Advent_Candle_Of_Hope_1039672.jpgAdvent Morning and Evening Prayer

We wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. 2 Peter 3:13

Wednesday, Dec. 7 and 14
Morning Prayer, 10:00 a.m. Cornerstones Bible study and luncheon follows the service.
Evening Prayer, 7:30 p.m. Come for Advent Supper in Fellowship Hall at 6:30 p.m.

Flee_to_Egypt.jpgAdvent/Christmas Concert

Advent/Christmas concert on Sunday, December 11, 4:00 p.m., is "Windows of the Word, Icons of His Grace."  The instrumental prelude begins at 3:45.

The concert program pairs choral and handbell music with the images in the Nativity windows in the sanctuary's south transept and organ balcony.  The music comes from many eras and places--medieval carols, Eastern European chant, the French Baroque, Brahms, Berlioz, Heinrich Schütz,  John Rutter, and Carl Schalk.  Join the 5-8 grade choirs from Grace School, the Women's Choir, Senior Choir, Youth Choir, Joyful Voices, and the Adult Handbell Choir as once again we tell the story of Christ's birth.  A free-will offering will be received. A reception follows the concert in Fellowship Hall.

See photos of the Grace Nativity windows here.

Hymn Story

"Savior of the Nations, Come"                        
by Hans Dumpys

The hymn of the day for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, December 18, is the beloved "Savior of the Nations Come" ("Nun komm der Heiden Heiland," LBW 28). One of twelve hymns definitely ascribed to St. Ambrose, it is mentioned in manuscripts by Augustine (372) and other 8th and 9th century writers. Its Latin title is "Veni, Redemptor gentium."

Ambrose was born in Trier, in Germany, between 337 and 340. When he was 13 years old his father died and his mother moved the family to Rome.  There he received his education, distinguished himself as a lawyer and was appointed consul of two provinces (374) headquartered in Milan.  Although he was only a layman and a catechumen, he was elected bishop of Milan, taking office a week after his baptism. As bishop, he found himself in direct conflict with the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ. He defended the orthodox faith vigorously throughout his life.  Exhausted from his labors, Ambrose died on April 4, Easter Eve, in 397. He was considered Augustine's father in the faith.

One of the distinguishing features of this hymn is that it expresses the longing of the nations, that is of the whole world, for the Redeemer. The hymn is informed by the theology of the Gospel of John. Originating with God the Father, the Redeemer comes to earth to do His work, even descending to death and hell, then reascending to God's high throne. What a reassuring message it is to us. The last stanza is a doxology to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, restating Ambrose's commitment to the orthodox faith against the Arians.

Ambrose is known as the father of Latin hymnody.  His hymns, intended for congregational singing, were characterized by simplicity and austerity. They were so popular that they found imitators, hence the te rm "Ambrosian hymns," Latin hymns ascribed to Ambrose but written by others. Ambrose is also said to have introduced the practice of antiphonal singing to the western church.  Martin Luther prepared a quite literal translation of Ambrose's text, and it was included in the first Protestant hymnals, including the Erfurt Enchiridia (1524) and Johann Walter's 1524 collection of hymns.  The translation in the LBW is a composite work by several persons.

The tune "Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland," is an adaptation of a plainsong melody associated with the original Latin text.  J. S. Bach wrote four organ settings of this chorale and used it in two cantatas, including Cantata 62, which was sung at the Bach Cantata Vespers in November. The hymn is included in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (263), as well as in the LBW.

AdventBlessingsChainCloseup.jpgBring an Advent Thankoffering

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind. Psalm 107:15

The paper chain you see displayed in the front of the sanctuary is made of links decorated by the children of Grace School and Church. Each link depicts something a child is thankful for--friendship, family, Christmas, gymnastics, nature, forgiveness, Jesus. Where do you see God's abundance present in your life? During Advent the Stewardship Committee invites you to reflect on God's gifts to you and your family and to respond with an Advent Thankoffering, a gift over and above your regular giving. Use the special envelope, or write "Advent Thankoffering" on your check.    



Adult Education

December 11
"The O Antiphons: Music and Poetic Meditations"

Come for a performance of Carl Schalk’s newly composed settings for the "O Antiphons," traditionally sung near the end of the Advent season. Each of the seven antiphons names Christ in a different way ("O Wisdom," "O Emmanuel," "O Key of David," etc.). Each antiphon will be followed by a short meditation, written by Jill Baumgaertner.

December 18
"Mary’s Role in the History of Salvation"

In Jewish history individuals are remembered and venerated for their role in the salvation story. From a Christian perspective Mary is a key figure in that story, assenting to be the mother of Jesus, the last prophet in the continuing Christian story of Salvation, hence her unique veneration by that Believing Community. Presented by Hugh McElwain, Professor of Theology and Pastoral Ministry at Dominican University.

Handbell Concert
Advent and Christmas music played by the Youth, and Adult Handbell choirs, directed by Lisa Wolfanger.

The weekly chapter-by-chapter Bible study, led by Bob Jandeska, continues to study the book of Romans. 

Helping others

Christmas giving
There are still a few tags left on the Christmas tree in the atrium, where the Social Ministry committee is collecting gifts for Hepzibah (ages 3-12), New Moms (teenage moms and babies), Uptown (seniors), and Circle Family Care (children).  Please wrap your gift, attach the tag, and return it to Grace. 

Cookie bakers are needed
Women @ Grace will hold a Cookie Sale December 11 between services, with proceeds benefiting Women @ Grace benevolences.  Come to the Grace kitchen on Saturday, December 10, between 9 and 12 to help with baking, or bake at home and deliver your goodies to Grace early on Sunday morning. Call Nancy Wohlford, 366-7680; Ginger Folgers, 366-5839; or Beverly Lueking, 366-8599, for more information.

Do your Christmas shopping with Scrip
Grace School is once again selling Scrip gift cards – an easy way to do your Christmas shopping.  A portion of each sale benefits Grace School. Order forms and a copy of the retail list are available online and in a folder on the counter at the school office.  Orders are due, with payment by check, before December 12.  

Soles4Souls Shoe Drive 
Grace School's Girl Scout troop 41547 is collecting shoes for people in need around the world. Please donate gently used shoes of any kind, size, or style in the box in the atrium through December 31. The Soles4Souls Shoe Drive ("Changing the World One Pair at a Tiime") is sponsored by Mind Over Matter Organizing in Oak Park. Questions? Please contact Kathryn Brewer (708-383-7276) or Carolyn Miller (708-790-0520).


The Classical Tradition
by Pastor Bruce Modahl

This is the first in a series of monthly articles on the history and craft of preaching. I begin the series with Augustine (A.D. 354-430).
Before Augustine became a Christian, he occupied the imperial chair in rhetoric at the University of Milan. The church was suspicious of classical rhetoric because it was closely associated with apologists for anti-Christian philosophies. The general opinion was that rhetoric depended on verbal tricks and flourishes to persuade an audience. What role did the Holy Spirit have to play in such contrived speech?

Augustine titled the introduction to Book IV of his work De Doctrina “The value of rhetorical skills; but this will not be a text book of rhetoric.” He acknowledged that rhetoric is “the art of persuading people to accept something, whether it is true or false,” but he added, “Would anyone dare to maintain that truth should stand there without any weapons in the hands of its defenders against falsehood?” His book subjected all facets of rhetoric to the authority of Scripture. He may not have intended to write a textbook of rhetoric, but he did produce a style manual for the Christian preacher.

According to Augustine, the purpose of a sermon is to teach, to delight, and to persuade. The first has to do with what is said; the second and third with how it is said. He gave his own example. “I was once in Caesarea of Mauritania, trying to dissuade the people from their local civil war…. I did not consider I had achieved anything when I heard them applauding me, but only when I saw them weeping. Their applause only showed they were being instructed and delighted, while their tears indicated that they were being swayed.”  Eight years later he reported there had been no new outbreaks of violence.


Grace News

New Director of Stewardship
Last April Grace was awarded a three-year grant from the Christopher Foundation to fund a new staff position, Director of Stewardship. The job description for this position includes responsibility for working with pastors, staff and congregation members to meet financial goals for the congregation's general fund, as well as building the congregation's endowment funds. As Grace Church seeks to expand its youth and family ministry in the years ahead and to secure the future of both the school and the congregation, it is important to focus on expanding sources of funding for these ministries.
A search committee, including members and past members of the Stewardship Committee, interviewed candidates for this position, and in November the Church Council approved the hiring of Clyde Walter. Clyde is a 2008 graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. He earned a masters degree in social service administration from the University of Chicago in 2010. He is currently employed as Events and Outreach Manager at Augustana, a job that involves working closely with the college's Communications and Marketing Department, as well as the Office of Advancement. Clyde's resume also includes work with a number of social service agencies serving older adults in the Chicago area as well as two summers of meeting management for the ELCA national assembly.  Congregation members will be able to meet Clyde when he begins his work at Grace the second week in January.


Remember or honor loved ones or commemorate a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion by donating a poinsettia plant to decorate the chancel throughout the Christmas season. Cost is $10. Sign up and pay at the reception desk. The list of donors and who is being honored or remembered will be published in the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship folders.

Children's Christmas Eve service
Christmas Eve rehearsals during the Sunday School hour began on December 4 for children in grades K-4. Song sheets and CDs are available at the Grace reception desk, along with additional copies of the letter and form about children's participation in the 4:15 and 6:00 p.m. Christmas Eve services. Children in grades K-4 are asked to bring a wrapped gift of mittens or a hat for children in need; students in grades 5-8 are asked to bring a wrapped gift of socks. Contact Gwen Gotsch with questions about choir or pageant for grades 5-8 (708-366-6900 ext. 122; ); contact Janel Dennen about grades K-4 (708-366-6900, ext. 247; ).

Job Club
The Grace Job Club continues to meet weekly on Tuesdays at 10 a.m.  Contact Karin Danganan, , for more information. Please feel free to invite friends for whom this program might be helpful.

Dialogue Group
The Dialogue Group will meet on December 14, 10 a.m., in the conference room. The presenter will be Rabbi Robin Damsky of West Suburban Temple Har Zion, River Forest. All Grace members and friends are welcome to attend.

Grace's seniors meet on December 7 and 14. Morning Prayer at 10 a.m., followed by Bible study and Advent luncheon.

Reel Talk Holiday Feast
Reel Talk meets on December 16, in the library, for a holiday dinner and the film “Tampopo,” a Japanese movie about a trucker who rides into town like a modern Shane to help Tampopo set up the perfect fast-food noodle restaurant.  Feast at 5:30; film at 7:00.  Contact Carla Jankowski (383-5871 or ) to let her know what dish you will be bringing.  Anything Asian would be appropriate.

Religion in Literature
December 16, 8:00 p.m., at the home of David Heim and Barbara Hofmaier, 210 S. Elmwood, Oak Park. The group will read together "The Long Christmas Dinner," a one-act play by Thornton Wilder, and other Christmas selections.


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 November 27 and December 4:

The Oak Park River Forest Community of Congregations sponsors the Walk-In Ministry to provide emergency assistance to people in need in our community. Located at First United, on Lake Street in Oak Park, the Walk-In Ministry assists with immediate needs such as emergency meals, clothes and transportation and provides referrals to appropriate agencies for long-term support and assistance.

Walther Lutheran High School's Scholarship Fund offers tuition assistance to qualifying students.

Beyond Grace

Benefit for Slovakia
A fundraiser for the Center for Christian Education in Martin, Slovakia (a Grace Church benevolence) will be held Friday, December 9, at 6:30 p.m., at the Bohemian Garden Restaurant, 980 W. 75th Street, Downers Grove. Tickets are $50 per person and include a three-course Czechoslovak-style meal, musical entertainment and a CCE presentation.  This benefit event is sponsored by Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church, Naperville. Reserve your place by December 1.  Email and send a check (payable to Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church) to the church at 815 S. Washington St., Naperville, IL 60540, attention: Graham Brenna.  

For an inside look at Martin, Slovakia, where Benjamin Chandler, Grace’s JK and art teacher, is spending the school year teaching at the Lutheran Academy, visit his blog.

"Blue" Christmas worship
Sometimes the festivities surrounding Christmas evoke loneliness or sadness, making this a difficult season. Grace Lutheran Church, 200 N. Catherine, LaGrange, will celebrate a "Blue Christmas" with a candle-lit worship service of prayer, scripture, peace, and Holy Communion. This worship service will be a time when we can acknowledge the "blue" feelings some of us have at Christmas time and offer them to God in the Christ Child. It will take place on the shortest day and the longest night of the year, Wednesday, December 21, at 7:00 p.m. For more information, contact Pastor Susan Gerow (; 708-352-0730, extension 311).

Read more . . . Visit the Grace web site's Community Events page to read more about special Christmas events at neighboring churches.