Service Recap; September 4



We thank you Lord for our labors this weekend. Let us not forget those who have close jobs because of corporate changes, those forced into early retirement, those denied employment because of age, sex, or race, those who must work illegally in order to survive, those who seek other work and cannot find it. Renew our sense of vocation and help us to discern your presence in even the lowliest tasks we face. 

We pray for those who have brought increased, senseless violence it our city this year.   Our hearts go out to those who grieve the loss of loved ones in the midst of this violence.  We ask for peace to inhabit our hearts and that in all things we do we may seek those things that make for unity, purity and peace.  

We pray for the new school year ahead for our youth.  from the city leadership, administrations, teachers and students, we ask for a year focused on creativity and learning.  

We lift up in prayer Andrew, Amy and Irene Fields.  We thank you that they have settled into their ministry in Columbia and ask that you would continue to strengthen their Spanish and connection to the people they serve.  Bless the seminary that they would continue to provide education that expands minds to bring your good news to this world.  

Lord in your mercy...Hear our prayer

Homily Recap:


Luke Timothy Johnson writes this about the mission of the church:

"The church is, in a real sense, the continuation of the incarnation, the embodied presence of the resurrected Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit... the church is.... the laboratory for communal life before God, the model that the world can see.... as the basis for its own rebirth."

During the homily we asked ourselves the question: are we living into this calling of the church?

One of our scripture readings was from Paul's letter to Philemon. As he wrote to Philemon, asking him to free his runaway slave, Onesimus, that question, or something close to it, must have been on Paul's mind. For, Paul had already written about 10 years earlier these words to the church in Galatia:

As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Now, ten years later, Philemon, a friend of Paul's, had the opportunity to put this truth into action in two ways. First, Paul urged Philemon to forgive Onesimus (i.e relate to him according to the gospel and not in the way that a runaway slave would be normally treated in the Roman law and custom of the day. Secondly, Paul urged him to receive Onesimus back into his home as a brother and NOT a slave (emancipation is almost certainly in view here). 

Our cultural context is far removed from this First Century setting, but the question we should be wrestling with every day is the same as the one Paul and Philemon considered in the exchange preserved for us in the Epistle to Philemon: what are we doing in our personal lives that enables us to live into the vision of the church as "the laboratory for communal life before God, the model that the world can see.... as the basis for its own rebirth."


  • Beach BBQ This Sunday! Join us after church on September 11th for a BBQ on the beach. Kids are welcome. Friends are welcome. You can get more information and RSVP here
  • New Members Class is on September 18th. If you're interested in learning more about Grace Chicago, who we are, what we believe, and why we exist, join us for lunch after the service. Send an email if you'd like to come. 
  • Falzone Family Send Off is September 25th. The Falzone family is moving to Seattle. To celebrate their years at Grace Chicago, we're having lunch at Pastor Bob's house after church. Hope you can join!

Service Recap; August 28

Call to Worship: Psalm 81:1, 10-16 | Lesson One: Jeremiah 2:4-13 | Lesson Two: Luke 14:1, 7-14 

Cracked Cisterns

We become like who or what we worship. This is the sober warning from the prophet Jeremiah. As we took up this ancient text, we noted that it is hard for us to connect with a time in the history of God’s people that is so removed from us culturally. But we also noted that the human condition has not changed and that we still struggle with the temptation to not worship the one true God truly and faithfully. The face and shape of idolatrous temptations often change but the human condition does not. 

We also noted that the temptation to idolatry is sneaky and subtle. The temptation to idolatry doesn’t ask you to turn away from the living God - it invites you to violate the substance of what it means to worship the one true and living God. Note that one refrain from the prophets that carries through to Jesus’ ministry is the warning that it is possible to worship God with our lips but not with the whole of lives. 

Here is the thing: none of us worship the one true God truly all of the time. All of us drift into patterns of living when, to use the metaphorical image from Jeremiah, we turn away from the living water and dig our own leaky cisterns. What is required of us is to live our lives in such a way that we are convicted of our folly (regular worship and fellowship helps here!), so that we might repent (turn away) from patterns of living that lead to death, and return to God and the patterns of living that make for life. 

It is not the easiest thing to recognize when we are drifting away from the living water. Jesus’ words in our gospel reading from Luke remind us that the shape it takes is quite often mundane. Jesus confronts the religious leadership about the fact that they are addicted to self-aggrandizement and self-promotion. This has caused them to overlook the weak, the vulnerable, and the powerless. How the religious leadership treated those at the margins proved they were slipping into an idolatrous relationship with Roman patterns of living and thinking that exalt human power and pride (you become like what you worship!); in turn this is why they can’t accept that Jesus’ personhood and pattern of living  is the revelation of the character of the one true God, Yahweh. Jesus confronts the leadership. He says, in so many words, that those who live in such a way that they seek their own good over the good of others will be out step with what God is doing in the world. Contrasted with that way of living, Jesus offers up the pattern of the cross.  “For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” is not a sentimental saying that is just another way of saying, “mind your manners”. It is a caution that the only way to live well and die well in this world is by living in the shape of the cross, and repenting when we don’t. 


We pray for those affected by the recent earthquake in Italy. For families who grieve the loss of loved ones and those who are frightened to return to their homes, we ask for your presence to comfort and to guide.Be with those who continue to search and recover. 

Lord God, we continue to lift up to you our concern over the violence that continues to plague our cities and world. We ask for the hearts to be softened by your Holy Spirit.  We also ask for your justice to prevail in this world and that it would guide us to a world of peace. We also pray that we, through all of our actions, may be peacemakers in this world.

We pray for our local schools as they begin to greet students throgh their doors.  We ask for a safe year of learning and growing for your children and youth in the city.  May we all find ways to better our systems of learning for our kids.

Be with Andrew, Amy and Irene Fields in their mission field in Columbia.  Grant fruitful conversations, teaching opportunities, and experiences that can lead others to Christ.  Give the Fields confidence that you are walking with them in this journey.

Lord in your mercy....hear our prayer


  • END OF SUMMER BBQ! Join us on the beach for some grilling, hanging, and playing on the beach. More information and an RSVP are here.
  • SERVICE TIME moves to 10:00 AM starting on September 11th.

Service Recap; April 24

Sermon Meditation

In John 13, Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving them a new command: that you love one another.  What was so new about that command? This is an old command, not a new one. Bob put the emphasis on who we love. In this way, it was certainly a new command.

The story of the Good Samaritan makes the point well. In this story, a man from a hated group (Trump-supporters, Hillary-supporters, Ethnic/Racial minority: whomever you find most difficult to love and respect) becomes the courageous protagonist who helps at great cost to themselves. The parable has become the paradigm of love for the church. Your neighbor can be anyone, and in fact is everyone you come in contact with. No one ought to be outside of our scope of love and care.

The rubber hit the road for the church immediately as they tried to figure out what to do with Gentile believers. Christianity was a Jewish sect in its early years and it did not envision itself evolving into a religion for the non-Jewish world. Peter is reluctant to change. He understands that the Christian church is growing, but he is also committed to being obedient to the law. He’s walking the line carefully. Until in a vision, God tells him to eat animals that were not Kosher. Peter refuses, thinking he passed the test God was putting before him. But God responds, “What God has made clean, do not call unclean.” God tells Peter to go to a man named Cornelius, who is a gentile, and Peter goes. In his meeting of Cornelius, Peter realizes that the vision was not primarily about what sorts of meat he could eat. "God," declares Peter, "shows no partiality among persons."

This posture towards human beings-not seeing them as their politics, or skin color, or status in life, nor by how hard they work or don’t work, but first and foremost viewing them as beautiful creations who are invited to experience the grace and love of God, that is what made the church so attractive. The disciples are known by who and how they love. Let us pray that we grow into that sort of love as a community.

Best Line From A Song:

“O Love that will not let me go, I rest my weary soul in thee; I give thee back the life I owe, that in thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.”


Of God of the captive and oppressed, the weight of the world’s new is too much for us. We pray:

  • for Ecuador and those recovering from the earthquake,
  • for Chicago and in particular the school system and especially for teachers
  • for an end to Slavery in the world
  • for those in Grace Chicago’s community struggling with the loss of a loved one, disease, or unemployment
  • Announcements:

  • May 1st, Stephan Gombis is joining us this Sunday. Come at 9:30! Breakfast and Coffee available.
  • May 1st, Potluck will be held, hopefully outside if it is nice! Bring a side or dessert to share. We will provide sandwiches.
  • Kite Festival is May 7th! We’re all going.
  • Men’s Gathering is this Thursday at Sheffield’s at 7:30. All men are invited.
  • More volunteers are needed. Contact Caleb ( If interested.