No Time to Serve? That’s What You Think!
by Barb Mazarakos
Time. For so many of us, it is our most precious commodity. After all, we can earn more money, but we can’t get back lost time. Often when it comes to volunteering at church, we seem to think we need a tremendous amount of time to give. While it’s true that there always seem to be big roles to fill like heads of committees, there are plenty of opportunities right here around Christ Lutheran where you could be involved as much or as minimally as you can spare.
For example, there are our music programs. A variety of choirs are open to those who have the joy of song in their heart. You don’t need to have formal training; our Music Director Sandy Knopp welcomes anyone who would like to participate in the youth and adult choirs. If you like more traditional music, join the rich sounds of the Christ Choir. Prefer more modern choices? Joy and Praise might be for you with their monthly practice and leadership at services once a month.
Those who are more comfortable with the spoken word could volunteer to be a reader on Sunday mornings, worked into a rotating schedule of those who share the Old and New Testaments from the pulpit prior to the Gospel reading. Our usher teams also work on rotating schedules, helping at their designated service each week of the month before the next team takes over for the month to follow. (If you can’t commit to four consecutive Sundays, don’t worry. The holidays bring many opportunities to usher for single services at Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. Just look for the special sign up sheets on the narthex table).
If your forte is working with children, the Sunday School and Vacation Bible School programs could always use extra hands. Know of an older parishioner who would love to come to church if only they could get a ride? Offer to pick them up. Have a special skill in one of the trades? Things always need fixing or upgrading. If you like to drink coffee and chat with nice ladies as you assemble quilts or have a way with words or are crafty and like to work with your hands, we have spots for you as well!
The bottom line of all of this is that there is no minimum amount of time you can give that will help make a difference. When it comes to sharing the Word of God and caring for His children, there will always be room for one more. So, if you’ve been praying about a way you could get involved in this Stewardship month, talk to Pastor Ray. Ask him to direct you to the group you would like to be a part of. We would love to have your help!
by Heather Green
When you become a parent, your time is no longer your own. When you have a baby, your schedule revolves around the baby eating and sleeping. If you also have to work, this is exhausting, but as children get older, there is even less “you” time as kids want to be involved in different activities, have play-dates, and need help with homework and school projects. Finding a balance between work, church, and family has always been a juggling act and this can be especially challenging for a single parent.
Single parents are not a widely recognized group within the church, where we tend to assume that everyone with children is married, but single parents within the church are there. Maybe one parent has to raise the children while a spouse is deployed; maybe the parents are married but one parent is “detached” from the children or disinterested in interacting or helping with any of the responsibilities that come with raising a child; maybe one parent has passed away; or maybe the parents are divorced. The single parent could be the mother or father you see sitting alone in church on Sunday, looking for a few minutes of quiet reflection and worship while their children are in Sunday School. Maybe it’s the parent who brings their child to Confirmation class and just enjoys a little time when they can relax. Maybe it’s the parent who wants to volunteer more at Church but is hesitant because they don’t know what their children’s schedules will be.
We are so quick to judge each other and the Internet, with the Pinterest perfect parents, is enough to make anyone feel inferior, but especially single parents. Every parent wonders if they are doing enough and doing right by their children, but single parents have the added bonus of guilt…”Maybe “I” could have done something different”… “Am “I” enough?”… “I didn’t plan to raise my children alone.”
Guess what? You are not alone. We see you. God knows your struggles and your fears: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10. You are doing an awesome job. To your children and to God, you are enough.
by Barb Mazarakos
Remember when Black Friday was single day? Literally, it was the day after Thanksgiving when you could get some of the best “deals” of the holiday season. Stores would open early- some at the crack of 6am- and shoppers could fill their carts without completely emptying their wallets. Every year (at least in my younger years) there was the “it” toy. You know, the one that people would camp out all night in front of Toys R Us or Service Merchandise to get for the special little people in their lives. At least that’s how they justified the melees we would often see on the nightly news that Friday (the words “Cabbage Patch Kids” can still bring chills through the hearts of some parents of the 80’s.)
Over time however, Black Friday shopping hours have started earlier and earlier. First it was 5am, then midnight, 11pm, 9pm. And now? Some stores open at 2pm on Thanksgiving Day (maybe even earlier) and clerks are forced to choose between spending time with their family or hanging on to the job that helps pay their bills. Some stores have begun their sales on Wednesday, the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. Not to mention the “Black Friday in July” sales over the summer, and this year, a new one- “Black Friday”-type sales were being advertised at a few big locations the weekend before Halloween! With all this deal-finding, it’s no wonder we lose site of what Christmas is really supposed to be about. Lost under the sales ads and wrapping paper is the manger. You know- the whole reason we have Christmas at all.
On that Christmas morning all those years ago, we were already given the best gift we will ever receive. Maybe this year, instead of worrying about the material things you will give away to celebrate the birth of Jesus, you could think about participating in Giving Tuesday. This national movement began in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to the commercialism highlighted by Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales. It is not a specific organization but rather a movement that lasts for the 24 hours beginning just after midnight on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (this year taking place on December 3).
Those wishing to participate are encouraged to give of their time, money, or voice in advocating for nonprofit organizations and ways to help make someone’s life just a little bit better at a time of year when many are looking to make donations and those who are less fortunate tend to get overlooked amid the hustle of the holidays.
To find out more about the Giving Tuesday campaign (#GivingTuesday) you can check out their website at givingtuesday.org. Whether you choose that day or another during the holiday season, please take time to remember those who don’t have all that you do. You can reflect the true Reason for the Season by simply extending a little kindness to others.
by Pete Schrank
As the CELC Newsletter heads into its seventh year, I know we are touching on some subjects we have covered before. I know we have talked about change in the past but this subject can be viewed from many different perspectives. As Christians, we know that God never changes. God is the same today as He was when the foundation of the universe was put in place. His mercy and steadfast love endures forever. However in our lives, people, society, economics, politics, family, climate, organizations, and lots of other things change. And it may not always be the change we don’t like, but the unknown aspects of the change.
Many people dislike or fear change, but many changes are wonderful. I am enthusiastic, as I believe most of us at Christ Lutheran are, for the installation of our new Associate Pastor, Pastor Chuck Johnson. Pastor Johnson and his family are also heading for a significant change. Chuck, as a child of a military family, has had to deal with change throughout his entire life. His wife Lauren and their children Ellie and Russell will all be eager and nervous about this change. However, this is an exciting time for all involved and is the answer to many fervent prayers. God is good, change is good.
What about other changes? Many of you know I am still dealing with the change of retirement. This change, like a lot of changes, is both a blessing and a source of anxiety. I am blessed to have the time to do more of the things I choose to do. I also struggle with how to prioritize all the things that I want or that I need to do. I see the value in embracing the ambiguity of not having all the answers. The common Christian axiom is “let go and let God”. We see examples of this many times in scripture . . . Moses led the Jews out of Egypt even though he was not a good public speaker; Noah built an Ark for a flood even though he never saw rain; and David went from being a shepherd boy to becoming the King of Israel. The Apostles changed their complete walk in life, and many more Bible witnesses have given their concerns over to God. We need to do the same thing when facing changes that appear to be overwhelming.
Like I stated earlier, change can often create fear, uncertainty, and doubt. All of these feelings are directly prevented or greatly reduced by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We can deal with fear because we have a warrior in Christ who battles with Satan for our very soul. The victory was won on that first Easter morning. As it states in the book of Hebrews, faith is having confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see; therefore we are not concerned with the uncertainty of change. Finally, with change there is always doubt about whether this change will be a good or bad. We all should know there is no doubt that we are the forgiven and redeemed children of God. So as the changes in our lives keep coming, and they will, remember we can deal with anything.
Time to Give Thanks
by Barb Mazarakos
As Thanksgiving comes upon us and we start to plan menus, think about trips to Grandma’s house (over the river and through the woods, perhaps?) and mark flyers for Black Friday shopping trips, don’t forget to make Thanksgiving Worship part of your holiday weekend plans. Holy Communion services will take place at Christ Lutheran on Wednesday, November 27th at 11am and 7pm (there are no services on Thanksgiving Day). A regular worship schedule will take place that weekend with 5pm Holy Communion on Saturday the 30th, and 8am Holy Communion, 9:30am Worship, and 11am Worship on Sunday December 1st .
We also want to be sure to give our office staff a chance to celebrate with their own families, so the office will close at 5pm on Wednesday the 27th and remain closed throughout the weekend, reopening at 9am on Monday, December 2nd.
Our Stewardship Committee has much to be thankful for this year- good health, steady jobs, loving families, and YOU- our brothers and sisters in Christ. May you have much to be thankful for this year as well.
Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34