Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

March Newsletter Update

“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.  Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit.  For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:4-6a

In the last few weeks, the story of the Catholic Priest who resigned over the words he spoke at baptisms finally became mainstream and caused quite a stir and upset many people, my grandma included, who called me to ask me about it.  I had about 3 people at our congregation ask me about it as well, so I thought I would spend my article here discussing it.
Essentially the priest said at each baptism, “We baptize you (instead of ‘I baptize you…’) in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  

The ruling came down that those baptisms that he performed are invalid.  This is serious.  It meant that the baptism that they were given were not baptisms.
To have a valid baptism is important.  For example, baptisms that are done in the Mormon faith and the Jehovah’s Witness faith do not count as baptisms though they say the same words that we do!  The reason being is those two sects do not baptize with the meaning of the Triune God that the Church confesses, though they say the right name for God.

Mormons believe that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three gods, not one God (which is called Tritheism).  On the other hand, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe that the Son and the Holy Spirit are God!  So when they baptize, they do not baptize in the same faith, and when people come to Christianity from those faiths, we need to baptize them because they have not been baptized into the Trinity. They have been baptized into the name of different gods masquerading as the One True God.

Other examples of invalid baptisms would include baptizing in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.  Or as some Christian circles have been doing, they are baptizing in the name of the Mother, Daughter, and Spirit.
These examples are taking the institution that Jesus gave in Matthew 28:16-20 and changing it.  You can’t change an institution without changing the function and purpose of it as well.  These examples are becoming more common which has made me ask questions like this during baptism meetings and new member meetings.

So, does saying “we baptize you…” invalidate the baptisms?  No.  Why?  For a few reasons.  First, the institution that Jesus gave just said, “baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” No pronoun was listed.   Second, the faith and name of God that those people were baptized into is the One True God.  Third, the person at work in baptisms in Orthodox (rightly aligned by faith) Churches is God.  The person at work in Baptizing is the Lord himself through his ministers as I quoted from 2 Corinthians above.  Those people who were baptized by this priest should take comfort in that it was the Lord’s baptism that they received.
Having said that, should the priest have baptized saying, “We baptize you?” Once again. No.  He should not, nor should anyone else baptize with a different formula for the basic reason of the doubt and confusion that this has caused.  This is not the order that God desires.  Saying “we” deviates from the practice of the Church at large.

The reason why the priest did this was that he was trying to make it the work of the congregation that was doing the baptizing, hence saying “we.” It sounds nice, but it is doing a couple of weird things. It is diminishing the Office of the Ministry to say “we.” And besides that, novelty and creativity do not belong to the Sacrament. Those add human traditions which muddle the Words and actions of God and divert attention away from that.

What would have been a better course of action in all of this would have been to say that the baptisms he performed were valid and then provide reasons why like what I have described above but have them be fleshed out further for certainty and for consciousness’ sake and then request that the priest stop baptizing with this formula and keep in sync with the rest of the Church and proceed with consequences should he refuse.

Should you have questions about this further, please feel free to reach out to me. I pray that the discussion above brings clarity to the issue as well.  God’s peace to you who are baptized into the name of our Triune God and into his blessing!

Holy Week Schedule
The week in which our entire Church Calendar revolves is once again here!  It is my favorite week of the year and we have many opportunities to gather to hear and ponder the events of Jesus Christ for our salvation.

Sunday, April 10th 9:00am Divine Service
Monday, April 11th 6:30pm Mark’s Gospel 1-5
Tuesday, April 12th 10:00am Mark’s Gospel 6-10
Wednesday, April 13th 9:00am Chapel Mark’s Gospel 11-16
Maundy Thursday, April 14th 6:30pm Divine Service & Stripping of the Altar
Good Friday, April 15th 1:15pm & 6:30pm
Easter, April 17th 6:00am Easter Vigil, 8:30am & 10:30am Easter Sunrise Services

I recently shared a letter from Tammy during our March 6th service, and I thought I would share it here as well:

“Dear Christ Lutheran Members, It is difficult for me to share the news with you that I must go back on medical leave. My return to work in early January began well, however the pain and immobility returned quickly. My doctors have increased my medications and that is helping temporarily.

I will have a re-evaluation with my Primary Care Physician at the end of March and will have more information at that time. God has blessed me with an amazing church family. I sincerely thank you for your patience and support through this battle. I promise to update you as soon as I have received further direction and guidance from my doctors. Thank you and God bless.

Please keep Tammy in your prayers and look for opportunities for us to care for her as she has cared for us these last 20+ years!
During the first week of March, Masons will be at work in our sanctuary doing some structural work and fixing to upkeep our building.  They should be done by March 9th, so you will most likely not even notice that they were here.

Another project in the works is getting some of the light fixtures outside replaced as they rust. Make sure to take a look at the bulletin board in the Narthex for a list of our 2022 projects as well as the money spent and money in the Building Fund to stay up to date!
Thanks be to God for the saints at Christ Lutheran for your continued support of the mission and ministry here in Marshfield. The Gospel continues to be preached and taught because of you. Our giving is always a little down in the January and February. That coupled with quarterly and annual bills coming due has put us a bit behind budget. However, due to the generosity at the end of last year, our checking account still has plenty to pay what needs to be paid.

In February our tithe went to support our local Lutheran School at Immanuel. We were able to send $2500 to the Synod and $1089 to Immanuel.

Extra Announcements
You will notice the Red Envelope Fundraiser in the Narthex before you go into the Sanctuary.  This is a Fundraiser for our National Youth Gathering this Summer.  There are cards labeled 1-100.  Whatever number you grab, put that amount of money in to support our youth and their upcoming trip this Summer in July!

Also, our March Tithe will be going to Feed My Starving Children.  This is a yearly fundraiser that we raise money for and it is good to have our tithe go to it as well.  Information can be found on the board in the Narthex as well.
Our Social Ministries Board dissolved at the beginning of the year, but their function has been taken over by the board of elders.  The money and resources collected by the giving and offerings serves to help in various mercy work.  There have been two opportunities to support various people.  A family in Spencer lost their house to a fire and we supported the efforts on the Funding page by supplying them $250.  The second went to help the Ukrainian People through the Lutheran Church International Mission.  The LCMS is providing grants and resources to our Partner Church in Ukraine and we gave $300 to help with the care of those suffering through war.  Your gifts and support are helping people local and international, and we thank you for giving to Social Ministries.  I thought it would be good to highlight those decisions that happen behind the scenes.

Finally, Bible Classes!  We are running through the Book of Concord on Sunday morning, which has spurred on great discussions.  Currently we are making our way through the Large Catechism. We will then proceed into some of the other core documents of our faith.  Tuesday at 3:00pm Yvonne is starting a new class that follows the path that Jesus took to win our salvation!  The men’s Monday morning Bible class is still running with a good crew and our Wednesday morning class on Acts is plowing through the book as well.  Plenty of opportunity to dig into God’s Word.  Our Year through the Bible has just a couple of months left to it and you can follow along with our videos each week as well online.
With that, I think this newsletter has done enough damage.  God’s peace to you all as we get closer to the events of Holy Week!  Thanks be to God for the love that he has shown to us through our Lord Jesus Christ!

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt
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