir members, please put these Wednesdays in December on your calendar: December 1st , 8th, and 22nd before rather than after midweek mass. This should make traveling easier for out-of-towners
Caroling and Party Dec. 15th
We plan to go caroling on Wednesday, December 15th. 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.
Emmy Wear is at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield; Emilie Ricknell is at home; Dick Melchin is at Hammond Henry Extended Care in Geneseo; Dale Baker is at home; and Jewneel Walker is at Kewanee Care.
Cookie Walk Sunday Dec. 12th
Bring a batch of cookies to Bible Class on the 12th of December, and prepare to exchange for others. Cookie walk after church! Bible class follows.
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. This year there were no deaths at St. Paul’s, so the bell will not toll, unless there are any deaths between the time of this newsletter’s printing and the end of the year. Last year this newsletter had mentioned just one one member who fell asleep in Christ, Mary Hamilton, but since two members died after the December newsletter was printed: Monroe Kemerling and DeAnne Anderson. We therefore tolled the bell three times last year.
Special Masses Wednesdays
Our 7 p.m. Wednesday 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, except for Mass on the 22rd . on which we will observe St. Thomas the Apostle’s Day. Come prepare for Christ’s coming at Christmas, at the End of the World, and at the Altar.
Wednesday Advent masses:
On December 15th we will also have caroling and a party, as explained in a nearby article.
Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells, Jim Hornback.
12/11 Kris Harden
12/13 Michael Eckardt
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 Advent wreath on Saturday, November 27th, for Advent I. Then on Saturday, December 4th we will put up the Christmas tree (extra volunteers are sought for this), for Advent II. On Saturday, December 11th we will put up any remaining decorations needed, for Advent III, except that the array of poinsettias will not be set out until Christmas Eve.
Advent III (Sunday, December 13th) is also called “Gaudete” or Joy Sunday, set in the midst of Advent. Roses are customarily set in place if available, and the pink candle on the wreath is lit.
If you can, please put Saturday December 4th on your calendar to help with the tree. It’s an opportunity for gathering with your fellow members for a little project.
Church Council by Email
A number of conflicts have brought on an attempt to deal with Church Council matters by email for the month of December. If we find that this will not suffice, especially in advance of the annual voters’ assembly in January, a special date and time will be chosen.
Trustees and the Building
In November, some lights were replaced in the school, and the roofer came to fix some areas in the school ceiling that had begun to leak.
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:
Bill Thompson, Emilie Ricknell, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Emmy Wear, Don and Sue Murphy, Dick Melchin, Bea Harris, Allan Kraklow, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Sovanski, 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]
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]
Loren Hartz [Sharon’s brother]
Yvette Baker [Dale Baker’s daughter-in-law]
Rosemary Bloome [Don Murphy’s cousin]
Richard Heiden, Carol Eckardt’s father
Troy Kelly [friend of the Murphys]
Pastor Jacob Sutton
Pastor Justin Kane [relative of Diana Shreck]
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 Iran, Iraq, Syria, Uganda, Sudan, Nigeria, India, China, Vietnam, North Korea, and elsewhere. Details may be found at www.persecution.net.
New Year’s Mass
New Year’s Eve mass is 7 pm on December 31st. We observe the Circumcision and Name of Jesus (January 1st).
Saints’ Days in December
St. Nicholas Day (December 6th) and St. Lucia’s Day (December 13th) fall on Mondays this year, and therefore will not be observed with masses. Below are devotional guides. St. Stephen’s Day will be celebrated on Sunday, December 26th, the day after Christmas, and Holy Innocents’ Day will be observed on Wednesday, December 29th. St. John the Apostle and Evangelist’s Day (December 27th) falls on Monday, and therefore will not be observed with mass. A devotional guide is on the back page.
Altar Guild Notes
Advent begins the last Sunday in November. The four Advent Sundays’ color is violet. If roses are obtained, they may be placed for the Third Sunday in Advent, December 12th.
For midweek masses, the color remains violet, except for December 22nd, when the color is red for St. Thomas, and December 29th, also red, for the Holy Innocents.
For Christmas Eve, the first Mass is at 7 p.m., and the color is changed to white. There is no Midnight Mass. On Christmas Day there is a 10 am mass. Color is white for both.
The Feast of St. Stephen is held on the Sunday after Christmas, December 26th. Color is red (which remains for the following Wednesday, Holy Innocents).
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. John (27 December) this year.
Some Saints’ Days for which We Are Not Having Masses This Year
Saint Nicholas, December 6th
Psalm 92 with Gloria Patri
Reading: Hebrews 13:7-17
Hymn and meditation, see nearby.
Saint Lucy, December 13th
Psalm 45 with Gloria Patri
Reading: II Corinthians 10:17 – 11:2
Hymn and meditation, see nearby.
Saint John, December 27th
Psalm 92 with Gloria Patri
Reading: I John 1:1 – 2:2
Hymn and meditation, see nearby.
Saint Stephen is Sunday, December 26th; Holy Innocents is to be observed on Wednesday, December 29th. We will be holding masses at the usual times on those days.
Hymn: From All Thy Saints in Warfare (TLP 350)
From all Thy saints in warfare for all Thy saints at rest
To Thee, O Blessed Jesus, all praises be addressed
For Thou hast won the battle that they might conq’ers be
Their crowns od living glory are lit with rays from Thee
[insert appropriate stanza]
Then praise to God the Father and praise to God the Son
And to the Holy Spirit Eternal Three in One
Till all the ransomed number fall down before the throne
And honor, praise, and glory ascribe to God alone.
St. Nicholas, Bishop and Confessor
A bishop for the children, and sailors on the sea:
Who made the good confession of Thy divinity
O Lord, may we be steadfast as Nicholas, we pray,
In kindness and in mercy and faithfulness alway.
St. Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
Saint Lucy, chaste in body, this honor her renown;
Was faithful unto death and received her glorious crown
For she refused her torturers by faith’s virginity,
So lighten Thou our darkness, in faithfulness to Thee.
St. Thomas, Apostle
All praise for Thine apostle, whose short-lived doubtings prove
Thy perfect twofold nature, the fullness of Thy love.
On all who wait Thy coming shed forth Thy peace, O Lord,
And grant us faith to know Thee, true Man, true God, adored.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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