Service Recap; September 25

Genesis 1 | Romans 8 | John 1

Beauty Will Save The World | Rev. Dr. Aaron Kuecker

The title of Aaron Kuecker's sermon Sunday was taken from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel, The Idiot. The idea that beauty could be integral to the salvation of the world and integral to the Christian story is not a common idea. Kuecker, though, suggested that beauty is not simply the icing on the cake, a secondary good to be had by the rich and powerful. Beauty and justice, he explained, are intimately connected. "Where you find justice, you do not have to look far to find beauty."

He noted that the Greek translation of the Genesis 1 creation narrative (which the contemporaries of Jesus would have been familiar with) translates the Hebrew, tov, meaning good, into the Greek word Kalos, which we might best translate, beautiful. Beauty is integral to the Shalom of creation. It is present at the beginning.  Our violent world coerces and manipulates for power. Beauty is violence's opposite. Beauty does not coerce. Beauty lures. It woos us. Beauty attracts us to it. And beauty can only happen when there is justice and equality. This Sunday we highlighted the reality that over 45 million people are in modern-day slavery. We talked about International Justice Mission's work around the globe to alleviate oppression and injustice. We talked about the ugliness of our broken world and we longed, not only for justice, but for beauty as well. 

Augustine, the North African Saint of the 400's, told those around him that they must acquire a taste for God's beauty.  The beauty we must pursue takes the shape of the cross. It is self-sacrificing beauty that is always inviting others to participate in the feast of Christ. It is beauty that requires justice and equality in order to be found. As Christians, we long for the sort of world that we see in Genesis 1. "And God looked and saw that it was very beautiful." We believe that justice and beauty are integral parts of our story and that we are called to extend these gifts to a world longing for freedom. In the beginning, God created a beautiful world. Through Christ, beauty will save the world too. 

To learn more about IJM and their work around the world check out


O God, our words cannot express what our minds can barely comprehend and our hearts feel when we hear of men, women and children deceived, transported to unknown places, force into prostitution or other forms of labor for the financial gain of traffickers—their slaveholders.

Our hearts are saddened and our spirits angry that their dignity and rights are transgressed through threats, deception and force. We cry out against this degrading practice of trafficking and pray for it to end. Protect all victims, especially our young and vulnerable.

Let your tender love and care surround all present victims of trafficking. Deliver them, O God, from their perpetrators’ hands. Give us the courage and wisdom to stand in solidarity with them, that together we will find ways to the freedom that is your gift to all of us.

O God, we pray for the International Justice Mission staff in Uganda who are currently engaged to protect and defend widows whose homes and land have been violently stolen by greedy relatives or powerful neighbors.

May your Holy Spirit guide the IJM aftercare teams as they empower these very poor and neglected widows to become strong and self-sufficient.May your Spirit help these widows find courage and stability as they learn to thrive again. 

Loving God, we pray for all people in our city of Chicago who are engaged in local law enforcement. We continue to pray that those who enforce laws uphold the rights of all people they interact.  We pray for those affected and responding to recent police shootings that they may seek justice in ways that bring healing, accountability, and peace.

We ask for your Holy Spirit to bless and protect those in our congregations in the US and outside the country who serve in law enforcement and public justice systems.

We thank you God for the gift of new life.  We think of Olivia Grace, born this week to Joe and Sarah Lesch.  Bless Olivia with continued good health and the gift your Holy Spirit that she may grow up to know and confess you.    

Lord in your mercy ... Hear our prayer


    Thanks to everyone who helped make the open house for the Falzone Family such a success. Grace is truly thankful for their service to the church and their friendship to the community. They will be sorely missed. 

    Beer and Hymns is Sunday, October 2nd at 6:30PM. Bring a friend and join us for some song and drink!

    Sunday, October 9th our service time will be 5:00 due to the chaos and beauty of the Chicago Marathon. We'll have an abbreviated service and then go out in groups for dinner!

    The next women's meet up is Thursday, October 6th. Check the events calendar for more information. 

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!