Accent on Worship
Called by Name
I’ve been singing in the National Lutheran Choir this year, which has been a real joy. We recently took a four day tour to Phoenix, filled with rehearsals and concerts. We sang at four Phoenix-area Lutheran churches, and I noticed something interesting at the three where we interacted with congregational members. Virtually everyone was wearing a congregational name-tag. Now, I expect that congregations in that area are accustomed to having many guests on any given Sunday, but I was still surprised to see almost universal usage of the congregation’s name tags.
Monday night at the Vestry meeting we heard from Andrew Andersen’s evangelism report that for the past three months or so between 10 and 18 guests have been at worship with us at the second liturgy each week. He also reported that when he speaks to them, almost to a person they mention our hospitality, how welcome they feel, and how gracious it is that people come up to them and greet them. This is wonderful. I frequently hear stories of Mount Olive folks helping guests with worship books during the liturgy, and making sure they feel at home. At some point in our history as a community of faith, this congregation developed a culture of welcome and hospitality that is a gift and a blessing to those who worship with us.
But we don’t like to wear our name-tags. Now, it may be that this is simply an oversight, that people don’t remember to put theirs on when they come. When I first arrived, the Vestry or the Call Committee asked people to wear their name-tags for awhile so I could get to know folks. Many did, but there were still plenty on the racks. It may be that some have concerns aboutr them. It may also be that many of us don’t see the need. But I am reminded of a bishop who told me of a day he spent nearly two hours driving around the countryside back roads looking for a congregation who had no signs or direction markers anywhere. When he finally arrived on a gravel road in the middle of the prairie, he asked why they didn’t have some signs near the main highway, or marking turns on side roads. “Everyone who needs to be here knows where it is,” he was told. I doubt that is what keeps our name-tags on the shelf, but I find it a helpful thought. No, the people who already know us don’t need to see a name. But might regularly wearing name-tags deepen our hospitality which is already a part of our common life? Might there be people who would welcome a little assistance with our names? Paul Nixdorf has put together a lovely pictorial display in the hallway of the nearly 50 people who have joined the congregation in the past year and a half. I hope you see those faces and learn those names. But how might these sisters and brothers better know who we are? Might your name-tag be a gracious gift to them?
I wonder if we are able to take this time as a time to change our culture and start wearing name-tags regularly, for the sake of the other. My friends who worship at a Phoenix church were wearing theirs, and I asked how they remembered. One of them keeps his in his car, and puts it on as he comes in. I don’t know what would help each of you. But I do invite us to consider whether this could be another way for us to be welcoming and gracious in the name of the Triune God who has called all of us by name in baptism. Maybe it’s time to help others call us by name as well.
In Jesus’ name,
March 18, 2012 – Fourth Sunday in Lent
Numbers 21:4-9 + Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10 + John 3:14-21
March 25, 2012 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
Jeremiah 31:31-34 + Psalm 51:1-12
Hebrews 5:5-10 + John 12:20-33
Midweek Lenten Worship
Wednesdays during Lent
Holy Eucharist at Noon, followed by soup luncheon
Evening Prayer at 7 p.m., preceded by soup supper and Lenten discussion beginning at 6 pm.
Palms and Paschal Garden
Donations for Passion Sunday palms and the Easter paschal garden will be received on Sunday, March 18 and Sunday, March 25. Members of the Worship Committee will be available after each liturgy on those dates to receive your contribution. Checks should be made payable to “Mount Olive Women”.
“A Very Present Help”
Midweek Lent at Mount Olive
For the Wednesday Lenten services this year we will focus on the presence of God in our lives, specifically the places where God’s healing grace is offered. We’ll be using as our starting point a section of Luther’s Smalcald Articles (from the Lutheran confessions) in which he describes the ways God’s grace and forgiveness are given us in concrete and knowable places.
The midweek schedule 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 based on our theme, and the same meditation will be shared during the evening soup supper, with opportunity for further conversation at the meal. Note: If you normally come to Evening Prayer in Lent but don’t come early for the supper, you’ll miss the conversation; consider coming early and concluding the evening with Evening Prayer.
Taste of Chile Thanks
A big thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to cook, decorate, and support "Taste of Chile." We will provide a more detailed report on the event for the Olive Branch soon. Until then, thank you to everyone for your openness, willingness to learn, and your support for our partnerships in our neighborhood and throughout
Altar Guild Cleaning Day
Mount Olive Altar Guild members will clean our chancel on Saturday, March 24, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Extra hands are always welcome as we prepare for the upcoming Holy Week and Easter liturgies. We usually work two to three hours, but workers stay as long as they're able. If you have questions, please contact Beth Gaede (bethgaede [at]comcast [dot]net.
March is Minnesota FoodShare Month!
Bring non-perishable food donations any Sunday during March and place them in the grocery cart in the cloak room. The goal this year is to collect a total of 12 million combined dollars and pounds of food from congregations, businesses, and individuals throughout Minnesota. This amount will stock food shelves around the state with more than half the food distribution needed annually. And remember, food shelves can stretch donations of cash further than donations of food, because of their access to discount products and programs. So your cash donations go much farther! If you would like to make a cash donation, make your check out to Mount Olive and in the memo line write "MN FoodShare," and place it in the offering plate.
Book Discussion Group
On April 14 the Book Discussion Group will discuss Birth of Venus, by Sarah Dunant. For the meeting on May 12 they will discuss Paths of Glory, by Jeffrey Archer.
Please note this special advance announcement: at the meeting on July 14 we will discuss The Way We Live Now, by Anthony Trollope. This advance notice is shared due to the length of the book.
Organ Recital to be Held March 25
Organist Ken Cowan will present an organ recital at Mount Olive on Sunday, March 25, at 4:00 p.m. He will present works by Bach, Dupre, Wagner, and Karg-Elert.
Praised for his dazzling artistry, impeccable technique, and imaginative programming by audiences and critics alike, Ken Cowan maintains a rigorous performing schedule which takes him to major concert venues across the U.S., Canada and Europe. Mr. Cowan is Assistant Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ, where he was awarded the 2008 Rider University Distinguished Teaching Award.
This event is sponsored by Mount Olive Music & Fine Arts.