Around the World in 40 Days

LordHearPrayer_type_Lent2012.jpgby Pastor Michael D. Costello

The season of Lent begins tomorrow, on Ash Wednesday, February 22, and continues for 40 days (not counting Sundays) until the great feast of Easter. On Ash Wednesday we gather for Holy Communion services, with the imposition of ashes, at 10:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. We continue our midweek worship services on Wednesdays during Lent with Morning Prayer at 10:00 a.m. and Evening Prayer at 7:00 p.m., through March 28. We gather to hear the Word of God proclaimed in Scripture, in preaching, in liturgy and in song.

In the past two years we have explored hymns from a variety of cultures and traditions during the Lenten season. In 2010 we sang African-American spirituals, and in 2011 we sang hymns of Asian descent. This year we will explore hymn tunes that are of French origin, in one way or another. What has surprised me as I’ve planned these services is that many of these hymns I already know and love well, though others are quite new to me. Perhaps the same will be true for you.

The common thread through all of these services will be one hymn, “O Lord, Hear My Prayer,” adapted from the Taizé Community in France. This hymn, like so many from the Taizé Community, is repetitive in both text and tune, thus allowing those who gather for worship to pray in a simple and memorable manner. This hymn uses words adapted from Psalm 102:

O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer:
When I call, answer me.

O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer:
Come and listen to me.

Take a moment to read more about the Taizé Community and their worship life. You can listen to recordings of hymns and subscribe to a daily podcast. Listen to a recording of "O Lord, Hear My Prayer," sung in Polish, on YouTube.


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.

Bach Cantata on Sunday, Feb. 26
The cantata for the vesper service on Sunday, Feb. 26, 4:00 p.m., is #52, “False world, I do not trust you.” The cantata begins with a borrowed movement from the first Brandenburg Concerto and concludes with a four-part chorale. The soprano arias in between express the believer’s trust and reliance on God. The soloist is Jennifer Rossetti, a resident of New York City, who holds degrees in vocal performance from Wheaton College and the University of Michigan. Pastor Michael D. Costello, will conduct. The Senior Choir and Youth Choir will sing a setting of Psalm 130 by John Alcock. Organist Steven Wente of Concordia University will play the pre-service organ recital at 3:45 p.m. The homilist is the Rev. Dr. Philip G. Ryken, President of Wheaton College.

Preparing for Faith Promise Sunday, March 11

Stewardship is the practice of caring for all that God entrusts to us: our selves, our time, and our possessions. To be a “faithful” steward refers to managing our time, talent and resources in ways that are God-pleasing.

Trust_Art_stacked.jpgOn Faith Promise Sunday, March 11, we focus on the financial aspect of faithful stewardship. In the next week, members of Grace will receive a Faith Promise kit in the mail. The kit will include an explanation of Faith Promise Sunday, answers to frequently asked questions and a Faith Promise card.

In the next few weeks, please prayerfully consider the level of financial support you will pledge to provide during the church and school's new fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2012.

Then, complete your Faith Promise card and bring it to worship services on Sunday, March 11. As a community of believers, we will bring our Faith Promises to the altar. (Alternatively, you may mail your Faith Promise or drop it off at church in March.)

Families with students at Grace School will complete a similar pledge card that includes their financial commitment to the school.

Watch for your Faith Promise information, coming soon in the mail.


Hymn Story

“Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode”       

by Len Berghaus

Whom have I in heaven but you? And having you, I desire nothing upon earth. Though my flesh and heart should waste away, God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73: 25-26

Joachim Magdeburg (1525-1587) first wrote the text for “Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode” (#450 in the Lutheran Book of Worship) as a single stanza for Saturday evening worship. Stanzas two and three were published later, in Harmonium Cantionum Ecclesiasticarum (Leipzig, 1597).

A good number of chorale tunes from the 16th century originated in secular songs. The tune for “Who Trusts in God” is "Was mein Gott will," which is from a French melody (1529) first paired with a love song by Claude de Surmisy, circa 1495-1562. The tune then became associated with the text “Was mein Gott will, das g’scheh’ allzeit” (found in The Lutheran Hymnal as “The Will of God Is Always Right”). Magdeburg wrote the text of "Wer Gott vertraut, hat wohl gebaut" (Who trusts in God, a strong abode) to go with this tune. The harmonization in LBW is that of J. S. Bach.

Chosen as a distribution hymn for the first Sunday in Lent, the text of "Who Trusts in God, a Strong Abode" speaks the Christian's conviction of faith, trust, and comfort in the unfailing grace God has bestowed upon us through the merits of his Son, Jesus Christ. Trust in this God and your life is secure on earth and in heaven!  When Satan's evil forces beset us, God's strength will never fail us, he will guide us. Nothing will ever separate us from the love that is in Jesus. Magdeburg concludes this hymn with this supplication:

Our God, renew with heavenly dew our body, soul and spirit,
Until we stand at your right hand, through Jesus saving merit.

Tunes other than "Was mein Gott will" have been associated with this text, however, they do not come anywhere near embracing the dearness of it.  It is said that Johann Sebastian Bach had a particular liking for this melody, having used it more than any other single tune. We find it in his Passion According to St. Matthew, in the cantata composed for the third Sunday after the Epiphany ("Was mein Gott will, das g'scheh' allzeit") and in four other cantatas.

Felix Mendelssohn could not resist the tune either! Born into a prominent Jewish family, he was later baptized as a Lutheran Christian. Among his many works, he composed six sonatas for the organ. The first movement of the Sonata No. 1 in F Major employs "Was mein Gott will" in segmented fashion between the more robust, episodic expositions of the movement. (Listen here.)

FPMarch2012graphic.jpgWelcoming immigrants

"I was a stranger and you welcomed me." This Bible verse, quoted on the posters for this year’s Faith Perspectives forums on immigration, comes from Matthew 25. Jesus, separating “the sheep from the goats,” says to the righteous, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

Who are these righteous ones? Jesus says they are the ones who feed the hungry, visit those in prison, provide clothing for those in need, and welcome people at the edges of society who are nonetheless part of God’s family. The righteous are surprised to hear this, but Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”

Refugees and immigrants who are struggling to build new lives for themselves and their children in the U. S. today are often regarded as strangers. Communities fear them or fail to welcome them. Immigrants deal with confusing regulations, complicated paperwork, and other barriers. They have rights which they may be afraid to claim. They are preyed upon and discriminated against by governments as well as private individuals. Their freedom and access to basic services are constricted by stories of unjust or unreasonable detention and deportation.

How can people of faith respond to and serve these strangers? Part Two of the Faith Perspectives focus on “Immigration Today” features immigrants telling their own stories and local organizers and activists describing their work as advocates for immigrants. Come to Fellowship Hall on Sunday, March 11, and be a part of the discussion. Registration begins at 1:30; the program starts at 2:00. On the preceding Sunday, March 4, Sisters of Mercy Pat Murphy and Joanne Persch, who minister to immigrants facing detention and deportation, will present an Adult Education session titled “I Was in Prison and You Came to Me.”


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: 

February 26
Pastor Costello will preview Cantata #52, a cantata for soprano and orchestra, and Grace member Tom Strieter, retired pastor and professor, concludes a two-part series focusing on the historical Jesus.  CAFÉ presents Story Sunday on the Wedding at Cana.  Making Disciples continues through March 18; Bible Study with Bob Jandeska meets every Sunday.

March 4
Kurt Hendel, Professor of Reformation History at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, begins a three-part series on early Christianity.  He will explore three topics that shed light on the theology, the piety and the leadership of the Christian community during the first centuries of its history - the church’s confession of the person and work of Christ, the impact of monasticism, and the life and theology of St. Augustine.

Also on March 4, as a prelude to the March 11th Faith Perspectives session on immigration, Sisters of Mercy Pat Murphy and Joanne Persch will present “I Was in Prison and You Came to Me.” The sisters have dedicated their lives to ministry with immigrants, especially those facing detention and deportation.  They will speak of how their faith motivates and sustains them as they bring the face of God’s love not only to people imprisoned and separated from their families, but also to the government officials responsible for their care.

Communion preparation classes begin next Sunday
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 ( to let her know that your family intends to participate.

Grace News and Events

Job Club
Grace Job Club will hold its final meeting on February 28 at 10 a.m. All are welcome to come and learn about job search resources available in our community. The Grace Job Club LinkedIn group will continue to be a resource for posting job leads, job fairs and networking events through the end of 2012. If you are unemployed or underemployed, and wish to learn about job search resources, please contact Karin Danganan at Any job leads are welcome -- please send to Karin for posting on the LinkedIn discussion board.

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 and April. 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
The annual Leadership Workshop on Saturday, February 25, begins with continental breakfast at 8:30 a.m. in Fellowship Hall. The morning will include time for committees to meet with two or three other committees in two small group sessions, in order to share some of their key plans and to discuss ways of working together and communicating more effectively throughout the year. We also want to ensure that all committees understand how they can communicate with the Council, the Volunteer Committee, and the church staff.  There will be time for committees to meet on their own for planning and additional discussion. The workshop is a great opportunity to gather each year and share ideas.  All officers, board and committee members are asked to attend.

Grace's group for seniors meets on February 22 and 29, and March 7. Ash Wednesday worship with Holy Communion begins at 10 a.m. on the 22nd, followed by Bible study and luncheon.  Morning Prayer at 10:00 on the 29th and 7th, followed by Bible study.  There is a luncheon on March 7.

Reel Talk
The movie discusssion group meets on March 16, 7:00 p.m. in the library.  The film is "Au Revoir Les Enfants," a semi-autobiographical film by famed French director Louis Malle. A French boarding school run by priests seems to be a haven from World War II until a new student arrives and becomes the roommate of the top student in his class. Rivals at first, the roommates form a bond and share a secret.

Religion in Literature
Grace's book group, Religion in Literature, meets on March 16, 8 p.m., at the home of Steve and Nancy Kaufman, 5142 N. Oconto, Harwood Heights. Bill Clapp will lead the discussion on "Shantung Compound," by Langdon Gilkey.  A copy of the book is available for checkout in the Grace Church library.   

Blood Drive
The Health Cabinet is sponsoring a blood drive on Sunday, March 18, 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m., in the Grace gym. A blood transfusion can mean the difference between life and death. Please sign up for a donation time by calling Christina Lambeth of LifeSource at 847-260-2613.

Grace School News

GLSlogo_2011-12.jpgLutheran Schools Week

During the week of March 4–10, Grace School will observe Lutheran Schools Week, along with nearly 5000 other early childhood centers, preschools and elementary and high schools operated by churches in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).

The celebration begins with the choral festival, “Grace Sings!” on Tuesday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m.  All of the children in the school, from Senior Kindergarten through eighth grade, will participate.  The program includes handbell music as well as sacred and secular songs for choirs.  There will be spirituals, prayers, music from around the world, and Paul Bouman’s “Nobody Songs,” written especially for children.  The program takes place in the Grace sanctuary; all are invited.

Other school activities for the week include special activity days and an all-school lunch in Fellowship Hall on Friday, March 9.

Grace School predates the congregation. It began in a one-room building at the corner of Belleforte and Augusta in Oak Park as a branch school of St. John Lutheran Church in Forest Park. In 1902, the families served by the school voted to form their own congregation, Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church.  They built the brown-brick church that still stands on that corner, and built and dedicated the building at Division and Bonnie Brae in River Forest in 1929-30.

Lutheran schools have a long tradition of serving children and families by providing a faith-based quality education. Martin Luther was a strong advocate for education, as were the German Lutherans who were the early members of Grace. Through the years the student body at Grace School has grown more diverse, and the school’s programs have expanded to include early childhood education.

Grace School and Grace Church share a common mission, to bring in, build up and send out disciples for Jesus Christ.  School faculty members help staff the congregation’s confirmation program and serve in other ministries of the church.  Walk through Grace’s Bonnie Brae entrance on any school day, especially around lunchtime, and you’ll soon discover that you are in a vital, nurturing and very active environment!


Plan now to attend A Graceful Evening

A Graceful Evening, the second annual benefit for Grace Lutheran School, takes place on Saturday, March 31, 6:30 p.m. at Elmcrest Banquets, 7370 W. Grand Ave. in Elmwood Park. P

You can purchase tickets for A Graceful Evening on Sunday mornings in the atrium, on school days at the reception desk,  or purchase them online. The festivities include dinner, cash bar, a wine pull, and live and silent auctions. The event benefits Grace School and promises to provide fun and fellowship for the church and school communities.

The Graceful Evening auction committee is seeking 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, and vacation and recreation opportunities. Contact Candice Buchbinder (708-445-3764; for more information, or download the auction donation form.

School fundraising
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, 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.

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 February 26 and March 4:
Chicago Uptown Ministry, a program of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Illinois, serves the Chicago Uptown community through programs such as a food pantry, ESL classes, after-school programming, referral services for housing resources, addictions treatment and health care resources, and advocacy to assist clients as they navigate other social services networks.

The Chicagoland Lutheran Educational Foundation partners with Lutheran elementary and secondary schools in Chicago, providing financial, managerial and moral support.

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

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.

"Concordia Gets Cookin'!"
Concordia’s Foundation Board is sponsoring “Concordia Gets Cookin’!” on March 3 - a great evening out to support the student endowment. Jeff Mauro, Food Network host of “Sandwich King,” will offer a demonstration of some of his favorites.  Also a part of the evening’s festivities are a reception, a tasty small plates dinner and a silent auction. Visit the event website for more information and to purchase tickets online.

Benefit for Chicago West Side Christian School
Help support Chicago West Side Christian School's scholarship fund on March 15, as you enjoy interaction with students, food provided by Simply Delicious, and bid at the building-themed silent auction (home improvement and self-improvement!). Complimentary curbside valet parking beginning at 6:00 p.m. R.S.V.P. by email at or call Mary Post at 773-542-0665.

United Power for Action and Justice update and activities
Grace Church belongs to United Power for Action and Justice, a metropolitan-wide network made up of churches and other organizations united by shared values and dedicated to taking action to increase justice in our community. The groups that belong to United Power come from every conceivable faith, racial, ethnic, geographic and economic sector. Grace members John Bouman and Steve Kaufman are active leaders in the organization. You'll find material about United Power in the church atrium, including  flyers for important training and informational events on topics such as fundraising and organizing and on community-based supportive housing for people with disabilities (an issue of interest to many United Power member congregations and organizations).  There is also a quarterly informational Update from United Power that describes the powerful civic-engagement activities of this important organization. If you'd like to know more about the organization John Bouman ( can provide additional information.