Message of Grace
December 2017 | Vol 10 Issue 12
Articles are due the 15th of the
month preceding publication.
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Welcome to Grace Lutheran's eNewsletter!
Welcome back! Check out the new homepage at gracelutheran1.org! Very nice, Pastor. Click on the links at the right to view or print the calendar and volunteer schedule , plus you can go directly to our website, Facebook and sites in the ELCA family. If you have anything you would like put in the newsletter, send an email to me at dreamstar_00@msn.com.
 Quick Links
A Word from Pastor Andy
Pastor Andy
Thanks to everyone who participated in the Christmas Giving Tree ministry. Isn't it wonderful to see all those gifts under the tree and know that Grace was able to share the joy of the season with others? Could you take it one step further and pray for all of those involved that they see the love of Christ in the gifts?
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Advent
“But if we hope for what we do not have, we wait for it patiently”
- Romans 8:25  

I have a three year old at home who has all sorts of questions about Christmas. When is Christmas going to be here? Can Santa fit a certain toy in his sleigh? What do reindeer like to eat? As he seeks the answer to these questions, he is also learning how to wait. The days leading up to Christmas we refer to as Advent, and Advent is all about waiting.

We are not very good at waiting. Our culture ingrains in us that we you can “Have it Your Way”. If you turn on your television, or use your tablet, you can enjoy thousands of movies or books in seconds. We are used to getting things when we want them, as soon as we want them.

But as Christians, learning to wait is important. Why? Because God does not operate on our schedule. God has a purpose and a plan for our lives and our world, but it happens in his time, and in his way. We often take the true meaning of Christmas for granted because we are living after the birth of Christ. But for thousands of years humanity waited for a savior. But even though the birth of Jesus took longer than people wanted, God fulfilled His promise. You may be praying for something and it might seem that God is not listening. But God is listening, and God will answer your prayer, in His time. My hope is that this Advent season you may remember the importance of waiting. And that through patience you may remember that God will fulfill all His promises.

In Christ,
Pastor Andy
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Bits and Pieces from the Church Mouse 
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Hello Friends, Christmas is almost here!

I just LOVE Christmas, don't you? All the friends and family, the decorations, the FOOD! But it isn't a happy time for everyone - those who are alone or have lost someone dear. How about reaching out to someone who might need a hug or a cup of coffee with a friend or even a place to spend Christmas Day?

Speaking of helping out! The Giving Tree was loaded with tags again and most of them have already been taken (they might even be GONE by now!) Remember to bring in the WRAPPED gifts for Angel Tree kids who have a parent in prison S unday December 3rd. You have another week to get the gifts for Salvation Army, but do NOT wrap those. The families will get to shop for the items they want for their kids.I just love seeing all those presents under the tree! If you didn't get a tag but still want to help, cash is always welcome for either ministry to get last minute gifts or pay for shipping to kids out of the area.

Did you know there will be NO morning services on December 24th? Be sure to come for worship at 5PM or 11PM (isn't it great when the choir sings?) Bring your guests and neighbors too!

Speaking of the choir (also known as People of Praise), aren't we blessed to have another wonderful pianist / choir director in Kristine Lundine Miller? Read more about her later in this newsletter. Thanks to Pat Dahme for asking Kristin to introduce herself.

Now that the weather is getting colder outside, PADS is under way. Your generosity has already provided many pairs of gloves, socks, underwear, coats, clothes and shoes to our homeless friends. There are many ways you can help out with PADS. If you are interested, contact Curt Bjorklund at 815-529-7746.

Merry Christmas! Build a snowman (or snowmouse) for me - it WILL snow, won't it?
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Meet Our New Pianist and Choir Director
Kristin Lundine Miller
I'm Kristin Lundine Miller and have been involved in church music since I was five years old.

I've been accompanying church choirs for 15 years, and also worked playing organ, piano, trombone, singing, conducting, and ringing/directing hand bell choirs for many years.

I have a bachelors degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in music theory and composition, as well as a K-12 music teacher certification from Vandercook College of Music Education in Chicago

I am SUPER EXCITED to be a part of Grace Church and its members!!
Upcoming Events, How You Can Participate
2017 Capital Campaign Update -
Have you seen the lights?
What a difference – the lights are up and working and saving us money on electricity!

As of November 26, we have raised $90,885 to make the needed repairs. We are still short of our goal of $140,000 to complete the other projects to make our church a safe and welcoming place for all to encounter God. 

Please prayerfully consider making a year-end offering to help reach our goal so we can start work on the parking lot, entrances and carpeting this spring. All gifts given through the Building Fund and Capital Improvements Campaign envelopes will go toward this project.

Thank you for your continued support of the mission and ministries of Grace!

The committee can be reached by phone or email: Ron Erdmann: 815-861-9925, ronerdmann5@gmail.com or Sandy Yoder: 815-581-3202, syoder40@msn.com .
Calling all Ministry Leaders - Reports Request for January Meeting
We are putting together a year-end report for the January Annual Congregational Meeting to celebrate all that God has done at Grace in 2017! 

If you have led a ministry or activity at Grace in the past year, please write a brief description of the ministry including the purpose, the amount raised (if it was a fundraiser), who was involved, what was the outcome, and who to contact for more information or to get involved. Ministries include groups (Education, Youth, Fellowship, Altar Guild, etc.), activities (the Outreach Café, Trunk-or-Treat, Coffee Hour, etc.), and missions (Haiti, World Vision, PADS, Habitat, Food Pantry, etc.).
 
We don’t want to miss any of the awesome ministries that took place this year so please turn in a report by January 9th, preferably by email.

If you have questions please contact Sandy Yoder (815-581-3202; syoder40@msn.com).
Opportunities
Christmas Giving Tree Gifts Due Back Soon!
We are collecting Christmas gifts for the Giving Tree again this year for the Salvation Army and Angel Tree Prison Ministry (for children of incarcerated parents). Angel Tree gifts are due back by December 3rd, Salvation Army by December 10th.

Remember, do NOT wrap Salvation Army gifts - they will be put out for family members to 'shop' for in the Toyland. DO WRAP the gifts for Angel Tree children and affix the sticky back angel you selected onto the package.

If the tags are all gone and you still want to contribute, consider giving cash to either cause. Angel Tree gifts often have to be shipped and they can use help with those expenses. Or pick up a gift card at the store of your choice and they can be used for older children (who can be hard to buy for) or to purchase gifts for children not 'adopted' earlier. I'm always amazed at the generosity and joy in giving of this congregation!

Contact Chris Bjorklund if you can help at dreamstar_00@msn.com
Requesting One Hour of Your Time
Council Member Shawn Tiani has set up several opportunities for congregation members to share their ideas about where God is leading Grace Lutheran. There are still several dates in December. Please choose a time to participate. Child care will be provided during the meetings.
Habitat for Humanity Update
In June this year, we were very fortunate to have Holly Zissman, Community Engagement Coordinator from Habitat come and speak to our congregation about the impact and opportunities of Habitat for Humanity of McHenry County. I want to thank everyone for the very warm welcome you extended to her! 

Six new families have moved into Habitat homes year-to-date with another home scheduled for dedication by Christmas and nine families have received assistance through their home repair program . Also “in the works” is a new location for the Woodstock ReStore, scheduled to open in 2018. The McHenry affiliate has grown over the last year enabling them to serve even more families in the county. Currently, progress continues on homes in Wonder Lake, Woodstock, McHenry, and Cary. In 2018, they’re slated to start another home in McHenry and Wonder Lake

If you’ve considered volunteering for a Habitat construction day but hesitated for any reason, I’d like to encourage you to give it a try! While it’s hard work, it’s so worthwhile and very rewarding and you’re often working alongside the soon-to-be homeowner. I’ve never met anyone who has regretted coming to a site to help out. Even if you don’t have construction skills, there is always something you can do to lend a hand and you will definitely learn in the process! I would like to get a list of potential volunteers to contact when there’s a date / opportunity for us to help out. I promise this will be a “No Guilt” zone – if you provide your name / email / phone info and I contact you to ask if you can help, you’re not obligated if the timing isn’t right for you for any reason. 

Other ways to support Habitat causes include supporting their Restores – locations in McHenry and Woodstock. If you’re doing any remodeling which may include removing cabinetry, windows, etc. that could be re-purposed, donate them to the restore and likewise check them out for shopping bargains. For hours and directions, check the website at www.habitatmchenry.org . 

For any questions or suggestions, please contact Rose McGuire at springgrove.rose@gmail.com or 815.245.0566
Outreach Cafe Taking a Break This Month
NO Outreach Cafe in December
Due to Christmas Eve being on the 4th Sunday of December and the fact that there will be NO morning services that day, it's been decided to suspend the Cafe for this month.

Our next Outreach Café will be on Sunday, January 28th  from 8:30-9:30. All funds raised will be donated to PADS, Habitat for Humanity, Richmond Food Pantry and our Haiti Mission. Thanks to Thrivent Financial for their support to purchase food and supplies. To help out or donate food, see Tina Peterson. Live Generously!
Outreach Café Contact: Tina Peterson, tinap59@hotmail.com,
Bible Study Opportunities
Women's Friendship & Faith Monthly Bible Study
Won't you join us for a once-monthly Bible Study, open to all women who want to grow in faith and share fellowship with other amazing women.
When: Second Monday of the month at 7pm at the church. Cost: $6 for the book. We will use Max Lucado’s Life Lessons Series to study the Book of Acts. Our next session is December 11th. We will read about how the earliest Christians were transformed by their faith. We will also look at our own lives and see how knowing Christ can transform us.

Please contact the church office or Thorey Ellis at (815)276-2456 to sign up so we have enough materials.

Divorce Care Sessions Thursdays at 6:30 pm
Divorce Care final session was November 16th. We will start up a new series in February - watch for more information in the newsletter and bulletin. If anyone is interested in becoming a leader, please call the office. Contact: Linda Davis 815-347-5982

Divorce Care Recovery Support Groups -  More information
Women of the ELCA - WELCA
Can you believe it? Christmas is almost here again!
  • We're looking forward to the WELCA Christmas luncheon at Crandalls in Hebron on Saturday, December 9th – at 12:30pm. Off the menu and separate checks has been agreed upon. Instead of a grab bag, the women have voted to bring an item/s for PADS (either a clothing item/s in large or staples.)
  • Save the date for our annual Craft/Vendor Fair Saturday, April 22nd, 2018.
  • Judy Jones from the food pantry gave a nice presentation at our November meeting and answered our questions.
  • Our January meeting is set for Monday, January 8th. Our hostess will be Rita Popenhagen. Watch the bulletin and the January newsletter for more details.
We would love to have you come to one of our meetings. Many of you have younger ideas and suggestions and we would like you to share them with us.

If you would like to join us and need a ride, please call Carol Heuer at 815/678-7516 and she will arrange a ride for you.

The WELCA group would like to thank everyone who helped with the funeral lunch for Dottie Block. Thank you to those who came to help set up, those who provided food,and those who helped us clean up. We appreciate every bit of help you gave us.
Remember –
- PADS is continuing to ask for donations of men and women’s new or slightly used warm winter clothing. Items needed are –
Socks, boots, gloves, scarves, sweaters, jackets, pants. sweats, hats (beanie), flashlights, batteries, personal items, etc. Mark your box or bag PADS CLOTHING, and FOOD and Curt Bjorklund will pick them up at church. Also, don’t forget about gift certificates to McDonalds or Burger King. These are used to buy food and beverages, warmth and a place to stay for a while. Many of these ‘homeless’ people have only been homeless for a short time and need help. PADS from Grace prepares and serves a meal and shelter on the first Thursday of the month at the St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Richmond. ASK CURT BJORKLUND at 815-529-7746 how you can help.
- Continue to support our Building Fund Campaign to fund several very urgent repairs needed in and around our church.
- Keep in touch with happenings in and around our church regardless of the weather.

Help Wanted –
Jan Heynis who is now heading the Altar Guild committee and is looking for helpers for cleaning the altar and setting up communion. Jan has a signup list of dates available when help is needed. This is not an every week commitment but only once in a while. Cleaning the altar and preparing for communion would require about an hour during the day on Saturday and about 15 minutes for cleanup after late service on Sunday. Let Jan know if you have any questions about volunteering
- need volunteers to sign up to provide coffee service on a Sunday after service. There are a few openings left where you will only have to serve once every month or two. Your generous free-will donations keep this service a social time to gather with our church friends.

Thanks –
- to all our volunteers who silently perform many duties in and around our church home. To keep a church well maintained takes many volunteers to keep our wheels in motion. Many of our older member and volunteers are no longer with us, have moved or can no longer perform their duties as in the past. If you can spare your time or talents, please let the church know. There is always a place for you.
- to all who give to the “free will” offering at the church coffee service after the late service. The money collected pays for supplies needed.
- to Thorey Ellis for her time and patience in getting our church directory to its final completion.
- to our men and women who have served and are serving today in our military. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice to give us the benefits of our freedom we treasure today. Many are still serving at home and away so that our freedoms will be preserved. We will never forget your service.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
October Giving: $17,023; Average Attendance per Sunday: 124