Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

March 2023 Newsletter

“Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.” Genesis 30:22

“For the Lord will have compassion on Jacob…” Isaiah 14:1

A couple months ago our Wednesday Bible class asked me what my favorite word in the Bible is.  Which is a hard question!  There are too many words to choose from and from time to time it changes when I learn more.
But there is one word that does float to the top of the pile consistently.  And that Word just so happens to be in both verses listed above.  Now, before I answer which word is my favorite, I will give you a chance to look up again and read through the verses to see which word is in both.  (No hints Wednesday Morning Bible Class attendees!)

Go ahead, take a look.  Don’t worry, I will be waiting for you in next paragraph when you are ready…

Give up?  Perhaps you noticed quickly that there are actually no two words alike in the English translation (which is ESV).  Well the answer lies hidden in the Hebrew.  I will write the Hebrew Word into the verses:

“Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her רחם.” Genesis 30:22
“For the Lord will have רחם on Jacob…” Isaiah 14:1

Now of course, I gave the simple three letter root word without the prefixes and suffixes that are on this word in these verses in order to simply it.  But it is, at the core, the same word.  Ra-chum (sounds like vacuum).
In Hebrew, the word for the woman’s “womb” is the same as the Word “compassion.”  Compassion is something you feel in your guts (hold on to that word too because we will get there in a second).

Hebrew is a very down to earth language, and it yields very many rewards if you know it.  And this is one of those rewards and gems that you can find.
I dare you now to search in your Bible for the Word “compassion.” Each instance of that word in the Old Testament is most likely the word used also for “womb.”

So if we look at the verse from Isaiah quoted at the beginning:  “The Lord will have compassion on Jacob.”  We could say just as well: “The Lord will womb Jacob.”  God will take care of his people who are personified by Jacob, just like a mother takes care of her child in the womb.  Compassion is linked to the care and love shown by a mother to her child in utero.  Hatred is well…the opposite. “Why did you bring me out from the womb?  Would that I had died before any eye had seen me and were as though I had not been, carried from the womb to the grave.” Job 10:18-19.  Job is not happy that God showed him the smallest compassion by letting him be born.
Compassion is a fascinating word.  And it has far more reaching implications than I can list here.  But the Word implies care, love, things that only a mother can give.  I love my twin sons.  But I note that there is something different that Rebecca feels for them than I ever could.  It is that compassion that only a mother can have.

God is said to have the same for his people.
Which brings us to the guts again.  The Greek in the New Testament uses a very similar idea for the word compassion.  Here is an example:

“Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself.  But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns.  When Jesus went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.”  Matthew 14:13-14.
The Greek for compassion is located in the same place.  The word for compassion in the Greek is “guts.”  We could say that Jesus saw the crowds and felt for them in his guts.  He felt for them in the place where a mother feels her child kick.  Powerful imagery.

Another quick fun allusion in the Bible to this idea and theme is in Galatians 4:19, where St. Paul is upset and heart stricken over the Galatians abandoning the Gospel and he writes, “My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!”  Paul has nothing if not compassion for the erring Galatians.  At times I must say I can understand that feeling too for the people God has called me to be shepherd over.
God of course shows the greatest compassion/womb of all.  He sent forth his Son into the virgin womb/compassion of Mary.  God shows his love for us, that in the fullness of time God sent for this Son.  Born of Woman, born under the law, to redeem those (us!) who are under the law. 
As we come to Holy Week next month and to the horrors of the cross and to the joys of the empty tomb, let us give thanks for the Compassion of God, that he wombs all of us as children until of course the child pains of this world are over and the sons of God are revealed (Romans 8).

Thank you
As no doubt most of you heard, my guts were not showing me much compassion when I woke up a few Sundays ago.  Realizing that I would not be able to do service, I called our elders Jack and Greg and also Dana.  Within an hour Dana had crafted an edited service and projector slides.  The elders were ready to go with a reading from Luther’s Large Catechism and were a go to take care of service.  I can’t thank each of them enough and I know all three of them would rather me not say anything but a Thanks be to God, which makes me even more proud.  That is without saying anything about the prayers and messages I received. I could also mention Tammy’s side of things for Sunday School and her work load and the people who have stepped up across the board.

We have had a lot of things happen to us as a congregation over the last couple of years, but I cannot tell you how proud I am that our congregation’s ability to fill gaps and rise to the occasion has been a tremendous blessing, and also a healthy thing to see.  
From the work of the Board of Elders and the Council so far this year, it has put a smile on my face and a thank you to our Lord.  Leadership has desired more fellowship which is why Dart Ball has begun.  You can talk to Ed Rehmer for more information on that one.  We have also wanted more food opportunities.  Please join us during the Lenten season on Thursday nights at 5:30pm as we will be having meals before our 6:30pm service.  The elders have a desire for a Spring Pancake breakfast, but more details on that soon.  

But I wanted to spend a little space here to say thank you to our leadership, and also a thank you to all of you.  I couldn’t ask for better brothers and sisters in our Lord.  Glad to know you already on this side of eternity.
Holy Week
It is now my favorite time of the year again.  Holy Week is upon us.  Here is all the information that you need to know about that week’s events and services:
            Palm Sunday: 9:00am Divine Service (Communion)
            Holy Monday: 6:30pm Service of Readings/Prayer
            Holy Tuesday: 12:00pm Service of Readings/Prayer
            Holy Wednesday: 9:00am Service of Reading/Prayer
            Maundy Thursday: 6:30pm Triduum Service Part I (Communion)
            Good Friday: 1:15pm & 6:30pm Triduum Service Part II
            Holy Saturday: 10:00am Easter Egg Hunt (We need Candy!!!)
            Easter Sunday: 6:00am Easter Vigil (Triduum Part III, Communion) and then 8:30am &
10:30am Easter Day Service. (No Communion)

A few notes on the schedule.  First: Please come to as much as you can.  It is such a blast of a week and with each day leading up to Easter it ratchets up the stakes as we make our way through Holy Week.
Monday-Wednesday’s services of readings and prayers will be livestreamed, but we scattered them at different times to try and catch times of the day that might work for some people to come.

Maundy Thursday through Easter Vigil is what is called the Triduum.  Latin for “Three Days.” The Triduum is one service that is broken up into three parts.  The service tells one story that is spread over three days that follows the time line of Christ’s passion.  If you really want an experience, please try for the three parts of the Triduum.   I want to keep pushing this one, but this year will be our third year with the Easter Vigil and this has become my favorite service throughout the year.  At least give it one try in your life because it is a unique service with a lot of moving parts.
Finally, our Easter Egg hunt is on Saturday, the day before Easter, and we are in need of some candy to fill all the eggs.  Feel free to donate any candy before hand and thank you ahead of time!

Brat Sale
The youth are once again holding their Cabin Fever Brat Sale. Cost is $3.75 each. There will be toppings if you want to enjoy them at Church (the smell wafting through the building will make you want one before service is over) or they will package them up so you can take them home to enjoy later. They will be sold after service until they run out.

When thinking of our financials this verse from our Old Testament reading this weekend comes to mind: “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” (Exodus 16:18). If you look at our budget, you would think we aren’t doing that great. If you look at our checking account (general and building) you would say we are doing better than we have done in years. We may be gathering less than our budget says we need, but we “have no lack.”

This verse is also quoted by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 while talking about giving generously according to what you have. We give thanks to God for all of our members and your offerings of time, talents, and treasure. We will do our best to be good stewards of your gifts while also trusting that God will continue to provide for the needs of this congregation through your generosity.

Now with Spring on the verge, the men’s maintenance and custodians will soon finish up their work inside and begin to get to the outside work.  They have a few projects ahead of them and also a few large scale goals.  One of the building goals will be fixing the men’s bathroom ceiling which developed a leak the week after my last newsletter.  Fixing the roof will need to be looked at and that will be a top priority once the snow melts for good.

Finally, thank you to everyone who sent into directory photos.  We are still chasing a few more photos and then work will begin on compiling the work all together.  The goal right now is to have the Directory ready and available sometime in early summer, so keep watching for more details on that as the year goes on.

Thanks be to God for the life that he has called us to live as his church.  Prayers for us as we journey to another Holy Week this year and receive with a true faith all that Jesus Christ and his great love and compassion has won for us!  

In Christ,
Pastor Andrew Belt