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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Olive Branch: Labor Day Weekend Edition

Accent on Worship 

Bread for Eucharist

     We’ve just finished a month in John’s Gospel, the sixth chapter, where every week at Eucharist we’ve heard Jesus call himself the Bread of Life, and offer himself to us as food for our lives.  Now we’re moving back into Mark’s Gospel for our Gospel readings, but it seems appropriate to continue our conversation about the kind of bread we use at Eucharist here at Mount Olive.

     As you know, we’ve been using loaves of bread for our Eucharist here since Lent, and this was a trial, to determine if this is something that might enrich our worship, to determine what logistical issues would need addressing, and to determine if this is something we might wish to continue.  We began the trial using many different recipes during Lent, hoping to find one which seemed to work well.  Then in the Easter season we took one recipe which seemed the best for our use, and used it each week, with a couple bakers from the congregation providing the bread.  Finally, this summer we had about 15 different bakers providing the bread, mostly from the one recipe.  We also asked for feedback from the congregation, which many provided, and when asked to put it in writing, most did.  The Worship Committee and I read all the written feedback carefully, and at several meetings shared other feedback we’d heard as well.

     This has been a good thing to do.  Many people have responded positively to the use of loaves instead of wafers, and there have been some who have indicated clearly their preference for wafers.  I particularly was pleased with how many people took the opportunity to offer to bake our bread, another chance for people to contribute to our worship life, and how eager people were to do it.  Using one loaf for each liturgy deepened our sense of the one Body into which we are baptized, and the richer symbol of each of us eating from one loaf was a powerful reminder to many who responded.

     So the question is, where to go from here?  After listening to the discussion at the Worship Committee, and the feedback from the congregation, several things are worth noting: first, this has been a good addition to our liturgy for many, and the presence of a loaf of bread as the way we eat of the Lord’s meal has been a blessing.  Second, there is a rich and appreciated tradition of receiving the Lord’s meal here at Mount Olive using wafers of bread which is worthy of keeping a part of our life.  Third, and perhaps most important, it must be said that this has been a generous conversation no matter what people’s thoughts were.  People were able to express their opinions and their perceptions while at the same time understanding that they had sisters and brothers here who might not see it the same way, and I find that a great blessing in our life together and a gift from God for how we have any kind of conversation with one another.

     It seems clear to me that at this point in our life we are both ready for the use of loaves at Eucharist and also desirous of retaining our consistent way of receiving the bread that has fed so many for so long here at Mount Olive.  So we will do both.  For the time from Advent through Holy Trinity (and also festivals which occur outside that time) we will use loaves of bread, and for the season of Pentecost we will use wafers.  This will roughly divide the year in two.  That means that this Sunday, Sept. 2, we’ll return to wafers.  Apart from returning to loaves in Advent, we’ll have loaves on All Saints’ Sunday and Christ the King.  One of our learnings was that there are several logistical questions we still need to solve to help the Altar Guild and the sacristans and me as we work together to serve with loaves, and we’ll take what we’ve learned and sort that out before All Saints’.  In fact, the majority of concerns raised in this whole conversation related to logistical and procedural questions, and I’m hopeful that we will be able to sort most of that out.

     One thing that became apparent to me and to the committee is that this discussion opened up some very fruitful avenues of conversation about the Eucharist in general, and it is our hope that such conversation and learning will continue.  (For example, the question of “one bread, one cup” yielded some vital dialogue and discussion and also led many to wish for more opportunities like that.)  There will be several Sunday forums this fall which will center on the Eucharist and its meaning in our worship and our lives, and I invite all to come and learn together.  This gift of the Meal of Life from our Lord Jesus is something we could ponder, celebrate, discuss, cherish, and share for many lifetimes and still have wonders to know.  I hope many take advantage of the opportunity this fall to explore some of these riches together.  And thank you all for your partnership in this conversation, and in our life together.  It truly is a blessed gift of God.

- Joseph


Last Week of Summer Worship Schedule for 2012

     This Sunday, September 2, will be the last week of Summer Worship schedule for this year. Beginning Sunday, September 9 we resume our regular worship schedule of two Eucharists each Sunday morning, at 8:00 and 10:45 a.m.  Church School and Adult Education is held between services, beginning at 9:30 a.m. each week.

Meet the Vicar

     This Sunday, September 2, following the morning liturgy, all are invited attend the annual Labor Day forum, “Meet the Vicar.”  This will be a great opportunity for all to meet Mount Olive’s new vicar, Neal Cannon.

New Olive Branch Publication Schedule 

     Beginning with next week’s issue, The Olive Branch schedule returns to weekly publication. The publication date of the weekly newsletter is moving from Mondays to Fridays.  The result will be that members will receive news of the congregation and other information just prior to Sunday’s liturgies and fellowship, which is more timely, and copies of the newsletter may also be given to visitors at worship and still be fresh information that morning.

New Members to be Received September 23

     New members will be received on Sunday, September 23. If you are interested in becoming a member of Mount Olive, please speak with Pastor Crippen after liturgy, or call him at the church office, 612-827-5919.

Help, Help, Help!
     Our next Community Meal, free to all who come in our doors, will be held on Saturday, September 1. Some of our regular Community Meal workers will be on vacation that day. If YOU can help with the meal (prep, feeding our guests, or clean up) please call Carol Austermann at 612-722-5123.

Singers, Take Note!

     Cantorei rehearsals resume this coming Wednesday, September 5, at 7 pm.  The choir always welcomes new singers, so if you haven’t sung with the Cantorei before but are interested in giving it a try, please join us!

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