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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Olive Branch, 12/12/11

Accent on Worship

Pregnant Waiting

Mary was pregnant during three Christmases. (That would be my Mary, my wife, not Mary the mother of Jesus!) Hannah was six months along at the Christmas of 1988. And Peter was nine-plus months along at the Christmas of 1996, born on Dec. 30 that year. (Rachel was one month along in 1993, so not very obvious.) Being Joseph and Mary, we got our share of ribbing, especially during Hannah’s pregnancy – the first-born child, Mary great with child at Christmas, you know the routine!

This year during Advent we spend a little time with the other Mary, the more famous one, this coming Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Advent. We will once again sing her song, the Magnificat, and hear the promise of the angel Gabriel to her that she will bear God’s Son to the world. As it turns out, pregnancy is a very helpful image for not only the coming of God into the world in person, but also the whole way God intends to save the world in Jesus.

Think about human gestation for a moment. Nine months of waiting for a birth, and then we still really don’t know what this life will be in the world. There’s joy at all the stages, including the nine months. But the birth doesn’t instantly answer everything. As I have watched and helped our children grow, every day is a new day of discovery, of vision of what they will become, of living with who they are. I have no doubt that they are gifts of God and through them God will do good things in the world. But what that will fully look like will not be known for a very long time. Now, as with each of us for that matter, all we see are glimpses of the impact each of us makes.
And so it is with God’s coming. It’s not only significant that God chose to come as a helpless infant, risking everything on human kindness and compassion, and on the idea that someone would care for this baby until he grew up. It’s deeper than that. God’s salvation of the world in Jesus is very much like a pregnancy, birth, and growing up: we know that Jesus is the life of the world, but we’re still waiting to see the fullness of that reality, the completion of that gift. Mary’s song speaks of God transforming the world order, casting down the proud, feeding the hungry, changing everything. And as in pregnancy and childhood, we’ve passed a lot of stages in this plan of God in Jesus, but there’s still more to come, more to see, more to have done. In part because it’s God’s chosen way not to come in power but to come among us and to effect this salvation from the ground up. But also in part because God is also doing this salvation in and through us, and that takes time. Lifetimes of time, lifetimes of love and grace, lifetimes of working for justice and peace on God’s behalf. For 2,000 years of lifetimes God’s been doing this, and now through us. We cannot see the full picture, only glimpses. But the glimpses are what gives us hope.

And so we wait, now. We wait for the fulfilling of God’s promise of life for the world. But we wait with hope, because even now we see the fulfilling happening, bit by bit, person by person. We wait with hope because we know that the baby born to that Mary long ago did marvelous things, defeating even the power of death. And we wait with hope because that child, that Son of God, now calls us to be a part of God’s plan of transforming.

Come, Lord Jesus! Continue to live in us, and strengthen us to act while we wait, until you return!
- Joseph

Sunday Readings

December 18, 2011 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16 + Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55
2 Romans 16:25-27 + Luke 1:26-38

December 25, 2011 – Christmas Day
Isaiah 52:7-10 + Psalm 97
Titus 3:4-7 + Luke 2:1-20

Wednesdays During Advent
Evening Prayer - 7:00 pm
(November 30 - December 21)

This Week’s Adult Education

Sunday, December 18
“Hymns of Justice for Advent,” presented by The Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer, from Luther Seminary.

Hanging the Greens

Part of our Christmas 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 and narthex. This year the date is Sunday, December 18. Please plan to stay and help on that Sunday, beginning at about noon. You will experience good fellowship as we prepare to commemorate the birth of Jesus, the Messiah.

Sunday, December 25, 2011 (Christmas Day)
and Sunday, January 1, 2012 (The Name of Jesus)

Mount Olive will celebrate a single liturgy on each of these Sunday mornings, at 10:00 a.m.

Fair Trade Craft Sale – One More Week

Plan to do some of your Christmas shopping at the Missions Committee 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 works in partnership with SERRV, a nonprofit Fair Trade organization, to bring you the LWR Handcraft Project.

The crafts will be available for purchase after both services for two more weeks, December 11 and 18 (cash and check only). Fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate from Equal Exchange will also be available. Check out the attachment/insert for additional gift items for sale.
This is not a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to buy good products for a good cause.

Matthew Tingler to Be Ordained Dec. 18

Matthew Tingler has received a call to serve as pastor at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Nashua, New Hampshire. All are cordially invited to attend his ordination on Sunday, Dec. 18, 4:00 p.m. at Mount Olive.

Rostered leaders are invited to process. The color for this liturgy is red.

Knitters and Crocheters Wanted!

Do you love to knit or crochet? Then your talents are needed!

The Minnesota Council of Churches has a program that provides hats, mittens, scarves, socks and other winter wear to new immigrants who come to be resettled in Minnesota. Many immigrants arrive with nothing but the clothes they were wearing when they left the refugee camps, and those are often in warmer climates. Case workers often meet them at the airport with coats, hats, mittens and other warm gear!

We are collecting donations of hand-knit or crocheted hats, scarves, mittens, and socks for this effort - all sizes are needed! If you like to do yarn work and are able to make a winter thing or two to donate to this effort, simply bring your items to the church office before the end of the year. We have already filled one box and have a second box started!

If your December is too busy to give extra time to this particular effort, we will start another push for knits after the first of the year.
If you have any questions about this project or if you are in need of supplies or patterns, please contact either Kate Sterner ( or Cha Posz (, or at the church office, M-F, 612-827-5919).

Our Saviour’s Needs

Our Saviour's Lutheran Church on Chicago Avenue (up the street toward downtown from Mount Olive) serves the homeless by providing emergency shelter, transitional housing, and a permanent supportive housing program, serving over 650 people annually. They are asking us to partner with them in this ministry.

Although the pre-holiday time is short, we are confident that Mount Olive members will, with their usual generosity, provide some of the needs of the people Our Saviour's serves. Some of these needs are:

 General needs: laundry and dish soap, underwear, linens and pillows, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, microwaves, vacuums, fans, and kitchen items. Some gently used items are also welcome, contact Our Saviour's for details.

 Financial donations are needed to help provide staffing, warm and comfortable facilities, and year-round service to those experiencing homelessness.

 Gift cards: These give residents the dignity of choosing their own purchases. Most needed are Target, grocery stores and Metro Transit.

 Day Planners are crucial to the residents' ability to keep their commitments and gain independence.

For details, contact Colleen O'Connor Toberman at 612-872-4193 X25 or

Please bring your donations to Mount Olive and place them in the designated receptacle. Gift cards should be taken to the office for security.

Your participation in and support for this ministry is sure to be greatly appreciated.

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