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Monday, August 30, 2010

This Week's Liturgies

Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 10:30 a.m.
Funeral liturgy for Ella Falkingham, with visitation beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Sunday, September 5, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
Ordinary Time: Sunday 23
Holy Eucharist

Sermon from August 29, 2010

“Table Manners”
Luke 14:1, 7-14

As I read the gospel for this day I thought of the news paper columnist, Miss Manners. The gospel gave me an idea for a letter to Miss Manners

Dear Miss Manners, I went to a banquet the other day I went right to the head table and sat down. The host asked me to move, I was annoyed but I moved. I found another seat in the middle of the banquet hall, however after a few minutes the host came again and asked me to move. This time I was irritated, but when the host took me by the hand a brought me to a seat by the kitchen door I was downright insulted. Throughout the entire banquet the servers where going past me. I was served last. During the meal the pots and pans were banging in the kitchen, I could barely hear myself think. Also, because I was way in the back of the banquet hall I was unable to meet the important people I had come to see. I paid good money to come and I have a right to be treated better. I think the host was rude. What should I do? Signed, Seeking My Rights

That is a letter we could maybe see ourselves writing at one time or another in our lives. If not in this blatant form we have nuances of seeking our own advantage. How about those times were we see other people schmoozing and rubbing elbows with big name, important people. We feel anger at that person for always seeking their own advantage. How about the name dropping game that some people play? “You know the other day when I was having lunch with President Obama.” Or “On my way into the grocery store I ran into Ron Gardenhire...” Or “When I have coffee with Osma Vänskä…” If we don’t do this ourselves, we find ourselves jealous of those who do. I wish I could have lunch with President Obama, I would love to have chat with Ron Gardenhire or Osma Vänskä. There is something innate in us that seeks our own advantage, we may not be blatant about it but we do want to get close to the people with influence.

Notice what happens at company parties. Everyone is trying to bend the ear of the CEO and VP’s, but do you see people busting down the door to rub elbows with the custodians or the 3rd shift press operator. We want to seek our own advantage.

I think the football player Randy Moss epitomizes this natural instinct the best. Many years ago, when he played for the Minnesota Vikings, and had an exceptional year, John Madden said of Moss, “without a doubt, excluding quarterbacks, Moss is the best player in the game.” Moss responds, “Excluding NOBODY, I’m the best player in the National Football League.” That’s self exaltation and seeking one’s own advantage.

What’s so wrong with wanting to be exalted or even just noticed for the good that we are doing? Maybe it is not even the exaltation we care about maybe we just want to be noticed. I look at some of the youth today, I see them crying out loud to be noticed. They may not be using words but they are using different ways to have others notice them. Clothes, hair, pierced body parts, noticeable tattoos. They are crying out for attention, even if they don’t realize it.

What’s wrong with wanting to be noticed? When you do a big project at work you want your name on it so others (mainly the boss) can see how valuable you are to the company. When you get an award you want it published in the paper.

What’s wrong with seeking your rights? Well according to Jesus, when you seek your won advantage, you get in the way of Jesus doing the work. You can’t exalt yourself as high as or higher than Jesus.

Let’s look at the gospel passage again. This is a parable Jesus tells, after he sees people seeing places of honor, seeking their own advantage. His parables do two things, one they teach about the kingdom of God and two they turn everything upside down.

If we see the banquet as our right and it is something we deserve then we get caught in this self exalting business. If we deserve it then we will get into a continuum of earning it, “I really earned it,” “I kind of earned it,” “I worked hard,” “I could have worked harder.” It was worked for or earned.

But if we see the banquet as an invitation into God’s kingdom that we did not work for or earn, that would not have come to us at all, then we are just happy to be there at all.

You see when we think it is our right we miss out on the meaning. When we think we don’t deserve it, it tastes better and you don’t care where you sit because you are just pleased to be there. You also don’t care who you rub shoulders with because all who are there are worthy in God’s eyes.

Jesus invites us to a banquet, in which there are no bad seats. Where all are welcome not based on what they have done but what Jesus has done. We come empty to the table, we hold out empty hands and we seek to be filled by the one who has the power to forgive and lift up those who are in need. Proper table manners for Jesus’ table are this: to remember it is a gift.

How might Jesus respond to the letter from Seeking My Rights and the banquet?

Dear Gentle Soul,
Welcome to my banquet. I am so delighted you are here. You know some people would say you don’t deserve to be here, but I love you and I am so happy to see you. I didn’t have to invite you but I wanted to. I want you to know that you cannot control whether you are exalted or humbled, that is my job, relax and let me do it. Enjoy the banquet. This is a feast to celebrate my kingdom in this world. Come take and eat. The wine is forgiveness of sins. The bread is release of that which troubles you. These are gifts for you, to strengthen you in the meanwhile, to strengthen you until I come again. This is my gift to you whether you deserve it or not. This is my gift: I come to you. Drink deep and let me take control of your life. Signed, with great Love for you and all people, Jesus.

Monday, August 23, 2010

This Week's Liturgies

Sunday, August 29, 2010
Ordinary Time: Sunday 22
Holy Eucharist, 9:30 a.m., followed by coffee and fellowship

The Olive Branch, August 23, 2010

The Witness of Song and Open Windows

Earlier this summer I served as organist at a two-week workshop for Presbyterian Musicians in Montreat, NC. There was daily Eucharist at 11:00, and workshop sessions went on all day in the un-air-conditioned worship space. That meant my practice time on the organ was limited to 7 to 8 am. While wailing away with preparations one morning, I was approached. Some neighbors had complained about the organ music coming from the open windows, and because of this police would be coming at 11:00 to be sure our liturgy didn’t violate the legal noise level limits of the community. Wow. I was imagining what a wonderful ticket that would be to
brag about: cited for “praising God too much”. Bring it on! They did come with their meter, but unfortunately we were just below the limit. Too bad. I should have used all the reeds.

One Sunday here at Mount Olive, Susan came to church a bit late and had to park a block and a half away. As she approached the building, she could hear the robust singing with its full organ accompaniment (from as far as a block away!) So could the neighborhood. People walking by would slow down, looking in. Cars with rolled-down windows were also looking.

I had never considered this. The neighborhood HEARS us all summer as we “suffer in the heat.” They can hear that God means something to us. They hear us, and they want to see what all that noise is about. I have said it before and will continue to say it: our participation – our meaningful participation – gets noticed. And what it says gets noticed too: God really does mean something to us. Our songs are not just noise, they are expressions from deep within of what is most important to us. We should not sing just to get ourselves noticed, but we can enjoy the fact that God gets noticed in our song. And that is enticing. People want to look in. Those inside want to sing along.

Sing on!
- Cantor David Cherwien

Pastor Joseph Crippen’s Installation as Mount Olive’s Seventh Pastor
October 17, 2010 – Save the Date!

As most of you learned in last week’s ‘Twig’ Pastor Joseph Crippen has accepted the Solemn Call of Mount Olive Lutheran Church to be our next pastor. What an exciting, affirming, and busy time the next few weeks will be as we prepare for his arrival and installation. His last day at St. John’s is September 12, and he will take some time with his family before beginning his work among us on October 11. Please continue to remember him, his family, both congregations and their staffs in prayer during this time of transition and change.

The 8:00 service on October 17 will be Morning Prayer, so that Pastor Crippen’s installation during the 10:45 Eucharist may be emphasized. Glenndy Ose, Bishop Johnson’s associate for Stewardship and Rostered Ministries in the Minneapolis Area Synod of the ELCA, will be our guest preacher for this service and will conduct the Rite of Installation. The liturgy will be
followed by a welcome luncheon/reception for Pastor Crippen, his wife Mary, and their family—both immediate and extended. Mark this important date on your calendar and join us to warmly welcome the Crippens to Mount Olive. Additional details of the day’s activities will be published as they become available.

Getting to know our new Pastor and his family (and they, us) will be an important part of our shared experience in coming months. One of the first things we hope to have after the installation is an adult forum time to begin those conversations. In the meantime, I had a
more basic question: “What do we call him?” We have had a wide range of ‘pastor naming conventions,’ at least in my time at Mount Olive. I already knew that ‘Joe’ was a ‘no-go’. Mary, his best friends, and even his own mother call him ‘Joseph’, but I’ve never been able to call
my Pastor by only his first name. So I asked; and found that he has been ‘Pastor Crippen’ to most people at St. John’s, though ‘Pastor Joseph’ has also been uttered in informal conversations with no ill effects. Formally and in print, though, he is most comfortable with Pastor Crippen. Now I know--and so do you.

And I haven’t forgotten Elayne’s question about what he is reading…so stay tuned for this and more.


And Speaking of Transition—

Pastor Hollie and I have discussed and concluded that Sunday, September 26, 2010 will be her final day as our Interim Pastor. This will allow a couple Sunday’s before Pastor Crippen begins, which she felt is important. Please continue to remember Pastor Hollie and her family in your prayers as she concludes her work among us at Mount Olive and prepares to hand the mantel of
pastoral care to Pastor Crippen.

The Adult Forum time on September 26 will be a time for us to thank Pastor Hollie for her work among us during this interim, and the 10:45 liturgy will include our Farewell and Godspeed as she looks to the future and what God has in store for her next. Please join us for both.

Members in the News

From Bench & Bar of Minneapolis:
“The Hennepin County Bar Association recognizes two individuals each year - a judge and a lawyer – for their commitment to the highest of professional standards in the legal community. This year’s recipients are the Hon. Jay Quam, judge of the 4th Judicial District Court, and Gene H. Hennig. Judge Quam is currently the presiding judge in probate/mental health court. Hennig is a member of Gray Plant Mooty’s business advisory group.”
Congratulations, Gene!

Book Discussion

For its meeting on September 11, the Book Discussion group will discuss Troubles, by J.G. Farrell, and for the October 9 meeting they will read The Corrections, by Jonathan Franzen. All readers welcome!

Summer Worship Schedule to End Soon

Summer worship schedule ends on Labor Day weekend. Beginning Sunday, Sept. 12, we return to two services each Sunday, at 8 and 10:45 a.m.

On Sept. 12, Morning Prayer will be prayed at 8 a.m., with a single Eucharist at 10:45 a.m., in order that we may celebrate together the blessing of our newly renovated facilities.

Our regular worship schedule of two Sunday Eucharists resumes on Sunday, September 19.

Notes of Thanks

From the family of Harold Diersen: Thanks to the staff and musicians of Mount Olive for their
contributions to the funeral liturgy for Harold Diersen, and to the members and friends who have given gifts to the Mount Olive Foundation and to Music and Fine Arts in his memory.

From Anne & Warren Bartz: In our recently published note of thanks to those who came to help us clean out our basement, we inadvertently forgot to include Mark Spitzack, who organized the project. Thanks, Mark!

Highlights from the Vestry Meeting

The Vestry met on Monday, August 9, at 6 pm to spend a full hour on refining the church calendar through May of next year. It was confirmed that plans are underway for the
blessing of our newly-renovated parish house. A celebration will be held on September 12 during and after the 2nd liturgy. Worship and Congregational Life Committees are working together on the events of the day.

The Evangelism Committee will be looking into publishing a "Parish Events" sheet that may be
distributed to worshipers upon exiting the sanctuary after each service.

Staff members and directors gave their reports. Pastor Hollie introduced her Confirmation Handbook, which is designed using a three-year teaching cycle. Donna Neste noted that the Bible for Big Kids activity will no longer be on the calendar. Paul Sundquist discussed the Capital
Campaign and indicated that Art Halbardier is overseeing a renewed emphasis on campagin proceeds and pledges. Paul indicated that Capital Campaign giving has held up very nicely, compared to regular giving to the general fund. He also indicated that general giving continues to be disturbingly lower than last year. We are still paying our bills and have good cash flow, but we are not paying down our line of credit as quickly as we'd like to, and our deficit is widening.

The most notable directors' reports were from Properties and Stewardship this month. David Molvik shared plans for a rain garden that will be planted along the west side of the parking lot. This will be done for free by Metro Blooms in conjunction with the Powderhorn Park neighborhood, to help clean up the runoff water that empties into Powderhorn Lake. The Vestry approved this action and David will inform Metro Blooms to proceed. The kitchen renovation is going along as planned, and other than signage and furnishings, the upstairs project has been completed. David indicated that his committee will prepare and implement an updated preventative maintenance plan for building equipment. The building committee is considering
refurbishment of the Choir School room for the new Godly Play program; is performing various minor heating repairs; is making various lighting upgrades in the Nave and Narthex; and plans to upgrade the sound systems in the Nave and Undercroft. They are also considering reallocating space in the basement along with building cabinetry and remodeling other rooms on that floor.
Paul Odlaug reported that the Stewardship committee is revamping the Financial Secretary position and the counting procedures. He indicated that we are in dire need of an interim Financial Secretary to replace John Meyer, and that anyone interested in becoming a counter and/or joining the Stewardship Committee would be most welcome!

The Vestry went into Executive Session to prepare the Letter of Call and salary/benefits package for Pastor Crippen, drawing upon previous work done by the Salary Review Committee.
The next Vestry meeting will be September 13 at 7 pm. We will begin preparing next year's budget that evening and finalize it during the October meeting.

Cantorei is Open to You

We float the word "member" around the church - and sometimes it may send an incorrect message. It can sound like a club - either you're in (a member) or out. Not so with our worship, and also not so with our choir. Some basic information about Cantorei: It is really open to anyone, regardless of your age, musical ability (we can teach), your ability to attend every rehearsal or be here every Sunday. There are no auditions, we just hope for positive energy, and a love of singing. We rehearse each Wednesday from 7:00-8:45 pm. While it may seem cumbersome to commit to a weekday evening, folks who sing in Cantorei find this time to be refreshing, and actually energizing. As director, I work on not wasting time of those who come. We work hard. We learn good music and leave the so-so out of our folders. Liturgies in the choir loft are just as formal as the main floor. We do everything the main floor does except
kneel(since we have no kneelers). We can see and hear wonderfully. We can sing lustily. It doesn't feel like another room up there. Personally, I like the company.

On Sundays we generally sing in the 10:45 Eucharist, warming up in the choir room at 10:20 am.
It's also a kind of open-community within our community. We laugh a lot as we work. We get together socially. We try to be there for each other. As we work at our task, we get to know each other fairly well. I say "open" community, because often people sing with us just for a while - they come and go. Some of the singers have been singing for more years than they'd like to admit. Some are brand new to the whole idea. All are valued, appreciated, and contribute equally.

We won't ask you to be a "member" of the choir - but we do invite you to sing with us. As often as you can - or whenever you can. Try it for a short season, and see how it works for you.
We start on Wednesday, September 8, singing in the September 12 Eucharist. Just come. You can let me know you are coming, or simply show up. We'll hand you some music and join you in singing.
- Cantor David Cherwien

Mount Olive Music and Fine Arts Announces 2010-2011 Series

Brochures for the new series is in preparation, and will be mailed soon. Here is an advance notice of the events:

Sunday, October 3, 4:00 pm: Silent Movie with improvised organ accompaniment. John
Schwandt, Organist
Sunday, December 5, 4:00 pm: Advent Procession Service
Friday, January 7, 2011, 7:30 pm: Hymn Festival (Conference on Liturgy)
Sunday, February 13, 4:00 pm: Minnesota Boychoir
Sunday, March 13, 4:00 pm: Lent Procession Service
Sunday, May 15, 4:00 pm: WolfGang Chamber Music Concert
Sunday, June 5, 4:00 pm: Bach Cantata Vespers (as a part of Bach Tage 2011)

Upcoming Events – Heads Up!
  • September 4 – NO Community Meal this day, postponed to Sept. 11 (holiday weekend)
  • September 6– Labor Day; Church offices closed
  • September 12 – Blessing of newly-renovated Parish House. (Please note revised schedule for the day: Morning Prayer at 8 am, and Holy Eucharist at 10:45 am, with celebration luncheon following the liturgy.)
  • September 19, Noon – Opportunities for Service Brunch
  • September 26 – Farewell and Godspeed for Pastor Hollie (her last liturgy as Mount Olive’s interim pastor)
  • October 4, Feast of St. Francis of Assisi – Blessing of Animals at 7 pm
  • October 17 – Installation of Pastor Joseph Crippen (Please note revised schedule for this day also: Morning Prayer at 8 am, and Holy Eucharist at 10:45 am, with celebration luncheon following the liturgy.)
  • October 18, Feast of St. Luke – Holy Eucharist with Rite of Healing at Noon and 7 pm
  • October 24, 9:30 am – Semi-Annual Congregation Meeting
  • October 31, Reformation Day – Consecration Sunday

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Rev. Joseph Crippen to be the Next Pastor of Mount Olive

The Rev. Joseph G. Crippen has accepted the call to become pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church beginning October 11, 2010. Details on Pr. Crippen's installation as the parish's seventh pastor will be announced in the coming days.

For 14 years he has served St. John's Lutheran Church in Northfield, MN. In a letter to Mount Olive president Adam Krueger and the congregation's vestry and members, Pr. Crippen said, "I am deeply grateful for your confidence in extending me this call, and I ask God's grace and strength to serve you faithfully."

This Week's Liturgies

Sunday, August 22, 2010
Holy Eucharist, 9:30 a.m.
followed by Adult Forum

Sermon from August 15, 2010: Mary, Mother of Our Lord

“Mary: Mother and More”
Luke 1:46-55

A program we at Mount Olive offer neighborhood youth is something called Jobs After School, loving known as J.A.S. (pronounced jazz). You will see the Jobs After School in the weekly calendar of events printed in the bulletin. J.A.S. is a program that is offered after school during the school year and also in the summer. The kids do a variety of jobs and receive pay for their work. They pick up trash a long a couple of city streets, they clean the pews in the sanctuary, this summer they painted a mural (which you can see a picture of it on the Neighborhood ministries bulletin board). For a while our J.A.S. kids stuffed our Sunday bulletins until too many errors were found so they were given other duties.

This past week it was raining on Wednesday so the J.A.S. kids were working indoors. I was in the pastor’s office working on some things with the door open. And a group of four girls were walking down the hallway by the offices to get some supplies. One of the girls saw the sign “pastor” on the door and said “Pastor.” I thought someone was looking for me so I replied, “yes?” “Oh,” the girl giggled as she walked by. Then I heard the whispered tones and giggles that only teen girls can do. After a few minutes the group walked by the door again. This time the young girl whispered something then I heard “Pastor,” then she whispered something else. Donna was following behind the girls and said, “She is the pastor,” referring to me. Then the girls giggling turned to laughter, “SHE’S the pastor?” They thought it was the funniest thing they ever heard. The girls made three or four trips past my door and each time they giggled.

The girl who got the most giggles for this was a 13 or 14 year old Latina girl. Donna figured she must be Roman Catholic which would explain why a woman pastor seemed to tickle her funny bone.

I thought about how this young girl with a Roman Catholic background does not have it on her radar that a woman even could be a pastor because her tradition does not allow it. I wonder if one of the reasons the role of Mary is more highlighted in the Roman Catholic tradition is so that women have someone with whom they can identify in a male dominated hierarchy.

This giggly girl could not grasp the radicalism of a woman pastor. It was so far outside of the reach of possibility all she could do was giggle.

I wonder if that might have been Mary’s first response when the Angel Gabriel announced that she would be the mother of God’s son. Remember Mary is more than likely a 13 or 14 year old teen, like the giggly J.A.S. girl. Did she giggle when she heard the news? Did she giggle in that way only teen girls can giggle? I think she might have. But unlike the disbelief of the J.A.S. girl, Mary responded with flat out faith and receptivity to God.

It is difficult for us to know what to do with Mary the Mother of Our Lord. Do we venerate her like some in the Roman Catholic tradition? Do we see her as a prophet? For her words in the magnificat are words of a prophet. Do we see her as an apostle? After all she was called and sent out with a task to literally bear Jesus to the world. Do we see her as an Evangelist? For she speaks the word of God to the world. Or do we see her as a saint? A holy one who was receptive to the will of God, who lived a life of great faith.

She fits all of these roles, but she doesn’t.

As a mother she fits this role fully but do we only see her for her womb, do we relegate her to the role of “producing” the son of God and nothing else. Do we make her so holy that she, too, was conceived in her mother’s womb by another immaculate conception, which takes away the miracle of her belief and Jesus’ conception?

The thing about Mary is that we cannot make too much out of the mother of Jesus to the extent that we miss the more she has to offer. We need to look beyond the prescribed roles to her actions.

The richness of her very being, of her faith, of her part in the plan of God, of her part in the life of Jesus all adds to the wonder of Mary the person. This is the teen girl who not only gave birth to a divine being but raised him as any mother would. She fed him, changed his diaper, rocked him to sleep, and clothed him. This is not to venerate her more than any mother, or parent, who tends to these duties, but she is raising the son of God. What is it like to have divine in-laws? Sure she had Joseph’s family and her own to ground her but what about knowing that the baby’s real father is the creator of the universe. I mean that puts a different perspective on things.

What do we do with Mary, who is the mother of the Lord and a whole lot more?

What would it be like if we looked at her as a giggling teenage girl who is open and receptive to the wonders and mysteries of God? She says that God has looked at her low estate and chose her. She then glorifies God with her words and her life.

God regards the low estate of Mary. She, then, gives birth to Jesus, who enters our low estate and changes our lives and our world.

The life of faith is one in which we step out of prescribed roles and situations and let God work. It is scary and wondrous at the same time.

So we celebrate Mary as mother of our Lord and more.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Olive Branch: August 11, 2010

Accent on Worship
On August 15 we celebrate the Feast of Mary, Mother of our Lord. It may seem odd to have this festival in the middle of summer. We usually hear of Mary during the Advent and Christmas season. Although stores in London have started displaying their Christmas decorations already, to get a jump on the “shopping season,” it seems too soon to celebrate Christmas. To hear Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) at this time of year may be a bit disorientating. However, it serves as a way of hearing her words in a new way.

As we are in the middle of the Ordinary season in which the focus of our attention is on the church of Christ, what does it mean that God “has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant,” Mary? Or that God “has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts?” Or that God “has brought done the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly?” Or that God “has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty?”

These may be questions worth pondering as we prepare for the Feast of Mary.

- Pastor Hollie

Sunday Readings

August 15, 2010 – Mary, Mother of Our Lord
Isaiah 61:7-11 + Psalm 34:1-9
Galatians 4:4-7+ Luke 1:46-55

August 22, 2010 – Ordinary Time: Sunday 21
Isaiah 58:9b-14 + Psalm 103:1-8
Hebrews 12:18-29 + Luke 13:10-17

Mary, Mother of Our Lord
The Feast of Mary, Mother of Our Lord is this Sunday, August 15. Because it falls on a Sunday this year, it will be celebrated at our regular Sunday morning Eucharist. There will not be a separate service later in the day with Gethsemane Episcopal Church this year.

Mount Olive Congregation Votes to Call its Seventh Pastor
Led by the Holy Spirit, in a special meeting of the congregation on Sunday, August 8, the voters overwhelmingly approved a motion to extend a call to the Rev. Joseph Crippen of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, MN, to be the seventh Pastor of Mount Olive Lutheran Church. The voting was preceded by a question and answer session between voters and Call Committee, and followed by the singing of “The Church’s One Foundation” as the ballots were counted. When the results were announced there was great applause which continued as the Call Committee was thanked for their hard work that led to this point.

The official Call documents will now be reviewed by the Minneapolis Area Synod Bishop Craig Johnson, and forwarded to Pastor Crippen for his deliberation and decision.
Please keep Pastor Crippen, his family, and his congregation and staff in your prayers in the coming days and weeks, that God’s will may be discerned and done in this and in all things.

- Adam Krueger, Congregation President

About our Prayer List
We recently removed several names from our prayer list, because many have been on this list for a very long time, and we are unsure if they are still in need of our intercessions. If we have removed them prematurely, or if there are others whose names should be added to or removed from the list, please let us know.

Staff Changes
Please be aware that today (8/11/10) was Matthew Bell’s last day as Mount Olive’s Sexton. We wish him well in future endeavors.

The Properties Committee is assessing future needs and options for the Sexton position. If you have questions, please contact either David Molvik, Properties Director or Adam Krueger, Vestry President. Until a new Sexton has been hired, Andrew Andersen will cover some of the responsibilities on a part-time, volunteer basis as well as help coordinate other volunteers to see that the Sexton responsibilities are covered.

Mid-Year Financial Update
As of June 30, 2010, general giving year to date totals $217,745.00. This giving total is $16,631 less than the actual amount received last year for the same period. Our budgeted income for June 30, (what we planned on receiving and the amount approved during the budgeting process last fall), totals $287,900.00. Comparing actual income as of June 30 to budgeted income places us $70,000 behind - (I would like to note that the church’s operating expenses have been lower through June 30, which has lessened the impact of budgeted income being behind the planned amount).

Mid-year contribution statements are available to be picked up in the narthex at church. Please pick yours up and prayerfully consider Mount Olive as you review your statements and your giving plans for the remainder of the year.

- Paul Sundquist, Treasurer

Adult Education: August 15
This Sunday, the Feast of Mary, Mother of our Lord, Dwight Penas will lead a forum discussion entitled, “Mary: Model of Faith.”

Attention, Women!
Gail Nielsen cordially invites all women to her home for a Garden Luncheon on Wednesday, August 18, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Men are welcome, too! There is no charge for the luncheon, but a freewill offering will be received to help defray the cost of the food.

Please RSVP to Gail Nielsen if you are interested in coming, 612.825.9326 – feel free to leave a message.

Book Discussion’s Upcoming Reads
For its meeting on August 14, the Book Discussion Group will read and discuss, Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, by Mark Kurlansky. For the September 11 meeting it will be Troubles, by J.G. Farrell.

Wednesday, August 11
10:00 am Staff meeting
10:30 & 1 Summer J.A.S.
8:00 pm N.A.

Thursday, August 12
10 & 1 Summer J.A.S.
1:30 pm Meals on Wheels Board meeting

Friday, August 13
10 & 1 Summer J.A.S.

Saturday, August 14
9:00 am Men of Purpose
10:00 am Book Discussion Group

Sunday, August 15 – Mary, Mother of Our Lord
9:30 am Holy Eucharist, followed by fellowship & coffee
11:00 am Adult Education

Monday, August 16
10 & 1 Summer J.A.S.

Tuesday, August 17
10 & 1 Summer J.A.S.
12 & 1 pm Music Lessons (Mount Calvary Academy of Music)

Wednesday, August 18
10:00 am Staff meeting
10:30 & 1 Summer J.A.S.
3:30 pm MICAH meeting
8:00 pm N.A.

Thursday, August 19
10 & 1 Summer J.A.S.

Friday, August 20
10:00 am Summer J.A.S.
1:00 pm Summer J.A.S.

Saturday, August 21
9:00 am Men of Purpose

Sunday, August 22 – Ordinary Time: Sunday 21
9:30 am Holy Eucharist, followed by fellowship & coffee
11:00 am Adult Education

Monday, August 23
7:00 pm Worship Committee Meeting

Altar Guild Welcomes New Servers
Worship is central to our life together at Mount Olive, and throughout the year, dozens of people serve in a variety of capacities to prepare and lead our services. One group of volunteers, the Altar Guild, is eager to welcome new members.

Caring for the communion vessels, linens, and flowers can be a meaningful extension of worship and spiritually rewarding. Altar Guild work is also an efficient way to serve, because members are already at church for worship.

• Prepare the altar before worship service, or clean up and set up between services (when we have two), or clean up after worship.
• You may serve alone; with a spouse, partner, or friend; or with another Altar Guild member. (You choose.)
• Attend quarterly Altar Guild meetings, held between worship services the first Sundays in February, May, and November, and after worship the first Sunday in August.

Some Altar Guild members serve once a month, while others serve more often, even several Sundays in a row. Each person signs up for the time slot and number of Sundays that suit her or his schedule.

Experienced, patient Altar Guild members provide thorough training.
Contact: If you’re interested in serving, please send a note to Or stop in the working sacristy (through the front left door as you face the altar) before or after worship to talk with a current Altar Guild member.

METROLutheran Needs a Boost.
Mount Olive supports METROLutheran newspaper with an annual gift and shares its members, Ken Siess and Mike Edwins as members of the Board of Directors. Mike Sherer, former editor, was a member of Mount Olive. METROLutheran appreciates such faithful and generous support.

Because of the downturn in the economy, some of our advertisers have scaled back the size of their ads which has hurt our “ad income.” Gifts from congregations are also a bit behind previous years, perhaps also influenced by the downturn in the economy.

Our current income is about $6,000 behind expenses. If members of Mount Olive can make a special offering to METROLutheran at this time, it will help immensely. With the approval of the Mount Olive Vestry, envelopes for your use are available (outside the Church Office in its newly-remodeled location). Thank you for your generosity and continued faithful reading of METROLutheran.

Keeping it Beautiful
Many have commented on the beautiful flower beds around the church and how nice they are this year. Several people have helped with this! Thanks is extended to Carla Manuel and her family, Gary Pagel, Evy Essenwein, Connie Olson, and the Summer Jobs After School workers (and anyone else not known to us who have helped) for the loving care they have given in tending these gardens. The colors and textures have been beautiful and add so much to our corner of 31st and Chicago.

Church Library News
People have been asking, "What about the Louise Schroedel Memorial Library, will we still have it and where will it be located?" I appreciate your interest and want to bring you up to date with current happenings. As you may remember, the old library, which had been in the same corner of the education wing for over 40 years, was dismantled last September and packed into many, many boxes to be stored away in the church basement. Likewise, the bookshelves and other library furniture was stored in the back of the East Assembly room. These steps were taken because of the upcoming construction project and there is now a new set of bathrooms where the old library once resided, and the church offices are relocated to the north wall instead of the west wall. At the end of that north corridor is one more space that will be the new home of the Louise Schroedel Memorial Library. At this point, the shelving is not yet reattached and the difficult and formidable task of unpacking boxes and boxes of books and other media still lies ahead of us this fall.

It will take a little more effort on your part to come down that long hallway to make use of our old library's contents, but we urge you to remember that when it is ready to re-open, it will still hold our valuable reference, inspirational, devotional, social welfare and Church history materials and they will be there for your use and enlightenment.

I also wish to announce a new library ministry to be located in the hospitality area across from the Chapel Lounge. It will be named "The Crossroads: a Mini-Library," and it will be devoted to providing a mixture of media to all ages who come through that crossroads of hospitality and everyday life. Specifically, we are pleased to provide a new children's book browser bin, an adult reading area, two periodical racks, a book truck holding much of our video and CD collection, and hopefully a couple of shelving units (no funding for that so far, however) where we can display newer books and also some historical books that pertain to Mount Olive's 100th anniversary, celebrated in 2009. Watch for our opening sometime in mid-September. We hope this mini-library will be a pleasant space to visit, even briefly, while parents wait for their Sunday School children (or vice versa) and that it will beckon everyone to stop in to see what some of the colorful and changing displays may have to offer.

I also want to introduce you to Bonnie McLellan of our congregation, who has agreed to help me with the restoration of our church library ministry. Bonnie is a retired Dakota County librarian and we are pleased and grateful to have her expertise and willingness to be of service to our church in this special way!

Along with our other library committee members, we will need more volunteer help once these two library ministry spaces become active, but remember that we will need friends who have a definite commitment to help on a rotating schedule and a willingness to learn simple library procedures. If you have such an interest, please let me know.

"May the beauty of life surround you and bring you joy!"
- Leanna Kloempken

Membership Updates: Summer, 2010
Received into membership of transfer of Affirmation of Faith (August 1): Tom Olsen & Maury Anderson, Paul & Sharon Baglyos, Debra Bielke, Mark Ravndalen, Nathan Babcock & Donald Ogren, Matthew Tingler, and Randy Fritz.

Received into membership by Holy Baptism (July 11): William Robert Burns Spaulding, infant son of Stephen & Alicen Spaulding.

Funerals: (July 19) Harold Diersen; (August 11) Alma Erickson.

Transfers: Dustin Nelson, to Living Waters Lutheran Church, Lino Lakes, MN

Monday, August 9, 2010

This Week's Liturgies

Sunday, August 15: Mary, Mother of Our Lord
Holy Eucharist at 9:30 a.m.

Altar Guild Welcomes New Servers

Worship is central to our life together at Mount Olive, and throughout the year, dozens of people serve in a variety of capacities to prepare and lead our services. One group of volunteers, the Altar Guild, is eager to welcome new members.

Caring for the communion vessels, linens, and flowers can be a meaningful extension of worship and spiritually rewarding. Altar Guild work is also an efficient way to serve, because members are already at church for worship.

• Prepare the altar before worship service, or clean up and set up between services (when we have two), or clean up after worship.
• You may serve alone; with a spouse, partner, or friend; or with another Altar Guild member. (You choose.)
• Attend quarterly Altar Guild meetings, held between worship services the first Sundays in February, May, and November, and after worship the first Sunday in August.

Some Altar Guild members serve once a month, while others serve more often, even several Sundays in a row. Each person signs up for the time slot and number of Sundays that suit her or his schedule.

Experienced, patient Altar Guild members provide thorough training.

If you’re interested in serving, please send a note to Or stop in the working sacristy (through the front left door as you face the altar) before or after worship to talk with a current Altar Guild member.

Sermon from August 8, 2010

“By Faith? Abraham: A Case Study”

Abraham is a central figure in the scriptural witness. He is often lifted up as righteous and faithful to God outside the book of Genesis. For instance:

In Nehemiah 9:8 We hear that Abraham’s hear was faithful before the Lord God.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells a story about a rich man and Lazarus where Abraham is in a seat of honor. Lazarus, a poor man, dies and is taken by the angels to be with Abraham. But when the rich man dies he goes to a place of torment. The rich man sees Lazarus sitting next to Abraham and begins a dialog with him because apparently it is hot in the flames of Hades and he wants to save his brothers (Luke 16:19-31). Abraham becomes an authoritative voice on behalf of God.

The Apostle Paul lifts up the faith of Abraham in Romans 4:1-25, in which he quotes a first from our first reading today, “Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6), Paul also paraphrases this verse in Galatians 3:6 (this phrase is also found in James 2:23). Another passage in Galatians reads “those who believe are blessed with Abraham who believed” (Galatians 3:9).

The writer of Hebrews says of Abraham, “having patiently endured, obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15). In our second reading in a section about faith, there is a lengthy recitation of Abraham’s faith, By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to set out for a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; and he set out, not knowing where he was going. 9By faith he stayed for a time in the land he had been promised, as in a foreign land, living in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11By faith he received power of procreation, even though he was too old—and Sarah herself was barren—because he considered him faithful who had promised. 12Therefore from one person, and this one as good as dead, descendants were born, “as many as the stars of heaven and as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore” (Hebrews 11:8-12).

So who is this Abraham character? Who is this person who lives out the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Let’s turn to the scriptural narrative of Abraham, which takes a good portion of Genesis (Genesis 12-25), to see what the life of this faithful person looked like.

Let me first set the stage for this and quickly review Genesis 1-11. Right after creation it didn’t take humans long to want to forget the Creator and start out on their own. Adam and Eve are enticed not to trust God, and to be like God. Cain is jealous of and then murders his brother Abel. Then humans spiral down in wickedness so that God wants to start over, with Noah and his family. Not long after the flood the spiral starts with Noah’s sons and continues downward with the subsequent generations, then comes the building of the Tower of Babel when humankind wants to make their name great.

So, God tries again with Abram/Abraham, this time is going do something different. God makes three promises to Abram in Genesis 12: land (12:1), descendants (a great nation, 12:2), and that through him all the families of the earth will be blessed (12:3).

God has a lot at stake with this new plan, it rides on one guy and his wife, Sarai (who, we find out right before this promise in Genesis 11:30, is barren). Fairly soon after God makes these three promises, Abram does something that makes me wonder about Go’sd choice. There is a famine in the land so he and Sarai go to Egypt to ride it out. The first test of God’s promise to Abram plays out here. Because Sarai is beautiful Abram is certain that the Pharaoh will want her as a wife, and knowing that he is the dead weight that the Pharaoh could easily kill, he saves his own life by telling Sarai to lie to the Pharaoh. For a man who is known for his great faithfulness, he is not off to a good start.

God intervenes by afflicting the Pharaoh with plagues, it is the Pharaoh who figures out Abram lied, Abram did not confess it on his own. However God is faithful to the promise and Abram and Sarai are sent on their way without harm. Abram then settles in the land of Canaan where God renews again and expands on the promise of land and descendants (Genesis 13:14-17).

Time passes. After a battle scene in Genesis 14, where Abram is victorious, he receives a blessing from the priest and king Melchizedek. The king of Sodom wants to give him riches but Abram wisely obeys God’s commend not to take anything from him.

Next in Genesis 15 we have our first reading for today (Genesis 15:1-6). God comes to Abram in a vision and says, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” But Abram can’t see how, especially the part about having descendants. A few years have passed from when God landed the promise of descendants in his lap and Abram has yet to see that one come to fruition. He has had no children of his own in the intervening years all that he has in his possession is a slave who will become his legal heir. But God reiterates that he will have an heir, and he will have as many descendents at there are stars in the sky.

More time passes. Sarai his wife is still childless, now she is getting nervous that Abram has no heirs. So she offers her slave, Hagar, to him. Now does he resist and say that the Lord will provide? No, he listens to her and has a son with Hagar. It is only a matter of time before Sarai gets jealous of this relationship and makes life miserable for Hagar (Genesis 16:1-16). God will intervene here on behalf of Hagar and Ishmael. God will also promise many descendents to Hagar and Ishmael (Genesis 16:10).

Thirteen years later, when Abram is 99 years old, God appears to him again and renews the covenant of descendants, and gets a new name Abraham, from exalted ancestor to ancestor of a multitude. Sarai receives a new name, Sarah. It is interesting to note that God also has a new name “El Shaddai,” translated God Almighty, but literally it is “God of the mountains.” At this time God announces the birth of their son, Isaac, who will arrive in a year’s time (Genesis 17:1-27).

Fast forwarding through Abraham’s life he offers hospitality to three divine visitors by the oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1-15), he bargains with God for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:16-33), these are great and faithful acts. However we jump ahead to Genesis 20 and we find Abraham in another region with a King to whom he says, “She is my sister” (Genesis 20:2). Has he not learned anything? This didn’t work with the Pharaoh of Egypt, why does he think he can get away with it now? Once again God intervenes by going to King Abimelech in a dream by night and says to him, “You are about to die because of the woman whom you have taken; for she is a married woman” (Genesis 20:3). Once again God intervenes but the “faithful” Abraham does not confess his wrong doing.

Finally a son is born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age (Genesis 21:1-7). The promise is now realized after waiting many years. However when Isaac is a young boy, God commands Abraham to offer Isaac to God as a sacrifice. This is prefaced in scripture as a “test” but it is a cruel one, which Abraham does follow through to the point of binding his son and raising his knife. Then God intervenes and provides another sacrifice (Genesis 22:1-14). God speaks of the promise again to bless him, to make his offspring “as numerous as the stars of heaven,” and that the earth will be blessed because of him (Genesis 22:15-18).

The rest is history, Abraham’s descendents go on to become a multitude, out of his family come the twelve tribes of Israel, listed at his descendants are Moses, David, and Jesus.

Even though we may see Abraham’s faith as questionable at times, we see over and over again God’s faithfulness to the promises made to Abraham. The covenant God makes “has to do with the promises from God’s side. God will never annul or break the covenant. The language does not specify that Abraham must walk before God in order for God to keep the covenant” (Abraham: Trials of Family and Faith by Terence Fretheim, p.42). Scholar John Goldingay states: “Although the covenant involves a walk before Yhwh with integrity, evidently it is not exactly dependent on it. It issues solely from Yhwh’s desire to make it, and the same dynamic makes the covenant a permanency . . . When God makes a commitment, it stands . . . Neither divine fickleness nor human perversity can imperil the covenant” (as quoted in Fretheim, p.42).

Abraham did live by faith, sometimes he was more faithful than others. But God was always faithful. We have been blessed through him and Abraham’s faith does become an example for us. We too live by faith, sometimes we are more faithful than others. There are times when we are more trusting of God than others. There are times when are more trusting of God’s ways than others. There are times when we want to be faithful and/or trusting but struggle to follow through. However, God’s faithfulness endures forever.

Oh, the bravery of God in trusting humans! Mount Olive’s anniversary book, Faith of our Forbearers, is the story of Abraham and Sarah’s descendents in faith, and your forbearers, who are sometimes more faithful than others, sometimes more trusting that others. It, too, is a story of God working through human quirks and routines, through human weaknesses and strengths, through human successes and failures, to remind us all that God is faithful and God’s promises endure. There are chapters yet to be written, we do not know exactly what they will be but we do know that no matter what God will remain the author and director of our future.

Dear Friends in Christ, we live by faith and God’s faithfulness. By faith we step forward into this new chapter of our lives. Amen.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sermon from August 1, 2010

What is Deserved? What is Given?
Luke 12:13-21, Colossians 3:1-11

Prayer: God of All, you have blessed us richly with all things material and spiritual and yet these are not our own, but a gift of your grace. Give us the wisdom to use these gifts as instruments of your compassion and to your glory. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

Throughout the centuries, dividing an inheritance has been a sensitive issue. If you have even watched one of these events unfold you know what I mean. The subject of inheritance and who deserves what, or think they deserve, can truly bring out the worst in people. Quiet, gentle, loving people can be turned in to outspoken, harsh, and cruel people. It can be a time where people work out their long suppressed emotions or feelings.

In Jesus’ day it was not uncommon to take legal disputes to a Rabbi. So it is that in today’s gospel reading Jesus finds himself in a People’s Court like setting. Which might be called, “The Battle of the Brothers: Inheritance.” Plaintiff - younger brother, who says his older brother should divide the family inheritance with him. Defendant - older brother, who says he is the oldest and by rights he gets the inheritance. The younger brother wants Jesus to be Judge Marilyn Milian, and he wants Jesus to give him what he wants.

But Jesus did not come to divide but to reconcile. Jesus wants to bring people together. This young brother must learn that there is greater gain than getting an inheritance, and a greater loss than losing an inheritance. So instead getting in the middle of this dispute, Jesus gives him a warning about greed, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions” (Luke 12:15).

Then Jesus tells a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’” (Luke 12:16-17) He debates within himself. He doesn’t conclude he is rich enough and this is all extra. He does not thank God for the bountiful harvest, his only concern is how to preserve this all for himself. This does not really strike us as odd given our society. Once I was having a conversation with confirmation students. We were discussing how EVERYTHING we have is a gift from God and how in the Old Testament people gave back to God a tithe of everything - 10%, and it was given to God before doing anything else with it. The youth understood that everything we have is from God, but when I tried to move them to understand our response is to give back to God they had a fit, “it's MY money!” “I earned it!” “I deserve it!”

Unfortunately I think that is the basic understanding of our culture. It's mine, I earned it, and I deserve it. The truth is everything we have is a gift from God - even our money. However, we are use to people doing for themselves, taking all they can for themselves, this sounds normal to us. But in Jesus’ day, life was more communal in nature so for someone to have this attitude would have been shocking.

Having a communal understanding, that we are in this together, listen to the thought process of the rich man in Jesus’ parable: Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’” (Luke 12:18-19) I, I, I, my, my, my, this is all self centered talk. A young student was ask in school what parts of speech my and mine are. The child answered, “Aggressive pronouns.” The rich man in this parable was aggressively self-centered. He doesn’t need the community, “he can do it himself.” He thinks all his needs are met by this material surplus.

But quickly we learn not all his needs are met. “God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’” (Luke 12:20) The man lived alone and died alone. There was no one with whom to share his wealth. His security gave him no security. That which God gave him, his life, is now being taken away and he cannot do a thing about it.

The parable concludes with another warning: “So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” (Luke 12:21) God’s gifts are meant to be shared with others not kept only for one’s self.

Let us take a moment and emphasis what Jesus is NOT saying. Jesus is not saying that rich people should feel guilty about the fact that they have lots of money and property (assuming it is acquired honestly). Jesus is not saying that poor people or poverty guarantees greater spirituality. Jesus is speaking about greed and possessions. You see poor people can be greedy and possessive. It has been said, “When what you possess begins to possess you, then you are possessed.”

Is money good or evil? Some say money is the root of all evils, but is it not good or evil of itself. Money is neutral. It is neither good or evil, in and of itself. Obviously, if the dominant quest in life is to acquire more money to the exclusion of all else, it can be evil because it can close down your vision to other people/things that are really important to your life.

When I was growing up my family would make an annual trek to the Sherburne County Fair. One time when I was about eleven or twelve, I was walking around the fair grounds and happened to look down and find a five dollar bill. I was so excited I spent the rest of my time looking down on the ground for money and I missed fair.

The rich farmer was greedy, he got “caught up” in his possessions. He became possessed by his possessions. Possessions became the dominant quest of his life. He needed to learn that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. Sometimes this may happen to us too, we are so busy making a living that we forget to live.

Although we need some goods to sustain our life, more goods do not mean more life. Life comes to us from God, it is a gift which is given not earned or deserved.

Have you noticed that it is difficult to be a Christian in the world? There are difficult choices, challenging questions, and so much more than knowing the “right” answers. Our second reading from Colossians states the difficulty for us: “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory” (Colossians 3:1-4). What does it mean to be “hidden with Christ?” I take it to mean that when we were baptized, Christ Jesus washes away our old sinful nature and give us a new self, so that when God looks at us to condemn our sin, he only sees that Jesus has covered our sins with his life, death and love, we are hid in Christ Jesus love and grace.

The passage continue to talk about putting to death what is earthly (Colossians 3:5), getting rid of the life you once lived (Colossians 3:8), stripping off old practices (Colossians 3:9), and being clothed with a new self (Colossians 3:10). Who clothes us, it is Christ Jesus, who give us new life for death, and new way of living in the world. In our baptism something happens to us, we are changed, we are clothed with goodness. Even though we live in a sinful world and there is a lot “out there” and around us that would lead us astray. The One who gives us new life will continue to do so.

A great missionary doctor once told a group of young people, “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but I do know that the only ones among you who will truly be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Jesus lived a life of a servant to give you life out of death. Jesus loves you and welcomes you, even though you are a sinner.

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, God has blessed you richly with all things material and spiritual and yet these are not your own, but a gift of grace.

This Week's Liturgies

Sunday, August 8, 2010
Ordinary Time: Sunday 19
Holy Eucharist at 9:30 a.m.,
followed by Special Congregation Meeting in the nave.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Reconciling in ChristRIC

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