July 23 Sermon


Map of Grace
A Reflection by Rev. Dr. Thom Bower
For July 23, 2017
Based on Psalm 147:1-11

When you look at this labyrinth, you can see it has four very distinct quadrants. I always assumed it was part of the geometry created to divide the pathway evenly within the circle. I learned it actually has a greater symbolism – symbols connected to historic practices.

Roman cities were built at the intersection of two roads, and the city wall was often a circle whose center was that intersection. This is why we still call a section of a city a “quarter” of a city. So the symbol for a city was a circle with an x inside.

When Emperor Constantine ordered the reconstruction of Jerusalem[1], it was done on a Roman plan. For Christians Jerusalem is the place where Christ died, so the city symbol for Jerusalem was rotated 90 degrees: the X became a cross. On the larger maps detailing the city of Jerusalem, you can see this cross shape following specific roads along well-known landmarks.


Two examples of Situs Hierusalem

When you look at medieval maps, Jerusalem is placed as the center of the world. The idea was that God’s presence was strongest at Jerusalem and radiated outward to the rest of the world. That was why a pilgrimage to Jerusalem was so essential for medieval Christians: it got you as close as possible to the place where God’s presence on earth was the greatest. It was as if the closer you could get to God then God’s grace might rub off on you – actually the idea is more that God’s grace permeated you, more like we think of radiation but without the negative effects. Continue reading



22 July 2017

Based on Isaiah 25:6-9, Psalm 23, and Matthew 11:28-30

About six weeks ago Gladys’ family contacted Lyonsville asking me to lead this memorial service. They had never met me, I had never met Gladys, but this is Gladys’ church. This is not the first time I have officiated at a service for someone whom I never met – neither the first time in my career nor the first time since serving Lyonsville.

I am always grateful when family members supply their reflections, both in their own voices and in writing for me to read on their behalf. It is a greater task to both eulogize a life and place that life in the context of our shared faith. When family and friends can offer their remembrances, then I am left to the focused task of reflecting on the conclusion of a life of faith.

Someone once asked me if it is easier or harder to officiate a service for people I knew or never met. My reply then is as it is now: it’s different.

Over the past six weeks, as I have prepared for this service, I kept encountering memories of two very significant experiences that have influenced every funeral and memorial service I attend or lead.

One was a seminary mentor, a professor of pastoral care, who said that no matter what the loss, it was never just about that one loss but all the losses we encountered in life. It’s right there in the opening words of the liturgy: We gather here as God’s people, conscious of others who have died and of the frailty of our own existence on earth.

As we gather today to remember Gladys and celebrate her life, this day is not only about our losing her but all of our losses – all the people whom we have loved and who have died, the friends who we have lost touch with over the years, divorces and job losses and the losses that come with moving from house to house or city to city.

The second experience requires a longer story. My senior year of high school, I started to work at a Dairy Queen. I already knew the owner, Bob, because I was a frequent customer at the Dairy Queen; because my parents owned a business, they knew each other. And Bob was a good church man – not at the congregation I attended, but one to which my congregation was connected. At the time I started working for him, he had been the head usher at his church for 25 years. Continue reading

Upcoming Events

Below is a list of some upcoming events that we will be hosting or participating in. We would love to have you join us!

For details about any of these events, contact the church office.

Summer Bible Study   2017
“We are no longer slaves but Free”
Wednesday 7-8:30        June 7 to August 30
The repeated theme of Passover and Exodus through the Hebrew Scriptures.
This is one part introduction to the Hebrew Scriptures, one part history, one part devotional.

Church Women United is collecting school supplies. Drop off your donation in August. Contact Wilma Mrazek for questions.

Social Media and YOU
Lyonsville’s promotion through social media is more than just what is posted – it’s also about how you use social media. Through the summer, Jim is making himself available to help you better understand and use your own social media accounts. He’ll be at the church on Thursdays working on social media announcements – but he’s willing to also set up an appointment to help you with your accounts on your device (laptop, tablet, phone …). He’s alternating between afternoons and evenings weekly. Contact Jim so he can help you with your social media!

In August we will be purchasing items for Church World Service hygiene kits.  The items they request are:
-One hand towel measuring approximately 15″ x 28″ to 16″ x 32″ (no fingertip, bath, dish towel or micro-fiber)                          -One washcloth                      -One wide-tooth comb removed from the package     -One fingernail or toenail clipper removed from the package -One bath-size bar of soap in the wrapper -One toothbrush in the package -Ten standard size Band-Aids

If you are able to purchase any or all of these items, please bring them to church no later than Sunday, September 2nd.  Thank you.

Our next labyrinth walk is scheduled for Saturday, October 14. It is from 4:00 to 6:00, and takes about 20 minutes. Please join us for this time of meditation. We also have a labyrinth walk scheduled for December 2.

Pop tabs for the Ronald McDonald House
We are collecting pop tabs to take to the Ronald McDonald House.  We will have a collection container located in the fellowship hall. If you have any questions please see Cindi Fiandaca.

Box Tops for Education
We are also collecting Box Tops for Education to give to Byrne School.  Collecting Box Tops is an easy way for schools to earn cash.  It’s easy to find Box Tops (a list will be by the collection box). In fact, you may have some in your home right now.  All you have to do is clip the Box Tops from your favorite products and put them in the collection container located in the fellowship hall.  If you have any questions please see a member of the Mission Board.

Community Nurse Collection
New onesies, new receiving blankets, baby hats, bandages designed for children, and small, soft animals (e.g. Beanie Babies) are being collected.
Please bring donations to church.



Volunteer Opportunities

Here are some upcoming mission opportunities you can help with:

Please come join us to help volunteer at the Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) on Saturday, August 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:15. We will meet at church to carpool at 7:45. We also go every Wednesday from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. (meet to carpool at 5:15). The GCFD, Chicago’s food bank, is a non-profit food distribution and training center providing food for hungry people. The Food Depository distributes donated and purchased food through a network of 650 pantries, soup kitchens and shelters to 678,000 adults and children in Cook County every year. They rely heavily on their volunteers to help repack bulk products, assemble boxes with assorted food, check expiration dates, glean produce, etc. Participants must be at least 14 years old. For more information go to http://www.chicagosfoodbank.org or see/call Cindi Fiandaca or Judy Birmingham to sign up.
The depository would like all volunteers to register in advance. Please see our website (Volunteer Opportunities post) or contact the church office for a link to their website where you can easily do this.

The Night Ministry –  On Saturday, August 12th we will get together at 8:00 a.m. at Lyonsville to prepare lunch for approximately 80 people, which will then be taken downtown and distributed from 12:00 – 2:00 pm at 10 S. Kedzie.  You can help by making the lunch, and going downtown to serve the meals.

Lyonsville Church Food Pantry: Come and help out at our own food pantry.  The pantry is open on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.  We would like to have 2 people there to help our guests/visitors during this time.  Volunteers help restock any donated food, and bag up food for guests.  If you would like to donate food, we have a current need for canned meat products (tuna and chicken), and paper products.  Contact the church office if you would like to help.  Donated food can be dropped off while the pantry is open, or contact the church office.

We are looking for people who can serve as Sunday Greeters and/or Coffee Hour Hosts. If you can help, please sign up on the sheets in the Fellowship Hall or contact Sherry Suomi.