By Barb Mazarakos
For 75 years, women have been working together to fund mission projects at both national and international levels through Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. Relying solely on their twice a year mite collections (no additional fundraising is done through LWML), they have been able to support projects such as Disaster Response Trailers in Missouri and the renovation of the JEM Seminary buildings in Nigeria, as well as provide scholarship money for the LCMS Young Adult Corps (formerly LCMS Youth Corp).
At this year’s national convention, it was voted on and agreed to that the LWML would help fund the renovation of a house in Flint, Michigan which will serve as Mercy House for Women and Children. This underserved area on the east side of Flint has a poverty rate among children at the astounding level of 80%. Mercy House will help assist mothers and their children to break that cycle by giving them access to a safe place to sleep where the best practices of parenting can be modeled and taught.
Arlene Gronwold of our congregation serves as President of our LWML unit. She attends board meetings and brings the information she gathers back to the group at their quarterly meetings (which have been combined with Ladies Aid meetings as the same women seemed to be involved in both groups). Their mission is not just one of fundraising, but as Arlene tells me, is also about enriching themselves through service to others. The fall workshop for Zone 25, which includes Christ Lutheran as well as neighboring churches, will be held at CELC on Saturday, October 14. At this meeting they will be taking an ingathering for Lutheran Church Charities; you can find the list of items needed in the church bulletin.
The ladies of the LWML are truly on a mission to make the world a better place and be the hands and feet of Jesus. You can help them by filling your MITE boxes with lose change (or bills!) and bringing them in any time during the month of October. A large bin for MITE boxes will be in the narthex. And look for our church LWML members on Sunday October 1, as we recognize LWML month and take special time out to thank the Lord for all of their good work
By Pete Schrank
Most Lutherans, at least this Lutheran, love to sing. Even if we can’t sing, we like to listen to and appreciate music. Who does not love to see the little ones in their robes singing “Jesus Loves Me”, or the Saint Olaf College singing the traditional Christmas Hymns? David wrote songs of praise long ago in the Old Testament, Psalms. My voice is at best average, but singing praises to God fills my soul with the light of God’s love. As Sandy Knopp (Music Director at CELC) would say, “make a joyful noise unto the Lord”.
To quote Martin Luther “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” Martin Luther wrote many hymns and added more music to the order of service in his day. Christ Lutheran Orland Park will be hosting a modern music leader, Dr. Carl Schalk, of Concordia University Chicago. Dr. Schalk has written numerous books about Church Music, Lutheran Music, Luther on Music, and God’s Songs, among others. He is a composer, teacher, author, and lecturer. Dr. Schalk is an advisor to Concordia Publishing House, and was the editor of the publication Church Music for 14 years. He has written over 100 hymns and carols. He led the effort to develop the Masters in Church Music program at Concordia, Chicago. A lifetime spent in the celebration of church music has been his passion and calling. The opportunity to meet and interact with Dr. Schalk is being enabled by the CELC Endowment fund, a true blessing of the treasures we have received from God.
Dr. Schalk will present a discussion on his newly published booklet A Lutheran Catechism: Understanding Church Music in the Lutheran Tradition at Christ Lutheran Orland Park on Tuesday October 10th starting at 10 AM.Please call the Church office to pre-register at 708-349-0431.
By Heather Green
This month we commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. When Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, he did not intend to start a new church nor did he imagine his actions would begin a cultural revolution.
As Lutherans we know that Luther sought to reform the existing Catholic Church, especially concerning the selling of indulgences. Some of his other issues with the Catholic Church included that lay people should be able to read the Bible for themselves, and that everyone was entitled to an education, including women.
Luther was the first who translated the Bible into German, the language of the common person. His translated Bible became a must have item for every middle class home. Interestingly, the printing of the German Bible had a profound impact on the German language. At the time Luther’s Bible was published, Germany was divided by several regional dialects of the German language. The publication of the German Bible was the leading factor of the unification of the German language into one common dialect because Luther’s Bible influenced the reading and speaking patterns of the German Middle Class.
Johann Cochlaeus, a contemporary and biographer of Luther, wrote, “Luther’s New Testament was so much multiplied and spread by printers that even tailors and shoemakers, yea, even women and ignorant persons who had accepted this new Lutheran gospel, and could read a little German, studied it with the greatest avidity as the fountain of all truth…In a few months such people deemed themselves so learned that they were not ashamed to dispute about faith and the gospel not only with Catholic laymen, but even with priests and monks and doctors of divinity.” Although not exactly a compliment, Cochlaeus’s quote demonstrates that not only were individuals reading the Bible, but they were beginning to think for themselves.
This trend of “independent-thinking” led to a reinvention of the school system in Germany. Prior to the Reformation, almost all schools were run by the church, and only the wealthy or those who would later become priests or nuns were educated. Luther himself believed that every person, including women, had the right to an education. He wrote, “As for me, if God chose to keep me away from pastoral functions, there is no other occupation I would more gladly take up than schoolmaster, for next to the pastor’s work, no other is more beautiful or significant than his.” Luther, and his contemporary, Philip Melanchton began to reform the school system by transferring the responsibility of education to the government (princes and magistrates) instead of the church. In 1530 a school for girls was established in Wittenberg.
Luther’s intended Reformation of the Catholic Church became a cultural movement that changed Germany forever. If you think of the theses as kindling, then Luther’s German translation of the Bible was the fuel that spread this movement throughout Europe. Luther wanted everyone to be able to read the Bible, yet how many of us have read it ourselves? This month as we remember the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I challenge you to begin reading the Bible again. Martin Luther worked to make it possible for us; let’s not let his call for Reformation go unanswered.
by Barb Mazarakos
When I was in my 2nd year of high school journalism, we were tasked with writing an article on someone local for the Penny Saver. For this writing we had to come up with interview questions, set up an appointment, and conduct the interview to gather our information before putting it in writing and submitting it to the paper to be printed and distributed throughout the community. I came across that issue in my file cabinet a little over a month ago. My article, titled “Luck of the Draw”, was about a local pastor who had been brought to his church with the daunting task not of growing his congregation, but instead, to close it down. That was in 1965.
Since Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church is still open and receiving worshippers each day, we already know how the story ends. Pastor Walt Ledogar and his beloved wife Carol ministered not only to this congregation but to the greater Orland community for more than 50 years. She as a dedicated nurse and mother who made worship and their two sons Mark and Paul her top priorities, he as Pastor of our flock, Chaplain of the Orland Park Police and Fire Protection District, Director of the Orland Park Civic Center Authority, Director of Metropolitan Family Services, Director and Samaritan of the Year of Lutheran Church Charities. Both as remarkable examples of love, compassion, humility, and faith.
On Wednesday, September 20, 2017 our beloved Pastor Walt was called to glory, and we can only imagine that he was greeted by his Sainted Carol when he got there. And though we are glad that he is now safe in the arms of Jesus, our hearts are heavy with grief. To many of us, Pastor and Carol were more than just faces we saw at the church. They were there when we were confirmed and married, when our children were born and baptized, when we laid loved ones to rest. They celebrated the high points in our lives with the true joy of the Spirit (and the occasional glass of wine!) and mourned the darkest hours of death and illness with an honesty and comfort that few can rival. They were family. We loved them, and today, we grieve for them.
As Lutherans, we put a lot of weight on the term “Grace”. And it has been largely through the example of the Ledogars that I have seen grace in action. Grace when anger over the illness of a loved one overwhelms us. Grace when fear takes over as towers came down and we gathered as a church family to cry, to remember, and ultimately to heal. Grace when the fire alarms went off in the middle of the Sonrise Service sermon the first year we had the new kitchen and forgot to turn the vents on before making pancakes (although we made sure never to let that happen again!) And now I know that it wasn’t through luck at all that Pastor Walt Ledogar received his call to a small church in suburban Chicago all those years ago. No more than it was luck that he knocked on the door of a young couple who had just moved in a few blocks away from the church with their 2 year old daughter and invited them to attend his church in 1977. It was Grace. The Grace of God brought him to us, kept him with us, and finally brought him Home.
When it comes to saying goodbye to someone who has filled my life with so much faith, hope and love throughout my life there really are no words. So I close with the blessing I will always envision Pastor Walt giving us at the end of each service from Number 6:24-26:
“The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord make His face shine unto you, And be gracious to you. The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.” Amen.
The One Ingredient
As fall approaches this 500th Anniversary of the Reformation Year, many of us are reflecting upon the readings assigned for Reformation Sunday. This Noted Chef Jacques Pepin was interviewed recently on an early morning radio program. A young, insightful interviewer asked him what one ingredient was essential to his cooking. Immediately he answered, “Butter.”
Pepin’s response got me thinking about the essentials of our Lutheran faith. What is the most important divine concept to us Lutherans? This is a good question for this article being published during the 500th Anniversary Month of the Reformation. For most of us, the answer comes: Grace. Sola Gratia comes first in the Lutheran By-grace-through-faith-for-Christ’s-sake formula.
Over the summer I preached upon the liturgical calendar readings from Paul’s epistles to the Roman Christians. This was the essential Scripture for Luther during the Reformation. One of the sections that led him best is from Romans chapter 3, verses 21-25:
But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,]through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith.
It is interesting that verse 24 has that intended repetition: all are justified freely by his grace. Grace is a gift, God’s free gift of pardon and peace through Christ. It is Jesus that paid the redemption price. Redemption is a word that comes to us from the dark days of the slave markets. It was the price to be paid to free a slave, a much greater cost than to transfer ownership of a slave. Only Jesus, the spotless Lamb of God, could and did pay the price to free us from sin, death and the devil. Is it with this in mind that the writers of our hymnal wrote the confession in Divine Service, Setting Four: … let us first consider our unworthiness and confess before God and one another that we have sinned in thought, word and deed, and that we cannot free ourselves from our sinful condition.
So two things. As the confession then guides us: Together as His people let us take refuge in the infinite mercy of God, our heavenly Father, seeking His grace for the sake of Christ, and saying God be merciful to me a sinner. Luther’s first thesis of the 95 called us to continual repentance, and he continued to direct us in faith to our Redeemer and Savior Jesus. God in his mercy has given his Son and for His sake forgives us, not partially, but fully! Let us live in that grace of God.
But also let us be careful of the attendant temptation. Yes, as with every good gift, the devil can and will seek to corrupt it. Read about that issue in the first part of Romans 6. While we Lutherans have been the faithful voice in the church in the proclamation of GRACE, I believe that we have also struggled with this issue. Dietrich Bonhoeffer raised the same caution as he talked of the tendency to make grace cheap. I know you have Google, so check out the wisdom of this faithful Lutheran pastor martyred by the Nazis. Grace is free to us, but so precious as it cost our Lord dearly. Luther wrote it this way:
I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord, who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.