St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 35 May 2023 No. 5
It’s Not So Much that We Have to Go; We Get to Go!
It’s pretty common for people to think they need to attend Sunday worship at least once in a while if they’re members of the church. But that kind of thinking is at odds with the thinking of the first witnesses of the resurrection. They, says the very last sentence in the Gospel of Luke, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God (St. Luke 24:52-53). That doesn’t sound to me as though they worshiped out of obligation—though worship is certainly obligatory according to the third commandment—but out of joy, the joy of knowing and being convinced that their Lord Jesus, who was given into death, had been raised from the dead, and had appeared to them.
When my family was young, some of the children would ask on occasion whether they had to go to church on a particular Sunday; and they quickly grew to learn what my reply would be: “You get to go to church on Sunday!” Which, of course, is the point. It’s a privilege. While certainly we are supposed to do it, since we are to remember the Sabbath (which is Christ) by keeping it holy, if that’s as far as the question goes for us, then we’re really missing the point.
No wonder, then, that people are often occasionally rather than regularly attending church on Sunday. For if it is merely the commandment that motivates you, then the motivation will be limited. For the law tells us what to do but doesn’t give us the power to do it. It produces guilt, so it is either that out of guilt that we go, guilt that we didn’t go last week, or it’s the desire to be free from guilt if we don’t go this week. You are supposed to go, after all, that is most certainly true; but there is much more to it than that.
There is the fact that Jesus rose from the dead, and lives and reigns to all eternity; and there is the fact that He, the living Christ, comes to us personally every Sunday in Word and Sacrament. You wouldn’t want to miss that, now would you, honestly?
So maybe a change in thinking is necessary, a new perspective. Think of the coming of Sunday morning as something to anticipate with joy, rather like the joy so many of us sense when Easter arrives, and we can’t wait to be there and hear and sing all the special music, and wear our Easter clothing, and be a part of the excitement. So perhaps next Sunday won’t have as many of the extra trimmings as Easter did, but those are indeed only extra trimmings. The reality is the same, the reason we are there, the heart and core of our faith and life. Christ is there, Christ Himself.
And it’s true what they say, that every Sunday is in a sense Easter. Every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection of our Lord. Every Sunday He comes to us again. Remember this, that He appeared again on the Sunday after the first Easter, and again after that, and then on the first Pentecost, He “appeared” again, though that time it was a little different. That time, He returned through the preaching of the Holy Apostles who had tongues of fire on their heads. And from that point forward they went forth and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following (St. Mark 16:20).
And their preaching office continues until the end of the world, as the Lord also preaches through today’s preachers of the Holy Gospel, and through their administration of the Blessed Sacrament feeds His sheep.
So try to think of it that way: it isn’t so much that you have to go (though you do); it’s that you get to go.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Gottesdienst Fort Wayne
The annual Gottesdienst Fort Wayne event is scheduled for Monday to Wednesday, May 1st – 3rd, at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Details are at the www.gottesdienst.org website.
Pastor will be in attendance. Events here are cancelled on those days.
Jewneel Walker at Kewanee Care in Kewanee; Emmy Wear at Williamsfield retirement home; Bea Harris (occasionally) at home.
May 28, 1982 Chris & Garry Erickson
May 28, 1977 John and Charlene Sovanski
5/2 Sheri Kraklow
5/10 Bill Thompson
5/24 Jeff Wagenknecht
No More Second Mortgage!
Some good news: The Church Council took the move of paying off our second mortgage altogether. It’s something we had been considering for some time, since we were blessed to have some extra funds.
This reduces our monthly obligations considerably, since we no longer have to pay interest on that mortgage either.
Our total indebtedness is now reduced to $81,000. That’s the lowest it’s been in years.
The faithfulness and love of the membership of our little parish is a large part of the reason we were able to do this. As you may be aware, the “stewardship” methods we employ here are rather different from what you’d see in most places. Put very crudely, those methods tend to focus on the fact that you should give, or on the importance of regular giving, etc. Sometimes the financial numbers made available every week or every month are compared with—more like, contrasted to—what is needed. And people are generally guilted into giving.
Not here. Although it’s true that you should give, and that giving is important, what I have always preferred to emphasize is the evidence and the results of our faithfulness. We at St. Paul’s know what we have; we love what we have; and we want to see it flourish and grow. That’s who we are. Sort of, in a minor way, like the churches at Macedonia, whom the Apostle commended because of the evidence they gave of the grace of God bestowed on them, that in spite even of afflictions and deep poverty they still gave of themselves and their substance because of “the abundance of their joy” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). We of course have no affliction or great poverty like they had, but I find a favorable comparison in the reason for their generosity. It was out of joy more than out of obligation. And so also here, in spite of our small size, we love our parish, we love what we have, and we want to see it flourish.
And behold, it flourishes! Let’s keep up the good work!
+ Pastor Eckardt
Rogation Days Monday through Wednesday, May 15rd – May 17th
The rogation days are the traditional days of prayer leading up to Ascension Day, and following Rogate, the Sixth Sunday after Easter. Rogate means to pray.
Every one of these days is a good day to offer special prayers, and in particular to pray the Litany, which may be found in the hymnal on page 110. You may find the sung version listed as Hymn # 661. We will do this in church on Tuesday, May 16th, at 1 pm. A good tradition; join is in the church.
Ascension Day May 18th
Ascension Day is on Thursday, May 18th. Because of this, according to our usual practice, our midweek mass will be held that day at 7:00 pm, instead of the usual day for midweek mass of Wednesday. No mass is scheduled for Wednesday, May 17th. Instead, put May 18th on your calendar and come observe the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord.
Pentecost Sunday is on May 28th this year, and we look forward to it again as a celebration of the birth of the Church and the beginning of the Gospel going out to all nations.
Here at St. Paul’s we keep the tradition of
portraying the “other tongues” of Pentecost with the reading of the opening verse of the Gospel in eight languages. The eight languages are Greek, Latin, Swedish, Spanish, French, Russian, German, and English, in which the entire Gospel will continue.
For the hymn of the day, “O Holy Spirit, Enter In,” Father Eckardt will sing stanzas three and six in German.
Our First Tuesday events are scheduled for May 9th: First Tuesday Vespers for all to attend 6:45 pm, and Elders following.
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:
Derek Baker, Sharon Hartz, Kris Harden, Bea Harris, Don and Sue Murphy, John Sovanski, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Jewneel Walker, Emmy Wear, Jim Watson,
and beyond our parish:
Anna, Katie, and Jodi Rutowicz, Julie Ross, Elizabeth Godke, Oneida Hendrickson, Janice Hart, Tim Newman, Theresa Moore, Kathy Boeger, Allison Leezer, Shannon Watson, Karen Parker, Richard Heiden, Brock Tumbleson, Jeanna Moore, Don Bitting, Jane Mueller, Pastor Justin Kane
in the military
John Eckardt, Donny Appleman, Richard Heiden,
Eli Wetzel, Traven Wetzel, Eric Verplaetse, Jake Mahaffey, James and Ann Lee Armstrong, Marcus Prentice
any unborn children in danger of abortion
those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Venezuela, Iran, Pakistan, India, China, North Korea, and elsewhere.
Church Council to Meet Thursday, May 18th
The monthly meeting of the Council is scheduled, as usual, for the third week of May, but on Thursday the 18th, at the usual 5:30 time. Our midweek mass is on Thursday this week, for Ascension Day
Jim Hornback, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells
Altar Guild Notes
Correspondence between Senator Duckworth and me over abortion:
Very recent communications between Senator Tammy Duckworth and me are a continuation of emails between her and me beginning early in the summer of 2021 when I sent here a letter urging her to vote against an abortion initiative that was before the senate. Here is a portion of her reply on August 2nd of that year, followed by correspondence between us in late April of this year.
Dear Dr. Eckardt,
Thank you for contacting me about the health and well-being of pregnant women. I appreciate you taking the time to make me aware of your concerns on this matter.
Like you, I respect human life. I believe that we should invest in programs that empower woman to control their own family planning decisions and help reduce health risks to women that may require a medically-necessary abortion to save her life. The rule of law also requires respecting long-standing precedent established by the Supreme Court of the United States of America. This includes a woman’s constitutional right to make her own medical decisions in consultation with her doctor and in accordance with her religious beliefs.
Abortion is a difficult issue that elicits passionate disagreement among my constituents and I understand that you may strongly oppose my commitment to protecting the constitutional right of a woman to make individual healthcare decisions. . . .
I hope that you will continue to share your views and opinions with me and let me know whenever I may be of assistance to you.
United States Senator
I replied on the same day (August 2, 2021):
Dear Senator Duckworth,
I greatly appreciate your taking the time to respond to my note. Thank you.
Where we differ, it seems to me, is on the question of whether abortion is fundamentally a matter of a woman’s health and her right to determine what is best for her own body. While I share with you the belief the everyone ought to be able to make his or her own healthcare decisions in a free society such as ours, I do not believe abortion to be a matter of a woman’s health, unless it were conceded that a fetus is not a living human being.
Many people on both sides of the debate fail to consider this carefully, and it makes all the difference. Biologically speaking, a fetus is more than a potential life. It is as much a person as you or I. As I am sure you are aware, it has its own DNA, its own blood, its own developing organs. It is not part of the mother who carries it. If it were, I would have no issue at all with the proponents of women’s rights who want to keep abortion legal, and in fact I could even sympathize. But inasmuch as the fetus has all the legal and biological attributes indicative of a living human being, the entire matter of a woman’s right to choose does not apply at all. Surely you agree that no mother has the right to choose to kill her children. Please consider this carefully.
Again, thank you kindly for taking the time. If you wish to discuss this matter further I would be most happy to oblige.
Rev. Burnell Eckardt, PhD
Pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Kewanee, IL
Senator Duckworth sent me another email on April 27 of this year. It must be a blanket letter sent to many pro-life advocates, since it refers to “our Nation’s Veterans,” a matter I had not at all addressed, and seems to be a reply to some other recent communication she had. I do not fault her for sending a blanket letter, inasmuch as she must receive thousands. Nevertheless she did not quite address or understand what I had previously written, either at the time a year and a half ago or recently. Here are some excerpts of her letter. My response follows.
Dear Dr. Eckardt,
Thank you for contacting me about the health and well-being of our Nation’s Veterans. . . .
Abortion is a complex medical decision that a majority of Americans believe should be legal in the United States and accessible to patients, including in cases of rape and when a mother’s life is at risk, such as from an ectopic pregnancy or sepsis. Health care professionals have long affirmed that abortion is necessary in certain medical conditions. As medical research has advanced, the scientific facts of the viability of a fetus during certain stages of pregnancy remain unchanged. No evidence-based justification exists for eliminating a woman’s Constitutional right to make her own private medical decisions in consultation with her doctor and in accordance with her religious beliefs, which the Supreme Court upheld and reaffirmed over 30 years ago in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Unfortunately, despite this long-established precedent, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, stripping the right to legal abortions from millions of women, opening the door to a nationwide abortion ban and risking the lives of American women in the process. I strongly oppose the enactment of any State law that would force a woman or child to give birth against her will, including in cases of rape or incest, or when proceeding with a pregnancy would jeopardize a woman’s health. . . .
As your Senator, I recognize that abortion is a difficult issue that elicits passionate disagreement among my constituents . . .
Thank you again for contacting me on this important issue. . . .
United States Senator
Dear Senator Duckworth,
I appreciate your taking the time to correspond and make an effort to address my concerns.
I shall make my reply as brief as I can. You reiterated to me your belief that abortion is a matter of a woman’s reproductive rights, and your letter also indicates a concern about cases of rape, incest, and when a mother’s life is at risk.
With respect, I believe these are red herrings. Regarding the latter concern, less than 2% of abortions are due to the reasons you cite, but in any case, the question of reproductive rights or procedures is not at all at issue. You come close to acknowledging this when you admit that “the scientific facts of the viability of a fetus during certain stages of pregnancy remain unchanged.” Indeed the scientific facts have not changed at all: what the woman carries, in every case, is alive, and is a life other than her own, whether “viable” or not. Where you veer off the issue is when you continue, saying, “No evidence-based justification exists for eliminating a woman’s Constitutional right . . .” How is it ever right to kill an innocent, living human being? This is not about “reproductive” rights at all. The reproduction has already occurred, and the prenatal child is already the result of that reproductive process. That is the only issue, and it ought to be the starting point in the debate. Please consider this one thing carefully before proceeding with any further discussion of the matter. It is always, 100% of the time, quite literally, a matter of life and death.
Rev. Burnell Eckardt, PhD
Pastor, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Kewanee, IL
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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