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Monday, November 1, 2010

The Olive Branch: November 1, 2010

Accent on Worship

Revelation describes the great gathering of saints around the throne of Christ, the Lamb who was slain. One of the elders standing nearby casually asks the writer of Revelation, “Who are these folks, all robed in white, singing their heads off – who are they?”

The New Testament calls them hagioi – “holy ones.” Who are they? Do they include our departed loved ones and friends? The stillborn baby? The victims of war or disaster?

And what of ourselves? Will we someday be among these whom God so loves that he personally wipes the tears of suffering from their eyes?

If you exercise the Google search engine just a little, quite a few thoughts about saints pop up. For example: “A saint is a dead sinner, revised and edited by surviving relatives and friends.” (Ambrose Bierce) "Saints are figures out of the Christian past whose lives have been insufficiently researched." (Thomas Long)

They reflect the operative notions in a lot of what is said about saints, that a saint is, a) someone perceived as not quite like you and me, and b) dead.

By contrast, St. Paul referred in his epistles to the “saints” of Corinth and Thessalonica, shortly before lambasting them about their current behavior which was falling quite short of God’s expectations of hagioi, These saints were quite alive, even if all was not well with their behavior. And, at least in terms of goodness or character, these saints of the New Testament appear to be little different from you or me. For our behavior, sadly, also quite frequently falls short.

Former ELCA Bishop H. George Anderson in a famous speech given at Luther College listed “his saints,” those unforgettable individuals who had inspired and motivated him. He referred to a certain Sunday School teacher, a Luther League counselor, the owner of his neighborhood hardware store. Bishop Anderson called these his “saints” – because, by word or example they had shaped his faith and values.

Bp. Anderson’s comments reflect what theologian Nathan Soderblom once wrote, “A saint is someone who makes it easier for us to believe in God.” And, they reflect what Revelation tells us is the “bottom line” qualification for sainthood: “Saint” is not the result of one’s deeds or spiritual character. Dead, alive, young, old, rich, poor - saints “… are those who have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

Soren Kierkegard wrote, “God created us out of nothing. Wonderful, you say. But, God does what is still more wonderful: God makes saints out of sinners.”

A saint bears all the warts, scars, faults, and questionable motives any of us is liable to carry, but is deemed holy by God as a result of reaching out in faith to grasp the forgiveness won by our Lord Jesus. And by the grace of God becomes the one who helps another believe in God. Perhaps there is hope even for me?

In our columbarium, this year we have placed the remains of saints – some famous and known by many, others just simple folk known to only a few. But, each of their lives has shaped the life of some others. Blessed are they.

But blessed also are we. For we are still living, equally touched by God’s grace, with lives still full of opportunities to be transformed by that grace. And, perhaps, by our example some other person may be encouraged to believe in God. Blessed are we… for that opportunity…most of all.

- Art Halbardier

Sunday Readings

November 7, 2010 – All Saints Sunday
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18 + Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23+ Luke 6:20-31

November 14, 2010 – Ordinary Time: Sunday 33
Malachi 4:1-2a + Psalm 98
2 Thessalonians 3:6-13 + Luke 21:5-19

Consecration Sunday Set for Nov. 14

Consecration Sunday, the day members of Mount Olive pledge their intentions for giving in 2011, will be Sunday, Nov. 14. This is a date change from the October calendar, so please take note. At worship that day members of Mount Olive will be invited to offer pledge cards declaring their intent for giving to the ministry God has called us to do together. (These pledge cards and current third quarter contribution statements were mailed to each household last week.) Then, on Christ the King Sunday, Nov. 21, we will focus on opportunities for service in the ministries of Mount Olive, and host a celebratory meal following the second liturgy.

As we end the Church Year, we will commit ourselves in these two weeks to the work that God has placed before us here, and all members are invited to participate in these events.

Sunday’s Adult Forum, November 7 - A Coffee Tasting!

You are invited to a Lutheran World Relief Fair Trade coffee tasting on Sunday, November 7, during the Education Hour between worship services. Featuring four different coffees from LWR’s Fair Trade partner, Equal Exchange, (plus cocoa, tea and other goodies!) the tasting will give you the opportunity to vote on your favorites, to buy some to take home, win prizes, and find out more about how Fair Trade is making a difference.

With each purchase, you help farmers earn more for their coffee, gain access to credit, and fund much needed projects in their communities.

From India With Love

Did you know that your financial offerings support poor, orphaned and disabled children in South India? For over 20 years, a portion of Mount Olive's mission budget has been dedicated to Bethania Kids. Bethania's Board Members and Advisory Board members personally pay for all administrative costs, including the ministry's website, postage, travel, video production, public relations materials, newsletters, and salaries, so Mount Olive's dollars directly provide basic care, immunizations, education, and housing.

On Sunday, November 14, two of our partners in service will be visiting Mount Olive to meet and celebrate with us and to give a report about their work. It is also Consecration Sunday. Please do the following: 1) pray that God will bless Godfrey, Paramadass and all that they do together with us for the sake of the Gospel and for the welfare of children, 2) pledge your intentions for financial giving in 2011, 3) come to the adult forum at 9:30 a.m. to hear about the children whom your giving supports, and 4) stay for a "Biryani and Bethania" Indian meal after the second liturgy, celebrating India and the gifts these men bring to this project.

Gene Hennig, a founding member of Bethania, Mark Spitzack, who visited Bethania Kids projects in 2009, and Paul Schadewald and the Missions Committee are helping to coordinate these events. RSVPs for the meal are welcomed but not required. A freewill offering will help to cover the cost of the food. "Rise and take your treasure, yours in fullest measure. Sing, for love has found you; joy is all around you. Praise God from whom all blessings flow." (from a popular Indian hymn)

Volunteer Help Needed!

Donna Neste is currently in need of a volunteer or two to help transport groceries to the local food shelf. Thanks to generous worshippers our grocery shelves are full, and with the annual collection of non-perishable food items at the Thanksgiving Eucharist coming up there is simply no space to store more groceries!

If you are a strong, able-bodied person with a truck, van, or SUV and a willing heart, please call Donna at church (612.827.5919). This is a task she cannot do on her own.

The Lutheran Magazine Subscription Renewal Request

Each month, the households of Mount Olive Lutheran Church receive The Lutheran magazine as part of our congregational life budget. As an official publication of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, The Lutheran is an important communication tool. It enables us, as individuals and a congregation, to be aware of events, celebrations, and needs of the Church beyond Mount Olive and the greater Twin Cities metro. At the same time, it was apparent from discussion at the October Congregation Meeting that people get their news of the ELCA and the church-at-large from many sources and that not everyone necessarily wishes to receive a copy.

In an effort to be the best stewards of the gifts of God’s people, a motion was made, seconded and passed to ask members and friends of Mount Olive who wish to continue receiving The Lutheran magazine to contact the church office. We are very happy to continue to provide this excellent publication to those who enjoy and benefit from it. Similarly, if we can redirect funds for subscriptions that would go unread to other ministry needs, that also is a good thing.

If you wish to continue receiving The Lutheran magazine, please call (612) 827-5919 or email ( and let Cha know by December 1, 2010.

Christmas Plant Sale

The annual Youth Christmas Plant sale will take place November 1-28 2010 this year. Order forms will be available at church. Please pick up a form, place your order, and leave the completed forms in the Youth mailbox in the church office.

The pick up date for Christmas plants is Sunday, December 5.

You're Invited

All are invited to attend the November Every Church a Peace Church meeting on Monday, November 8. The meeting begins with a potluck supper at 6:30 PM, followed by a program beginning at 7. This month’s program is "Peacemaker's Predicament: Opposing War while Affirming Warriors," presented by Bishop Lowell Erdahl, Bishop Emeritus of the St. Paul Synod, ELCA.

The meeting will be held at St. Michael's Lutheran Church, 1600 W. County Road B, Roseville, MN (south of Hwy. #36 and west of Snelling Ave).

First Sunday Collection - This Sunday, November 7

Please remember our monthly ingathering of non-perishable food items and travel-sized toiletries and personal items! These items are collected on the first Sunday of each month and distributed to those in our area who need them. Donations may be brought to the receptacles in the coat room at church. Be generous!

Book Discussion Group

For their meeting on November 13, the Book Discussion Group will read, The Red and the Black, by Stendhal, and for December 11, Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. This group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 am in the Chapel Lounge. All readers are welcome!

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