Harmony Church and Grace Lutheran deploy “God’s Mighty Music” to protest urban violence
“The devil flees before the sound of music, almost as much as before the Word of God,” said Martin Luther back in the 16th century.
Musicians from Grace Lutheran Church’s Bach Cantata Ministry will join the musicians and members of Harmony Community Church in Chicago’s Lawndale neighborhood for a devil-defeating concert and prayer service on Sunday afternoon, July 27, at 4:00 p.m.
The outdoor event, inspired by Harmony’s “Stop the Violence” Community Walks, is titled “God’s Mighty Music” and features a performance of J. S. Bach’s Cantata #80, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Harmony’s Praise Band will open the service. Musicians from the Cantata Ministry’s choir and orchestra will perform the cantata. Spoken Word artists from the Harmony Community will lead the prayers. Bruce Modahl, Senior Pastor at Grace, will speak, along with James Brooks, Pastor at Harmony.
The church is located at 1908 S. Millard Ave. in Chicago. The concert will take place under a tent in Harmony’s parking lot. Free parking for concert-goers is available just south of the church’s property. All are welcome to attend. There will be a free-will offering to support Harmony Community Church.
Brooks is the former Youth Director at Grace Lutheran. Grace members volunteer at Harmony’s food pantry and provide other assistance to the west side congregation. Pastor Brooks has been leading bi-weekly “Stop the Violence” community walks in the Lawndale neighborhood this summer, bringing Harmony churchgoers and community residents out into the streets on Saturdays to walk and witness for peace.
Pastor Michael Costello, Grace’s Cantor, brought the idea for the prayer service to Brooks, thinking “there had to be something that musicians could do” to protest the street violence that threatens so many residents of Chicago neighborhoods. More than fifty singers and orchestral musicians have volunteered to take part in the event.
Costello chose Cantata 80 because of its text, the familiar hymn of the same title by Martin Luther. Described as “the battle hymn of the Reformation,” “A Mighty Fortress” sings of the power of God’s Word and Spirit to defeat the devils of this world. It’s a rousing, accessible work, which has fortified the faith of Christians of many denominations for nearly three centuries.
Harmony Church’s mission is “to listen and respond with love to those who have been hurt and marginalized.” The church serves the community with education programs, a day camp, a food pantry, and other ministries, as well as weekly Sunday worship. James Brooks, the senior pastor, is a graduate of Concordia University and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Northern Theological Seminary. He is also the Director of Spiritual Care at Lawndale Christian Health Center. To learn more about Harmony visit the web site at hcc1908.org.
Grace Church’s Bach Cantata Vespers Ministry began in 1971, offering monthly performances of the sacred cantatas of J. S. Bach within the context of congregational worship. Michael D. Costello, conductor of the Grace Senior Choir and the Cantata Orchestra, is a graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary. In addition to his work as Cantor at Grace, he is the Artistic Director of Chicago Choral Artists. The 2014-15 season for the Bach Cantata Vespers includes a March performance of Bach’s B-Minor Mass, as well as an October repeat of Cantata #80.
Driving directions to Harmony.
Full quote from Luther: “The devil, the originator of sorrowful anxieties and restless troubles, flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the Word of God....Music is a gift and grace of God, not an invention of men. Thus it drives out the devil and makes people cheerful. Then one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices.”
Grace Church and School say farewell to Pastor Modahl on August 31