Christ Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

February Update

“I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father.  And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.  And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments.”  2 John 4-6

How often do you get a devotional thought from 2 John?  It was tempting to just write the entire book down because it is only 13 verses.  Here I have emphasized the words, “walking.”
When the word “walk” is used in the Bible, both Old Testament and New, the visual that always goes with it is walking along a path, a road, a way.

This is tied to the first name for Christianity in the books of Acts.  Christianity was first called, “The Way.” Pictured here is a road, a path, a direction that one is to walk in. See Psalm 1 when it states that the man is blessed who does not walk in the way of sinners.. but that the Lord knows the Way of the righteous.

Of course, this name is no surprise to those who know the teachings (The Way if you will) of Jesus Christ when he told his disciples: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

To deviate is to go off the road and into error, deception, away (or rather a-way) from God.  Roads were often, and still are, lit at night so travelers can see the Way.  Hopefully, you are picking up even more images and words from Jesus Christ with these allusions, I can see at least 4 that I could draw out here but sadly just do not have the time, this would turn into quite a report!

So for 2 John to talk about walking, he is stating a way of life that Jesus Christ has walked and which we ourselves are called to walk in too.   This way to walk is a path of love which are exemplified in the 10 commandments for starters.  The summary of the law is to love.  God’s law teaches us what love is.  To follow in the Way also includes following the right teaching too, which is why John takes the rest of 2 John to talk about those who wander from what is true.

This causes a need for discipline.  Spiritually and bodily.  Disciples are nothing without discipline after all.  Discipline comes from habits that need to be built and done again and again and again.  This is why Paul’s favorite metaphor for the Christian life is a race.  Having ran Cross Country and Track in High School and College, you do not just step out on race day and get a Personal Record.  All of life is centered around that goal or as Christian theology and Scripture would say, life is centered around a telos.  That is Greek for the goal or object of life upon which everything is done in order to get to.

Fasting, the Divine Service, Scripture Reading, rising early to come to Church, tithing, prayer, sacrifice of one’s time, energy, resources even upon the pangs of death are part of the discipline.  To not do these things is to err and fall off the way.  Out of love, we are called to keep one another in account in how we teach and how we live.

This is Christian formation in a nutshell, one of my favorite topics and my hobby horse.  This is something I am always looking to improve upon here: how Christians live and why.

These thoughts help us gear toward a few things in this letter: Lent, our Budget Tithe, Bible Class/Reading through the Bible, and a few thoughts, Lord willing, on things I have seen.

Lent


Lent is a great time for spiritual formation and training.  Primary in this discipline and formation is hearing the Word of God and receiving His gifts.  Our training is to get our whole being to desire that.  Much of Christian discipline is forcing your body and mind and heart to do that which is foreign to them and learn to love them.  That is the greatest freedom we can have, being freed from the self, to die to self and live in Christ.  
 
So this Lent, deny your body your cravings and lusts.  Part of the discipline is to come to church twice for the different services.  This is not optional, and it is nonnegotiable.  This is our life together under the cross.  Come to either Wednesday 9:00am or Thursday 6:30pm for Lenten Midweek and then come back on Sunday at 9:00am.  Let God have His Way with you.

For Lent, we are going back to the Basics with our Small Catechism.  I am also working with Rev. Ryan Anderson down in Vesper and the two of us will be alternating services and weeks.  So, you will hear another voice preaching besides mine.  Also, I can enjoy having someone preach at me too since the Midweeks that I am not preaching I will still be in attendance.

Here is the Feb. 17th Ash Wednesday plan: Wednesday at 9:00am or 6:30pm come to Midweek service.  If you are unable to attend the morning or would like Ashes to have as you go about your day, stop by during your Lunch at either 11:30am, 12:00pm, 12:30pm, or 1pm for a brief 15-20 min service and the imposition of ashes.

We will still have the Soup Suppers.  This time they are to-go.  Cost is $5.00.  Please sign up in the Narthex so we know how many to make.  Or call Sandy Christophersen at 715-207-9853 to order a meal which consists of the Soup of the week (16 oz container) 1 dinner roll, and 2 cookies.  Please call in advance so we know how many to make.

Budget Tithe
Our Budget Tithe is approved and moving along.  When you give to our General Fund, 10% is taken from it and given to an organization.  Put our money to work.   Each month, along with applying part of our tithe to the North Wisconsin District ($2500) as we always have done, we are choosing several local or national organizations to equip and supply them with resources so they can show mercy to those in our community and in our world.

In January, our resources went to the Hannah Center, a place for women and children to be taken care of and nurtured, especially in the face of a crisis pregnancy.  It fit in also with our Life Sunday. We were able to give them a check for $2195!

This budget tithe is good for us spiritually to do and to also conform our church budget to God’s will.   Plus, it pools our money to do something together that we might not be able to do individually.  In February, our Tithe is going to Soup & Socks.   Watch the board in the back fill up as we get closer to our goal each week.  If you have questions, there is a folder attached to the board in back where you can learn more about what this budget tithe is.

Bible Reading
As of writing this letter, we have just less than 10 weeks until we finish reading through the Bible in a year.  We have gotten some solid feedback from this and are looking to start again and revamp a few things following Memorial Day.

I have heard several people say that this was their first time reading the Bible from cover to cover.  Awesome!  We will do this again and again.  So now you can say you have read it again and again.  I have read the Bible through about 4 times now and more and more I am able to matrix and put together points from vastly different areas as I become more familiar.  It takes some discipline to stay up with this and keep going.  Please join us as we do this.

In order to create the time and the ability to keep accountable so that we can hear God’s Word, starting in June we are looking to get together following Sunday service and take the 75 mins that it takes weekly to read the Bible in a Year. We will just read it, commentary and questions will be excluded during the reading time.  As my professors would say, “keep your nose in the Bible and keep reading.”

For questions and comments, we will provide an opportunity and place for them to be addressed but for timing’s sake when we meet, we will just read the Bible and let God have his Say.   More details on that to come as we approach summer.  

Bonus Thoughts
At the Annual Meeting I said that I would address topics that I feel are necessary in a larger and more official fashion.  I am hoping in July to come out with a paper so that we can be edified in our faith and understand the reason why we do what we do and believe what we believe.  In the last 2 weeks, I have had four separate occasions to speak on the nature of Baptism, and I sense a lot of confusion.

Between why we baptize infants, why you should not get rebaptized, what baptism does, and who is working in baptism I sense a need to address.  I have a feeling that the ability to see many churches online now has opened Pandora’s box of errors when it comes to walking in the Way of Jesus.  I will address those officially in the coming months that I hope gives you God’s Word to chew on.

I am still looking at a way to shake up confirmation.  Plans are underway and soon I will need to talk to some people in leadership.  I already have shaken up things a bit this year by requiring parents to attend, (we need to teach parents more than the kids quite honestly), giving the confirmands projects to do with their head, heart, and hands, and getting them exposure to topics that they will be confronted with.  I have some more thoughts and hopefully will take these up to make a more intentional discipleship for our kids that begin forming them from their first day in Sunday School and then also past confirmation.

Lastly, I am thinking that this summer as things begin to normalize that we will have outdoor worship provided that the weather is good.  Right now, I am thinking that every weekend in June we will meet outside.  More thoughts on that later, but I hope that would provide an opening for people to return who have been away and inch our way back.  Honestly, I think a big hurdle for people to return is to just do it and realize following that you survived.  It lets your mind be okay with assuming the risk again.  

There.  I hope that gives us some thoughts as we walk along the Way of Jesus Christ.  May our Triune God bless and keep you.

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew
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