Back to It with the Lord!
This morning I made my way to church on 151st Street going west and needed to be thoughtful along the way. For a couple of months, my speed stayed a constant 35 mph, but as an early bird I now needed to fly a little slower: School Zone (Jerling) with children present – and vigilant OPPD, also! (Aren’t we blessed with a great police department?) The kids are back to it, in this case their “work” of school.
Adults are back to it, also. Vacations and weekends away are now memorialized in phone photo. We are back to it at work (home or away) or school or church or volunteer work.
As I write, I am preparing the sermon for Labor Day weekend. Specifically, Labor Day commemorates the American trade union and labor movements, but the holiday has broadened in its scope to include reflection on work as a whole. Let’s reflect along this broader line.
Work is intended to be a blessing from the Lord. We were created to work, so our physical bodies deteriorate without movement and work. Labor was given by God as an effort of stewardship in creation. That pre-Fall passage reminds us of God’s gift and purpose in work, Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” So the original “physical therapy” began.
Our daily work should be connected with the Lord. Virginia McCaskey (nee, Halas, age 96) reminded me of that recently. Perhaps you saw the article in the Daily Southtown detailing the upcoming ESPN program on prominent women in pro football. Columnist Phil Rosenthal reported:
It’s important that how tough, dedicated and shrewd these women have been doesn’t get lost in the flood of nostalgia. They have achievements in their own right. Still, it’s so rare to get a glimpse of McCaskey’s private life, we’ll take anything we can get. McCaskey says she wakes up daily at 5:30 a.m. so her driver can take her to 6:15 Mass. “It’s the best way to start my day,” she says. “Get God involved in what I hope to be doing that day and ask for his help.”
Some of our devout Catholic friends attend Daily Mass (Communion service). Work that is blessed seeks God’s blessing and follows the Lord’s will particularly in the Ten Commandments. Daily, morning devotions send us off right to work.
Finally, it is important to stop working to raise hands in praise or fold them in prayer. We can work only because God has blessed us with the reason and strength to do so. We are blessed to be a blessing. (Who often said that?) Ultimately, the greatest things in life are not things we can achieve, but are gifts from God and culminate in the gift of life in Christ. Ephesians 2: 8-10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Let’s get to it with the Lord,
By Barb Mazarakos
“Saints” are not something that many would associate with the Lutheran church in the same way that we do with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters. We don’t elevate them to a higher “position”, or offer prayers to them as intercessors to God. As Lutherans we are taught that we worship and pray to our one true God. Yet every year we celebrate All “Saints” Day. Has anyone else ever found that confusing?
Perhaps if we think of All Saints Day by another name that it is commonly known, the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed, it will make a bit more sense. “Saints” are actually all true believers, living or dead, who believe that they are atoned by the blood of Christ. Now some of these saints may be more remembered for the specific work they have done or the stance they took on behalf of their faith and are therefore granted that special title that we know them by. But others are lesser known, and are revered for the blessings they have brought to the lives of those around them just the same. It is why, when a believer dies, we may refer to them as “Sainted”. They don’t carry an official designation, but they lived and died knowing their salvation was sealed on the cross and being an example of the love of Christ while here on earth.
This year as in others, we will remember those who have gone before. Perhaps you will be thinking of someone who held your hand as a small child and first taught you to say your prayers and read you stories from their lap each Christmas. Maybe it’s the childhood friend who helped you discover your love for music that you wish had lived closer so that you could spend some time with them before they passed on. For many of us, it may be the childhood teacher, pastor, and mentor who encouraged us to grow in our faith. All a part of the cloud of witnesses, cheering us on to grow in our faith and spread the Good News. All of them saints who have gone before us, but who first set us examples of faith, hope and love.
As we remember those who have passed on, I think of the second verse of the hymn, For all the Saints, written by William Walsham How:
Thou wast their Rock, their Fortress, and their Might;
Thou, Lord, their Captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true Light.
That faith? That’s what All Saints Day is truly about. And it is definitely worth remembering.
Honoring her cousin Sharon’s memory, CLC member Sandie Falco is collecting desperately needed school supplies. These supplies will be distributed first to the children of unemployed and underemployed members and friends of the Christ Lutheran congregation; any additional supplies will be divided between the Orland Township and Sanctuary Lutheran Church (Manhattan). Items can be deposited in the designated box in the narthex through Sunday, August 6. Contact Sandie at 708-403-5999 if you have any questions. A BIG THANK YOU to the OWLS for their generous donation for school supplies. What a great way to start off our collection! Needed items include plain backpacks, notebooks, 3-prong folders, pens, pencils, paper, glue sticks, erasers. If you prefer, checks can be written to Christ Lutheran Church earmarked “school supplies”, and we will do the shopping for you. Please do not write checks to “Sharon’s Angels.” If your children or the children of someone you know are in need of a backpack filled with school supplies, contact the Church Office at 708-349-0431.
By Barb Mazarakos
By Ray Delcourt
Legend tells the story: A boy is on the beach tossing Starfish back in to the ocean one at a time. There are thousands of them on this beach. The young boy just keeps picking one up and heaving it into the watery abyss. An old man from the village harkens him and yells out, “BOY, stop throwing those Starfish into the ocean. You are wasting your time! There are too many…you can’t make a difference!”
The young boy looked at him with a crooked smile, nodded, knelt down and selected the biggest Starfish he could find and catapulted it into the brine! He then briskly turned back to the craggy old man, and said, “I just made a difference there.”
Go forth and make a difference. Do so with the wonderful abilities and gifts that God has given each of us. Do so in His name and TELL people it’s in His name. A recent study showed that just over half of people of faith “Share their Faith” with others. Of those just 7% do so on a regular basis.
Put your faith into action and find a way to let people know that you are part of Christ Lutheran Church. It is our job as followers of Christ. There are many Starfish left out there, so take off your shoes, feel the sand and start throwing! Don’t be surprised if you see another set of footprints in the sand.