“Alleluia, Song of Gladness”       

Hymn story
by Stacy Deibler

    John Mason Neale is well represented in the Lutheran Book of Worship and With One Voice – with no fewer than 22 hymns to his credit. The gifted British priest (1818-1866) is best known for his translations and adaptations of ancient and medieval Latin hymns. “Alleluia, Song of Gladness” (WOV 654), the Sending Hymn for Transfiguration Sunday, February 19, is among Neale’s most widely sung works. (Read the text here.)
   Alleluia_copy.jpg Despite his short life (he died at 48), Neale left behind a prodigious collection of hymns, biblical commentary, essays on liturgy and church history, sermons, articles, and poetry. A force in the revival of the Anglican church in the mid-19th century, Neale was drawn to classic Latin hymns, which he felt were more doctrinally sound than popular hymns of his day. The text of “Alleluia, Song of Gladness” dates to the 11th century.
    “It is a magnificent thing,” Neale wrote, “to pass along the far-stretching vista of hymns, from the sublime self-containedness of St. Ambrose to the more fervid inspiration of St. Gregory, the exquisite typology of Venantius Fortunatus, the lovely painting of St. Peter Damiani, the crystal-like simplicity of St. Notker, the scriptural calm of Godescalcus, the subjective loveliness of St. Bernard, till all culminate in the full blaze of glory which surrounds Adam of St. Victor, the greatest of them all.”
    Neale’s LBW hymns include such favorites as “All Glory Laud and Honor” (108), “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation” (367), “Come, Ye Faithful, Join the Strain” (132), “Of the Father’s Love Begotten” (42), and Christmas classics “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice” (55) and “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” (34).
    “Alleluia, Song of Gladness” is especially appropriate for Transfiguration Sunday (the last Sunday of Epiphany), evoking the divinity of Christ. This Sunday also marks the day we “bury” the “Alleluia” before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 22.
    The lilting hymn tune, “Praise My Soul,” is by Sir John Goss (1800-1880), an influential English organist, composer, teacher and critic. Goss was a professor of harmony at the Royal Academy of Music (1827-1874) and rose to be organist at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral (where he is buried). In 1861, to raise funds for a new organ, Goss conducted a performance of Handel’s “Messiah,” the first oratorio presented at St. Paul’s. In high Victorian style, it featured a whopping 600 performers.
    “Alleluia, Song of Gladness,” like many familiar hymns, can even be downloaded free as the ringtone for your cell phone.

Lenten midweek worship
Lenten midweek services begin on Ash Wednesday, February 22, with Holy Communion at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. Services continue at the same times on the next five Wednesdays, through March 28. Please note that the evening service time has been changed to 7:00 p.m., with supper served in Fellowship Hall beginning at 6:00  The earlier time will allow parents to get children home earlier, and choir rehearsal and other committee meetings to end at a more convenient hour.


Come and enjoy the company of women at "Ladies' Night Out"

wine_and_dinner.jpgMothers and daughters, married and single, young and old--all women of the congregation are invited to "Ladies' Night Out," sponsored by Women @ Grace, February 10, 6:30 p.m., at Thyme and Honey Restaurant in Forest Park. Cost for dinner and a glass of wine is $15.00 per person. Come for conversation and fun, meet friends old and new and share ideas for future fellowship and service activities. It's not too late to RSVP to Nancy@Wohlford.com or call Bev Lueking at 366-8599. Rides can be arranged if needed.


From Deductive to Inductive Preaching           
by Pastor Bruce K. Modahl
(This is the third in a series of articles by Pastor Modahl on the art of preaching.)

Until the last generation, sermons in congregations populated primarily by European-Americans were constructed much like lectures. As preacher and theologian Tom Long caricatures the process, the preacher worked away in his or her study, reading commentaries, translating from the original languages, and looking for points of connection between the world of the text and the people of the congregation. Along about Wednesday afternoon those passing in the hallway could hear the preacher exclaim, “Hallelujah! That will preach.” The preacher had discovered the thesis statement for the sermon. She or he then constructed an outline often with three major points, sub-points under each of the major points and some animating and illustrative material for these points. This is a deductive sermon. From the thesis one deduces the points that follow. Barbara Brown Taylor quipped that those following this approach often seemed like they had tied the Biblical text to a chair and were trying to beat a sermon out of it.

In 1958 H. Grady Davis published a book called “Design for Preaching” which served as a turning point. Davis, who taught what was then called Functional Theology at the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary in Maywood, called for an organic, bottom up, inductive approach to preaching rather than the top down, deductive style more at home in the classroom. In the inductive model, the preacher takes the congregation on the same journey of discovery that led to his or her Wednesday afternoon eureka moment. Typically in an inductive sermon, the thesis statement comes at the end of the sermon rather than the beginning.

A review of Davis’s book in the journal “The Pulpit” said, “The field of homiletics soars beyond its traditional stereotypes in this unusual book, and we come to see a good sermon as something that grows rather than as something pounded together.” By 1970 it was the preaching text most used in Protestant seminaries. Nevertheless, in the 1970s, seminarians were still taught to construct an outline in the old deductive manner. To effect the change it would take some more time and a preacher named Fred Craddock about whom I will write next month.

What’s stewardship all about?

by Paul Lutter

Paul Lutter, a visiting instructor at Gustavus Adolphus College, is currently working toward his Ph.D. from Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn.

The foundational question from which stewardship lives is neither how nor why people give what they do. At its heart, the core question of stewardship is who does the giving in the first place. In other words, who owns all that we have?

Trust_Art_stacked.jpgThe answer to this question may be surprising. It is certainly radical, given our common thinking about what we have and how we use what we have. The answer even widens the scope of how we think about stewardship, to move beyond what we have to even encompass who we are.

God owns all that we have. All of it. And, perhaps even more radically in a world that is hell-bent on individual autonomy, God owns us, too.

Now, before you flip to another article or laugh at the mere suggestion, hear me out. Or better yet, listen to what Martin Luther has to say. In 1529, Luther wrote in his Small Catechism in the explanation to the First Article of the Apostles’ Creed (“I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth”) that God not only creates us, but also “God daily and abundantly provides shoes and clothing, food and drink, house and farm, spouse and children, fields, livestock, and all property—along with all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life.”

God owns it all because God creates it all, right down to the “shoes and clothing” we wear. This God creates those things for us not once long ago, but “daily,” Luther says.

Daily, God creates and gives us what we need. And why wouldn’t that be the case—it’s God’s to give. It is interesting to note that Luther pairs “daily and abundantly,” which suggests that as much and as often as God “provides” for us at all levels, God never runs out of good things to give us. No, this God who creates all things “provides…all the necessities and nourishment for this body and life.”

God never runs out. What if this provided the focus of how we think about and live out stewardship?

(Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2011 issue of Seeds for the Parish, a publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.)

Learning and Fellowship

FaithPerspBlueLogo.jpgFaith Perspectives discussions on immigration return March 11

When we discuss immigration policy and immigration reform we tend to see broad issues and sweeping solutions.  It is easy to miss the stories of individuals whose lives and families are affected by these policies. The second session of this season's Faith Perspectives topic, "Immigration Today,"  focuses on immigrant experiences and the responses of faith communities.

The speakers include people with stories to share about life as a refugee, about separation from family members, and about  living in the shadows as an undocumented worker. Heena Musabji, whose Oak Park law practice focuses on immigration, civil rights and nationality law, will describe plausible paths to immigration reform. And representatives of several organizations that serve and advocate for immigrants will discuss the religious and spiritual values that enter into our response to immigration, as well as concrete ways in which people of faith can help.

The forum starts at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 11, in Fellowship Hall. The program allows for questions and answers with the speakers as well as discussion with fellow participants. Come and learn about the human face on the issue of immigration reform.

Adult Education

Sunday morning Adult Education classes at Grace offer ideas to think about all week long, as well as opportunities to grow in faith in fellowship with other Grace members. Here's what's coming up in the next few weeks: 

The three-part series, “Global Theology,” continues on February 12 and 19, taught by Dr. Gene Green, Professor of New Testament at Wheaton College.  Dr. Green will explore Latin American, Asian and African theology and discuss how they are alike and how they differ from Western theology.  

On February 19, Grace member Tom Strieter, retired pastor and professor, begins a two-part series focusing on the historical Jesus. He will look at Jesus and his message of the in-breaking Reign of God in light of the economic, political, religious and cultural oppression of his time.   

The last CAFÉ session on Joshua and Jericho is February 12; parents join the children for a Lenten Service Project on February 19.  Making Disciples continues through March 18; Bible Study with Bob Jandeska meets every Sunday. 

Benevolence Fair

Next Sunday, Feb. 12, between services, representatives of many ministries supported by Grace’s benevolence budget will host exhibits in Fellowship Hall with information about their programs. Take time to learn about how you can support and participate in the work done by these ministries.

Communion preparation classes begin in February
Fifth-graders and their parents are invited to a five-week session of first communion instruction, Sunday mornings beginning February 26, 9:45-10:45 a.m. Fifth-graders who already receive communion are encouraged to attend with their peers. The class will meet in Fellowship Hall. Please contact Pastor Faulstich (kfaulstich@graceriverforest.org) to let her know that your family intends to participate.

Job Club
The Grace Job Club continues to meet weekly on Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m. Contact Karin Danganan (kdanganan@sbcglobal.net) for more information. Feel free to invite friends who might benefit from this group. Any job leads would be welcome – please send to Karin. 

"Be Not Afraid" book discussion at the Dialogue Group
The Dialogue Group meets on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 10:00 a.m. in the conference room.  Robert Shaner will lead a discussion of a book by Sam Wells, "Be Not Afraid, Facing Fear with Faith." Dr. Wells, Dean of the Chapel at Duke University and a professor in the Divinity School, is known as one of the best preachers in the English-speaking world.  All are invited.

Pillowcase Project
Join us at Grace on Thursday, Feb. 23, to make pillowcases and pillowcase kits for the ConKerr Cancer Pillowcase Project. We'll meet again in March, April, and May. Pillowcases are distributed monthly to UIC, Rush and Children’s Memorial Hospital’s pediatric wards. Please bring a sewing machine, cutting mat and rotary cutter if you have them. Don’t know how to sew? No worries. There are other jobs that you can do to help bring a smile to a sick child’s face.  If you plan to attend, please call Donna Mindrum at 708-386-7513.

Leadership Retreat
Officers, board and committee members – mark your calendars for the annual Leadership Retreat, Saturday, February 25, 9:00 a.m. to noon.

Grace's group for seniors meets on Wednesdays, February 8, 15 and 22. Food and fellowship at 10 a.m., Bible study at 10:30 on Feb. 8 and 15. Ash Wednesday worship with Holy Communion at 10 a.m. on Feb. 22, followed by Bible study and luncheon. Please note that Cornerstone worship will be at 10 a.m. each Wednesday in Lent, with luncheons on March 7 and 21.

February 21, 10 a.m., in the library.  Please note the new starting time.  Local author Marci Kubat will tell the story of Oak Park’s first settlers, the Kettlestrings.

Reel Talk
The movie discusssion group meets on February 17, 7:00 p.m., in the library, to watch "Two for the Road," a classic 1967 film with beautiful scenes of France, starring Albert Finney and Audrey Hepburn.

Religion in Literature
Grace's book group, Religion in Literature, meets on  February 17, 8:00 p.m., at the home of James and Amy Claud, 814 Home Avenue, Oak Park. The discussion on Joseph Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness," postponed because of the January 20 snowstorm, will be led by Martin Baumgaertner. A copy of the book is available for checkout in the Grace Church library.   

Grace School News

Open House for prospective Grace School families. Parents considering enrolling their children in Grace School in the 2012-2013 school year are invited to an All-School Open House tonight, February 7, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Meet the teachers, visit the classrooms, talk with Grace School parents, and learn more about enrolling a child in Grace School.  

Children from Grace member families and children with a sibling already enrolled in the school receive priority in admissions. They will be notified of admission beginning on Friday, Feb. 17. Other applicants will be notified of admission beginning Tuesday, March 6.

More information about school enrollment is available on the Grace School web site.

GLSBenefitGraphic.jpgA Graceful Evening, the second annual benefit for Grace Lutheran School, will be held Saturday, March 31, 6:30 p.m. at Elmcrest Banquets, 7370 W. Grand Ave. in Elmwood Park. The evening includes a buffet dinner, cash bar, and silent and live auctions, as well as fun and fellowship for all. Tickets, $40 per person, go on sale February 19. You can purchase tickets in the atrium on Sunday mornings, at the reception desk Monday through Friday, and online at graceriverforest.org. You might consider hosting a table of 10 for $400 and sharing the evening with good friends.

The auction committee is looking for donations. Items that did particularly well last year included sports events and memorabilia, hand-made textiles and furniture, events for children and families, personalized dinners, vacation and recreation opportunities, and special projects by our children. Contact Candice Buchbinder (708-445-3764; candicepr@earthlink.net) for more information, or download the auction donation form.

Using Scrip gift cards to shop for routine purchases can help raise significant amounts of money for Grace School. Click here to learn more about participating in Scrip and other fundraising programs that benefit the school. The more people who get involved with these programs from the school and church communities, the more the school benefits. Currently school families are working towards the goal of putting an iPad in every classroom, funded by donations from the Scrip program.  If 175 School supporters purchased a $100 Dominick's or Jewel card, or a $25 Gap or Old Navy Card, or a Valentine's present combo of a $10 Fannie Mae card and a $10 Starbuck's card, the school would receive enough money to buy one iPad. Take a look at the list of more than 600 participating retailers and print out the order form to place an order.  Bring completed order forms to Mrs. Maggio in the school office, with your check.

Grace School is still collecting Box Tops; each box top is worth $.10.  See the list of participating products here


Exercise – Slow and Steady          
Health and Wellness Moment
by Ackli Howell

If you've resolved to "Get in Shape" for the new year, we're totally behind you.  But, now it's February and that resolve has maybe drifted away.  It's been lost in the swirl of starting up the normal routine after the holidays, chauffeuring the kids, grocery shopping, paying bills, shoveling snow and feeding the dog.
We can all go online and search the web for tips, tricks and exercise assistance.  That's the easy part.  The hard part is finding time and energy to put it in practice after a long day at work.  If the wheels are wobbling on your exercise wagon, ask yourself if you've set a realistic goal for yourself.   Starting out small and allowing yourself time to adjust to a new routine is key.  In the yoga world, the ideal daily practice is 90 minutes!  This doesn't easily translate into a plan for busy people.  I've read the yoga experts and many advise to try for a 20 minute practice per day when 90 isn't possible.  They also say if that doesn't work, go for 10 minutes.  And if you can't get a practice session in at all, don't beat yourself up over it.  Let it go and attempt the next day.  This translates into; go slow and steady.  Adjust your routine and the time you take to accomplish it to what you can achieve in the minutes you have to yourself.   
I know that "minutes you have to yourself" is an oxymoron and many of you may be laughing right now.  But, resolve to find the time.  At my house is it not uncommon to find the dog either sitting on top of me or staring me in the face while I'm in a yoga pose.  I just hold my pose with or without Hawkeye's help.  And I have days where I accomplish nothing.  But I have learned to not judge myself about that and think positive thoughts about the next day.     
And if you just can't fit anything in, try this:  park as far out as you can in the parking lot at the grocery store and hike the extra bit.  When you get into the store, don't immediately start shopping.  Walk several laps around the store checking out the aisles and looking for the special deals of the week.  If you live where an underground garage is available, walk around the garage several times while your car warms up in this cold weather.  Work exercise in.  Slow and steady.  You'll be healthier for it.

February is Mental Health Month
The Health Cabinet has designated February as Mental Illness Awareness Month at Grace. As we have done in previous years, we will light a candle during worship services to remind us to pray for those with mental illness. What else can we do as people of faith?

•    Learn more about how to be a friend to individuals who have a mental illness.
•    Support community agencies and organizations that serve those with mental illness.
•    Advocate for policies and funding to serve the mentally ill population.
•    Share stories about the role of faith in recovery from or living with mental health problems.

For more information about mental illness, visit the Mental Health Ministries web site, or the web site of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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 29 and February 5:

Cabrini Green Legal Aid provides free legal and social services to low-income Chicagoans in four areas of law: family, housing, criminal records and criminal defense.

The Center for Christian Education in Martin, Slovakia, includes a Bible School and Lutheran elementary school where children and their families learn about Christ. Grace members on mission trips have assisted in the educational programs at CCE and helped renovate facilities. Grace School JK teacher Benjamin Chandler is currently on sabbatical in Martin, teaching English in the school.

Beyond Grace

Annual Uptown Luncheon and Fashion Show
Enjoy fashion and fellowship on Saturday, March 10, at a luncheon and fashion show to benefit Chicago Uptown Ministry. The event will be held at Avalon Banquets in Elk Grove Village, and features a boutique, grand raffle and silent auction, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Lunch will be served at 12:00 noon. Event tickets are $50.00 each, or $500.00 for a table of ten.  Raffle tickets are two for $50.00, or $30.00 each. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit the Lutheran Child and Family Services web site or call 708-448-5558. Or contact Grace member Julie Christopher at 312-213-9440 or jac1-2-3@hotmail.com.

Walther High School needs used band instruments
The music program at Walther High School is looking for donations or loans of instruments. Being able to borrow an instrument from Walther, rather than having to rent one from a retailer, allows more Lutheran grade school and high school students to take band lessons and participate in an ensemble. The clarinet or trumpet that is sitting around in your attic could make a big difference in the life of a student from a family that is struggling financially. Call Rich Rose, Fine Arts Department Chairman at Walther, for more information, 344-0404.