Adult Education in January

A special presentation on Sunday, January 15, marks the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, celebrated on Monday, January 16. The presenter is Sam Adams, a teacher at Urban Prep Academy in Englewood, assisted by Grace member Karen Clapp.

Brunssen.jpgOn January 22, Grace member Karen Brunssen, assistant professor of voice at Northwestern University and a frequent Bach Cantata series soloist, will present “The Evolving Singing Voice: Profound at Every Age!!”  With a Lutheran slant, she will play recorded examples of singers age 3 months to 103 years, exploring how and why singing voices evolve while reflecting on the marvel of singing through all the decades of life.   

The series “Jesus in a Jewish Context” which began last Sunday continues January 22 and 29, led by popular presenter Larry Hamilton, a former Lutheran pastor who is now a member of the Jewish community.  Also on January 29, Cantor Michael D. Costello will preview Cantata #124, “My Jesus I will not leave.”

New Making Disciples class starts Jan. 15
“Making Disciples” is a class for people interested in becoming members of Grace and for anyone who would like to in deepen their understanding of Christian beliefs, the Lutheran tradition, and the mission and ministry of Grace Church and School. Pastor Modahl and the New Member Committee will lead the class during the Adult Education hour beginning January 15 and continuing each Sunday through March 18, when the new members will be received into membership. If you would like to attend these sessions, or if you know of someone who might want to be invited, please contact Karen Christopher,, or 708-366-6900.

(Photo: The calling of the disciples from the Nativity window in the organ balcony of Grace Church.)


Congregation Meeting

There will be a regular meeting of the congregaton on January 22, following the 11 o’clock service, at approximately 12:15 p.m. The agenda:

I. Welcome and prayer
II. Approval of minutes
III. Presentation and election of candidates (View the slate of candidates here.)
IV. Presentation of annual report
V. Treasurer's report
VI. Hymnal Review Committee report
VII. New business
VIII. Announcements
IX. Benediction

From the Stewardship Committee        

Trust_Art_stacked.jpgGiving Story

As a family’s personal circumstances change, their response to stewardship may take a new focus. Here’s how a parishioner in another local congregation describes his family’s “windfall.”

As parents, my wife and I experienced great satisfaction when our last child finished college. We also experienced deep relief, knowing that the tuition payments would now end. The impact on our financial circumstances was significant—almost like receiving a huge raise at work. Looking ahead, my wife and I discussed what this drastic change would mean to our household finances. We saw that now, it would be possible for us to achieve two important goals.

As chair of my church’s Stewardship committee, I had the opportunity to reveal our plans publicly in a brief “mission moment” during the Sunday worship service. I began by describing our first goal: to increase our annual giving to our church by 50 percent. It wasn’t until the laughter died down in the pews that I realized the humor associated with describing our second goal: enrolling in “nursing home” insurance. I am pleased to say that our postgraduate “windfall” has allowed us to accomplish both.

Does your household anticipate the end of college tuitions? Or another significant change in life circumstances? Perhaps it is time to consider what this change will mean to the family finances.

ForanRachel.jpgChurch Vocations Initiative

Last Sunday we observed Church Vocations Sunday. Leslie Bimler, a Grace member who is a recipient of a Church Vocations scholarship, was the preacher. She is a student at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. Another scholarship recipient, Rachel Foran, a junior at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., recently filed this report on her studies and her travels.

(Photo: Rachel Foran and her Palestinian "mom," summer of 2011.)

Preaching: Martin Luther

by Pastor Bruce Modahl

This is the second in a series of monthly articles on the history and craft of preaching.

In Luther’s day, preaching was almost an afterthought. The main event in the worship service was the Eucharist and not necessarily participating in the meal but watching the elevation of the bread and cup as the priest intoned, “Hoc est corpus meum” (This is my body). Say the Latin often enough and fast enough and you will know where we got the term hocus pocus. Luther sought to restore a balance between Word and Sacrament in the Sunday service.

For Luther the purpose of preaching is to comfort troubled consciences and to press Christ. For the first part, Luther understood he might first have to discomfort complacent consciences by convincing us of how we fall short of God’s expectations. For the second part the phrase Luther used was “was Christum treibet,” (“what pushes Christ”). So it is that the question at the center of my preparation for every sermon is “Why do I need a crucified and risen Savior?”

Martin Luther in 1533 by Lucas Cranach the ElderLuther was critical of moralistic sermons which made Jesus nothing more than a new Moses. He understood that the law demands hearts that are obedient to God. He also understood that the law cannot create obedient hearts. He said, “When the hangman comes he can chop off a finger, but the heart remains a rogue.” Only the gospel of Jesus Christ can create the obedient hearts demanded by the law.

In one sermon Luther said, “The wiseacres, anti-sacramentalists, sectarians, and Anabaptists say, ‘The gospel in Wittenberg is nothing, because it does not make people holy,’….

“We preach something better… that Jesus Christ has come for your sake and taken your sins upon himself. There you hear, not what you should do, but what God is doing through Christ, which means, of course, that he works faith and bestows the Holy Spirit.” Luther argued that what flows as a matter of course from Christ’s work in us is that Jesus becomes the example for how we live our lives in loving service for our neighbor.


GLSlogo_2011-12.jpgGrace School News

Grace School Open House
Parents who want to learn more about enrolling a child in Grace School for the 2012-13 school year are invited to an open house to see the classrooms, meet teachers and talk with Grace School parents. The Early Childhood Open House for incoming 3-5 year-olds and their parents will be held Friday, January 20, from noon to 1:00 p.m. The All-School Open House, for preschool through eighth grade, is scheduled for Tuesday, February 7, 6:00 - 8:30 p.m. If you know someone who might be interested in Grace School, please invite them to these events. More information about the enrollment process is available online. Or call or email the school office for an enrollment packet (708-366-6900;

Principal position at Grace School
For the remainder of the 2011-2012 school year, long-time Grace teacher Lyle Mortensen will serve as Acting Principal. Lyle has many years of experience at Grace, especially as a teacher in junior high. He is currently the technology coordinator for both church and school. The Principal Search Committee will begin interviewing candidates for the position of principal soon. A job description is available online.

Scrip orders due on January 17
The Scrip program, which last year generated $5000 for Grace School, continues in the new year. Grace School receives a percentage from every gift card purchased through the program. Order forms are available online and in a folder on the counter at the school office.  The next order will be placed January 17 and thereafter on the 3rd Monday of each month. Payment must be by cash or check. Please consider purchasing Scrip cards for regular purchases of gas or groceries, and for major purchases at retailers such as Best Buy, Home Depot or Lowe’s. Be sure to take a look at the long list of participating retailers

Save the date: Benefit for Grace School
A Graceful Evening, the annual benefit for Grace School, takes place on Friday evening, March 9, 6:30 p.m., at Elm Crest Banquets in Elmwood Park. Watch for more information on volunteering, buying tickets and donating auction items.


Spiritual growth

"Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart." Luke 2:19
Lectio_Divina.jpgMaryBeth Buschmann, Grace's Parish Nurse, would like to form a small group of four or five people to learn the practice of lectio divina  ("holy reading"). Lectio divina is a gentle, contemplative way of encountering and praying scripture. It asks Christians to listen to the word of God with their hearts, to meditate and to pray.

As modern Christians we are more accustomed to encountering the words of the Bible with our minds. We discuss, study, memorize and recite. Lectio offers an alternative to all this verbal activity. It begins with stillness. Participants then listen to a passage of scripture, which may be read more than once, and then meditate, pray and contemplate. Rather than analyzing what they have read, they experience it, allowing the words to lead them to a greater awareness of God's presence and love.

Lectio divina has been practiced by Christians since the third century and is part of daily life in various monastic communities. You can read more about it online in Wikipedia or on a web page from St. Andrew's Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Valyermo, California.

If you would like to know more about the group at Grace or would like to participate, please contact MaryBeth (708-366-6900;


Fellowship and Service


PADS.jpgCub Scouts' December Service Projects

Grace Lutheran Cub Scouts Pack 66 performs a variety of service projects every year in December.  The kitchen at Grace was bustling with activity when six Webelos Scouts worked hard to make 54 bag lunches for homeless individuals.  The Scouts provided the PADS lunches for homeless staying at Grace Episcopal in Oak Park.  Leaders Ken VanSanten and Michael Carr coordinated the project with their fourth grade group: Ben Carr, Joshua Dahlstrom, Sam Dodane-Smiley, Dan Kibler, Ethan Southfield, and Jake VanSanten.  

Joshua Dahlstrom remarked, "It felt good to do something for others."  PADS arranges for homeless people to sleep at a church and receive a hot meal there.  In the morning, they receive a hot breakfast before being sent out for the day with a sack lunch.  Different churches act as hosts each night.
The Webelos Scouts weren't the only "do-gooders" this year!  The Wolf Den (2nd graders), led by Chuck Sanders and Bill Kopper, visited the residents of the Oak Park Arms and brought some laughter and Christmas cheer.  The Bear Den (3rd graders), led by Liz Battaglia and Doug Wold, did their service project at Grace Episcopal in Oak Park.  Four of the 3rd grade girls also participated.  They purchased shampoo, conditioners, razors, soap, lotion, toothbrushes, tooth paste, lip balm, cough drops, socks, and hand warmers to make 46 toiletry bags to bring to PADS guests.  They set up the beds and linens as well as the tables, chairs, and place settings for dinner, and served the bread, butter and salad before leaving.   

Grace provides sack lunches twice a month during the school year for the PADS program.  This is a project of the Social Ministry committee.  If you are interested in participating, please contact Rebecca Dahlstrom at

(Photo: PADS sleeping area)

Grace Church greeters
Greeter Orientation will be held on Saturday, January 14 at 10:00. Please meet in the Atrium where we will begin a short orientation. It's never too late to volunteer to be a greeter. Greeters welcome fellow members as well as guests and answer questions.  If you'd like to know more, contact the Hospitality Committee chairperson, Marge Sanger, 708-453-0649.


January 17, 8:30 a.m. in the library. Coffee, donuts and conversation. The speaker will be Jim Opolony, faculty member at Proviso East High School, who will present a slide show of his interviews with many Bataan Death March survivors.

Job Club
The Grace Job Club continues to meet weekly on Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Contact Karin Danganan,, for more information.  Feel free to invite friends who might benefit from this group.   Any job leads would be welcome – please send to Karin. 

Altar flowers
Altar flowers may be given in memory of someone or in commemoration of a birthday, anniversary or other special event.  Please email Karen Christopher, or sign up in the Flower Book on the church office counter.
Bach Cantata Vespers
The next Bach Cantata Vespers service is on January 29, with cantata #124, “My Jesus I will not leave,” at 4:00 p.m.  The homilist is Pastor Frank Senn of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston. The pre-service music, Vaughan Williams' Concerto for Oboe and Strings in A minor, featuring oboist Christine Phillips, begins  at 3:45. 

Grace's lively group of seniors meets on Wednesdays, January 11, 18 and 25.  Food and fellowship at 10:00 a.m., Bible study at 10:30.  Morning Prayer and luncheon on the 18th.

Reel Talk
Come for a movie and discussion, Friday, January 13, 7:00 p.m., in the library.  The film is “The King’s Speech,” last year’s Academy Award winner for best picture. It stars Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter, and Geoffrey Rush.

Religion in Literature
January  20, 8:00 p.m., at the home of Michael and Chrissy Nelson, 639 S. Lombard, Oak Park. Martin Baumgaertner will lead the discussion on Joseph Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness." A copy is available for checkout in the Grace Church library.    

Women @ Grace Ladies Night Out
February 10, 6:30 p.m.  Save the date. W@G is also planning a return of the Annual Sale for November 2 and 4, 2012. More information on both of these activities soon.


Beyond Grace

Slovakia Building Trips
Grace members are invited to participate in mission trips helping with renovation work at the Center for Christian Education in Martin, Slovakia. Trip dates are May 4 - 19 for a trip sponsored by St. Andrew's Lutheran Church of Mahtomedi, MN.  Contact KJ Olson ( as soon as
possible if you are interested. The second trip, July 20 - 31, is sponsored by Our Saviour's Lutheran Church in Naperville. The trip deposit is due January 15. Contact Gail Jernberg ( or Don Swanson  ( for more information. Look for a brochure
at the Grace reception desk.


Ministry Partners

Each Sunday, we pray for one of Grace’s partners in ministry as selected by the Benevolence Committee.  Here are a few more details about the groups featured on January 15 and 22:

Oak Park River Forest Young Life brings the good news of Jesus Christ into the lives of adolescents with an approach that is respectful of who kids are and hopeful about who they can be.

Amigas, founded by Grace member Martha Heine, serves women and children living in poverty in Brazil.