In a Mission Moment on Sunday, June 17, Grace's Director of Stewardship, Clyde Walter, quoted from Mark Allen Powell's book "Giving to God." Powell, a New Testament theologian writes that “there is a strong connection between love and giving...Most of us know what it is like to love someone so much that we want to give them things.”
God loves us and gives more to us than we can even imagine. Giving to God is an act of worship, a way of reflecting that love and loving God back. As you give to Grace now (the fiscal year ends on Saturday, June 30) and in the months ahead, think about giving as a response to God's love for you. As Powell says, “Giving as an act of worship can take us beyond duty to delight.”
Sixty Years of Networking, Sushi Style
by Pastor Dean Lueking
It’s rare to plant a seed of the Spirit and see its flowering sixty years later.
That was my privilege recently as the preacher for the 60th Anniversary of Ofuna Lutheran Church near Yokohama, Japan. I began a Bible class there in l952 in the home of a Japanese family, part of a two year seminary internship that changed my life.
During the decades since, Japanese pastors and laity have visited us at Grace. Beverly and I have been back to Japan a half dozen times. Congregation to congregation ties have deepened as a result. The special bonus this time was to have our granddaughters Ellie and Kjerstin Anderson along. They were like sponges, soaking up every minute with all things Japanese.
What’s special about the Spirit’s handiwork in Ofuna is the visionary work of establishing Christian nursery schools. There are now five in the area serving around 1000 toddlers, which means Christian contact with a thousand Japanese parents who care passionately about the early education of their children.
Japanese Christians number 1% of the l20-million population. They are vastly more influential than their minuscule number, leavening Japanese education, art, and literature with their Christian witness. Ofuna is considered a robust congregation with its average Sunday worship attendance of 75 or so.
As a result of our Japan trip, a high school junior from Tokyo was with us for a month in early summer, visiting various Grace members at work and home locations and getting acquainted with teenagers here. Everybody gains in these exchanges, especially when youth connect in friendships that last well into their future lives. We know that from experience. If you’re interested in knowing more, please email us at email@example.com.
Read more about the Japan Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The Song Goes On
The last week in July brings a lot of musical activity to the Grace building, including two services to which Grace members are invited.
Hymn Festival, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
Grace is hosting an Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM) regional conference July 26-28. The event begins with a hymn festival on Thursday evening, July 26, at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Come to sing, come to listen, come to extend hospitality to church musicians visiting Grace for the conference.
Members of Grace's Senior Choir and Joyful Voices will participate in the festival. Pastor Costello conducts and Dr. Steven Wente of Concordia University is the organist. The theme is "Through the Church the Song Goes On," celebrating the 25th anniversary of the ALCM. The program includes hymns from Tanzania and China, a new hymn written for the anniversary by Susan Palo Cherwien, and traditional favorites, including "Thine the Amen."
Bach Cantata Camp Vespers, July 27, 7:15 p.m.
The high school students participating in the annual Bach Cantata Camp will conclude their week of study and music-making as they lead vespers worship on Friday, July 27, 7:15 p.m. The service includes a performance of Was frag ich nach der Welt (What need I ask of this world, BWV 94), with soloists Sarah Beatty, Karen Brunssen, Andrew Fredel and Douglas Anderson. Students sing the choruses, additional music in the service, and participate in the orchestra.
You're also invited to join Cantata Camp participants each morning as they begin their day with Morning Prayer, Monday through Friday, July 23-27, at 8:30 a.m. in the sanctuary.
Choir trip to Germany
Members of Grace's Senior Choir and guests, along with Pastor Michael Costello, are traveling to Germany at the end of July. Their itinerary includes singing Cantata #94 in a Sunday morning service at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig--J. S. Bach's church. Their travel and their singing in Germany is a reminder that our songs praising God's salvation are joined to those of Christians throughout the ages and around the world. "Through the Church the song goes on."
"Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing"
by Len Berghaus
“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” (LBW 499) is the entrance hymn for July 15. Robert Robinson, the author of the hymn, was born at Swaffham in Norfolk, England, on September 27, 1735. His parents had planned for him to become a clergyman in the Church of England, but his father died while he was still a boy, leaving his mother in dire straits. Her only choice, it seemed, was to indenture him to a hairdresser in London when he became 15 years old. He was released from his indentures at age 17. Robinson remained in London until 1758. During this time, he devoted himself to reading and to listening to the sermons of George Whitefield, one of the founders of Methodism. Whitefield’s preaching about the “wrath to come” drove Robert to walk in darkness and fear for the remainder of his teen years, until he found "peace in believing." His years as a Nonconformist preacher were very successful. (Nonconformists were Christians who belonged to churches other than the Church of England.) He preached first at a Calvinistic Methodist chapel, then a Congregational Chapel, and finally a Baptist chapel. He died on June 9, 1790, prematurely worn out from living an exhaustively full life and writing theological works that seldom wavered in his quest for Nonconformity.
Robinson authored only two hymns: "Brightness of Eternal Glory" and "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing." Several editors have revised this hymn, reducing the original five stanzas to four or three. One rather zealous editor(s) transposed text lines within the first verse and made significant changes within the third. The final verse from the original text is shown below. Four of five versions have omitted it from the hymn, including the hymnals used in Lutheran churches. (You can compare several versions of the text in a Wikipedia article on the hymn.)
In America this hymn is usually sung to the tune NETTLETON, sometimes ascribed to Asahel Nettleton (1783-1844), an American theologian and Reformed pastor, but he is not known to have ever composed any music. More likely the tune was composed by John Wyeth (1770-1858), a printer in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who published it in Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music, Second Part (1813).
The original stanza 5:
O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.
From the Health and Wellness Ministry:
GraceCare Needs Volunteers
“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” Matthew 25:35
Since 1999 GraceCare has been providing meals to members and friends of our congregation at their times of greatest need. Our work begins when the pastoral staff and other church members inform GraceCare coordinators of members and friends in need. These individuals or their immediate family members may be ill or recovering from surgery. The GraceCare coordinator arranges for GraceCare volunteer food providers to bring meals to these people on a temporary basis.
GraceCare 2012 is a new organizational initiative for the group. Each coordinator has been assigned a team of food providers, and the coordinator and team of providers serve for one week every nine weeks. GraceCare coordinators will contact their team members prior to the week they are assigned to serve and communicate upcoming needs for meals. We hope that this approach will allow better communication with our food providers and give them regular, predictable opportunities to serve, as well as more flexibility in being able to plan in advance for preparing and delivering meals.
Do you have time to provide a meal for someone once every nine weeks? Would you be willing to serve as a coordinator? If so, GraceCare needs your help. Please call or email Miriam Moore (708-660-0344; firstname.lastname@example.org) to have your name added to the GraceCare food providers list or to discuss becoming a GraceCare coordinator.
“Grace Care is a wonderful addition to the community of Grace Church and School. The people involved are ‘giving’ people--giving their time, creating delicious meals which always seem to stretch into two meals, delivering those meals, and, if time permits, visiting with those of us who benefit from the meals. All of that ‘giving’ is done graciously, lovingly, and willingly. God has indeed blessed Grace Church with the gift of Grace Care and those who are a part of it. It is a blessing for those of us who need this service occasionally or often.” Marilyn Busse
News and Events
News from a scholarship recipient
Church Vocations scholarship recipient Amy Gillespie is working on a dual degree from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago and the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. She has a passion for working with older adults and her career goals include working as a hospital chaplain. Read her spring semester report here.
Traveling to the Youth Gathering
High schoolers from our congregation will be attending this year’s ELCA National Youth Gathering, July 18-22 in New Orleans. The theme for this year's event is "citizens with the saints." Students from Grace traveling to the Youth Gathering are Matthew Buchbinder, Alex Brayton, Logan DeVries, Gabe Ho, Katie Maxwell, Anna Modrich, Jesseca and Jazzmin Robertson, Anna Scudiero, Olivia Thompson, and Heather Zurowski, accompanied by Larry and Ramona Robertson and Pastor Faulstich. Keep them in your prayers, then come to the Adult Ed session on July 29 to hear about their experiences!
Religion in Literature
The Religion in Literature book for September is Tolstoy’s "War and Peace." You might want to get started on it this summer. A copy of the book is available for checkout in the Grace Church library.
The Grace Church nursery needs additional staff members. These are paid Sunday morning positions for individuals 18 years of age or older. Contact Jennifer Brayton (708-456-3749) for more information.
Grace School News
Scrip orders due by July 17
Scrip cards may be ordered from the school office through the summer. The next deadline for orders is July 17. Scrip gift cards return a percentage of the purchase price to Grace School. See a list of retailers participating in the program here. Print the order form here. Also please keep saving those Box Tops.
Serve at Grace and in the Community
Refugee project needs your support
Grace Church has made a commitment to assist two refugee families who resettled in the Chicago area earlier this year, assisted by the organization RefugeeOne. The committee working on this assignment will again have a table in the atrium on Sunday, July 1, offering information on how you can support these families with financial contributions, gift cards to Target, and baby items. If you would like to get more involved or have any questions, please call Sue Foran at 708-488-0296 or stop by the table. Thank you so much!
News from the Social Ministry Committee
Grace's Social Ministry Committee would like to thank everyone who helped make this year's Summer Food Drive a great success. Your generous contributions enabled Grace Church and School to donate about 1,750 pounds of non-perishable items to the Food Pantry of Oak Park and River Forest, Fraternité Notre Dame, Uptown Ministry and Lutheran Child and Family Services.
Opportunities to serve
On the third Monday of every month, a group of Grace members gather at Fraternité Notre Dame to make sandwiches for distribution to the needy in the Austin area. If you would like to help, please email Kristin Schnabel at email@example.com.
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. Sessions begin at approximately 9:45. Here's what's coming up in the next few weeks:
Bible study in July
The Bible study group meets on Sunday mornings in the conference room, led by Bob Jandeska and Pastor Don Becker. The group will not meet on July 22.
Prison ministry session on July 1
On July 1, Rich Brooks is presenting "The Visit" during the Adult Education hour. Rich is a recipient of the Charles W. Colson Scholarship at Wheaton College and is completing graduate study in prison ministry. This presentation gives a glimpse of the Illinois Department of Corrections, Rich's background and his family's journey, and stories of finding God in the most unlikely places.
Modern media is the topic on July 8, 15 and 22
Seven Vices of the Virtual Life, a three-week series on today's media culture, with Read Schuchardt, Associate Professor of Communication at Wheaton College. What are the problems that Christians confront in the media, and what are the remedies?
Hear from our youth on July 29
A Report on the ELCA Youth Gathering. Teens from Grace will share their stories from the ELCA Youth Gathering in New Orleans, July 18–22.
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 July 1, 8, 15 and 29.
Goodcity provides in-depth training, mentoring and funding for new neighborhood and faith-based programs working to promote self-sufficiency, hope and a sense of purpose in the lives of individuals in underresourced communities.
Harmony Church Food Pantry serves Chicago's North Lawndale neighborhood. Read more.
Holy Family School is a private, faith-based school offering a culture of success and a rigorous curriculum to Chicago elementary students at an affordable tuition.
Hope for Grieving Children -- Africa equips pastors, leaders and caregivers in Africa and elsewhere with the knowledge and skills needed to address the grief and suffering of children traumatized by parental loss.
Summer Building Hours
June 4 – August 17, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 pm
June 25 - August 17, open on Tuesday evenings only
The building will be closed Tuesday evening, July 3, and all day on Wednesday, July 4.