Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

March Newsletter 2024

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.”  Luke 1:1-4

St. Luke was the companion of St. Paul, and a doctor from what Paul says of him in Colossians 4:14.  And Luke begins his Gospel by writing to a certain Theophilus.  We are not sure of his identity, but his name means “loved by God.” Many commentators think that his name is code because of how Luke addresses him as “most excellent.”  This is how one addresses a superior, especially a royal superior.
This is perhaps a clue that Theophilus is a ranking member of the Roman government who has come to faith in Jesus Christ and Luke protects his identity so he will not be outed or have attention drawn to him.  But it also allows Luke’s Gospel to be addressed to anyone reading it, since they and we are also “loved by God.”

But the reason for Luke’s Gospel is that he desires to give Theophilus, and now us, assurance of what he has learned.  The record of the Gospel was meant to give certainty to the reader of who Jesus is, and Luke got all his information from eyewitnesses who were there and saw it.  Luke is an investigator.  Luke chapters 1-2 most likely came from the Virgin Mary herself!
The key thing that I like to zoom in on here though is the last few words which read “concerning the things you have been taught” but quite literally read in the Greek, “so that you may know the certain words concerning which you have been catechized.”
The Christian faith is the teaching that we receive from the apostles and give us certainty.  We might think of the Gospel of Luke then as the first Catechism.  The Word catechism is where we get the word “echo.”  It is something that is repeated and drilled into us.  This tells us that Catechism is the way of life for a Christian.
Now catechisms are not just doctrine books of the basic beliefs.  They are that, but they are so much more.  Catechisms are hymn books, prayer books, and more.  Catechisms are how we are Christian.
Reading Luke’s Gospel, you find quickly that it is a hymn book with hymns sung by Mary, the Angels, and Zechariah.  We would say that Luke is very liturgical.  They are hymns Luke wants us to sing.  Hymns so powerful that to this day they are the most sung parts in the liturgy as the Magnificat (Mary), the Benedictus (Zechariah), and the Gloria in Excelsis (Angels).

The Catechism is also a prayer book.  In fact, that is how Luther’s Small Catechism was intended to be used too.  Catechisms are designed to shape and form for our prayers.  Faith is pondered in prayer as we turn to God’s promises and Word.  Going back to Luke’s Gospel, we are reminded of the thief on the cross who prayed to Jesus, “Thy Kingdom Come to me.”  And Jesus answers that prayer by making a promise.
We too in our sufferings are meant to turn to the Lord to have him make a promise.  A promise that is given to us in Luke’s Gospel with the climax being the Lord’s Supper.  Commentators have long noted that the Synoptic Gospels read like a Worship Service, especially when it comes to the institution of the Lord’s Supper.  The words of Jesus read ritualistically.

This is of course how we approach our Small Catechism as well, and why it is brilliant and has stood the test of time the last 500 years.  We should think of our Catechism, not as a book we read once and then go on.  But we should think of it as a prayer book, a hymn book, and a place where the essence of being a Christian means.  Think of it as a field guide and a place where we come to understand what being a Christian means.
After all, just like how an echo is heard again and again, so are the basics of our faith.  If you ask a professional sports player why they are good, they will tell you that they drill the basics over and over again.  A master in something is someone who drills the basics.  The Catechism is meant to do that, so that in Luke’s Words, we might have certainty the words we have been taught.

If you are looking at becoming better at being a Christian, I can think of no better way than going over pieces of the Catechism every day.  If that task seems simple, then you are doing it wrong.  The deeper you get into it, the more you realize you need to learn.  May God grant to you that hunger and thirst to be certain of what we believe, teach, and confess!  Amen.
Holy Week
Speaking of Catechesis, Holy Week is a perfect time to live out the how of the Christian faith.  If Lent is a time where we intensify our focus and energy into worship, prayers, hymns, fasting, alms giving, etc.  Then Holy Week is intensity on steroids.  The Church year has the habit of counting time with Jesus weekly, but Holy Week we count it hourly.  And it is a blast.  I find that Holy Week shapes me more and more as the years go on as a pastor and as a Christian.

I challenge you this year to be apart of everything that happens during Holy Week at Christ Lutheran.  Give it a try.  I dare you.  Here is everything for Holy Week in one spot:
Palm Sunday 3/24: We begin Holy Week with the ride of Jesus into Jerusalem heralded as the king!  Service is at 9:00am as usual for Sunday.

Holy Monday 3/25: Join us at 6:30pm at the Church on Holy Monday to meditate and read St. Matthew’s Gospel regarding the events of Holy Week!

Holy Tuesday 3/26:  Join us at 12pm at the Church on Holy Tuesday as we meditate and read St. Mark’s Gospel regarding the events of Holy Week!

Holy Wednesday 3/27:  Join us at 9:00am at the Church on Holy Wednesday as we mediate and read from St. Luke’s Gospel regarding the events of Holy Week!

Maundy Thursday 3/28: Be with Christ in the Upper Room as the Triduum begins (The Three Days).  Jesus institutes the Sacrament, gives a final command to love one another as he is then betrayed.  Service is at 6:30pm!  Holy Communion will be present.
Good Friday 3/29: Betrayed, Beaten, Bloodied and Battered, Jesus gives his all in an act of love and devotion to God his Father and for us.  Join us at 1:15pm or 6:30pm as we mark the crucifixion of our Lord.

Holy Saturday 3/30: While the day is quiet, at the church we have an Easter Egg hunt at 10:00am on that day.  Bring your kids and grandkids to collect some eggs and prizes!

Easter Sunday 3/31: Begin the Day along with the women going to the tomb before the sun rises as we gather for Vigil at 6:00am.  The Easter Vigil is a blast of service.  Stay for breakfast at 7:30am and then join for an Easter morning services at 8:30am or 10:30am.  Only the 6:00am Vigil has Holy Communion.
The land committee has now met twice and has been brainstorming what to do with the property.  In the next meeting we will finalize what ideas we can come up with to use the land for and then go from there to discuss what steps we will need to take.  We will give periodic updates to the council and the goal is to have the recommendation all set for the October council and voters meeting.  As discussed in our last newsletter, any vote will be up to the congregation and the vote will be held at the January voters meeting after it has been brought forward at the October voters meeting.

The Church financial cycle is always interesting. February is often the month with the lowest offering but the one where we have to spend more with energy and snowplow bills and some once a year charges. We are always looking for ways to save money and be good stewards of the tithes and offerings and as always we trust God to provide our daily bread. I thank you for your continued generosity and support of me and my family and the work of the Church.
Finally, thank you everyone for your support and prayers.  It is a joy to be celebrating the Season of Lent with you all.  Know for sure that the Lord Jesus Christ loves you and so do I.

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt
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