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Ask Away! Archives
Dear St. Paul,
Why do we celebrate First Communion during Maundy Thursday and why is the Thursday before Easter called Maundy Thursday?
Dear Muddling Maundy,
There are two important biblical events that are the primary focus of Maundy Thursday.
One is when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples before the Passover meal on the night before he was crucified. This very humbling activity was a demonstration of a new commandment Jesus spoke of in John 13:34. "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." Maundy is derived from the Latin word mandatum, meaning "commandment." Jesus gave his disciples the commandment to love one another.
The other biblical event that is commemorated on Maundy Thursday is the Last Supper when Jesus shared the Passover Meal with his disciples on the night before he was crucified. This is why it is fitting for members of the church to accept their first communion on Maundy Thursday. It is the anniversary of the first holy communion.
Dear St. Paul, Why do we kneel during worship service and when receiving communion?
Signed, Lousy Knee
Dear Lousy Knee,
Kneeling is an ancient practice of putting your body in a posture that reinforces the words you say and the prayers you pray. St. Paul, like many other churches, does have kneelers in the pews, and we encourage people to use them for the Confession of Sins litany. The act of kneeling places a person in a subservient pose, and shows our humility before God.
Think of other times people kneel. Even in our modern age, people will still kneel before a King or Queen or someone else in high authority, as a way to show their allegiance. A suitor will ceremoniously get down on a knee when he asks his beloved to marry him, as a way to show that he honors and respects her. We kneel before God for the same reasons.
When we confess our sins in church, it helps to kneel in order to show God (and remind ourselves) that we are truly sorry for our sins, and we place ourselves under God’s mercy.
Someone else who often kneels is a beggar on the street, imploring people for help. Well, we are beggars before God, begging God’s forgiveness. And the same holds true when we come to the altar rail for Holy Communion: we kneel out of respect for the presence of Christ in the Eucharist, knowing that in this meal we have forgiveness – and then we rise up rejoicing!
It is not necessary that a person kneels. For some of us, our knees don’t work so well anymore! And that is just fine; sitting or standing instead of kneeling is perfectly acceptable, too. But we do pay attention to how we use our bodies in worship, because our posture can help our spiritual practices.
Dear St. Paul, I am an active volunteer in church, mission work, and have a regular devotional life... but lately I'm tired. I feel like I'm being taken advantage of. I know we are asked to give with a joyful heart, but no matter how much I give, there are more people asking for help, more pain and death in this world and I'm never going to even put a dent in all the needed work. I just wish someone would thank me. Am I a hypocrite?
Signed, Sick and Tired
Dear Sick and Tired,
Thank you, thank you for all you do for this church you love and serve!
Yet I hear the anguish in your letter. It can certainly get wearying! And no, you are not being a hypocrite to feel that way.
Nobody volunteers in order to get glory, or even to get thanks. We do it because we like to be of service. We do it because we have a generous heart. We do it because we want to share with others the joy that we have in the Lord. Still, it’s really nice to be thanked every now and again. We all like to know we are making a difference in this world. We all like to be appreciated. That is so important! A simple “Thank you” can go a long way! Mark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”
Unfortunately, especially in churches, there is a tendency to misuse people by asking too much of them. Because not everyone is actively involved, it’s easy to look to the ones who are willing to contribute and hope that they will do even more. Sometimes it is the volunteer herself who looks around, sees that certain things aren’t getting done, and takes on extra tasks out of a sense of responsibility.
No one should ever feel like they are being taken advantage of. When that happens, you start working resentfully, and that’s not good at all. So pay attention to your own energy levels, decide what you can do with a joyful heart, and let go of anything that feels like an imposition.
It is important that you do so, not only for your own health and peace of mind, but also for the health of the organization – because a church, of all places, should not be burning out its members and friends and causing them stress! So be honest and realistic with yourself and with your church. You will find, as you do so, that that sense of joy that first prompted you to volunteer will return to you.
And remember this: you are not responsible for saving the world all by yourself. That’s already been done! Martin Luther put it this way: “Pray, and let God worry.” Thanks for the reminder to all of us that we need to be more appreciative of one another. And God bless you for your love and service – rest assured, it has made a difference in this place!
Dear St. Paul, We seem to have several very active and generous ministries at St. Paul that make quilts. Are the Quilting Angels, Prayer Quilt Ministry and Knit2gether groups all the same? What is the difference? Did the Stitch ‘n Tie group become the Quilting Angels?
Signed, Creative Heart
Dear Creative Heart,
Yes, you are correct. St. Paul is very blessed to have so many wonderfully creative and talented people who are able to sew and do all types of needlework. And because of that, we have all these wonderful people to make quilts and knit or crochet different items that go out into the community at large.
The Quilting Angels are a group that was started at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Menasha. When that church closed, many of those ladies continued their ministry here at St. Paul, adding a few new people to the group. They meet every Tuesday morning from 9:00 – noon in the fellowship hall. They are associated with Lutheran World Relief (LWR) and make not just quilts that are sent around the world, but also school bag kits, baby kits, and healthcare kits which are sent to the less fortunate. They also dabble in fidget quilts which are given to memory care patients in the Fox Valley. The former St. Paul “Stitch ‘n Tie” group that used to meet here years ago did the same thing. But these two groups have become one and are now known as the Quilting Angels.
The Prayer Quilt Ministry is an entirely separate entity. The quilts from this ministry are made by a small group of people and brought into the church. When the staff hears of a special need, such as someone having surgery or a baby’s orchild’s baptism, the quilt is prayed over by several people. The quilt is then given to the recipient. Frequently these quilts have gone to people not even affiliated with St. Paul. They are family, friends, or sometimes even strangers. Did you know that when Bart Starr had his stroke a couple of years ago he received a prayer quilt from St. Paul? Pretty cool, huh?
The Knit2gether group is a group of ladies (well, sometimes a man or two may join in) who come together just for the fun on Friday mornings from 10:00 – noon in the church library. In the process they have been able to make all types of things for the community. The Blessing Box that is outside the church at the bus stop on the corner was born from this group. They knit and crochet hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, you name it, and give them away. The police stations in the area have been the beneficiaries of their works as well. The police are then able to hand out items to people they see who could use an extra warm-up. The group, like Quilting Angels, has also made fidget muffs for memory care patients in nursing homes in the area.
So, as you can see, we have some very talented and generous hearts here at St. Paul! And they are all different – and yet, the same. Thanks be to God for such awesome people!