Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church - Marshfield, WI

December 2023 Newsletter

“And God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.  And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and for years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens, and to give light upon the earth.’  And it was so.  And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars.

And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.  And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.” Genesis 1:14-19

The sun, moon, and stars serve a specific purpose in God’s creation.  The sun and moon do not get named, most likely because the pagan nations around Israel worshipped them, so Moses strips them of their name status and just calls them the greater and lesser lights.  Moses instead highlights the function of these heavenly creatures.

Just like mankind, the heavenly bodies are given rule.  And their purpose is to tell time and shed light on earth.  This means that God has built a clock and calendar into the creation in which we live.  The stars tell us what season it is, the sun gives us the years, the moon gives us the months.  Kind of like an hour, minute, and second hand on a clock.  God created time, it isn’t just a figment of our imagination.

God himself even creates the first holiday (holy day).  The seventh day is set apart as holy to God.   A day of rest.

There is a lot we could say about this design and a lot of rabbit holes we could chase, but let’s first say this: God wants a calendar and a way for us to calculate time.  Mankind has always had some calendar going, a way to not just measure time, but also as a way to tell a story.

The United States, for example, has a calendar that tells time.  We insert holidays into it that are special to us.  We could speak of Memorial Day, 4th of July, Veterans Day, VE day, Martin Luther King Jr Day, and so many others.  The day that I am writing this just so happens to be December 7th, a date which will live in infamy.  We have a calendar tailored specifically to our story.  And as God would say at the end of each day of creation: This is good!

The Church also has a calendar, and our calendar likewise tells a story.  Both the Old Testament and New have celebrated God’s work with a calendar.  I have heard it said that the Church Year Calendar tells the story of the Apostles Creed, it is a summary of the story of salvation.  Our calendar has seasons, a climax to the story, and it is a way in which we fit ourselves into the story, God’s story.  The story of our salvation.  The Church has Holydays, Feast days, festivals, and even days marked where we remember important people in the life of the Church.  The Christians in the Book of Acts make note of marking special days already with Pentecost and Easter.

Since the Church has rolled into another new year with Advent, I thought I would spend this newsletter giving you a head’s up on how this calendar is broken up and some thoughts to chew on as it relates to the story.  If you want to see more information, our hymnals on pages x-xiii highlight some more details:

Advent (means: to come/arrive) November 6th-December 24th 2023 (We use a 7 week Advent)
Color: Blue/Violet
Major Feast Days: None
Important Saint Days: St. Andrew Nov. 30th. St. Nicholas Dec 6th.  St. Lucia, Dec 13th. Adam & Eve Dec. 19th. St. Thomas Dec 21st.
Note: Advent is focused on preparing and hoping for the return of Jesus Christ in glory. 
Christmas (means: the mass of Christ) December 25th-January 5th 2024
Color: White
Major Feast Days: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Circumcision and Name of Jesus Jan. 1st, Important Saint Days: St. Stephen Dec. 26th, St. John Dec. 27th, The Holy Innocents Dec. 28th
Note: Christmas celebrates the incarnation of the Son of God into our flesh. 
Epiphany (means: to make known/reveal) January 6th- February 13th 2024
Color: White on January 6th, Green for the rest.  
Major Feast Days: Baptism of Jesus, Jan. 7th Confession of Peter, Jan. 18th Transfiguration of Jesus, Jan. 21st.  Purification of Mary, Feb. 2nd.
Important Saint Days: St. Timothy Jan. 24th. Conversion of St. Paul, Jan. 25th. St. Titus, Jan. 26th.
Note: Epiphany makes known who Jesus Christ is.  Focus on his miracles and transfiguration to reveal his identity as God’s Son and our Savior. 
Lent (comes from the word Lencten, meaning “Spring Time”) February 14th-March 23rd 2024
Color: Violet
Major Feast Days: The Annunciation of our Lord, March 25th. (This year falls during Holy Week)
Important Saint Days: St. Valentine, Feb. 14th. St. Matthias, Feb. 25th.  St. Patrick, March. 17th. St. Joseph, March 19th.  
Note: Lent is a 40 day period (Sundays not counted) to have sorrow over sin, to focus on the work of Jesus for us, leading to Holy Week. 
Holy Week March 24th- March 31st 2024
Color: Scarlet for Palm Sunday, Purple for Maundy Thursday, Black for Good Friday.
Major Feast Days: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday
Important Saint Days: None
Note: The climax of the Church year.  This intense week centers on the culmination of the work of Jesus Christ. 
Easter (Means East, Christians face East as the Son Rises) March 31st-May 18th 2024
Color: White
Major Feast Days: Good Shepherd Sunday (varies), Ascension of our Lord, May 9th
Important Saint Days: St. Mark, April 25th, St. Athanasius, May 2nd.  
Note: Easter is a 50 day season where we celebrate the victory of Jesus Christ. 
Pentecost/Trinity Season May 19th-November 3rd 2024
Color: Red for Pentecost and Reformation, White for Trinity and All Saints, Green for the rest
Major Feast Days: Day of Pentecost, May 19th.  Holy Trinity Sunday, May 26th. The Visitation, July 2nd.  Michaelmas Sept. 29th.  Reformation Day, October 31st.  All Saints Day, Nov. 1st
Important St. Days: Esther, May 24th.  Elisha, June 14. St. John the Baptist’s Birth, June 24th.  St. Peter and Paul, June 29th.  St. Mary, Mother of our Lord, Aug. 15th.  St. Michael and all Angels, Sept. 29th.  

Note: Pentecost celebrates the Holy Spirit’s work in the Church.  From entering God’s kingdom to the final entrance when Jesus comes again.  Pentecost is called the non-festive half of the church year.

There is so much more of course that could be listed or said.  We have not just 2000 years of calendar rotations but also from Adam and Eve.  And the story is being added to as well.  But I hope that gives some helpful food for thought that you can put your mind and life into the story of our salvation!
Special Services:
It is that time of the year when we have a lot of extra services and opportunities to receive God’s gifts.  Below are some key ones to keep in mind!
Final Sunday of Advent: Sunday, December 24th, 9:00am.  
Christmas Eve: Sunday, December 24th, 2:00pm, 4:00pm, and 6:00pm.  
1st Sunday after Christmas: Sunday, December 31st at 9:00am
New Years Eve Service: Sunday, December 31st, at 6:30pm.  (Note: Our Seminarian, Steven Steingraber will be here and helping with the liturgy)
Epiphany: Thursday, January 4th at 6:30pm
Baptism of our Lord: Sunday, January 7th at 9:00am. 
Also, December 26th, 27th, and 28th, will have special online chapel services commemorating St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents.  Watch for these services to be posted to Facebook, our Church App, and YouTube.

The 26th of December through New Years will also be a light week at the office.  We as workers and staff will not be in as much that week to recover and also spend time with family.  But if any emergencies are needed, please reach out regardless.
PUPPETS and Sunday School Christmas Programs
The PUPPETS will be putting on their Christmas Program on Saturday, December 16th at 6:30pm.  Come out and enjoy as they tell the Christmas story. Join us following for cookies and hot chocolate.  They have been putting together quite a show and are looking forward to telling us the story of Christ’s birth!

Then, the next day (December 17), stay after Sunday morning service to see our children in Sunday School put on the Children’s Christmas Program! It will start around 10:30am. The whole weekend is a great time to gather together as God’s people and support one another, so please make a good effort to be there to celebrate with those whom Jesus loves!

Land Poll
Last month, this newsletter article contained a poll for what to do with the land.  The tally that we have at the time of this writing was 29 votes for the selling of the land, 22 votes against the selling of the land and 6 votes did not care either way.  Thank you everyone for your comments both written and in person.  Comments are still welcome of course.

One thing for me is that the vote as it stands is close and there is a lot of passion, especially from those against selling the land.  And for good reason, too.  Personally, I want to be careful about it going forward and if we feel that more time and attention need to be given.  No need to cause division that needs no division.  Council has agreed and has decided that a committee will be formed to spend the next year taking a serious look into how we can be good stewards of the land we have. The committee will be asked to explore the feasibility of different options. If you are interested in being on the committee, please talk to me. More details to come on this, especially at the congregational meeting on January 28.

If you were here for Thanksgiving Eve, you probably noticed some electrical issues.  At one point we were given a low voltage warning.  We discovered that the main line that runs underground through the main box is corroded, almost all the way through.  This is causing a lot of issues throughout the building.  We were able to slap a band aid on it, but more will need to be done and a lot of discussion has already been had between the city, the electricians, the property board, and more that would take its own newsletter article.

But suffice it to say, action on this will need to be taken next year.  This need has therefore been fore fronted to the top of the list.  We noted with our Property Board that our building is starting to hit the limits on things like main lines, boilers, and more that are getting to be 40-50 years old.  Just like the houses we all live in, there is always work to be done in upkeeping them.  As I write this, the next section of our roof has been replaced.
Voters Meeting
Write down this date: Sunday, January 28th at 11:30am.  That will be the time we gather for our January voters meeting.  It will be a potluck, so bring a dish to pass!  And if you want anything to be discussed, please let us know to put on the agenda.  We still need a Financial Secretary as well!

I am running out of space but take note for next year that Superbowl Pizzas are coming up! January 22nd order forms are due.

Also, Lenten Meals will start up on Ash Wednesday, February 14th.  More on that to come, but keep your eyes peeled!

Merry Christmas to all of you!  I give thanks to you all in Jesus Christ on this Day of St. Ambrose, Bishop of Milan, 2023.  

Pastor Andrew Belt