by Barb Mazarakos
Those who have been around Christ Lutheran Church for a long time know that a favorite saying of +Pastor Walt+ was that we are “blessed to be a blessing”. So strong was his sense of outreach and helping our neighbors that it became a calling card of his in a way. It is with this thought in mind that I bring to your attention the needs of a young girl who is connected to the Christ Lutheran family and her current need.
9 year old Grace Dalla Costa is the daughter of Ken and Debi and the granddaughter of the sainted +Louis+ and +Gail+ Dalla Costa, formerly of Christ Lutheran Church. She has recently been diagnosed with MALS- Median Arcuate Ligament Syndrome. This has caused her tremendous pain in her abdomen, making it difficult for her to eat and resulting in a great amount of weight loss and related weakness. Fortunately there is a cure for MALS, but Grace and her parents will need to travel out of state in order for her to get the treatment that could help her. The related medical, travel, and hotel cost of the visit (which could last up to 3 weeks) will be extensive, so a fundraiser will be held to help alleviate the cost.
An Italian dinner and family fun night will be hosted by Momentum Church Crown Point (2200 North Main Street, Crown Point, IN) on Saturday March 9 from 3-9pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. For those who can’t attend the event but would still like to help, you can make a donation to help Grace’s family by going to momentumindiana.com and going to the dropdown menu, then selecting Online Giving and finally Support for Grace. Any assistance you could give to Grace and her family would be most appreciated.
As she anticipates surgery on March 13, please keep Grace, her parents Ken and Debi, as well as the medical team that is treating her in your prayers. May our Lord, the Great Physician, watch over Grace and grant her healing, and thank you for being a blessing to her in her time of need.
by Dean Porzel
A woman’s place is…….?
Our perspective is certainly changing with respect to this age old question. In our faith life, it is true that we may continue to see the role of the female in the church distributed as represented in this chart:
While this graphic may indicate that the role of women in the “formal” church hierarchy diminishes as we go up the organization structure, what is most important is the recognition that women have a significant, but often underappreciated role in maybe the most important aspect of our life with Christ, that of Inspirational Influence.
Who of us cannot say that we were more strongly influenced in our initial relationship with the church by our mothers than anyone else? Who cannot say that we continue to seek guidance, motivation, and moral direction from the significant females in our lives?
For many of us, our “faith life” is nourished and reinforced by the music associated with a Christian existence. During the Christmas season I often try to attend at least one local concert for inspiration and to get me into the Christmas spirit.
This year we attended a concert by Christy Nockels at Moraine Valley Church. Christy is an example of the many contemporary Christian female artists that provide Inspirational Influence through their music. An added dimension at this concert was the inspirational message delivered by Ann Voskamp, an author and motivational speaker whose journey to Jesus has been both painful and recognizable.
Ann has authored a series of books that document how she came to find Christ and sustains her life and beliefs proactively through actions. A recent publication, “A Broken Way – A Daring Path into the Abundant Life” delivers an understanding that it is often through the “broken” events that we all experience during our lives that truly formulate our relationship with God, either questioning Gods plan for us, or in fact clarifying and solidifying that plan. As Ann puts it “Telling my brokenhearted story is simply telling how the Greatest Story Ever Told has completely changed mine”.
Ann also provides the following guidance that speaks to our personal and public reality:
“And there are seven things a country, relationship, or life cannot have:
- Power without principle
- Money without work
- Work without meaning
- Comfort without conscience
- Leadership without character
- Love without sacrifice
- Abundance without Christ”
These words reinforce that the blessings and privileges that we experience in life are earned through actions and not simply “owed” to us in any way.
I have found it to be true in my life that emotional clarity and honesty is more clearly expressed through the female voice, pen, and song. Stripped away from hidden agendas, ego, and protective filters, the message always seems to be closer to the truth and understandable.
During this month when we focus on the role of the female in the church, let us also realize and cherish the importance of the Inspirational Influence provided by the women God has allowed us to connect with in our lives.
by Barb Mazarakos
“What a small world!” How often have you heard that phrase, or maybe even said it yourself, when you realize that two people you know from different areas of your life also know one another, independent of you? Social media has been a big reason why we can say that as often as we do. You can get in touch with friends you haven’t talked to in 20 years who live across the country and know every little detail of their life. Thanks to modern technology, it’s like you never lost touch at all.
It doesn’t always work like that in real life though, does it? In this age where so many equate “busy” with “important”, we more often than not become ships passing in the night (or minivans passing on the way to the next game) with those in our community. Neighbors pull directly into garages and close the door behind them, never stopping to wave or chat with the elderly neighbor next door. Families can go weeks or even months without a simple visit or meal together, even when they only live blocks apart. One Sunday turns into two, which turns into a “couple of months” that you miss church, and along with that, fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. We lose touch. We sink further into ourselves. We are isolated.
Mother Teresa, the sainted servant of the poor, felt that we needed to take care of our neighbors. In fact, she built her lifetime of service upon that very premise. Born in Macedonia in August of 1910, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu (her name at birth) knew from an early age that she wanted to serve God. At age 18, she left home to join an Irish community of nuns, Sisters of Loreto, in India. After taking her initial vows as a nun, Mother Teresa taught at St. Mary’s High School in Calcutta from 1931-1948. The poverty and despair she saw outside of the convent walls bothered her so much, that in 1948 she received permission to leave the convent school and devote herself to working with the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta. It is perhaps for this work that she is best known.
In October of 1950, Mother Teresa received permission from the Holy See to start her own order, “The Missionaries of Charity.” It was the primary task of this order “to love and care for those persons nobody was prepared to look after.” The order has grown over the years, with evidence of their work in over 40 countries. For her work with the poor, Mother Teresa has been awarded a number of times, including the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize (1971) and the Nehru Prize for her promotion of international peace and understanding (1972). She fell asleep in the Lord on September 5, 1997 and was canonized on September 4, 2016, and is known to many as Saint Teresa of Calcutta.
We may often find ourselves thinking that God can’t possibly have a use for us in His bigger plan, but this humble girl from modest beginnings is just another example of how false that really is. She opened her heart to those in need when she saw that her neighbors were hurting. She opened her heart to the Lord when He called her to leave her comfort zone and minister to those who were lonely and unloved. Take some time to look around you today. Notice those who go unnoticed. How can you open your heart to them? How can YOU be more like Saint Teresa of Calcutta?
“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
by Pete Schrank
The theme this month is Women in the Church. Many people say the Christian religion is at worst anti-woman or at best places women in a secondary position to men. I believe that this is not the case. We have many examples of influential women such as Mary (of Bethany) and Martha, Mary Magdalene, Ruth, Rachel, Naomi, Lydia, and of course Mary the Mother of Jesus. We have the woman at the well, the woman that just touches Jesus’ robe knowing that this could heal her. There are many, many more examples of women building the faith we now all confess. However this story is about Mary the Mother of Jesus.
When the Men’s Bible Study group was looking at the Christian challenge of Islam, I was very surprised to see that some Muslims believe the Christian Trinity to be the Father God, the Son Jesus, and the Blessed Virgin Mary! This I believe comes from the Catholic Church elevating Mary to someone we should pray to as we pray the Rosary. The prayer is “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Not to pick on the Catholic Church, but they also believe that Mary was without sin (immaculate) and had no other children. These are not things that we as Lutherans believe. The Catholic Church as recently as 1950 states that Mary was assumed into heaven body and soul and celebrate her Assumption each year.
After the Reformation some Protestant denominations stated that Mary was just like you and me. That seems a bit too much of a swing in the other direction. As Lutherans we still hold Mary in the highest regard. Lutherans continue to celebrate the memory of the Virgin Mary in the chief feasts associated with her: Annunciation, Visitation, Purification and, of course, Christmas. We look only to scripture to praise and honor Mary.
As faithful Christians we know Jesus was making sure we don’t miss out on what made Mary truly blessed: not merely that she was privileged to give birth to Him, but rather, that her deepest blessedness came when God spoke His promise to her and she believed it – and not only believed it, but kept and “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart”
All of this means that Mary is the virgin mother foretold in Isaiah 7:14. She is the Mother of our Immanuel (God-with-us). This, of course, is not saying that she herself is divine, or eternal, or without sin or anything at all like that. Lutherans understand that Mary is a truly human creature, who freely admitted herself in need of a Savior just like we are, and was chosen by God’s grace to become the mother of the Eternal Word. She really is the Mother of God. God the Eternal Word took on flesh in her womb, nursed at her breasts and was swaddled in the warmth of her embrace. Mary loved and guided Jesus just like her other children.
Mary is not, then, “contrary” to our confession. As Lutherans, we remember her and thank God for her life. We find our faith strengthened when we ponder the way God’s grace worked in her as we hope it works in us. We certainly want to imitate her joyous “yes” to the will of God, and her holding tight to the words and promises of salvation and life eternal she heard.
Fittingly, Mary’s last recorded words in the Bible are, “Do whatever He tells you”. In this, Mary sets a fine example for us to follow – one that invites us all to trust in her Son’s love and join the psalmist in crying out: “Not to us, O Lord! Not to us but to Your name be glory”. All that we do and all that we have is for God’s glory.
A new year is already upon us and at C.L.E.W.S. we are eagerly planning an exciting year, as we begin holding registration for the 2019-2020 school year.
PHASE I: Now through January 19, 2019 for Christ Lutheran and CLEWS families.
Early registration enables Christ Lutheran and CLEWS families to receive priority class placement before we open the classes to the public.All eligible Cradle Roll and Sunday School children’s families will be mailed the packet of registration information, or you may pick it up in the church office. Be sure to turn in your registration before January 20, 2019 for priority placement.
PHASE II: Sunday, January 20, 2019 begins OPEN REGISTRATION for new families to the CLEWS program.
CLEWS is beginning its 36th year and still maintains its excellent reputation. Thanks is due to the dedicated staff, and to the loyal families who continue to spread the word about their experiences at CLEWS.
Parent Meeting…Tuesday, January 15, 2019 7:00 to 8:30 PM
THE GIFT OF A YEAR-Kindergarten Readiness and Beyond
At this meeting, researched information and factors to consider about kindergarten readiness will be presented. Also, a panel of parents and educators will be present to share their experiences with preparing their child for kindergarten, including what factors they considered when making the decision to send their child to kindergarten and what has been the outcome now that their children are older.
We ask that you pre-register so that we know how many to plan for and in the case of inclement weather (as happened last year when we had to cancel) we will be able to notify you. Please call the CLEWS Office at 708-349-0171 and leave your leave your name and contact number if you plan to attend this meeting.
Blessings, good health, and happiness to you and your families in the New Year!