St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm, Kewanee, Illinois 61443
Volume 35 November 2023 No. 11
The End of All Things
Adapted from an article written in 2007.
There is a tendency among all of us, I think, to forget that Christ has made a definite promise to return in glory. If we don’t forget it, at least we put it off, thinking that it won’t happen anytime near our lifetimes. But this was not the thinking of the apostles, and if one takes seriously the words of our Lord pertaining to these things, then we’d have to conclude that it ought not to be in our thinking either. Jesus said, “Watch and pray,” and “the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.,” and gave other such warnings.
For this reason the time of the church year which comes upon us during November and Advent is a helpful time. The emphasis in the readings is on the end of days, the end of all things. One can see in the thematic unity between the last three Sundays of the church year and the time of Advent that there was a time when it was all part of Advent, a seven-Sunday season, just about like Lent. The last few Sundays of the church year are sometimes referred to as All Saints’ tide, the time following All Saints Day; but really it’s hard to distinguish this from Advent, except that the paraments color is still green.
It is in fact entirely possible that the end of all things could come during this generation. The signs are all fulfilled (actually they have been fulfilled since the first coming of Christ, which is why the apostles were so expectant); and in fact there are indications that the return of Christ is imminent. We don’t know when He will come, of course. It could be in hundreds of years, to be sure. But it also might be in twenty years, or ten years, or next year, or tomorrow. It really could be.
As an interesting aside, a little-known writing of Martin Luther indicates that although he did not put much emphasis on guessing when Christ would return in glory, and recommended that in preparation one might well plant a tree (that is, be watchful but be responsible in this life as well, for he may not come as soon as you hope), nevertheless he did make a guess which he based on considerations of the breakdown of Biblical eras and the significant events of Scripture. His guess? Two thousand years after the Council of Jerusalem, which would be A.D. 2040. That would be just seventeen years from now!
But it is most important to know not so much when He will return as that He will return, and judge the living and the dead, as we confess in our Creeds. Our preparation for this is therefore not in the ascertainment of possible dates, but in our most holy faith. Indeed Christ comes every Sunday, in the Blessed Sacrament. This, received in faith, is our best and noblest preparation against that day.
+ Pastor Eckardt
On Immorality: The Way of the Lord and the Way of the WorldIn catechism class the other day we were considering the Sixth Commandment: You shall not commit adultery. It occurred to me afterwards that the things pertaining to that commandment are worth repeating. It’s worth constantly remembering that the Lord’s ways are not our ways, as He has said.: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).That fact is nowhere more evident than when considering entertainment, particularly TV shows and movies. We are bombarded more than at any time in history with a way of life that is entirely contrary to what Scripture lays out as proper and good.
Consider the matter of the sexual revolution which blew up to giant proportions in the 1960s, and in whose context we now still find ourselves. It is a common manner of life that men and women live together without marrying first. A generation ago there was still a sense of shame when people did this, generally in secret, because everyone understood the immorality of sharing a bed with someone not your spouse. That is no longer the case. In fact it is often assumed in our day that the idea of marrying first before living together is not a good idea! It’s said that you should find out if it’ll work before you get married. Such thinking is not only wrong, it is also misinformed, because statistics have been clear on this for a long time: marriages which occur after people live together without marriage are more likely to fail.
What’s necessary as part of the Church’s outreach to this fallen world, therefore, is a call to repentance, just as was evident even in the preaching of John the Baptist and of Jesus Himself.
The first matter when it comes to repentance is always a recognition that you have sinned. This is true of everyone, and is why we open every Sunday with confession and absolution. In the case of sexual immorality in particular one cannot be a follower of Jesus, a Christian, without first repenting and turning from a life of immorality, as Jesus Himself said, “You cannot serve God and mammon.”
St. Paul makes it abundantly clear that Christian people must have a clear understanding of this: “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. . . . The body is not meant for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power. Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? . . . Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin] a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body” (I Corinthians 6:9-20).
Sexual immorality is in fact a form of idolatry, even the most commonly evident form of it. Even when the Israelites made a golden calf in the wilderness, there was sexual immorality involved. As soon as Aaron made the calf for them, we are told, “they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6. The “play” to which they rose up was specifically sexual immorality, according to the term). Repentance must necessarily include a renunciation of one’s idols, whatever they are. And since only the one true God can give true peace and life, he who turns from serving idols to the true God finds in Him a new life of promise of everlasting life and abiding joy. No idol can provide this. Christ our Savior has purchased us with His own Blood, which is an undeniable demonstration of His eternal love. Such poor substitutes for the true God and Lord Jesus are all idols, whose allurements of happiness are fleeting and false.
+ Pastor Eckardt
Special Voters’ Meeting SetYour Church Council has set a time for a special voters’ meeting on Sunday, November 5th during the Bible Class hour after mass. The single item on the agenda is a discussion of the matter of Pastor’s retirement in 2024.
KFUO Radio Is Worth a ListenThe Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod has its own radio station, which is KFUO in St. Louis. It can be accessed anywhere in the world if you have a computer, at www.KFUO.org. One of its programs is called “Thy Strong Word,” which is hosted by Pastor Phil Booe of Minnesota. He has a different guest with him for each program, as together they study chapters of the Bible. Pastor Eckardt has been on the program several times, including most recently in late October. These programs can be accessed in their archive at any time. At the top, find, “Study,” and scroll down to “Thy Strong Word.” There you can find specific programs. This most recent time I was a guest was on Mark 2:13--3:6: Jesus calls Levi and has Dinner with Sinners. Have a listen, any time!
Our Ushers:Jim Hornback, Steve Kraklow, Tom Wells
11/5 Steve and Berniece Harris
11/11 Tara Wagenknecht
11/19 Steve Kraklow
11/20 Jewneel Walker
11/30 Charlene Sovanski
Elders and Vespers
Elders meet on Tuesday, November 7th, the first Tuesday of the month, following Vespers at 6:45 pm.
The monthly meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, November 15th, at 5:30 pm.
Altar Guild Notes
Women’s Lunch Group Meets Every First Wednesday
This month the group meets November 1st at Downtown Bakery in Kewanee, 206 N. Tremont. The first meeting was a great success. Several of our women met at Co Co’s in Kewanee for conversation and time together. To discuss further or share more ideas, talk to Carol Eckardt or call her at 309-852-2460. Mark your calendar!
Pastor Eckardt’s Health - update
Since I received a cortisone injection early in October I am pleased to say that my sciatica seems to have subsided. Thanks be to God! Although I am still dealing with spinal issues associated with aging, they are under control for now. And as for my Parkinson’s Disease, it seems to be still in the early stages, as it has been for about four years, another reason to be thankful. Your prayers have produced some welcome fruit!
It’s a Matter of What You Believe
Gottesblog, 25 October 2023
People notice how pastors conduct the ceremonies of the Divine Service, though they generally aren’t likely to put what they notice into words. One pastor tends to be folksy in his conduct, another formal. One service is conducted with great solemnity, another with more of a sense of familiarity and of a personal touch.
I think it’s all a matter of what you believe.
Put bluntly, if you really believe that the Incarnate One is present in your ceremony, you will act accordingly. Suddenly it’s no longer just a matter of talking about Jesus but of actually being in His presence, as though He were standing right next to you. And even, to venture deeper into this idea, it’s a matter of understanding just who He is who is, as it were, standing right next to you. He is loving, but He who is loving is the Almighty. He is kind, yet His kindness is not merely that of a close friend, but an expression of His eternal attribute of mercy.
He is God.
That’s not just a catechism answer; it’s a reality. And since, as God, He is indeed present in a very personal way at the altar—in the Holy Sacrament in particular—His presence ought never be denigrated in the slightest way when aspects of His humanity are emphasized.
If we expend all our efforts in attempting to portray Him as being very personal, we will necessarily run the risk of losing sight of the fact that He is also eternal. He is a consuming fire. He is the one who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. And even now, that He has become Incarnate, He sits at the right hand of the Father in glory.
This is impossible fully to grasp, as the Apostle indicates: O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (Romans 11:33).
I fear that when pastors expend all their liturgical energy trying to make people feel comfortable in the presence of a personally friendly Jesus, they end up planting in the minds and hearts of their people a sense that He is actually less than their Creator, the One in whom they live and move and have their being. And they do their people a great disservice thereby. Examples of this abound, and nowhere more clearly than in this extreme case, though even the less extreme cases are problematic.
But maybe it’s because pastors who behave this way haven’t quite come to terms with the reality themselves. I for one have a very hard time believing that a liturgist whose first desire is to impress friendliness and ease upon the people, to make them laugh, feel comfortable, invited, and welcome, believes that he is actually standing next to the eternal God in the flesh.
Get on your knees, man! Don’t you know who is present here?
In the end, it’s all a matter of what you really believe. Are you or are you not standing on holy ground, in the presence of the Incarnate God?
As usual we will observe Thanksgiving on the Wednesday Evening before the day, which will be November 22nd, at 7 pm. This is an important occasion for giving thanks to the Lord for all His benefits.
Emmy Wear at Williamsfield Home in Williamsfield; Jewneel Walker at Kewanee Care, Pathina Lagerhausen (new Kewanee resident) at Royal Oaks in Kewanee, Jim Watson, occasionally, at home. Bea Hassis, occasionally, at home.
In Our Prayers
Our current list of prayer intentions at mass includes the names on the lists here following. To update the list please inform the pastor
in our parish:
Sharon Hartz, Bea Harris, Don and Sue Murphy, John Sovanski, Sandra VerPlaetse, John Ricknell, Linda Rowe, Jewneel Walker, Emmy Wear, Jim Watson, Bill Thompson, and Father Eckardt
and beyond our parish:
Jude Clapper, 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, Jeanna Moore, Deloris Bitting, Jane Mueller, Denise VerPlaetse [Sandra’s daughter-in-law], Becca Adler, Glenda Miller, Wayne Becker, Sue Berg [wife of Pastor Peter Berg], Ray Moreland, Sandy Epperly [niece of the Murphys, having surgery],Pastor Justin Kane
in the military:
John Eckardt, Richard Heiden, Eli Wetzel, Traven Wetzel, Eric Verplaetse, Jake Mahaffey, James and Ann Lee Armstrong, Marcus Prentice
any unborn children in danger of abortion; Debra Reeves’s children Rae Beth and Drew Wayne, that they may be reunited; those suffering from unrest, persecution, and imprisonment in Israel, Nigeria, Ukraine, Pakistan, Belarus, China, North Korea, and elsewhere.
(from Voice of the Martyrs Canada www.vomcanada.com)
12 October 2023
Dozens of Christians Kidnapped, Others Killed
Violence against Christians continues unabated in many areas of Nigeria, as recently published reports indicate that militants are increasingly invading villages to kill, injure and kidnap dozens of believers – destroying their homes and church buildings in the process. While the kidnappings are frequently financially motivated, Christians are often the primary targets of radical Islamists' attacks.
5 October 2023
Christian Boy Beaten for Alleged Blasphemy
A young Christian boy was recently badly beaten by his Muslim schoolteacher after he allegedly committed a blasphemous act in class. The incident, which took place in the Pakistani city of Khanewal, has raised concerns about the lack of religious tolerance and justice in the community.
On September 7th, the student was sitting in class with a workbook in front of him. Unable to properly read it, he fiddled with the book and ended up making some rips and tears of its pages. When the teacher saw what he had done, the boy was severely beaten and accused of blasphemy because the book included verses from the Quran. The child was so badly injured during the beating that he ended up in hospital fighting for his life.
At last report, the boy was recuperating at home with his family. No further reports on his present condition, and the safety of this Christian family, have been provided. Regrettably, such incidents frequently result in social stigma, as well as physical dangers from potential mob violence. In addition, there have been no reports of any police action being taken against the abusive teacher.
St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church
109 S. Elm Street
Kewanee, IL 61443
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