Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

August 2023 Newsletter

“And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.” Matthew 7:28-29
“But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins—he then said to the paralytic—Rise, pick up your bed, and go home.  And the paralytic rose and went home.  When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.” Matthew 9:6-8

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” Matthew 28:18-20

Matthew’s Gospel is primarily about the authority of Jesus Christ.  The verses above illustrate how it plays out in the Gospel, though I could have picked more.  Matthew 8:5-13 and Matthew 21:23-27 are also about the authority of Jesus (go read those to flesh this concept out more).
So, it would be good to consider what authority is.  Authority is the permission given by a higher up to carry out a task.  This is different than power.  Power is the ability to do something.
A good way to visualize authority is to think of a police officer standing at an intersection who waves cars to come through or stops them by putting up their hand, signaling that the cars should not cross.  The cars either go or stop because the officer has authority to do this.  You can tell by the badge and the uniform who they are.  It communicates that the person has the authority to tell you to stop or go.  A police officer is a sanctioned and commanded servant of the state to do this for the benefit of society.

Power is a shade different.  Power is the ability to do something, regardless of if you should do it.  To use the same idea of the intersection above, power would be when a random person rushes out into traffic waving a gun and forces people to stop their cars in order to kick them out and take their car.  The hijacker in this case can stop cars not because he has the authority to do it, but because he has the power to do it (the gun).

Even police officers are armed, the difference being is that they are authorized to use that power if the need arises.  We could say that authority is the proper channel for power carried out by agency—people working on behalf of someone else.

Jesus Christ comes with such authority.  He is under orders by his Heavenly Father to restore and forgive.  In the Old Testament only God had authority to forgive sins.  Jesus comes and claims in Matthew 9 that he has such authority, with the result being that the crowd marvels that God has now given this authority to men.

This means that Jesus delegates this authority.  We see this in Matthew 16:13-30 when he gives his apostles the authority that he has to retain or forgive sins.  And Matthew 28 is the clincher of the Gospel: Jesus comes with all authority.  The Father has put his Divine Son in charge of everything and Jesus then delegates the task and the authority to us.  Jesus makes disciples, and he does it through the authority he gives the church.

The implications then should cause us to fear and praise God.  When the called and ordained servant of the Church stands before you during the Divine Service, he does not forgive you on the basis of his own power, but “as a called and ordained servant of the Lord and by his authority, I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”  By doing this we are fulfilling the mandate that Jesus gave us when he said to make disciples.  In your daily life, Jesus has given you the same authority to fulfill this command, too for your neighbors and family.

This teaches us that Jesus’ mandate to make disciples is to use the means that Jesus has authorized in making them: baptizing, teaching, forgiving.  That is the plan. The Church should always operate under that authority and should never apologize for when she does it at her Lord’s bidding.

At the end of the day, what this means is this: at Christ Lutheran, you belong to a community of people that Jesus has given the authority to forgive sins.  This is unique, unheard of.  Not even the might of the United States Armed Forces has been given that authority (they have the authority of the sword).  Rather, the Church, Christ’s body alone is authorized or been delegated the task of making use of the goods that Jesus won for you on the cross.  And you can find the Church wherever the Word is rightly preached, and the Sacraments properly given.

The authority of Jesus, given to us, is what enables the preaching of the Word of God to create faith and the authority of Christ makes the Sacraments valid.  And that creates comfort and assurance for you, the same comfort that comes when you see men and women pull up in ambulances and police cars wearing uniforms because you know they are authorized and trained to help.  It is why I have a uniform as well.  It is why I have been properly examined, called, and ordained.  So, when you see the black collar and clerical tab, or the alb and stole, it communicates the proper use of authority.  It teaches what you can expect: the goods of Jesus Christ crucified for you and delivered.  Make good use of these gifts, because I have it on good authority, in fact, all authority, that Jesus wants this for you!

Fall/Bible Class
One of my favorite things about Fall is getting in the groove again.  Chapel, Bible Class, Confirmation.  We are getting ready and set for all of it here.  I am most getting excited for our time in the Sunday Bible Class.  Join us starting September 17th as we dig into the Augsburg Confession.

Here is just a list of topics that we will cover this year: The Trinity, Original Sin, Jesus, Justification, The Ministry, Good Works, Baptism, the Lord’s Supper, Confession, Repentance, Use of the Sacraments, Order in the Church, Church Ceremonies, Civil Government, Christ’s return, Free Will, The Cause of Sin, Cult of Saints, Marriage of Priests, The Mass, Power of the Church.  There is a lot to get into and a schedule is available in the Narthex to let you know the plan.

Chapel will return Wednesday, September 10th, at 9:00am.  We always spend our time covering books of the Bible, this year picking a few key minor prophets to read.
Please make time to invest yourself in one of the many Bible Classes being offered this fall.  It is honestly the time that we are sharpened and interact with God’s Word together and it is truly a blessing.

July Voters Meeting Notes
Our July Voters Meeting on July 16th had a plethora of topics to talk about and consider and I appreciate all who came and contributed to it.  So thank you!   Here is a brief overview and after action report.

We first changed the voter meeting schedule.  Formerly we met as a congregation in January and then July.  Now we will meet three times a year, in Winter, Summer, and Fall.  Winter will take place in late January or early February and it will be to go over the previous year and also plan for the future year.  Summer will be the midway point and will be in July.  Fall will take place in late October and early November in order to approve the next year’s budget and elect members to council who will then get the chance to attend a council meeting prior to taking over the role that they are elected for.  This third meeting in October was to practice better fiscal management and also organizational management as well.

Also, the changes to the bylaws were presented at the meeting and then we waited two weeks to approve of them after the July 30th worship service.  They were approved and sent to District for final approval.  The major changes to the bylaws was the language about the congregational meetings outlined above and also a change to the layout of council to allow the ability to grow and shrink as needed while keeping core offices as mandatory.  It is the hope here that boards can have life cycles and to grow and contract as needed for the ministry of the congregation.
We talked about the next steps for choir and bells and I wanted feedback on the meeting to what the congregation would like to see going forward.  I received a few ideas and after VBS will take some more time to finalize thoughts on the direction for that.

Finally, we used the time to talk about the property.  There was no thought of having a vote on whether to keep or sell the land.  We only wanted to start gathering thoughts and opinions about what we should do with the land.  We continue to see that we should do something with the land and we wanted some discussion on it.  No decisions were planned and none were made.  As this continues forward we will continue to keep you updated.

Tammy’s 25th Anniversary at Christ Lutheran
Our beloved DCE Tammy has quite a milestone before her this year.  August 9th, 2023, marks her 25th anniversary of coming to our congregation and also her 30th anniversary of working in the Lord’s field as a DCE.  This is a major milestone and accomplishment and the impact that she has made here cannot be estimated or valued.  We already did some things during VBS week for her on the 9th but we do have some more that we want to do.

We will be celebrating this as a congregation on Rally Day which is coming up on September 10th.  So make sure to attend the worship service that day.  Tammy has requested no party, but that doesn’t mean we cannot give her a blessing during service and also shower her with gifts and cards!  So ahead of September 10th, please go out and get a card for Tammy and inside stuff it with $25 gift cards or cash.  We would hope to collect all these cards and then give it to her all at once on Rally Day. (She has been told about this, so don’t worry about keeping it a secret.)

To put it bluntly, life at Christ Lutheran would not be what it is without the Lord’s work through Tammy.  It spans generations and has a lasting mark here from Youth, Confirmation, Education, Sunday School, Bethlehem Walk, and so much more.  It is a joy to see the love she has for our Lord Jesus and the care she puts into all of her work here.  It is a moment to be extremely grateful to Christ for her.  Thank you!

The financials are holding steady. We did apply for and receive around $40,000 in Covid Employee Tax Relief money. The council will be discussing on Monday what should be done with it. The budget committee will also begin meeting later this month. If you have thoughts about the budget please contact me. Now is the time to make suggestions so that the committee can discuss it.

The Fountain is up and running again after having the pump break down earlier this summer!  The roof experienced a leak again recently and that has now been fixed.  And some work is being seriously looked into with the parking lot.  Thank you to all those who give and work to the maintenance of the building and the land that God has given us.

Much more could be said of course.  Fall is coming up though, and I want to make sure to tell you to take advantage in some way of the ministry happening here.  Jesus wants you to be connected to him and his people and know that he loves you!  He will continue to grow you up in Him and give you the inheritance that he has prepared for you from before the earth’s foundations were laid.

Any questions or thoughts, or even opportunities that arise, please let us know.  The Lord Jesus continue to be with you!
In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt