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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Olive Branch: December 13, 2010

Accent on Worship
What we do in our liturgy is deeply counter-cultural. We gather most often on Sunday mornings, when those who are not working that day tend to sleep in. We use words and music that are ancient and new, we gather not to be entertained but because we believe the God who made all things comes to us in grace and life when we do. Preachers also ought always to be aware how counter-cultural it is to be given 15 minutes of undivided attention each week in a world which can barely hold its attention for 15 seconds.
Advent may be one of the most counter-cultural things we do. Waiting, anticipating, patiently watching for God’s blessing to blossom in the world – this is not the way of the world. We live in an instant gratification culture, where people loudly declare what they want and then expect someone to provide it. Our culture lacks the patience to work through the ills of society in a wise and careful and fruitful way, preferring short term answers which may or may not be good for the long term. We live in a culture which teaches us to embrace our entitlement instead of our responsibility.
I have a good friend who is a very good pastor. He serves in a place where the tradition has been that for the four weeks of Advent there is no preaching. Each week a different musical group presents the Christmas story in word and song at the place of the preaching. There are likely many there who think this is a good thing, and I assume that it has been a blessing in that place. But I wish they were more willing to try Advent. We need Advent to keep us grounded in God’s reality instead of the world’s view of reality. Because in Advent we are reminded not only of the deep need for hope we have, but also the necessity of patience. A good lesson for our world. In Advent we are reminded not only of God’s promise to restore all things but also our call to be a part of that restoration. A good lesson for all of us, certainly. In Advent we stand as aware as we ever do of our being in the world but not of it, for as all are relentlessly celebrating Christmas we are reminded by God of what it is to truly watch and pray, wait and hope, and in the meantime do the work to which we are called.
We have one more Sunday of Advent, and then five more days after that before we celebrate our Lord’s Nativity once again. Thank God for that. Thank God for the gift of the Church which in wisdom set aside this time so that each year we have the chance to refocus and be still and therefore open to God’s coming into the world and into our lives. May we each find a way to bring this Advent peace and patience, hoping and praying into the world in which we live as a witness to the God who is making all things new. Perhaps our waiting and watchfulness might help others find the same peace and call to work with God in that restoration.

- Joseph

Sunday’s Adult Forum, December 19
9:30 am in the Chapel Lounge
“The Infancy Narratives of the New Testament,” led by Augsburg College Professor and Mount Olive member, Brad Holt.

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

Sunday Readings
December 19, 2010 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 7:10-16 + Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Romans 1:1-7 + Matthew 1:18-25

December 26, 2010 – First Sunday of Christmas
Isaiah 63:7-9 + Psalm 148
Hebrews 2:10-18+ Matthew 2:13-23

Hanging the Greens – This Sunday!
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 this 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.

Christmas Day Carry-In Breakfast
We will gather in the East Assembly Room on Christmas Day at 9 a.m., just before our Christmas Day liturgy, for a light and cheerful breakfast. By the way, bring some breakfast! Coffee will be provided.

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

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 this week 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!

Prayer Office of Compline to be Offered at Mount Olive January 16 - April 17
The Minnesota Compline Choir and Mount Olive will partner to offer the liturgy of Compline on Sunday evenings at 8:30 pm during the seasons of Epiphany and Lent of 2011. The first service will be Sunday evening January 16 (The Second Sunday after Epiphany) and the last one will be Sunday, April 17 (Passion Sunday).
The Minnesota Compline Choir formed under the direction of Charles A. Parsons at Central Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota where it kept the office of Compline from 1992 to 2005. The Choir had been resident at Hamline United Methodist Church in St. Paul, Minnesota from October 2005 through January 2010 and is now in search for a new permanent residence.
Mr. Parsons retired from the Choir at the end of the 2008-2009 Season. James Biery directed the choir during the 2009-2010 Season and is succeeded by Erick Lichte.
The choir is comprised of 18 male voices, selected by audition from a wide variety of congregations and denominations. They meet weekly to prepare for each service, and on other occasions for performances at special holiday services.
In worship, the choir assists with the liturgy, hymns and psalms, as well as offering anthems. Currently the Choir can be found at Assumption Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota Sunday evenings at 8:30 pm through December 19, 2010. All are welcome!

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 – One More Week
One Sunday remains of the Missions Committee’s Fair Trade Craft Sale. 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 for one more Sunday, December 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.

Christmas Gifts to Our Saviour’s Housing
Our Saviour's Lutheran Church has recently notified us of some giving opportunities to help to meet the needs of people in their shelter. Our Saviour's Housing serves over 650 people annually with emergency shelter, transitional housing, and permanent supportive housing.
Although the time is short, Mount Olive Neighborhood Action Committee (MONAC) is certain that Mount Olive members will respond generously to their needs.
Some suggested items:
  • Warm holiday kits with winter essentials a hat, gloves, socks, treats, and $5 Target gift cards.
  • Day planners to help residents keep their commitments and gain independence.
  • Home Care Baskets containing cleaning supplies to help residents care for their new apartments.
  • Gift cards (Target, Metro Transit, Grocery stores)
  • Financial donations. (Please make checks payable to Mount Olive, but be sure to designate the gift for "Our Saviour's Lutheran Church." You may also use your blue missions contribution envelope, and indicate Our Saviour's Housing" as the beneficiary of your donation.)
A box to receive donations of the above items will be placed in the East Assembly Room.
For more information contact Colleen O'Connor Toberman at 612-872-4193, extension 25, via email to

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