Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

May 2022 Newsletter

“Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you.  As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.’  And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven; if you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld.’”  John 20:21-23

Why does Jesus do this?  Why does Jesus come to his disciples to deputize them and send them out?  Isn’t it enough that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead?  Isn’t that what makes us good with God?  Why do these 10 men in the text get the authority to forgive sins?

Those are good questions to ask.  Now, of course, Jesus’ death and resurrection is more than enough to purchase our salvation and to also purchase the salvation of the whole world.  But as my Seminary Professor once shocked me by saying, “What is it to you that some Galilean Carpenter was convicted and put to death by the state by crucifixion and then was raised from the dead?”

In other words, Jesus’ death and resurrection does not benefit anyone unless it is given and applied to people.  Jesus purchased your salvation on the cross, but the cross is not where Jesus delivers your salvation.  You are disconnected by time and space.  In fact, those who witnessed Jesus die didn’t benefit from seeing it.

This is why the Bible verse quoted up above is huge.  Salvation must not just be won; it has to be given!

As an example, think of any gift you have bought someone.  For you husbands out there imagine that it is your wife’s birthday.  You go out and purchase the gift for her at great cost to you.  It is a nice gift, and you know that she will love it.  But imagine that after you purchase it, you just left the gift in the trunk of your car and never got around to actually giving her the gift.
Later on, you find out that your wife is hurt that you didn’t remember her birthday or even give her a gift.  But in response you tell her that you bought her this gift that came at great cost and with her in mind.  Would telling her that make her feel any better?  No!  A purchased gift doesn’t mean much until it becomes a delivered gift.

Unless the gift is given and delivered, the mere purchasing of the gift doesn’t take effect.  The purchasing of the gift doesn’t mean anything until it is given for you.  

Those two little words ‘for you’ is the root of the Gospel.  This is why at the rail I say, “The body and blood of Jesus Christ, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.

That is the reason why Jesus sends out the 12.  Jesus has won salvation for the world!  He has won forgiveness of sins and life in his name!  And now that he has won it, Jesus needs to deliver the gift.

That is the purpose of the Church, that is the purpose of the Office of the Holy Ministry which 8 men in the 94-year length of our church have presided over and properly administered by Christ’s authorization.  That is why we take Communion, administer Baptism, and preach the Word from the Pulpit.   These are the means by which God delivers the gift of salvation that Jesus won.

This understanding is helpful when talking with people who deny that the Sacraments save us.  They wrongly think of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper as mere commands and ordinances that we do to show God that we obey him.  Or they are confused by thinking that the Preaching of God’s Word and the Sacraments are where Jesus wins salvation.  In those moments it is good for us to keep straight the following:  

On the Cross Jesus wins Salvation.  

In Preaching and in the Sacraments, Jesus delivers that salvation to you and for you.
Baptism is not separate from Jesus or his work.  Baptism delivers to you what Jesus did.  The same with the Lord’s Supper.  These means are how you receive the same word of promise that the thief on the cross received when Jesus told him that he would be with Jesus in paradise.  Baptism and the Lord’s Supper is how Jesus makes that same promise to you. 
So, how do you know that Jesus died for you?  Because God baptized you.  Because you heard the proclamation of the Word.  Because you tasted and have seen that the Lord is good through his body and blood in the Sacrament.  That is where the gift is delivered and becomes for you.  

This is part of the joy that God includes us.  Don’t you just love and smile yourself when you see someone you love open a gift you got them?  God loves giving these gifts and what a joy for us to see them delivered as well.  As a pastor, the best moment of the whole week is when I stand before the altar and beckon you forward to the table.  When I see you lining up and filing up to the altar to receive God’s gifts.  That is faith working in you.  Faith that wants what God gives and trusts what God promises.  May God continue to grant that faith to all of us!

Divine Call

By now, I am sure many of you have heard the news, but so that every member is aware I wanted to cover this here.  On Sunday, May 1st at about 3:30pm I received a phone call from the Circuit Visitor over in a town called Little Falls, Minnesota. He was attending a call meeting of the congregation there, which is called, Zion Lutheran Church.  They had voted in their call meeting to extend to me the Divine Call to serve as their pastor.  The circuit visitor was calling to notify me and to give me the head’s up to expect the Call documents to arrive in the mail sometime that week.

On Tuesday May 3rd, the documents arrived.  What this means is this:  As of right now, I have two calls to serve as pastor.  One call is to be a pastor at Zion Lutheran Church in Little Falls, MN.  The other call is to remain the pastor here at Christ Lutheran Church.  Our Lord Jesus through His church is asking me to choose which place to be a pastor.

This means that for the next few weeks I will be deliberating on what to choose.  There are a lot of factors that go into making this decision and I hope to announce the decision either on the 22nd or the 29th of May.

In the meantime, I ask for your prayers.  I am but a fallen sinner and know that my efforts and decisions are always marred by sin and shortcomings.  So, your prayers on my faithful deliberations and being willing to act in faith would be appreciated.  If you would like to reach out and provide me with your thoughts on my ministry and my time here, please know that it will factor into my deliberation, and I would love to hear from you.    

And a note on this, I don’t want any of you to be scared or worried.  We have a faithful Lord and Good Shepherd who takes care of his church and will always provide for her and you.  Pray also for Zion Lutheran Church.  They have been under a vacancy for the last 10 years and are finally in a spot to be calling pastors to serve them.  So, pray as they search for their next shepherd as well.

A final note on this, over 500 congregations out of the nearly 6,000 in our Synod are in a pastoral vacancy and are searching for pastors.  That is almost 10% of the congregations in our synod that do not have a pastor.  That number is expected to grow in the next 15 years as half the pastors in our Synod hit retirement age.

This means a couple of things for us.  Let us be active in prayer to the Lord of the harvest to send workers into the field.  “For the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are few.”  It also means that we should be actively searching and training men who we think would make good pastors in our Churches.  We also need more DCEs, Deaconesses, and Lutheran School Teachers too!  So, if your child shows an aptitude for theology, loves Jesus, and wants to serve in the Church, send them my way.    

Outdoor Services

We did this last year and are going to be doing it again: we will be doing outdoor services on Sundays in June beginning on June 12th and going through July 3rd.  This is weather pending of course.  Why do this?  A few reasons.  One, it switches it up.  Two, I like for cars to pass by and for them to see Christians gathered in worship.  Three, we have some beautiful views here in Wisconsin and it is nice to be hearing God’s Word outside.  There are more reasons, but three is a good number to leave it at.
We had some trouble with the sound at times last year (the speakers were overheating and would short out) but this year we are hoping to get around that and have it solved.  So, join us on Sundays from those dates listed above as we have service outside!

If outside services are not your thing, which I understand completely, then feel free to join us on Thursday evenings at 6:30pm as we will be inside for those services.

A final note on this: during this month, especially on Thursdays, I like to give our organists a break.  Mary, Kristine, and Maranatha put in a lot of time and effort and are always on point when I ask them to be, so I like giving them a month to rest and to also just come to enjoy worship.

So during this month we will pull out more of the familiar hymns and sing them a capella.  This is a good opportunity in our services to be able to practice worship as you can do it in the home during the week and in your own private devotion life.  When I do hospital calls, death bed visits, shut in visits, I always sing and the only instrument is my own voice.  It is a discipline that I have come to love and it is good to have that impressed upon us all.

A good reminder here too: I always take hymn suggestions and always try and plug them in.  I work about a month ahead on church services, so if you suggest a hymn, note that it might take a few weeks for it to pop up in service.  If you have any questions on outdoor services, feel free to reach out!

Confirmation Sunday

Due to the schedule, the date of Easter, and a few other scheduling difficulties, Confirmation Sunday is set for Sunday, June 5th at a special service at 10:45am.  A little later than usual, but we got it to fit.  I am proud of this year’s class.  They have had to deal with much concerning covid and extraneous circumstances in our world and life these last few years, but they have risen to the occasion and I am certain that our Lord Jesus will use them as he sees fit for service in the Church and in the World.

I recently sent a letter out to families in our church who have kids who are nearing confirmation age.  This was done for a few reasons.  First, to start getting it into the minds of families a few years before their child starts to begin prepping and helping with resources for them to teach their children at home.  Second, every once in a while I find one of our youths to be engaged and ready at an earlier age and I would love to hone that ability as I see it happening.  Every year I keep pushing confirmation to be more than just a fact download, I push it to be more of a formative process since our faith is more of a way of life as well. If you have any questions about confirmation, let me know.


I will admit here that our financials are down a bit this year.  Currently we are around $30,000 behind budget. We have plenty in surplus from last year and in our savings to cover for this, but good to take note and let you know this.  If you asked me for a reason, I would suggest that a major reason is how costs on everything have risen this last year.  I know that inflation and prices on everything have hit us all hard.  When gas is routinely over 4.00 dollars, basic food items are going through the roof, and utility costs are rising, it is bound to hit offerings.

My tactic on this is always prayer and to be faithful in our love toward each other.  And I am thankful that God always provides a way to care for us. Both personally and as a congregation.  Know this, I love how much we have given to Missions and to support the Gospel here in our congregation, and in distant lands and places with our tithe, and also with local needs as well.  As the Proverbs put it, give me neither riches nor poverty.  We pray for daily bread, and God provides it and also the trust for us to know that he will give tomorrow’s daily bread as well.
God’s peace to you all in Jesus Christ our Lord!

Pastor Andrew Belt
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