Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

March Newsletter Update

“Today salvation has come to this house since he also is a son of Abraham.  For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”  Luke 19:10

You know the well beloved and cherished story of Zacchaeus.  So well known that I can never read the account without bursting into the song that accompanies it.  “Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he…”
 
The point of that entire account is the conclusion that I have quoted above.  Everyone is grumbling at what Jesus has done.  He has chosen, of all people, this Zacchaeus, who is of short stature and character, and has dined with him.  “He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner.”  That is what they say.

In the Gospel of Luke (who is also playing off of important Old Testament themes of eating) when Jesus eats with people salvation occurs.  Fellowship with God.  (Think of the Lord’s Supper and Jesus breaking bread with his followers and vanishing on the road to Emmaus later on.)
Jesus only dines with sinners.  Not because of anything that they possess of course.  Jesus doesn’t see anything worthwhile in them that prompts his dining and presence.  No.  Jesus dines with sinners because sinners need Jesus and what he does.
 
You come to the Lord’s table for the same reason.  We are approaching Holy Week in the next couple of weeks and need to constantly have this imprinted on us.  Jesus comes to dine with us not because we are so good.  He comes so that you, the condemned, would be saved.  He comes so that you, the sinner, would be forgiven.  He comes so that you, the lost, would be found.
 
We confess and agree with those words of Jesus Christ whenever we partake of the table of our Lord when he says, “salvation has come to this house.”  Salvation comes to our house here at Christ Lutheran.  So return!  Return again to the shepherd of our souls who continually dines with us.

Holy Week
I love Holy Week.  My adrenaline pumps the entire week because of how much this week means to me as a Pastor, as a Christian, and as one loved by Christ.  This is the heartbeat of the Church Year.  We have quite an opportunity this year to celebrate our Lord’s Passion with something every day that week.  Here is a brief schedule that will also be found in the newsletter attached to this:

            Palm Sunday: 9:00am service.  10:15am Bible Class
            Holy Monday: Livestream with in-person service 11:30am
            Holy Tuesday: Livestream with in-person service 11:30am
            Holy Wednesday: Chapel 9:00am with reading of the Passion NO BIBLE CLASS
            Maundy Thursday: 6:30pm Service
            Good Friday: 1:15pm & 6:30pm
            Holy Saturday: Rest and Quiet as we rest with Jesus in the tomb.  
            Easter Sunday:  5:30am (Easter Vigil) 7:45am, 9:15am & 10:45am NO BIBLE CLASS

A few notes about the services now.  Palm Sunday will have a procession of the cross.  We will have Palm crosses and anyone, especially families with children, are invited to join in the procession and lay those palm crosses upon the altar as we read the account of people laying palm branches upon Christ’s path as he rides into Jerusalem to begin Holy Week.
 
Holy Monday and Tuesday we will have an opportunity to gather for a brief time and hear a particular Gospel account of Holy Week.  Monday is Luke’s account and Tuesday is Matthew’s account.  You can either come in that day and hear and sing in person.  Or join us online for a livestream.
 
On Holy Wednesday, also called the Day of Silence because we have no account of what Jesus did on Wednesday of Holy Week, we will have our usual chapel time at 9:00am.  We will go through Mark’s account of Holy Week.
 
Maundy Thursday we’ll have our normal 6:30pm service with Communion and the stripping of the altar.

Good Friday will include the service of darkness (Tenebrae) as well as many elements from the Chief Service of Good Friday, a service that has never been done here.  I am excited for that, it is a blast of a service.
 
Easter Sunday will have two main options.  The Easter Vigil is perhaps my favorite service.  We begin at the same time that the women went to the tomb, “before the sun had risen.”  A vigil means, “to keep watch.”  As we keep watch in the very early morning hours, we hear again the entire drama and story of God’s salvation revealed throughout the pages of Scripture.  So I invite you to come for the 5:30am service and jump in for a wild ride!

The 3 regular Easter services will follow after that with a pickup Easter Breakfast served from 7-11am. Sign ups can be found at church or give us a call!  Fun fact, I have not yet had a chance to eat an Easter Breakfast with you all.  I am almost 3 years in as being your pastor too!!  Next year, I can’t wait and will be hoping for an Easter Breakfast shared with you all in person.

Those are the Holy Week plans.  I am excited and thankful.  If you have any questions, please let me know or give us a call!

Covid-19 Thoughts
We have been slowly boiling the frog here at church for those who know that parable. We have slowly reintroduced things and I will continue moving us in a direction as we, God willing, move past Covid.  Here is what has changed already in the last weeks. Hymnals and Bibles have been returned to Pews.  Offerings in the box are brought up during the Offertory.  The Communion rails have been brought back for Communion.  The signs leading up to Communion have been removed from the carpet.  Those are the major changes done.

Next up in the weeks to come are these things: The puppets will slowly be moved, beginning with the front pews which are bigger.  This will hopefully allow space to open up as well.  We are hitting about 120 people regularly now inside on a Sunday with about 10-12 outside.  The signs on the carpet up front will also be removed soon as well.  This doesn’t mean that you don’t have to space out still, as I can tell most of you are still conscious and aware of keeping space, which is not a problem at all.  But I think it will be good to remove and as we continue becoming more comfortable, it will naturally happen on its own.

The last major thing that will change is something I wanted to write briefly about.  At our Pastor’s circuit meeting back in January, a nurse instructed our area group of pastors that it would be more beneficial to not use gloves during Communion. After all, the slight touch between our hands on occasion negates the point of wearing gloves.  So instead, after each table, it would be better to sanitize our hands before starting the next round of communicants.  I have been waiting a little bit to implement this not wanting too much change to happen at once.  But I think now is a good time as cases continue to go down and steady themselves.
 
So beginning on Palm Sunday, I and the elders will stop wearing gloves for Communion and will instead sanitize our hands between tables.  We will continue to wear a mask, but I will look forward in the coming months to jumping on removing that while also trying to be aware of those who are worried.  I do not want to become an obstacle myself for you receiving the Lord’s Supper, but also recognizing, even theologically, that there is a bit of awkwardness at veiling the words of Christ coming from our mouths.
Bible in a Year

Last April, after Easter, we began reading the Bible together as a Congregation.  I know of several people who have followed us online and in person throughout this year.  I have had about half a dozen people tell me that through it they have read the Bible through for the first time in their life.  How cool!  I just wanted to make mention of that and the blessing it has been for me as I have discussed and went through questions with people as we read God’s Word together.

Next year, beginning in June, we will start this over again with some different ideas and creative methods to focus our reading.  If you are interested in this, (and as Christians how can we not be interested in our God’s Word?) stay tuned…

Tithe
Our Monthly Tithe has gone really well.  In February we raised money for Soup or Socks and our monthly giving to our Church District.  Our General Fund Tithe and Mission envelopes raised enough to give our budgeted $2,500.00 to our District and $1,826.00 to Soup or Socks.  On 3/11 I will drop off the check for Soup or Socks personally and thank them for serving our community’s needs.

This month, we are giving to Feed My Starving Children. FMSC is a Christian organization that relies on volunteers to pack food to send all over the world to children in need. Meals cost less than 25 cents. Many of you have participated in the local MobilePack event, usually held every Spring. This year it will be June 10-12. Sign-up to volunteer starts in May. Our tithe money will support this event, helping pay for the food that members of our community will be packing.
I have enjoyed doing our Tithe, it is good to be doing for the sake of just doing it, and also impacting different organizations.  If you know of Christian or mercy organizations that are either local or national, let us know and we would be happy to see if it would work to put them into our Tithe in the future!  

Church Administration
Things are always fun when it comes to the day-to-day management of the Church.  Our budget is doing really well so far this year. We are ahead by over $8500 in the first two months. Our giving is actually up over $13,000 from this same time last year. God be praised! Increased giving opens up new and increased ministry opportunities, including the possibility of eventually calling a second pastor.

We also currently have $50,000 saved up to spend on building projects. There are plenty of projects that need to be done this year and in future years, so it’s great to have a reserve built up. Thank you to everyone who continues to support this fund.

Some of the problems our property board is running into is the fact that as things open up contractors and builders are needing to catch up on projects that were cancelled last year due to Covid.  Some are even not accepting bids because they know they can’t get to them this year.

Some of our goals are the pillars, what look like the ribs, sticking out on the sides our building that are flanking the sanctuary.  These are free standing columns that are there for aesthetic reasons, and age has caused water and cracks to form between these pillars.  We have done temporary fixes for years, but we have had a mason and a structural engineer tell us that something needs to be done more permanently to prevent damage in the future.

A lot of discussion and comments have gone into this, and we are also looking into this architecturally as well to make sure we cover our bases.  Because any changes we make could factor into the value and appearance of our building and so we want to do due diligence and make sure we do it properly.

Something needs to happen no matter how we slice it though because there is damage that has caused mold, bees, and decay to happen in those spots that must be addressed.  But I must ask and beg for your forgiveness.  We had promised to have action for the congregation to vote on soon after our Congregational meeting back in January.  We still have work yet to do before we bring a vote for action before you.  My apologizes that we do not have that yet.  There is much to consider both externally and internally that I could not have foreseen.
Finally, we still need a Vice President for the congregation.  I do ask that someone please step forward into this service.  I am thankful for all of you who take time out to take care of matters that pertain to the Church and our witness here.

With that, God’s peace to you all.  Sorry for the length, but I want to make sure that I communicate as much as I am able.  Even with 4 pages, there is still much to say.  So give a call if you have any questions or reach out to leadership as well.  What a joy it is in Christ to live in such a time and place as this!  God grant us that peace as we enter into Holy Week for Christ’s sake.  Amen
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