Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Skype Me!

The world is getting smaller all the time. Wow, downloading Skpe was easy and free. To do it, just log in at or click here and follow the simple online directions. Now I can talk to anyone in the world who has Skype, for free, whenever I want. The other person has to have Skype too, and a little microphone or headset for his computer. And as I understand it, at least until the end of this year, you can even call people who don't have Skype for free too, in the U.S.

This is huge.

If I were really into investing, I'd put my money here. It's, as Howard Hawks would say, the way of the future. I predict that the telephone will soon become a thing of the past. People everywhere will have these little barely noticeable headsets, and be talking to friends in Calcutta or wherever, whenever. I suppose it's too much to hope that it will all be for free; but maybe for a very few dollars.

Meanwhile, the audio streaming idea of mine is getting closer to reality. Hopefully that will be in place very shortly. Then you can open a file that lets you listen in to our half-hour radio show whenever you want. Also, of course, for free. I think we may pass an offering plate, though. Isn't that a requirement among Lutherans?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

A Salutary Whisper

One of the rubrics we follow at mass at St. Paul's is found in the old Roman missals, but I wouldn't expect to find it in any Lutheran hymnal. Maybe that's because Luther used to express scorn about the monks endlessly muttering the words in a way that no one else could hear. This is a point well taken, of course, but it doesn't mean there's nothing ever salutary about a whispered prayer, especially at mass.

The rubric I have in mind instructs the celebrant and all the attendants at the altar at the moment of elevation of each kind not merely to adore, i.e., to gaze upon the Sacred Species being elevated, and to recognize it for what it is, but actually to whisper, while gazing, the words "My Lord and my God." This, I say, is a wonderful rubric, for it directs the attention of those attending to the truth here: this is the Incarnate One Himself, whom we are about to receive. These, of course, are the words which Thomas spoke to the risen Christ on the Sunday after Easter when he was confronted with the reality of His resurrection and presence.

The same is true at the altar, especially at the point when the words of institutition are spoken: "This is my body; this is my blood." So then, immediately after the consecration of each Kind, the elevation comes; and we whisper, "My Lord and my God." And then we receive Him by mouth, and so receive our Life and Salvation.

The other day I actually heard the server's whisper, and it was a pleasant sound indeed. Sometimes, I can hope, these young men really do seem to get it; they understand what's going on here. Would that such whispers might be heard the world around, and that such quiet, serene faith might abound among all of our churches.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

A sermon on St. Matthew 3

Holy cow, I didn't even know they were recording it, but there it is, right on Father Petersen's blog, an audio file of my sermon there last month for the St. Michael conference. Some folks were asking for copies of it, and since I don't use a manuscript, I didn't have any. Well, there it is, right online, to listen to. Check it out here.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rachel Weeping for her Children

We received news yesterday that our daughter-in-law has miscarried her child, who would have been our firstborn grandchild. While this is not an uncommon thing, it is always especially hard for newlyweds who still await their first child. Nevertheless they, and we, rejoice in hope, in the confidence that our Lord Jesus Christ is especially fond of little ones, whom He blessed and held close to His breast. Behold what a wonderful life this little one has: a life for which Adam was meant, free from all pain and trials of life on a fallen earth. For the angels escorted this child of
God directly to the bosom of Abraham, without the infirmities which befell Lazarus or any of us poor lifelong miserable sinners. No toils or sorrows, no tears, only joy and abiding peace.

As for us who must remain in this vale of tears, we find comfort in the sorrows of our Lord, strength in His weakness, and the promise of life in His death. Ah, who would, then, not depart with gladness To inherit heaven for earthly sadness? Who here would languish Longer in bewailing and in anguish?

Many have sent heartfelt condolances, and among them came this from Fr. Petersen, which I find most worthy of passing along:

I am very sorry for you and yours.

It should not be so. Children should not die before they are born. They should not die at all. One day they won't. One day, the Day of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the groaning earth with stop its lament, the grave will give back the dead, and the revelation of the sons of God will be evident to all stars and planets, rocks and trees, animals and men. We will be free. We will dance and play with the Holy Innocents, and with the miscarried babes of Christian women from time immemorial. Rachel will find the comfort she refused.

Until then we live by faith. We wait on God more than they that watch for the morning. For what we endure is more awful than darkness and night filled with hostility and danger, and what comes with the rising Son is greater than mere safety, warmth, and rest. We are eager for the end, for the completion of what God has begun. And thus we pray: "Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly. Put this sorrow to an end. Turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and put the children back into the arms of their mothers."

Monday, October 02, 2006

TONIGHT, October 2 at 6:05: St. Paul's On the Air

"This is St. Paul’s On the Air: A radio program brought to you by St. Paul’s Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Kewanee, Illinois, where you know you’ve been to church: no gimmicks, no compromises, the talk is straight, and we feast on sacred things. Join us."

Those words will be heard after the choir sings the first stanza of "Saints and Martyrs and All Angels." And that's how our local radio show will debut tonight on the local Kewanee station, WKEI am radio, 1450 on the dial.

The voice continues: "Our moderator and discussion leader is . . . me: the Rev. Fr. Burnell F. Eckardt Jr., Pastor of St. Paul’s here in Kewanee, Illinois.

"I’m sitting with a small panel of listeners around a couple of microphones carefully positioned to help you get into the room with us and listen along.

"Our format for the show is catechetical. That means talking, listening, and discovering together. It’s a theological forum of the Church catholic, including a topical discussion of Apostolic doctrine, historic liturgy and rubrics of The Mass, the early church Fathers, The Reformation, and what’s on your mind today. We invite questions from the panel or from you. If you should have a question about anything having to do with the Christian faith, and you’d like to hear it discussed on this show, you may email it to us, using the email address, or write us at

St. Paul’s On the Air

109 S. Elm Street

Kewanee, IL 61443

"If you want to learn more about me or our church, log on at"

The 25-minute show has two parts, first a Q & A entitled “Why?” which is named after our Sunday morning segment, called “Why,” a question beginning with the word “Why.” So, as I ask during Sunday morning class, “Does anyone have a Why?” The question on the air tonight will be "Why is worship so formal at St. Paul’s?"

The second segment is called "Searching the Scriptures" and will be dealing with Genesis chapter 1 tonight.

The show is already in the can, with a few minor glitches, but on the whole, it's an exciting new venture here. We'll see where it leads.