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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Olive Branch, 3/15/11

Accent on Worship

Second Sunday in Lent

We are saved by faith through the grace of Jesus and not by works. This is the fundamental teaching of Luther. Luther came to this conclusion through his extensive studies of the Old and New Testaments.

Paul, who interpreted the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus for new Christian congregations through his letters, came to the conclusion that we are saved by the gift of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and not by the keeping of the law.

Though these two theological teachings are basically the same, I like the word “law” as opposed to the word “works” because it may give Christians the idea that they have nothing to do but believe in God and certain aspects about God. Faith leads to works.

For instance, many Christians use the example of Abraham as the greatest model of our faith, whose call is read in the first reading (Genesis 12:1-4), and referred to by Paul in the second reading (Romans 4:1-5, 13-17) for the Second Sunday in Lent. Abraham not only believed in God, he believed God. He trusted that the unknown journey upon which God was to send him - away from his roots and everything he knew, fraught with danger and uncertainty - would gain God’s favor for himself, his family and all the families of the earth. God promised this to Abraham and Abraham believed God. However, Abraham certainly had to work and do some hard things. He also messed up a lot.

Abraham was saved by grace, because though he sinned (mostly by loosing his faith in God’s plan for his journey and trying to change it at times), he continued to believe in God and returned to trusting God’s plan.

It feels good to believe that we are saved if we believe in God and certain aspects about God. It is almost impossible to believe God if we do not have a relationship with God. It is impossible to believe God if we do not allow ourselves to be used by God. Like Abraham, to allow God to use us takes work.

Are we saved by works? No, we are saved by faith, in the trust we have by going forward with God’s plan and that takes work.

Are we called by God to earn our salvation by keeping the law? No, we are called to love, to maintain a loving relationship with God and our neighbor, which will lead us to keep the law of God and in most cases the laws of society.

Like Abraham, we will mess up, but through the grace of God in Jesus we are forgiven and we are saved.

- Donna Pususta Neste

Sunday Readings

March 20, 2011 – Second Sunday in Lent
Exodus 12:1-4a + Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17 + John 3:1-17

March 27, 2011 – Third Sunday in Lent
Exodus 17:1-7 + Psalm 95
Romans 5:1-11 + John 4:5-42

Sunday’s Adult Education: 9:30 a.m. in the Chapel Lounge

This Sunday, March 20: "The Spirituality of Taize," led by Dr. Dirk Lange. Dr. Lange is Associate Professor for Worship at Luther Seminary and is a former Taize monk.

Preaching this Sunday

Mount Olive welcomes the Rev. Dr. James Echols, president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, to the pulpit this Sunday, March 20. LSTC is one of eight seminaries of the ELCA. Dr. Echols is in town for an event with former Augustana Synod pastors.

Tuesday Noon Bible Study

All are invited to come to Mount Olive at noon on Tuesdays for lunch and Bible study with Sunday’s preacher. This informal study will look at the readings for the next Sunday and listen to where the Spirit guides the conversation. Beginning on Mar. 15, this study with Pr. Crippen will continue beyond Lent, and when Mount Olive has a Vicar, the Vicar will lead the study on weeks he or she is preaching. Bring a lunch to the west lounge at noon, and the group will finish by 1:00 p.m.

Help Us Solve a Mystery

A set of pottery communion vessels has been stored in the safe in the working sacristy for some years and its history has been lost. If you have any information regarding when it might have been obtained, by whom it was donated and in honor of what occasion or person, or for what occasions it might have been used, please contact the church office. We do know that it predates Pastor Wegener, so it is likely 25-30 years old.

“Lord, Teach Us to Pray”
Midweek Lent at Mount Olive

For the Wednesday Lenten services this year we will focus on the Lord’s Prayer, and what our Lord Jesus teaches us about our prayer life with God. The midweek schedule, March 16 through April 13, is Eucharist at 12:00 noon, followed by a soup lunch at 1:00 p.m. In the evening, there will be a soup supper at 6:00 p.m., and Evening Prayer at 7:00 p.m. The preaching at the noon Eucharist will be reflections on the Lord’s Prayer, and the same meditation will be shared during the evening soup supper, with opportunity for further conversation at the meal.

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month

The need this year is as great as ever, so we encourage you to be generous with your donations of money or non-perishable food items for our local food shelf during the month of March. This drive fills the shelves of 300 food shelves across the state of Minnesota.

Fifty percent of all food shelf recipients are children, twenty percent of all adult recipients are elderly, and sixty percent of all adults who use the food shelves are the working poor.

We especially encourage you to consider giving a financial contribution via your blue envelopes instead of groceries, noting that it is for the food shelf. For every ten dollars donated, food shelf workers can buy $40 worth of food through various purchasing resources not available to the general public. So monetary donations go much farther.

Field Trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts – This Sunday!

It's not too late to sign up for the trip to the Minneapolis Art Institute to see "The Mourners” exhibit. Contact the church office by phone or email ( or Lora Dundek ( Wednesday, March 16 if you'd like to go.

We need to let the MIA know how many of us will be touring. We'll leave from church at 12:30, stop for brunch, and then go to the museum.

For more information on the exhibit, check out the MIA's website at Please join us!

Book Discussion Group

For its meeting on April 9 the book group will discuss the poem Gilgamesh, and for the May 14 meeting, the essay collection Small Wonder by Barbara Kingsolver.
The Book Discussion group meets each month on the second Saturday, at 10:00 a.m. in the Chapel Lounge. All readers welcome!

Disaster Relief: Japan and Beyond

During a large disaster that requires significant amounts of money like the one in Japan, ELCA Disaster Response and other relief organizations often find it challenging to continue to provide strong support to other emergency situations. Recently, there have been many other natural disasters and political upheavals. Currently ELCA Disaster Response is also responding to recent emergencies in Libya, Egypt, and New Zealand, among other countries.

Congregation members can make checks out to Mount Olive and designate donations to Japan by writing “Japan” on their envelopes or on the memo line of their check. Mount Olive will send that money to ELCA Disaster Response specifically for emergency relief in Japan. Or if you choose, you can also simply write “ELCA International Response” on your envelope or check memo line, and we will designate this portion of donations to ELCA Disaster Relief’s International Fund to be used wherever it is currently needed most.

Any donation made by individual members to the emergency in Japan or to ELCA Disaster Response’s International Fund will be in addition to the regular congregational commitments to global missions.

Art display in the Chapel Lounge, April 1-30, 2011
Illustrations from the St. John’s Bible

In 1998, St. John’s Abbey and University commission- ed renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson to produce a hand-written, hand-illuminated Bible. The display will invite you to explore this work of art which unites an ancient Benedictine tradition with the technology and vision of today, illuminating the Word of God for a new millennium.

This exhibit is sponsored by Mount Olive Music and Fine Arts, and will be open to the public before and after all church services and events in April.

Journey Into Lent 2011

This Lenten devotional book is an invitation to step into the journey of Lent with intentionality and awareness by taking on a traditional Lenten discipline: fasting for the good of the body, prayer for the good of the spirit, acts of love for the good of the neighbor. Copies of this booklet are available in the narthex at church. If you prefer to read this devotional online, it is available as a weblog with daily posts at

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