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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Olive Branch, 12/5/2010

Accent on Worship
“High Church” or “Liturgical”?
This is a question that has been on the agenda for the Worship Committee for quite some time. I think of this question every Advent, Lent, - well, just about every season of the church-year. What does it mean to be a “Liturgical Community?” And what does that have to do with Advent?
Looking in from the outside, some may think that “liturgical” means that in our Sunday liturgies we put on a good show. Things are well-rehearsed, well executed, and quite poised and beautiful. People in front know the choreography – when and where to stand and move, what the appropriate gestures are, etc. Musicians are well rehearsed and know what to sing and how to sing it. These “high church” sorts of things are indeed important, but they are not the point.
To be “liturgical” is something different from that.

To be liturgical is to be called to an alternative 24/7 lifestyle. It is to live all of life as baptized children of God. This is already radically different from much of the world we live in. Sunday liturgies are not the only time we pray, read scripture, and focus on God. The liturgy is a time when we gather to do these things together. They are a culmination and starting point for our lives. We are compelled to gather regularly to remember and to be strengthened so that we can re-enter the world seeing it through a different lens and to know we’re not alone. During Advent, we can indeed live amid the societal commercial Christmas, but being liturgical means we can see things without being lured into lust for more. We can see our emptiness and need for God in the darkest time of the year, even in the midst of a season of complete excess and abundance. We can, however, celebrate the fact that for one stretch of time, the world feels generous. Let this be practice for the remaining 11 months of the year.

To be liturgical means we are called to stewardship. We don’t hoard anything while there are needs anywhere. We can let go of our grip on money and things because they are not the center of our being. God is. This really hit home last summer as I watched a house four doors south of the church go up in flames, consuming everything that family of four owned. Every dime I owned at that time felt extravagant to me. Being a liturgical people is what led us to help give them what they needed, and hopefully to learn more about what is truly “enough” for ourselves. Probably we could have done more for them. The irony is that even if they already had everything they truly needed – we are the ones who needed to learn to let go of what we had in order to help someone else.

To be liturgical means we are called to maturity. Many of us love to eat sweets. Mature people know that if that is all we eat we will not be healthy. Church fads come and go – especially those connected with worship practices. God is, and was, and ever shall be. Maturity stays focused on God of all time and space. We need to let go of self, and enter a frame of “us” that transcends our own tiny time and space – a frame that remembers where we’ve been (for thousands of years) and where we are going, making decisions as community that are wise and big-picture. What mature choices keep us healthy? We stay focused on God and on worshipping God rather than looking out the window obsessed with strategies for growing membership rolls. Stiff, inflexible, rarely changing museum liturgies? Not at all. Mature liturgies that are thoroughly thought through in a large context.

Most of all, as liturgical people we are called to observe full and conscious participation when we gather together for liturgy. Perhaps not unlike the way an actor or actress enters the role, becoming the person in the story, we enter a frame of mind in worship (and it is real, not acting) – providing a focus without distractions (hence, no announcements or other intrusions that divert our attention). You can witness this if you arrive before the prelude. It is quiet as people pray and direct their attention to what is to come. This is not snobbery, it is focus, and intensely meaningful.

The choreography is done because it all means something to us. We reverence the Altar because we acknowledge it as a symbol of the energy of an omnipresent God. We bow to the cross in reverence, acknowledging the presence of an omnipresent Risen Jesus Christ. We make the sign of the Cross as Baptized people of God.

To be liturgical is not about rubrics and “high church" ritual actions alone. It’s about life. Let us live Advent abundance as liturgical people of God.

- Cantor David Cherwien

Sunday’s Adult Forum, December 12
9:30 am in the Chapel Lounge
“The Infancy Narratives of the New Testament,” part two of a three-part series, led by Brad Holt.

Advent Evening Prayer
Wednesday evenings during Advent,
7:00 p.m.

2011 Conference on Liturgy
Mount Olive’s ninth annual Conference on Liturgy will be held on Saturday, January 8, 2011. The theme for this year’s Conference is, “Holy Death: The Parish and its Liturgy at the Time of Death.” Keynote speaker for the conference will be The Rev. Dr. Thomas Long.

A brochure was mailed to Mount Olive members and friends last week, and extra conference brochures are available at church. Cost for Mount Olive members to attend is $35/person. Please share this brochure widely with all of your friends who may be interested.

The Wish List
The Mount Olive Wish List is up and running and we’ve had several donations come in. Please consider donating even just a single item on the Wish List. Banner stands, Godly Play items, and furnishings are on the list. An updated list of needed items is posted in the church office next to the coffee sign up sheet.

If you would like to donate an item or items from the list, please sign the chart posted in the church office. Indicate which item/items you wish to donate and put your name and contact number beside the item you are donating. You will be contacted about total cost and how to pay. Your donation will be reflected on your giving statement for tax purposes.
–Brian Jacobs, Vice President

Hanging the Greens
Part of our Advent preparation at Mount Olive is to gather following the second liturgy on the Fourth Sunday of Advent to hang garlands and wreaths in the nave. This year, the date is Sunday, December 19. Please plan to stay and join in this task on that Sunday, beginning at about noon. You will experience good fellowship as we prepare to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.

New members are especially invited to participate.

Book Discussion Group News
For their meeting on December 11, the Book Discussion group will discuss Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh. For January they will read Saint Maybe by Anne Tyler. Please note that the date for the January meeting has not been firmed up yet due to the annual Conference on Liturgy, which is scheduled for January 8. Please watch for updated information about the date of Book Discussion group’s January meeting.

Book Discussion regularly meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel Lounge, and is always happy to welcome new readers!

Alternative Gift-Giving
Are you looking for something different to do this year for Christmas gifts? For the person who has everything, give a gift that will help people around the world who have very little.

The Missions Committee is promoting the idea of alternative gift giving this Christmas. For example, you can “buy” a sheep for your aunt who taught you how to knit. A struggling family would receive the sheep enabling them to increase their income and your aunt would receive a card acknowledging this gift. We have catalogues from different charitable organizations that you can use or you can order from the organizations’ websites. Some of these organizations are:
- Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
- Lutheran World Relief
- Heifer Project International
- Common Hope
- Bethania Kids

Fair Trade Craft Sale
The Missions Committee is hosting a Fair Trade Craft Sale on the first three Sundays in December. Purchase beautiful and unique Fair Trade items handmade by disadvantaged artisans in developing regions. With each purchase, you help artisans maintain steady work and a sustainable income so they can provide for their families. Lutheran World Relief partners with SERRV, a nonprofit Fair Trade organization, to bring you the LWR Handcraft Project.

The crafts will be available for purchase between services on December 12 and 19 (cash and check only). Fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate from Equal Exchange will also be available. This is not a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to buy good products which benefit a good cause.

Attention Meals on Wheels Volunteers!
South Minneapolis Meals on Wheels has scheduled Mount Olive’s volunteers to deliver meals during the week of December 27-31. Gary Flatgard will call our regular volunteers sometime after December 13 to schedule our drivers/deliverers for service.

Please try to adjust your holiday schedule to make room to deliver Meals on Wheels during that busy week!

Mount Olive in Nigeria
As Pastor Crippen listed my name for prayer in the Sunday bulletin, I want to thank all of you who turned your thoughts to God for me during my recent trip to Nigeria. I went with some anxiety, but returned happy and thankful.

There is now a physical gift from Mount Olive in the sanctuary of the LCCN Cathedral in Jimeta. Thanks to Kate Sterner, I took a remnant of last year's pascal candle and presented it to the Pastor Boniface on the Sunday when i preached in this 1500-seat church in the capital of Adamawa State. I would like to see our congregation make more continuing connections with the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria. Two years ago our theme for the Global Missions "Taste of" event was Nigeria; there are now three doctoral students at Luther Seminary from this church. The LCCN has over a million members and over 500 pastors.

My main purpose in going was to teach about "Spirit-Led Leadership" both at Bronnum Lutheran Seminary and at a special seminar for pastors whose theological training was in English. I experienced great joy in teaching spiritual practices and heard many expressions of thanks. There was an indication that they might invite me back next year.

I have written a more detailed account of my twenty days, along with my reflections on the meaning of the journey. If you would like a copy, with a few photos, please write to me at
- Brad Holt

Thank You From India With Love
The following greetings were received from our recent Bethania Kids co-workers in India, Godfrey Henry Immanuel Rajkumar and Paramadass:

A hearty "Thank You" to everyone, who hosted us and took care of us with lots of love. Love flowed everywhere! The American hospitality that was extended to us was amazing. The different kinds of food were delicious and we enjoyed every bit of it.
The people that God led us to meet were breathtaking, and I pray that God may bless each and every one of them with peace, joy, prosperity, and good health. I also pray that if anyone in their family has not come in contact with Christ, may they accept Christ.
Thank you for all that you do in support of Bethania Kids. What you have done for these little ones, you have done it for Christ.
May God bless you,

Glory to God!
First of all, I thank almighty God for His unique plan to accomplish His mission through Bethania Kids.
This tour has been a great opportunity to share about our life-changing activities, which are going on in India.
I thank you for partnering, hosting, and for your hospitality.
Yours in Christ,

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