Accent on Worship
“Rise Up, and Follow”
“They set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy.” Matthew 2:9-10
My grandma used to have a Christmas album, an LP (what we used to have before CDs, for you younger folk) by the Harry Simeone Chorale. Harry Simeone is most famous for “The Little Drummer Boy,” and that was a song on this album. But the one I loved to hear all the time was an arrangement of the spiritual “Rise Up, Shepherd, and Follow.” I’ve never heard a better one – it was simple, with a deep bass singing the opening call. Beautiful arrangement.
And what was so compelling for me was the invitation – “There’s a star in the east on Christmas morn; rise up, shepherd, and follow! It will lead to the place where the Savior’s born; rise up, shepherd, and follow!” “Rise up, shepherd, and follow!” This simple spiritual gives the angel’s invitation as if to all of us – go, get up, see what God has done! Now, to be fair, the spiritual conflates two of the stories of Jesus’ birth. There’s no Biblical record that the shepherds saw the star in the East; it was the wise men, the Magi, who followed the star. But the point is the same. (And the shepherds did get up at the angel’s invitation and go to Bethlehem themselves.) As we enter the season of Epiphany this Friday, Jan. 6, the season begun by a celebration of the star-followers who found the infant Jesus, we hear the same invitation both shepherds and Magi heard: rise up, follow!
As it turns out, Epiphany, the season of light, is also a season of invitations to follow. We hear stories in our Sunday worship of Jesus calling disciples at the beginning of his ministry. We celebrate God’s light in the world, and are invited to follow the light, not the darkness. God is saying to us, follow my light, come see what I’ve done for the world in my Son, and then go and tell others. The spiritual says, “leave your ewes and leave your lambs,” and the first disciples were called to leave parts of their lives as well. And so are we. We’re called to follow our Lord’s light, and leave behind the things that would hold us back. This is a hard thing, but it’s a call that points to the light we desperately need in the darkness of our world.
So rise up, look to the East, and find the star God has placed before us, the light of Christ in the world. And then follow! It will lead to light in darkness, life in the midst of death, and joy in the depths of our world. May we, like Magi and shepherds, find our Lord and then tell the world.
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. We hope 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 email@example.com 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.
Book Discussion Group
For it's meeting on January 21 (postponed one week this month due to the annual Conference on Liturgy), the Book Discussion Group we will read William Faulkner's A Light in August. And for the February 11 meeting the selection will be Native Son, by Richard Wright.
Tenth Annual Conference on Liturgy
January 13-14, 2012
The conference begins Friday evening, January 13, at 7:30 p.m. with a hymn festival, “Liturgy Shapes.” Leadership will be provided by Mount Olive Cantor David Cherwien, The National Lutheran Choir, and author and poet, Susan Palo Cherwien.
On Saturday, hear keynote speaker Gordon Lathrop discuss how liturgy shapes our believing and how liturgy shapes our sending. Participants will be invited to choose from four workshops which will explore this topic further. Senator John Marty will lead a workshop on the ways in which liturgy influences our public lives. Susan Palo Cherwien will offer a session on worship and language. Joseph Crippen, pastor of Mount Olive, will offer a presentation on children and the liturgy. The fourth session is continued conversation with Gordon Lathrop.
The day will open with Morning Prayer at 9:00 a.m. and close with Evening Prayer at 4:00 p.m. Gordon Lathrop will be the guest preacher on Sunday, January 15.
Cost for Mount Olive members is $35/person.
Adult Forum Topics for January
Jan. 8 Dwight Penas will lead a presentation on the Baptism of JesusJan. 15 Art Halbardier will lead a presentation on Development of the Nicene CreedJan. 22 & 29: Susan Cherwien will offer a 2-part series on Hymns and Worship.
A Familiar Story
One cool, quiet night, many, many years ago, in Bethlehem, a baby boy was born in a stable, kept warm by animals living there.
The mother, Mary, held the baby in her loving arms, as Joseph proudly gazed at his beautiful son.
Mary had a dream previously and God told her, “His name will be called Jesus. He is my Son in whom I am well pleased.” A
ngels appeared in the sky to shepherds in the fields tending their flocks, saying, “Do not be afraid. Go and see the miraculous baby born in a stable, The large star you see in the sky will guide you.”
The huge chorus of angels went away singing, “He will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace.”
The large star the angels sang of was so brilliant in the sky that many countries away, wisemen were curious about this new star. They mounted their camels and followed where the huge star led them.
Their journey was long, eventually bringing them to the manger in Bethlehem, where they saw Mary, Joseph, and the new baby, Jesus.
They bowed down to worship this Holy Child and offered their gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
On that quiet night many years ago, the stage was set for the coming of God’s Son, who will love us, save us from our sins and teach us about God’s grace and kindness, forgiveness and love for us all.
And now, all these years later, each Christmas we follow the star, shepherds, and wisemen to the manger where the Christ Child is waiting for us.
At God’s beckoning, we follow him, bask in his love, and know that we are truly God’s children.
Blessed Christmas to all, as we renew our relationship with God and his only Son, Jesus Christ, our beloved Savior. Share joy, laughter, smiles and love to all you meet. Best wishes and blessings for your 2012.
- Pariann Schenk, Mount Olive member