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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Olive Branch, 12/5/11

Accent on Worship

I once heard the comment: “Do Lutherans believe they have the only true faith?” The answer: “Yes. But they also know they are not the only ones who have it.” Then there’s the Monty Python show where someone proclaimed to a large group: “You are all individuals!” To which one lone voice said “I am not!”

There’s the temptation for us to try to change everyone else into being like us; to believing in God the way we do, even understanding God the way we do. And we also think we need to be all that is of the world that we’re not – in hopes of them “connecting” with us.

There has been the suggestion by the church culture of the past 20 years or so, that the church’s liturgy and song tradition is incapable of connecting with those who are “in and of the secular culture.” That growth would happen through adopting a commercialist approach to music and liturgy. Through music, we can attract people who can then hear the Gospel. Any collective memory of meaningful song (which spans more than 2,000+ years) is abandoned – whether it is of a collective memory of the whole people of God, or of any given specific community of faith. So the church becomes like a commercial chain: the same anywhere you go. In this model, there is a huge emphasis on the smile and rhetoric cleverness of the pastor, and the beat of the musician. You just have to pick which retailer of God’s love fits your taste.

At the same time, some communities of faith can presume that their understanding, interpretation, their embodiment of liturgy and its music is THE correct and only true one. This is equally troublesome. What is “catchy” is seeing any group of people do something they are passionate about. Young people like what someone enthusiastically shares with them. The older we get, the more important memory is. What people connect with and meaningfully do and sing is going to look and sound different from place to place, based on who they are, who has taught them what, and the resulting span of its memory banks.

It’s less important what style or how a community embodies its liturgy. It is the meaningful participation that’s “catchy”. In this model, the emphasis is placed on the people in the pews, and the clarity and certainty with which they place the God they are worshipping above all things in life.

Here’s my take. It’s rather simple, and inspired by Dwight Penas’ excellent adult forum conversations the past three weeks.

1. The Liturgy and music we do here is meaningful, and perhaps unique. It may or may not be what is done anywhere else, but it IS done here and done to the best of our ability. It has no agenda other than to praise God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, and to rehearse who we are for when we continue “service” to the world. And we do this together. Our songs are drawn from a large memory bank which spans thousands of years, and is continually growing.

2. Jesus’ command is simple. “Feed my lambs.” Some talk about our neighborhood as if the assumption is that in order to connect with them they need to become members and worship God with us. But Jesus said what we need to do is tend to their needs. To me it’s less about having them come to us and more about us living with them. Appreciating who they are, AND appreciating who WE are, sharing what is needed with each other. It is this work for which the liturgy prepares us. Without it, is what we do in the liturgy truthful? So it’s not as much about having the neighborhood in our liturgy (although certainly possible), but about the liturgy sending us to be of the neighborhood.

3. We ARE different from much of the world. We actually celebrate Advent, and not Christmas, until Dec 24. This is so even if we are surrounded with Christmas, and some of us hosting “Christmas Festivals” outside Mount Olive’s walls (!!!). The world will understand the Nativity as it does – we can be who we are without expecting the world to agree with us. At least they’re aware of the concept of the season! We choose not to turn our liturgy into the Tonight Show at 8 and 10:45 am. It’s the people’s participation that points to the central things.

Let’s be bold. Blessed blue.

- Cantor David Cherwien

Sunday Readings

December 11, 2011 – Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11 + Psalm 126
I Thessalonians 5:16-24 1:3-9 + John 1:6-8, 19-28

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

This Week’s Adult Education

Sunday, December 11
“An Introduction to the Gospel of Mark,” presented by Brad Holt

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

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.

Book Discussion Group

For their December 10 meeting, the Book Discussion group will discuss German Boy: A Child in War, by Wolfgang W. E. Samuel. For their meeting on January 21 (the third Saturday due to the annual Conference on Liturgy), they will discuss William Faulkner's A Light in August.

Fair Trade Craft Sale

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.

2012 Conference on Liturgy: Liturgy Shapes

This year’s Conference on Liturgy, “Liturgy Shapes,” will be held here at Mount Olive on January 13-14, 2012 (one week later than usual). This conference will address the ways in which our liturgical practices shape our ideas about God, our ways of reading the Bible, our experiences of community, our understanding of the world, and our response to our neighbor’s needs. We are delighted to welcome The Rev. Dr. Gordon Lathrop back as our keynote speaker for this conference. Workshop sessions will be led by Senator John Marty, Pastor Joseph Crippen, and Susan Cherwien. The conference brochure is attached to this week’s Olive Branch email, and additional copies of the brochure and registration are available at church or by following the link on the homepage of Mount Olive’s website:

Cost for Mount Olive members is $35 per person.

Alternative Gift Giving

Are you looking for something different to do this year for Christmas gifts? Take part in a growing tradition by giving gifts that help those in need. The Missions Committee is promoting the idea of alternative gift giving this Christmas. For example, for $15 you can “buy” a school uniform in honor of a loved one for a student in India so that the student can attend school. 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 Int’l (
- Common Hope (
- Bethania Kids (

Attention, Worship Assistants!

Is your server’s alb looking a bit tired? Soiled? In need of a minor repair or two? If so, Carol Austermann can help! Please give her a call if her services are needed, 612-722-5123.

Gloria: And on Earth, Peace
National Lutheran Choir Christmas Festival

In a world troubled with strife, the angels sing the song "Gloria" announcing the birth of the one who brings what we still need today: peace. In the beautiful ambience of the Basilica of Saint Mary in Minneapolis, the Christmas Festival creates a journey - musically and for the listener and literally for the choir itself as it moves all around these spaces. All three local performances held at the Basilica of Saint Mary, 88 N 17th Street, Minneapolis, MN.

4:30 pm Friday, December 9
8:00 pm Friday, December 9
8:00 pm Saturday, December 10

For tickets, please call the National Lutheran Choir office at 612.722.2301, or visit them on the web at Tickets will also be available at the door.

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 already have a 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).

Church Library News

The newest display in our church library calls attention to some good reading for men and here are just a few examples:

Fifty to Forever - The complete sourcebook for living an active, involved and fulfilling second half of life -- for you and for those you love by Hugh Downs.
The Last Hero: Charles A. Lindbergh, by Walter S. Ross
Time Out! A Men's Devotional, compiled by Clint and Mary Beckwith
Third Base Is My Home, by Brooks Robinson and Jack Tobin
Empty Sleeves, by Phillip Rushing
All the Master’s Men: Patterns for Modern Discipleship, by Kendrick Strong
Andrew, You Died Too Soon: A Family Experience of Grieving and Living Again, by Corrine Chilstrom (from a family well-known to our Mount Olive congregation)
Staubach: First Down, Lifetime to Go, by Roger Staubach, Sam Blair and Bob St. John
Johann Sebastian Bach, translated by Hannedieter Wohlfarth (a student of Bach)
Paul, the Teacher: A Resource for Teachers in the Church, by Kent L. Johnson.

Our library is decorated for Advent and we are pulling more Advent and Christmas books all the time. Please stop back soon to spend some time finding something on display or in the shelves that may be just what you have been seeking. Again, remember the two passageways from the East Assembly Room and the distance will not seem so far away.

In closing, I share an interesting quote from Lord Byron: "I do not know that I am happiest when alone, but this I am sure of, that I never am long in the society even of her I love, without a yearning for the company of my lamp and my utterly confused and tumbled-over library."

- Leanna Kloempken

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 Savior'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 Savior'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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