Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

November 2022 Newsletter

“Let my prayer rise before you as incense.  The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” Psalm 141:2

What time does your day begin?  Are you an early riser?  Or does being a night owl cause you to rise a bit slower in the morning?  In college, a friend of mine would joke, “If you are going to hoot with the owls, you better be ready to soar with the eagles.”  That encapsulated well the schedule it felt on some days in college as we burned the candle on both ends.

No matter what time you get going in the morning, most of us have oriented our days to begin in the morning.  Which makes sense for how we live our lives.  In our mind, we have a day-night cycle.
Scripture however has the day beginning with evening.  When the sun goes down is when the day would begin.  We see that already in Genesis 1, “there was evening and then morning, the first day…”

This continues into the New Testament.  After Jesus is crucified, he needs to be put into the tomb before the Sabbath day began which started at sundown.  Jesus is hastily buried before it would be illegal to do work according to the laws of the Sabbath.
To capture the impact of this, the sun sets at 5:47pm on Wednesday, November 2nd (as I write this), so if we followed this line of thinking that the day began at sundown, then our Calendar Day would become Thursday, November 3rd at 5:48pm and not at 11:59pm.
A consequence of this is that in the Biblical line of thinking this means that rest is how we begin our day and work is how we end it.  We think the opposite, we front load work.  Now we think that work begins our day and rest ends it.  This cultural insight puts a unique spin on many verses in the Bible that refer to “evening” time.
Genesis 3 tells us that God was walking in the garden of Eden in the cool of the day, or evening time.  What was God doing taking an evening stroll?  Coming to his people during the time for worship!  Adam and Eve were probably waiting for worship to begin as Satan comes and disrupts the time of fellowship between God and his people!  There are a lot of thoughts on this that we could dwell on, but space compresses me.
So when our Psalm above quotes the “evening sacrifice”, this means that worship is not the last thing you do for the day, but the first!  This is why Luther in the Small Catechism equates honor and resting on the Sabbath day with hearing God’s Word and receiving his gifts.
Now, because of cultural differences, we practice our lives in the opposite way.  The Church made the switch in the first century, seeing that the Lord rose on Sunday morning, and made that the time.  Revelation 1 gives us a hint as John is meditating in Scripture on “The Lord’s Day” which was Sunday morning.  The Roman Governor Pliny, writing to Emperor Trajan in the early 2nd century noted that Christians gathered in the morning.  

Yet still, thinking of the day starting at evening has some hold over thoughts.  We call Communion “The Lord’s Supper” though we partake of it at breakfast time despite calling it the Lord’s Supper!

What is the point of all this?  I merely want to capture the idea that worship is a call to rest and a call for it to take a priority.  To rest in God’s work done in Jesus Christ is needed to enjoy eternal life.  This is not to argue for a time for worship, for “The Father seeks those who will worship him in spirit and in truth.” As Jesus says in John 4, and as Paul writes to the Colossians, “Let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or in regards to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath.  These are but a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.”  Colossians 2:16-17.
This is to argue for the substance, which is Jesus Christ our Lord.  Whether you mark morning as when the day begins, it belongs to the Lord.  Whether you mark evenings as the time when the day begins, it belongs to the Lord.  “Abel offered to the Lord the firstborn of his flock.”  Abel offered what was first, and so we do as well.  Our time, our resources, and our voices.  All in praise of what God gives to us in Jesus as he forgives our sins and feeds us His Sacraments!

Jesus has you covered here at Christ Lutheran no matter the time of day.  Service is at 6:30pm in the evening on Thursday and also on the Lord’s Day on Sunday at 9:00am.  We also have a chapel service on Wednesday at 9:00am!  Details follow below on Advent and Christmas! So come and enter into Christ’s rest that he won for you on the cross and in his rest in the tomb and by his victory over the grave as he rose.  Worship, after all, is when Jesus comes “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

By the time you get this Newsletter (around the 16thish) Advent will be in full swing!  We are going over and talking through the parts of the Divine Service.  Each week in the 7 weeks of Advent will go through a portion of our service.  Here are the weeks listed below:

            Nov. 9th & 10th: Approaching the King (Invocation & Confession)
            Nov. 16th & 17th: The King Speaks (Readings and Sermon)
            Nov. 23rd: Who is the King? (The Creed)
            Nov. 30th & Dec. 1st The King Hears (Prayer)
            Dec. 7th & Dec. 8th: Singing Christ’s Words (Hymns)
            Dec. 14th & Dec. 15th: The King Provides (Communion)
            Dec. 21st & Dec. 22nd: I will Bless Them (Benediction)

We will try and capture the major thrusts and motions of the service itself to see how God is at work through His Word and how he comes to serve us.  Wednesday morning at 9:00am or Thursday night at 6:30pm will be the two chances to come and participate in our Advent Midweeks

Christmas Events at Christ

Bethlehem Walk
This event is such a good way to get in the mood for the Christmas season.  Part of our building is transformed into a walk through of Bethlehem during the time when Jesus was born.  This year, come out and walk through the crafts and shops as you hear of the story of Jesus Christ born for you.  You can join us on either Friday, December 3rd or Saturday, December 4th on both nights from 4pm-7pm.  Grab a friend or a neighbor and come on out!
PUPPETS Christmas Program  
Our PUPPETS will be preforming their Christmas performance here at Church!  So mark Saturday, December 10th 6:30pm on your Calendars.  Bring a friend or two and come on out to celebrate the reason for Christmas and to hear the PUPPETS sing and tell of the love that Jesus Christ has for us.

Children’s Christmas Program
It is always such a joy to have our Sunday School children act out the story of Christmas.  This year, they will be doing so on Sunday, December 18th at 10:30am.  So after service that day, feel free to stick around as our kids and grandkids retell the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ!

Christmas Services
I love Christmas Eve and Day services, and so far each year has stuck out to me for different reasons.  Already the service is crafted and made and even the sermon is just about prepared for Christmas Eve with Christmas Day being next.  The services always have such staying power as we hear the familiar words of angels and shepherds telling of the Lord Jesus Christ who took on our human flesh and joined in with the creation that He made.  Come marvel and hear how Jesus was born for you!  Below are the times for our services this year:

            Christmas Eve: 10:00am, 2:00pm, 4:00pm, and 6:00pm.
            Christmas Day: 9:00am

At each service Communion will be offered, because there is no better way to celebrate our Lord’s incarnation than partaking of his body and blood made incarnate among us and given for us!  A reminder that those who commune at our altar as guests and visitors are those who share our altar’s confession of faith, have examined themselves as Scripture commands, and approach Christ in true humility and faith.  As the steward of the proper administration of Christ’s gifts here, speak to family and friends beforehand concerning this and for those who share in our confession to come and speak with me beforehand since I would love to talk and meet with them too.  Any questions, feel free to call and talk with me.

The budget committee met this past month and presented a first draft of the 2023 budget to council. After Council approves it next month it will be made available to the congregation to be approved at the January congregational meeting (January 22 at 11:15am). As we all know, costs of everything are going up. Our giving has also been down this year, but because of a couple of bequests this year (which will end up totaling over $80,000), we do have a healthy checking account (thanks be to God!). I will have more thoughts on the offering and stewardship going forward in the Annual Report in January.

If you take a look at our bulletin board at the back of the narthex, you will note that we have gone through all our building projects this year that were scheduled to get done and still have over 20,000 in the building fund.  That will be a good head start as some more costly projects are coming down the pike as we turn to the care and maintenance of our building.  You can see some of the projects that are coming up on board already, but any questions you may have, feel free to let us know.

With that, we come to the close of another newsletter.  I am thankful for the elders on a terrific potato pancake breakfast.  We are going to do some training together in the coming months and I look forward to that time.  They assist on shut in visits and checking in on things.  Recently they have become more involved in watching doors during the Sunday School hour and are looking for ways to continue helping in those areas.

Confirmation is going well, 12 youth went up to Camp Luther last month and Tammy has things in the making for the SaLT and Light to coordinate plans and activities.  Bible class is making its rounds through the Confessions!  We are over halfway on Luther’s Large Catechism and the plan after that will be the Augsburg Confession.  We have some great discussions, and I would urge you to come as the Word of God so creates that faith in his people.
Beyond Christmas comes the annual report, and already thoughts are churning in my mind as I prepare to write that.  May the Lord guard you all and keep you in his Word, know that I pray for you, that the Lord Jesus will continue to feed his people and cause them to abide in Him who is our light and life.  In Christ’s name.  Amen.

Pastor Andrew Belt
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