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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Olive Branch, 1/31/2011

Accent on Worship

“Groundhogs – Candles – and Jesus?”

This Wednesday, February 2, as any child can tell you, is Groundhog Day, and if the rodent in question sees his (or her?) shadow today there will be six more weeks of winter. Yet if you come to Mount Olive Wednesday night (come at 7:00 p.m.!), you will participate in a celebration of the Eucharist, and will celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord. And if you come, you will notice that at the beginning of the liturgy we will carry candles and ask God to bless them, and all the candles we will use in worship this year, as a sign of the light of Christ to the nations for the next year. That’s a lot of freight to be carried by this little day in a short month.
As it turns out, they’re all related, and somehow make sense together. The Presentation is the last festival of the year to be marked by the date of Christmas – Luke tells us that Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the Temple 40 days after his birth. This was to fulfill Mary’s purification obligations. When they were there they met two venerable saints, Simeon and Anna, who both proclaimed the identity of this new child. Simeon declares in the beautiful song we have been singing at the close of our liturgy throughout Epiphany that Jesus is God’s salvation, and a light to the nations. Because of this image from Simeon’s song, for centuries the festival of Presentation has also been called Candlemas, a day when we light candles as a sign of that light to the nations. The tradition is also long-standing from several cultures to bless the candles for use in worship the next year, and for people to bring candles from home to be blessed that they might shine in their homes throughout the year as a sign of Christ’s light. So all who come to Eucharist on Wednesday are invited to bring a candle from home for blessing as well!
That explains everything, I think. Oh, except for the large rodent and the weather. Right. Well, here’s the interesting thing. Six weeks from Feb. 2 is Mar. 16, which before the Gregorian reform of the calendar was the spring equinox. After the reform, the spring equinox has been Mar. 21. Some argue that this confusion of dates led to a folk tradition of discerning when spring would truly come each year, hence the need for predictions. Whether that is the reason or not, what is clear is that the tradition predates groundhogs and is definitely tied to the Christian festival of Presentation. There is some evidence that in northern Europe other animals are a part of the prediction – I’ve read of bears, badgers, hedgehogs. But the key element seems to be whether it is sunny on the feast of the Presentation or not. Germans in Pennsylvania apparently adopted the groundhog as a predictor when bears or hedgehogs weren’t readily seen.
Now you know, as they say, the rest of the story. But as I am writing this we are in the midst of yet another snowstorm and I have a hard time imagining that spring will ever come. So you’ll forgive me if I’ll ignore the groundhog this time around. Instead I’ll take the time Wednesday to receive the Lord’s Meal and to celebrate the witness of Simeon and Anna that Jesus is the light of God’s salvation in our lives and in the world. I’ll light candles to remember that God’s light in fact is spreading in the darkness and it cannot be overcome. That in the Temple of the Lord, the Lord God of all is come in the form of this little baby, and brought life to us all, to the world. The true Spring is coming which brings life even to death. So even if life seems often wintry, and death in command, we give thanks that God is making all things new.
Come, and worship this Light Wednesday – and bring a candle!

Pastor Crippen

The Presentation of Our Lord
Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011
Holy Eucharist at 7:00 p.m.
Bring a candle for blessing to remind you of the light of Christ during this coming year.

Sunday Readings

February 6, 2011 – Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
Isaiah 58:1-12 + Psalm 112:1-9
I Corinthians 2:1-12 + Matthew 5:13-20

February 13, 2011 – Sixth Sunday after Epiphany
Deuteronomy 30:15-20 + Psalm 119:1-8
I Corinthians 3:1-9+ Matthew 5:21-37

Please note!

There will be no Compline this Sunday, Feb. 6. Compline will resume on Sunday, February 13.

Sign Up for Altar Flowers
The Altar Flowers Chart for 2011 is now posted in the church office. If you would like to sign up to provide flowers for worship to commemorate a special day, in memory of a loved one, in honor of a special event, or simply to help beautify our sanctuary for worship, please sign up on the chart for the date you want, and be sure to include your designation. The cost of the altar flowers this year is $45 a Sunday for two bouquets. You may sign up to purchase both bouquets by signing on both lines, or purchase just one bouquet by signing on only one line.
And while you are signing up for Altar Flowers, you may also wish to sign up to host a Sunday coffee hour. The coffee hour sign-up sheet is right next to the Altar Flowers chart, in the church office.

Bridging the Gap – An Update!
About 10 days ago, you received a colorful piece in your mail with information regarding the Mount Olive Capital Appeal. The first Sunday after the mailing went out, already a half-dozen responses came in. These folks wanted to be sure to take advantage of the $25,000 dollar-for-dollar match that is available!
If we can meet the goal of this appeal and pay off our construction loan early, Mount Olive will avoid about $30,000 in interest on that loan. That’s an incentive! Freeing ourselves of a building debt is vital for our congregation at this time.
You may return your response either by mail, or by placing it in the offering basket on Sundays.
Some, who were not members of Mount Olive in 2008, missed the opportunity to participate. Others were not in a position at the time to make a commitment. And some of those who have may be willing to do just a little more, or extend their current pledge.
We all are enjoying the renovated spaces now. Let us all prayerfully consider how we can respond. Together, we can meet the challenge to wrap up 2011 free of debt, and ready to move forward.

Sox Box
Word has come to MONAC from Our Savior's Homeless Program, that there is a great need for socks for those who are homeless. In response, Mount Olive folks are asked to donate socks which will contribute to the warmth of those people who are much exposed to the elements. Any and all sizes are needed.
Please bring your donations to Mount Olive and find the “Sox Box” in the East Assembly Room to receive them. Your generous response is anticipated and appreciated.

Upcoming Music & Fine Arts Events
February 1-28, 2011: Art display: Serigraphs of John August Swanson (postponed from 2010 due to construction)
John August Swanson paints in oil, watercolor, acrylic and mixed media, and is an independent printmaker of limited edition serigraphs, lithographs and etchings. He addresses himself to human values, cultural roots, and his quest for self-discovery through visual images. John August Swanson’s work will be on display for an entire month, open before and after the February 13 MFA event, as well as on Sundays and other days of a church function.

Sunday, February 13, 2011, 4:00 pm: Minnesota Boychoir, Mark Johnson, Conductor
The Minnesota Boy Choir makes a return to Mount Olive for this mid-winter concert. Internationally renowned, the Minnesota Boychoir is the oldest continuously operating boy choir in the Twin Cities area, tracing its roots back over forty years. Join us for a concert of diverse repertoire. A reception will follow the concert.

Guidelines for Management of the Newly-Renovated Spaces
The Vestry recently approved new guidelines for using and furnishing the new spaces in the buildings. Last week's Olive Branch included guidelines on the use of the new spaces, In order to protect the integrity and "look" of the new spaces, the following was also approved:
Furnishings for the Parish House rooms will follow, to the extent possible, the color schemes, wood finishes and furniture choices designed by the Furnishings subcommittee, which was commissioned by the Building Committee during the building project.
Furniture, lighting, carpet, window coverings and surface treatments will be commercial grade if at all possible.
Donations of furnishings to the spaces will be made only with the approval of the Property committee or Vestry and must be approved before such donations are brought to the church. Donations made without this approval may be disposed of or donated elsewhere.

Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads
For its meeting on February 12 the book group will discuss Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, and for the March 12 meeting, The River of Doubt by Candice Millard.

Upcoming Adult Forums
Feb. 6 Pr. Crippen (Part II): Spiritual Formation: Worship
Feb. 13 A forum on ministry to the Latino community
Feb 20 Pr.Crippen (Part IV): Spiritual Formation: Solvitur ambulando
Feb. 27 Prof. Dr. Lois Farag (Luther Seminary Professor who is a Coptic Nun): Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

Mar. 6 Rabbi Earl Schwartz on Interpreting the Psalms
Mar. 13 To Be Announced
Mar. 20 Prof. Dr. Dirk Lange (Professor of Liturgy at Luther Seminary who was once a monk at Taize): The Spirituality of Taize (Part I)
Mar. 27 Prof. Dr. Dirk Lange (Part II)

Apr. 3 The Saint John’s Bible: What It Is and How It Came to Be
Apr. 10 To Be announced
Apr. 17 Palm/Passion Sunday: Offering of Letters for Bread for the World
Apr. 24 Easter Day: No Adult Forum

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