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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Olive Branch, 7/25/11

Accent on Worship

Of Parables and Metaphor

Each of the three years of the Revised Common Lectionary uses Gospels primarily taken from one of the synoptic Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John is interspersed throughout the three years at various times and places. We currently are in the year of Matthew, and given that Matthew includes a number of Jesus’ parables, we’re also in a year where we encounter many parables in our Gospel readings. We’ve just finished a run of several weeks’ worth of parables. There are more to come.

Now, we know that Jesus spoke in parables. He also acted them out, lived them in how he related to people and even as he did miracles. And we know that often his listeners didn’t understand what he was about. This can be our problem, too. Most of Jesus’ parables included in the Gospels – there are around 40, depending on how you count – are familiar to us, we’ve heard them often. Some of us since our early days of childhood. We like to think we understand them. But mostly, we don’t.

There’s an odd thing Jesus says about his parables in Matthew 13. He refers to the prophet Isaiah and says, “The reason I speak to them in parables is that ‘seeing they do not perceive, and hearing they do not listen, nor do they understand.’” (Matt. 13:13) I don’t think Jesus is being prescriptive here, but descriptive of our reality. We simply have difficulty understanding what Jesus came to teach us, and he’s aware of that. With his parables, he tries to help us see what he is teaching in different ways.

You see, we typically expect certain things of God. And we’re often wrong. Jesus uses parables to help us see the strangeness of God’s reign, the way of God which is not what we expect or sometimes even desire. So when we listen to Jesus’ parables it would be wise to be open to that surprise. To be ready to have Jesus turn our expectations upside down.

In this, Jesus’ parables are more metaphor than allegory. Even though there are a handful which the Gospels end up explaining in straight allegory (e.g., “the one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom”), most times we shouldn’t expect to understand Jesus’ parables that way. Most times he simply lifts up a metaphor in all its potential richness and says, “look at this. Do you see how that is? That’s what God’s reign is about.” And in most of these parables, as we live with them and let the image simply move in our minds and hearts, we find the sense of what Jesus is saying far more multifaceted and rich than simply “this is what this parable means.”

So enjoy Jesus’ stories as we move through the season of Ordinary Time. Let the Holy Spirit open the eyes of your heart and mind to dwell in the images he shows, and lead you to a deeper understanding of God’s way of life. After all, that’s why he told these stories in the first place.

- Joseph

Sunday Readings

July 31, 2011 – Ordinary Time: Sunday 18

Isaiah 55:1-5 + Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
Romans 9:1-5 + Matthew 14:13-21

August 7, 2011 – Ordinary Time: Sunday 19
I Kings 19:9-18 + Psalm 85:8-13
Romans 10:5-15 + Matthew 14:22-33

Mary, Mother of Our Lord
Monday, August 15, 2011
Holy Eucharist at 7:00 p.m.

Attention, Women!
Gail Nielsen cordially invites all w
omen to her home for a Garden Luncheon on Wednesday, August 17, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Men are welcome, too! There is no charge for the luncheon, but a freewill offering will be received to help defray the cost of the food.

Please RSVP to Gail Nielsen if you are interested in coming, 612.825.9326 – feel free to leave a message.

Seminar at Sea

Please join Pastor Joseph and Mary Crippen for a Seminar at Sea, sailing in the beautiful Caribbean Sea for 7 days. Pr. Crippen will provide three lectures on “Jesus, the Rapture, and the End Times,” and participants will have a short reading list in preparation. Departure date is January 28, 2012. Inside cabin prices from $699, balcony cabin prices from $1099 - taxes and airfare additional.

For full information and details, call Tom Olsen at 952-929-9781, or speak with him at church.

Thank You to the Heat Hosts

Last Monday morning Donna received a flurry of emails that began with Dwight Penas' suggestion that Mount Olive open its doors for people needing a break from the heat during last week’s heat wave. Cha put out an email request for volunteers to host this venture, and Donna created a schedule of two hour shifts that would run from eight in the morning to seven in the evening. The staff decided not to wait for volunteers but to open on Monday, since at least one staff member would be available throughout the day. A sign was posted on the door inviting people in for the cool air, a drink and a snack.

Unfortunately, there were few takers and the volunteers were the only ones enjoying the cool air. But everyone felt this was a wonderful idea and suspected the reason so few darkened our door was because no one knew about our offer unless they were walking by. There are few people on the street when the temperature is in the 90s and the dew points are pushing 80. By the end of the day on Wednesday, with the knowledge of the temperature and dew point dropping, the Thursday volunteers were contacted and told that they did not have to come in.

This is an idea that should not be abandoned. It was suggested that an announcement be made at the MONAC Community Meals that when the temperatures are hot, Mount Olive will be open during the day for people to come and enjoy the cool air. If we have other weeks of hot weather another request can be sent and calls made to all people who have offered or who came in and sat this past week. If it is just a day of heat, the staff can still graciously invite people in who need relief.

Thanks to all the “heat hosts” who so graciously gave of their time: Adam Krueger, Donn & Bonnie McLellan, Katherine Hanson, Art & Elaine Habardier, Dan & Marcia Burrow, Judy Graves, and Wes Huisinga.

Thanks also to all those who were scheduled, but did not get a chance to host: Gail Nielsen, Neil Hering, Jo Sorenson, John Crippen, Kathy Thurston, Dan Adams, and Judy Hinck.

Farewell Open House

Lutheran Social Services’ President and CEO Mark Peterson, is retiring. All are invited to come and celebrate Mark's 25 years of service to LSS. A brief program will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

The Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 10, from 5-7 pm at The Center for Changing Lives, 2400 Park Avenue in Minneapolis. For additional information, please contact Lolyann Connor at 651.969.2273 or

Beyond Peacocks and PaisleysTextile Exhibition

Please join us after worship on Sunday, August 28, 2011 for a visit to the Goldstein Museum. Mount Olive member Don Johnson has collected textiles from the Indian subcontinent (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan) for 50 years and a selection of pieces from his collection forms the exhibit "Beyond Peacocks & Paisleys: Handmade Textiles of India and its Neighbors."

Don will be available to give tours of the exhibit elaborating on the pieces displayed. His collection is fascinating. We will depart after the service on Sunday and have lunch at India Palace in Roseville before proceeding to the Goldstein Museum to view the exhibit.

If you would like to attend, please let Carol Peterson or the church office know by Sunday, August 21 so we can get an accurate count of who would be attending and details to you of event logistics.

Repairer of the Breach
(Isaiah 58:9-13)

The prophet Isaiah names us as the “Repairer of the Breach” - that great chasm between God and Creation. We are the repairer of the breach when we “offer food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted.”

MONAC is working to repair that breach in many ways. One way brings opportunity for small business development to artists living in poverty by setting up an art shop in the Midtown Global Market. Mount Olive’s deepest values lead us to a life that places love, generosity, social justice, thanksgiving, and joy at the center of our lives – that center where we can repair the breach – that center where we love God and love neighbor.

MONAC has committed Mount Olive to assist artists in poverty to set up shop so that work is restored as a way out of poverty, so that assets are built, and communities are revitalized through person-to-person support imbedded within A Minnesota Without Poverty.

On Sunday, July 31, some of the artists will be at the Adult Forum following worship so that we as a congregation can talk about our work with them at our neighbor, the Midtown Global Market. Come to this Forum that we all might work together as a way to repair the breach - for all our sakes.

Book Discussion Group News

For its meeting on August 13, The Book Discussion group will read A Bed of Red Flowers, by Nelofer Pazira.For the meeting on September 10, they will read Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison.

Church Library News

As you know, the grand opening and blessing of the newly-restored Louise Schroedel Memorial Library was held Sunday, June 26. It was a pleasure to greet so many congregation members who came back to visit our library that Sunday and those thereafter. We were especially happy to hear such comments about our library as "bright", "pleasant" and "inviting."

We hope many of you who did not have the opportunity to visit the library earlier will make a point to do so soon and those who did come to have a quick look at our new space will come back soon to spend more time investigating what's there that could be appealing and helpful to each of you.

There are also some "freebies" left over from the grand opening, i.e. scratch-‘n-sniff bookmarks (gingerbread and watermelon) and library inscribed pencils, which remain from another library anniversary. Another little surprise, which the children may especially enjoy, is that there are now two library mascots who have taken up residence in our library. Look for them soon -- their names are Olive and Oliver! (Thanks to Dan Olson for his creativity).

Please remember that our library still contains a receptacle for Stamps for Missions. Special thanks goes to Marcia Burow who has faithfully and periodically sent our cancelled stamps to benefit Bethel in Bielefeld, Germany. This takes so little time for us to do and it is so helpful to the Bethel residents.

In an effort to acquaint you further with the volunteers who have been or will be taking rotating duty at the library's check-out desk on Sundays (besides myself) is Dan Olson, Mabel Jackson, Donna Wolsted, Nancy Flatgard and Brooke Roegge. As we continue toward an even busier schedule in the fall, we could use more helpers, but especially need someone who would take seriously the responsibility and the importance of the church library ministry. Speak to me if you have an interest in the above possibility.

This spring a mailing from the Library Foundation of Hennepin County featured a timely slogan worthy of our consideration as well. "Knowledge is free at the library. Bring your own container!"

- Leanna Kloempken

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