by Dean Porzel
I look forward every year to the end of October, when I transfer my IPod preferred music playlist from my ” 5 Star” or “Road Trip” mix to a playlist called “Holiday Mix”. This folder contains the best of my easy listening 5 Star playlist with a blend of my favorite Christmas selections, eventually transitioning to a folder in December of strictly Christmas music.
Because the Christmas season is a time of reflection and remembrances, the songs I find in these mixes are a blend of beautiful musical passages and lyrics that will assuredly bring a wave of nostalgia and tears to my eyes and as the words and music bring me closer to friends, family, and my faith.
What a wonderful blessing music is to our lives, and I am so happy that Christ Lutheran Church has always emphasized music in our worship experience as an important part of our spiritual connection to our God and our beliefs.
Favorites abound, from beautiful coral pieces, such as “See Amid the Winter Snow” and “Before the Marvel Of This Night”, to lyrical standouts such as “The Christmas Shoes” and “Little Alter Boy” (yes, I am a faithful Lutheran), and “Where Are You Christmas”. Inspirational up tempo tunes such as “Light Of the Stable” and “Jesus, Born On This Day” round out my playlist of the season.
In God’s grand plan, He has enriched our time on this earth with the many instruments of music, from the violin, to the piano, to the human voice and of course the guitar. He has blessed many individuals with a special talent of combining these tools in amazing ways to create the sounds of Christmas. We may not all have the talent these special composers, musicians and vocalists have, but we all have the ability to identify the sounds that inspire us and allow us to connect, if only for a few weeks a year, to our past and bring us closer to our Savior as we anticipate and then celebrate His birth.
“I hear the bells are ringing loud and clear
You can’t help but love this time of year
It’s Christmas time, there’s something in the air
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
Somehow there’s a little more of love
Maybe there’s a little less of us
Or maybe were just slightly more aware
There’s a little bit of Heaven in the air
It’s the smile on a man who has finally found hope
It’s the tears of a mother whose child has come home
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we all share
It’s a little bit of heaven everywhere”
Ben Glover and Francesca Battistelli
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0uxSVtG230 (See Amid the Winters Snow)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MpkI7GW2V34 (The Christmas Shoes)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7DduTxHqt4 (Before the Marvel of This Night)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1lt87fGKaSA (Little Alter Boy)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSMjgNMdzEI (Where Are You Christmas)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qln7ADh3dTA (Light of the Stable)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ow0gahAfn8 (Jesus Born On This day)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmPcMJrTL3Q (Heaven Everywhere)
Merry Christmas to all! All you have to do is……Listen
by Heather Green
We are in the midst of the holiday season with a new year looming before us. That signals that it’s time to start thinking about making resolutions for 2020. I’ve written about resolutions before and how over 80% of resolutions made fail by February. One reason for this is January (refer to my previous article on resolutions: “I Blame January”) and another reason I believe resolutions fail is that they are not SMART resolutions.
In business, there is an acronym for new goals. This is to keep them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. I think this should also apply when making resolutions, so let’s talk resolutions for a moment and how we can be successful in the year ahead.
Probably the most popular resolution is to lose weight and/or start exercising. So, how can we make this resolution more sustainable? Well, let’s set a specific goal – I want to lose 30 pounds and I want to exercise 30 minutes a day a minimum of 5 days a week. We were specific, but obviously we are not going to reach these goals in a month so let’s break it down into more manageable and realistic smaller goals. Plan to lose 5 pounds a month (that’s roughly 1.25 pounds a week) and start exercising 5 minutes a day 5 days a week. This could mean that you get up 5 minutes earlier and do a few sit-ups or walk around your office during lunch. There are plenty of ways to work in 5 minutes of exercise. Do this for a month until it becomes a habit (did you know that it takes a minimum of 21 days for something to become a habit?), then increase to 10 minutes a day. If you keep adding 5 minutes of exercise each month, in 6 months you’ll reach your goal of exercising 30 minutes a day. It seems much more manageable when it’s started in increments.
It’s easy to create a SMART resolution when it comes to losing weight or exercising more because these goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely, but it’s a little harder when we want to make other resolutions that are more abstract, such as reading the Bible, going to church more, being a better Christian, becoming more involved in church, and so forth. With any of these resolutions, stop and think of ways to make them work for you. And if you’re really motivated, why wait until the new year to begin? If anyone wants to set reading the Bible as a goal, start December 1st with the Book of Luke. There are 24 chapters. If you read a chapter a day, by Christmas Eve you will have read the entire book of Luke’s account of Jesus’s life. What better way to celebrate Christmas?
On a side note, we are taking a month or two away from the newsletter, in order to refocus and redefine ourselves as a committee. I strongly encourage you to go back and reread some past issues – you can find them on the website or in your email archives – and reflect on some of the topics we’ve covered. I wish you all the best as we ring out 2019 and ring in 2020. May God bless you with health and happiness in the New Year.
by Barb Mazarakos
Nothing sets the tone of the Christmas season for me as much as music. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I eagerly flip to the local radio station when it switches to 24-hour Christmas songs (though I don’t listen to it ALL of the time until after Thanksgiving). If I’m in a funk or feeling the weight of the holiday rush, nothing can perk me up like hearing Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” or make me sentimental the way Celine Dion’s version of “O, Holy Night” can. That’s why I can’t wait to see Christ Lutheran (and Orland Park’s) own Jonathan Beyer and his friends, Tammy Coil and Amanda Crider, as they Celebrate the Sounds of Christmas on December 13, right here at CLC.
Once the young boy who played the musical offertory and sang in the Cherub Choir, Jonathan is now a renowned performer, traveling from Amarillo to Rochester to Hong Kong (with many stops in between) this year alone. 2019 found him not only singing concerts with the Van Cliburn Festival in Fort Worth, Texas as well as classical concerts at the Chautauqua Institution, Philadelphia, Vancouver, Rochester, and Binghamton, New York, but he also taught voice at the Curtis Institute of Voice, Manhattan School of Music, Chautauqua Institution, and University of British Columbia. And his experiences didn’t stop when the music did; in 2019 he took on several non-operatic projects as well. He judged the Miss New York competition for the Miss America Organization, continued as a co-host of The Skating Lesson on YouTube, was in an episode of House Hunters on HGTV, and also filmed Worst Cooks in America (an experience that, though intense, didn’t do much to encourage his culinary skills!)
As busy as he has been this year, Jonathan is looking forward to coming home to where it all began for him, and he’s bringing two of his dearest friends along with him. Jonathan has been performing with Amanda Crider since 2007, when they won their first Opera Competitions together; Tammy Coil, once someone Jonathan did his training under back in 2003 at both Chautauqua and Curtis, has also become a good friend and someone he likes to perform with. Both ladies are new performers to the Christ Lutheran audience, and they are excited to share some of their favorite selections with us during their concert.
Part musical performance, part banter and audience interaction, this promises to be a great way to relax as we roll into the last couple of weeks before Christmas. The trio will be sharing some of their favorite Opera, Operetta, Jazz, and Musical Theater selections, as well as some Holiday Favorites. There will be something for everyone, so be sure to get your tickets now so you don’t miss out on this exciting evening! Jonathan, Amanda, and Tammy will be here Friday, December 13 at 7pm. Advanced tickets are $20 ($25 at the door) for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. Bring your family, your neighbors, your co-workers and join us as the Sounds of Christmas come home.
by Pete Schrank
I had the pleasure of attending all four church services last week in order to deliver the yearly Stewardship message, and it made me think of the bigger picture. Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church is not a Mega Church but it is a large congregation that needs to work on building one-on-one relationships. We all know that many people are creatures of habit . . . they always go to the same service, sit in the same pew and interact with the same people. Change is difficult.
I have a funny story from more than 40 years ago. When I first met my wife, we both worked for Orland School District 135. I worked during the summer, cleaning and painting, to earn money for college. My future wife was mapping out school bus routes to make sure all the children were safely picked up for school. I asked her out and after a few miscommunications, she finally said yes! I knew she attended the 9:30 service at CELC and I usually attended the 8:00 service; however, we never really saw each other at church. One Sunday, I decided to go to the 9:30 service to surprise her, and I think it worked. When she saw me, she asked “Are you stalking me?” I explained that I was a long time member and she immediately said “No you’re not, I have never seen you here before.” She had been a member of Christ Lutheran Orland Park since her parents had moved from Oak Lawn to Orland Park approximately four years before. She sang in the Choir and helped out in Sunday School. I had been a member since I was two! I was away at college during the year, but we never crossed paths here at church. When I look at the four services, sometimes I think of it as four different churches. These four churches do get the same message and have the same goal; however, building strong personal relationships across our church is an important objective.
The point of this story is that we need to be more active in reaching out to those that are in all of the different services. This can be done by serving in one of the groups that crosses over all of the services. For example:
- Choir (Joy and Praise or the Adult Choir)
- Evangelism Committee or the Hospitality Committee (they support many activities that bridge all services i.e., cookie and pie baking, etc.)
- Elder or Communion Assistant (they support all of the services with Communion.)
- Shared worship services like Good Friday, Advent, or Lent or when we move from four services to two services are all good opportunities to connect to members we do not see every Sunday.
- Finally, those Church-wide celebrations like youth sponsored dinners or the Church picnic can bring us all together to build the Kingdom of Christ here in Orland Park and everywhere in the community that we support.
Have a blessed Advent.
by Barb Mazarakos
According to the beloved Christmas hymn Silent Night, “All is calm, all is bright” on that blessed night so long ago. Unfortunately, our current climate of Do, Shop, Buy tend to make many of us feel anything BUT calm and bright as we approach December 25th. So as I do every year, I would like to once again encourage you to make time for Jesus as Christmas approaches and plan to be at some or all of the following holiday worship services to help you remember Jesus is the Reason for the Season:
Sunday, December 15- Lessons and Carols: 8am and 10am, both with Holy Communion (*There will be no Christian Education Hour or 9:30am service this day)
Saturday and Sunday, December 21 & 22: 5pm Worship (Saturday); 8am Worship and 10am Holy Communion (Sunday)
Tuesday, December 24 (Christmas Eve): 4pm Family Candlelight Communion; 11pm Candlelight Communion
Wednesday, December 25: 10am Christmas Worship with Communion
Saturday and Sunday, December 28 & 29: 5pm Holy Communion Service (Saturday); 8am Holy Communion and 10am Worship (Sunday)
Tuesday, December 31 (New Year’s Eve): 5pm New Year’s Eve Worship with Holy Communion
Thursday Advent Services (December 5, 12, 19): 11am Holy Communion followed by luncheon; 7pm Holy Communion in Duehr Chapel.
Also, to give our staff time to celebrate with their families, the Church Office will close at noon on Tuesday December 24 and 31. The office will also be closed for a full day on December 25 & 26 as well as January 1, 2020.