Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

May Newsletter 2024

“Abide in me and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine and you are the branches.  Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”  John 15:4-6

As it is now Spring, it is the time for me to get the lawn prepared, cleaned, and ready to be cut. That is, once the rain stops and the ground dries up.  But when the time comes, the first thing that I do is to go out into the yard and gather the sticks that have fallen from the trees.  Once I clear that debris, I am ready to mow the yard.

The sticks that I gather go into a pile, and as the summer wears on, eventually they are used as kindling to get the fire going in our firepit.  Once they are disconnected from the tree, they serve no other purpose.  They will not grow anything.  And anything on the freshly fallen sticks will be withered and dry and dead within a few hours.  Once they are severed from the tree that nourishes them, they are only good enough to be used in the fire.

Jesus uses this illustration to talk about himself and his people, the Church.  The word “church” is perhaps a dirty word for some people.  Perhaps an inconvenience to some, unnecessary to the simple, painful to those who have suffered wrong and abuse, and a thorn in the side to others who would like to go their own way.

But of course, to Jesus, the Church is his own body.  In the Bible, the Church and Jesus always go together.  You will never find the Church without Jesus and you will never find Jesus without his Church.  They go together like a branch to the vine. (John 15) Or like a wife to her husband.  (Ephesians 5).  When Saul was killing Christians, Jesus said he was really attacking him.

Jesus and his Church are “one.”  This gets a little after what Paul says in Galatians when he says that “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.”  This is why the book of Acts goes to great lengths to show how each Christian in the book sounds like Jesus at some point (Stephen in Acts 7) or suffers and is rescued like Jesus (Peter in Acts 12).

In a profound way, how you treat the Church is how you treat Jesus.  Which should give us each pause to reflect how we talk about, treat, and interact with the Church.  How do you treat and tend to the Church?

Here are some examples.  Do we gossip about the Church?  About her members and leaders?  If so, imagine that you are saying that to Jesus Christ now.  After all, Jesus will bring into the light everything we do in secret.

Here is another example: Are we faithful in attending Church and preparing for worship?  Worship time is when Jesus is present with his body.  If Jesus was coming to Marshfield, would you miss it?  Well, Jesus does come to Marshfield!  Every Wednesday chapel, every Thursday at 6:30pm and every Sunday at 9:00am is when Jesus is in town.  It is easy to forget that, or at least, despise it.  A professor of mine once noted to us that if we rarely show up or refuse to attend worship, what we are really saying is this: Jesus is not here.

Do we give to the Church?  Money that goes to support the Church is going to support the Lord Jesus Christ’s mission to advance the Gospel.  Supporting called workers and staff, keeping lights on, repairing property, giving for the needs of others in the Church and world.  Giving to the Mission of the Church is that right there: the ability to proclaim the Gospel and deliver the Sacraments.  That is showing love for Jesus Christ and the importance of what He is doing in His Church.  As a pastor of mine once said, “If the Gospel is so great, why are we all so cheap?”  I remember those words echoing in my head for a long time.

How we treat and interact with the Church is how we interact with Christ himself.  Jesus created His Church.  The Church is how Jesus operates with his saving Gospel, “The one who hears you, hears me.”  If a connection with Jesus does not lead a Christian into the fellowship of the Church, which is Christ’s body, and the mother that begets all Christians, then they have not found Jesus.   They are just a stick, lying on a ground only fit for the soon to be mower to pick it up and toss it on the pile.  We cannot separate Jesus and his Church.  Which is such a joyous thing to realize!  

Jesus invites people, you, into the fellowship of His Church.  This seems so weak and pathetic.  A ragtag group of sinners doesn’t look all that great to the world.  Especially in a world of spiritual idealism and individual enthusiasm, which is the idea that the serpent gave to Adam and Eve that you can have God in your own way and not the way that God has made.

But while the world scoffs, the fellowship of sinners gathered together has the promise of Jesus Christ with them.  And the promise of Jesus Christ is worth more than the riches of the world. I would bank my eternal wellbeing on the promise of Jesus Christ. The point of the Church is to hand over the goods of Jesus in his Word and Sacraments.  This is what Jesus means by abiding in him.  This is what Jesus means when he urges and exhorts us to abide in him.  The body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament is literally Jesus coursing through you and his people.    This is what Christ desires for you and for all.  To put you into his tree, his temple, his body, his Church.  There you will be nourished, trimmed, pruned, cultivated, and grown.

As we approach summer and also as we approach the midpoint of this year, I encourage you again to come into the fellowship of Christ’s body.  He has his gifts for you, and desires to attach you to himself, that you might grow in faith and in all good works which he would have for you.  That is the fruit that will last.  After all, we want to reap a harvest on Harvest Day which Jesus has appointed.  The Lord bless you and keep you as you abide in him!

Property Items/Maintenance  
Ever since Covid began, we have been playing catch up with a lot of deferred maintenance that has taken a back seat in the last decade.   Already the pillars of the church have been addressed, the wort part of the parking lot was redone last year, and each year we fill in a section of our roof that is in need of repair.

There are some key issues that we are hoping to address this year, and some which became more pressing.  Back during Thanksgiving through a rather long chain of events, we discovered that our electrical unit, which is hitting 50 years of age, has been corroding and water leaking in.  It has been patched for now, but that makes it on borrowed time.  The parts to fix it were also backordered and a year out as well.  Movement was taken earlier this year to secure that and move along, but as we change that out, the city also wishes for us to be updated on code, something that we were grandfathered into, but now need to address.  This is likely to cost at least $30,000, though we may be able to save money by doing some of the trenching of the new line ourselves.

The next sections of the roof that need to be done are also looking to be fixed, as there has been a couple of leaks in the last few months.  The Fellowship Hall was already planned and will cost $19,500, but since the leaks were in the next section over (the kitchen area), we may do both in one go, increasing the cost (though actually saving money as it will be cheaper in the long run to do both at once).

We also want to take the next part of the parking lot, which is the side facing 14th street and complete that whole side.  The price tag on that is around $65,000.

In the future, we need some work to switch over our pneumatic boiler system, which is being phased out in the world of temperature control, and over to a digital system that would better regulate temperature and be more cost effective.

All of this is to say, we need your help.  The council has been talking and while there are some funds in the Building Fund to take care of the roof and other preventative maintenance, what would be really nice is if we could get some help to cover the parking lot, especially the next part that we would like to get done.  The price, as listed above, is around $65,000.  We are going to be looking for additional ways to raise awareness and help with funding, but I said I would put a plea out on this newsletter, which I hope many of you see.  Your help on that would be greatly appreciated since our parking lot could use it.
The leadership of the congregation recently were engaged in a stewardship conference.  It was a great time and we had a great discussion.  We looked into ways to be better at engaging ourselves and you as stewards of the Gospel.  Continuing discussion will happen at further council meetings, but this fits in with the property items and needs listed above in the previous items.

Voters Meeting
Also, our next Voters Meeting will be coming up on Sunday, July 21st, at 10:30am.  We plan to give an update concerning what the land committee has been working on, as well as the topic of Christmas Eve service times.  If there are any other updates, we would love to be able to put them on the agenda.  Let us know by June 10 so the council can approve the agenda at their meeting.

As has been the case for the past year and a half, our financials aren’t great but they aren’t really bad either. We have plenty to cover our expenses, but we are behind on the budget. This ties in with the Stewardship conversation council is having. As always we also continue to pray and trust in the Lord to provide.

Immanuel Lutheran School
This is just a reminder that our sister LCMS church here in town, Immanuel, has a PreK through 8th grade School.  As you think about where to send your children or grandchildren to school, we have a great resource here in town where kids can be connected to Christ during the school day.  I do chapel services quarterly there.  This past year we implemented a scholarship to be able to help cover costs of tuition to go to Immanuel.  If you have questions, let me know.  Our LCMS schools are a treasure that we should utilize as best we can.
If you had not noticed, the Library has recently moved!  It used to be located in the space that intersected the Sunday School wing and the gym, and between the Sunday School office and entrance.

Now the Library is located close to the Narthex over by the Nursery, which used to be Tammy’s office prior to when she moved a few years back.  This is a perfect space that will have some touches continued to be added to it to give more awareness.  We will do a blessing of the library following service on the first week of June.
Our Librarian has done a great job of adding new titles, clearing out unused and outdated books, and even preparing a kid’s corner in the Library.  We hope to continue to make this a great resource in the years to come and I highly recommend taking a look and seeing what resources there are for you there to grow in the faith.

May God grant to you all an increased love and zeal for one another, for the lost, and for Christ Jesus your Lord!

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt  

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