Hymn Story                

“But you, beloved, are not in darkness . . . for you are all children of light and children of the day.” 1 Thess. 5:4-5

“I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” [LBW 649; the Hymn of the Day for January 23], was written in the sweltering hot summer of 1966 by Kathleen Thomerson, an Episcopalian organist. Kathleen had moved to St. Louis, Missouri, in the fall of 1995. The following summer, her mother came from Houston, Texas, to visit. Because an airline strike cancelled her mother’s travel plans and a heat wave was making St. Louis unbearable, Thomerson decided to drive her mother back to Houston. This hymn came to her as she anticipated visiting her “brothers and sisters in Christ at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer in Houston.”  It was written as a scriptural meditation and prayer. It was inspired by many Bible verses, including Genesis 1:17, Isaiah 60:19, Psalm 75:16, Psalm 139:12, Ephesians 3:17, Ephesians 5:8, Galatians 4:6, Hebrews 1:3, 1 Thessalonians 5:5, 2 Peter 1:19, 1 John 1:5-7, and Revelation 21:23.

On one hand it may be sung as a prayer for illumination. The congregation sings, “Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.”  The second stanza conveys a longing to see Jesus and to be led through Christ to the presence of the Father. On the other hand, it may be sung as a song of dedication. The worshiper commits to live in the light of Christ, singing, “I want to walk. . . . I want to see. . . . I’m looking for. . . .”   And in hope and anticipation, the worshiper concludes in stanza 3, “When we have run with patience the race, we shall know the joy of Jesus.”

(This hymn story comes from a November 5, 2008, post on the blog of Southwood Lutheran Church in Lincoln, Nebraska.)

Read more Hymn Stories here.

News and Events

Simple Gifts Worship
Weekly Wednesday evening Holy Communion services resume at 6:30 p.m. on January 12.

Youth Ministry
The Youth Ministry Development Committee is holding gatherings in January to get your input on both the youth minister search process and programming for the young people at Grace. You are encouraged to stop by, meet members of the search committee and join in the conversation about Grace’s youth ministries. The forums are January 16 in the third-floor School Commons and January 23 in the gym. Please join us in this important undertaking.

The committee also wants to hear from teens in middle school and high school. Come to Noodles and Company (Lake and Harlem in River Forest) at noon on Saturday, Jan. 15. Have something to eat and talk with Kris Grahnke, the young guy on the committee, about what kind of teen programs you'd like to see at Grace. Teens and young adults are also asked to fill out the online survey.

Congregation Meeting
There will be a meeting of the congregation on January 23, following the 11:00 a.m. service (approximately 12:30 p.m.).  The agenda includes the annual election and presentation of 2010 annual reports. View the slate of candidates for officers, boards and committees here.

UPLIFTlogo.jpgDiscovery Seminar on Saturday, Jan. 29
Giving and Receiving Care: A Labyrinth of Love
Spend a Saturday morning discovering what giving and receiving care requires. Hear and learn from those who are presently walking in that “Labyrinth of Love.”  Most of us, in our lifetime, will either give or receive care. Come and begin to understand the responsibilities involved in this life experience. Registration and coffee at 8:30 a.m. The seminar program begins at 8:45. A mid-morning breakfast will be served. Register now online or at Grace's reception desk. The seminar is presented as a part of Grace’s UPLIFT Ministry programming.

FaithPerspBlueLogo.jpgFaith Perspectives Seminar
Sunday, February 13, 2:30 p.m., is the date for the first Faith Perspectives seminar, “Lessons from the Great Recession,” a discussion of the moral and ethical dimension of problems in the economy. Speakers include James Halteman, Professor of Business and Economics at Wheaton College; Ghulam-Haider Aasi, American Islamic College, Chicago; Rabbi Karyn Kedar of B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim, Deerfield; Pastor Stephen Bouman from the ELCA, and Grace member David Heim as moderator. The speakers will preview the discussion on the “Islamic and Arab Voice of Chicago” radio show on Saturday, January 15, 5 p.m., on WCEV (1450 AM).

Bach Cantata on Sunday, January 30
Bach Cantata #152, “Step upon the path of faith,” January 30, 4:00 p.m. features soprano Amy Conn and baritone Douglas Anderson, with the Newberry Consort, Chicago's premier early music ensemble, under the direction of David Douglass. The prelude, also featuring the Newberry Consort, begins at 3:45. The Senior Choir will sing a motet by German Renaissance composer Thomas Stoltzer. The homilist for the service is Dr. Timothy Larsen, McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College.

Please note that the Senior Choir’s trip to Bach destinations in Germany has been postponed until the summer of 2012.  More information will be available later this year.

Adult Education
The adult education series taught by Frederick A. Niedner, author, columnist, and distinguished professor of theology at Valparaiso University, continues January 16 and 23. Dr. Niedner is examining wilderness traditions in the Bible and their application to life in the 21st century. 

Also on January 16 and 23: therapists from Cornerstone Christian Counseling of Chicago will lead two discussion classes on various aspects of family life. On the 16th, the conversation will include a look at the ten top issues that can lead to marital bliss or marital discord. On the 23rd, the leaders will introduce parents to types of parenting styles, birth order and discipline for various ages. 

Making Disciples Class
It’s not too late to join the class “Making Disciples: A Path to Membership” meeting on Sundays, 9:45 to 10:45 a.m., through March 13. Taught by Pastor Modahl, with assistance from others on the pastoral staff and the New Member Committee, this class is for adults interested in becoming a part of our ministry here at Grace, as well as for those who want to deepen their understanding of what it means to be disciples of Jesus Christ. The class meets in Pastor Modahl's office. For further information, please contact Karen Christopher, kchristopher@graceriverforest.org.

Morning Glories
A new session of the parent-toddler group Morning Glories began today and continues through March 17. Classes run 10:00 to 11:15 a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, led by Early Childhood teachers Jennifer Brayton and Tara Grieg. Register for one ($140) or two ($280) sessions a week. Call the school office, 366-6900, ext. 205, for more information.

Show Cancelled
Tuesday’s Child’s production of “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown,” originally scheduled for January 14-16, has been cancelled.

Handbell Festival Concert
On February 5, Grace will host the Illinois Young Ringers Festival. Bell choirs from all over the area, including Grace’s School and Youth Bell Choirs, will gather for a day of workshops and rehearsals. You are invited to attend the closing concert at 2:30 p.m. featuring all of the bell choirs.

Grace School

Open House for Prospective Students and Their Parents
Applications for the 2011-12 school year are now being accepted. Parents and prospective students are welcome to visit classrooms, talk with teachers and staff, and learn more about Grace School programs at the Early Childhood open house, Jan. 21, noon-1:00 p.m., and the all-school open house, Feb. 8, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. Please pass this invitation along to anyone who might be interested. Find more information about enrolling a child in Grace School here.

Box Tops for Education
Box Tops for Education is a significant fund raiser for Grace Lutheran School, as each box top may be redeemed for 10 cents. Check the list of eligible products and turn in your box tops to the school office. Please note that we are no longer collecting Campbell Soul labels, but any that we receive will be passed along to other schools still participating in that program.

Grace School Benefit
On Friday, March 4, Grace Church and School will host "A Graceful Evening" at Elm Crest Banquets, 7370 West Grand Avenue, Elmwood Park. The evening, which will include dinner and live and silent auctions, is a fundraiser to benefit Grace School.


Fellowship and Support

Job Club
The Grace Job Club meets weekly on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. Please contact Karin Danganan at kdanganan@sbcglobal.net if you have questions. 

Pastors' Dialogue Group
January 12, 10 a.m., in the conference room. Dan Lehmann, editor of The Lutheran magazine, will discuss “Struggles within the ELCA.”  Lunch optional after the session.

January 12, 19 and 26. Fellowship at 10:00, Bible study at 10:30. Worship and luncheon on the 19th.

Reel Talk
January 14, 7:00 p.m., in the church library. The film is "Lotcho Drom," a documentary that follows the journey of the Romany people, better known as Gypsies. The story is told through musicians and dancers from eight different countries.

Religion in Literature
January 21, 8:00 p.m., at the home of David Heim and Barbara Hofmaier, 210 S. Elmwood, Oak Park. Amy Claud will lead the discussion on "Heaven’s My Destination" by Thornton Wilder.  A copy is available for checkout in the church library.

ROMEOS (and Juliets)
January 18, 8:30 a.m., in the church library. Coffee, donuts and conversation. The speaker is Dana Marberry of the Cook County Assessor’s office, who will discuss the 2011 new assessments.


Beyond Grace

Walther Placement Test
Thinking about high school? If you are interested in attending Walther Lutheran High School in Melrose Park, plan to take the placement test on Friday, January 21, 8:00 a.m.  Register online or call Kyle Clauss, Director of Recruitment, at 708-344-0404.

Marriage Seminar
The Cornerstone Counseling Center of Chicago will host a nine-week "Prepare and Enrich" marriage seminar for engaged or married couples beginning on Wednesday, January 12, at 7:00 p.m. Cornerstone Counseling Center is a counseling agency staffed by Christian professionals, located just north of the Loop in Chicago. Visit the CCCOC web site for more information about the seminar.

Programs at Dominican University's Siena Center
The Siena Center's series theme for 2010-11 is "From Generation to Generation." Programs continue this month with Martha Jacob, who teaches gerontology at Dominican University, discussing "Life-Long Aging and the Baby Boom Phenomenon" on Wednesday, Jan. 26. Orlando Espin, one of the country's foremost Latino theologians, examines "Tradition and the Fabric of Life" on Tuesday, Feb. 8. Both events begin at 7:00 p.m. in Dominican's Priory Campus auditorium. Admission is $10. For tickets call 708-488-5000. For more information visit the Siena Center web site.


The Back Page 

Grace on Christmas Eve
by Craig Mindrum

As near as I can remember or calculate, we first attended Grace Lutheran Church’s family Christmas Eve service in 1993, when our son Jonathan was in Ellie Schnack’s kindergarten class. We attended each year since, as all three of our children—Jonathan, then Jennifer, then Jessica—sang in the service … and then beyond, even as our youngsters grew too old to participate, because we couldn’t bear to be away.
This year was our first away from the service in, then, 17 years—drawn this time to Grandma’s house in Michigan for Christmas Eve dinner.
I have a vivid memory of the very first time we saw the cross forming in front of the altar, in the almost-darkness of the sanctuary:  Donna weeping openly … Craig trying not to weep. Yes, this was Christmas: Sight and sound and sense converging in a way that went beyond the reasoning mind. Children. Silence. Darkness. Light. Music. Still, still, still. Yes.
It is important to understand the power of this Christmas Eve moment.  Grace Lutheran Church holds in its congregation many great minds, many great voices. There is grandeur and splendor in much that we do.
But: just as the truth of our faith comes down ultimately to a lowly child born in a barn, so does our distinctive community come down to a single child's voice singing out of the darkness on Christmas Eve: “Once in royal David’s city ….”

Read more Back Page articles here.