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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Olive Branch, 10/26/12

Accent on Worship

Who’s going to do what at your funeral?

     I find it interesting to learn things about human nature and behavior outside the church.  So often we can learn what true needs might be.  We can also learn that what we might perceive as needs may only compound them.  Often it’s amusing to watch people at airports.  The “hoverers” that begin lining up 30 minutes before seating begins, or the traveler who thinks getting angry with the agent is going to be helpful.

     Issues around death are especially fascinating.   One observation of the secular world becomes clear:  at the time of grief ritual is needed.  Piles of flowers will be placed at the site of a death.  Groups will gather holding candles for what they call “a vigil.”  No mention is ever made of God – but clearly, ritual is there.  They need to do something!  Mark Sedio and I were walking near Liberty Park, Philadelphia, and saw a huge group of people wearing tie-dyed shirts,  holding candles, and singing stanza 1 of “Amazing Grace” over and over again.  Mark said, “Jerry Garcia must have died!”  And that is exactly what had happened.  Those people needed ritual, they needed a song that they understood to be religious.  The only one they knew was stanza 1 of Amazing Grace, so over and over, that is what they sang.

     Many of you have thought through “plans” for your funerals.  But who’s going to do what at your funeral?  Secular society in the past 50 years has done a great job of instilling the notion that “it” is all about “us.”  Remembering the deceased and honoring them becomes the focus.  This can and is a big part of a funeral event, as is providing comfort and support for the grieving family.  There is a vital place for this in the visitation, wake, at the funeral lunch – but what of the liturgy itself?

     As people of God, we have the tools to do something meaningful and deep at our funerals.  What is that?  To whom is it directed?  Who is to do it?  We, in the church, have answers to those questions:  We do what we do as family:  Word and Sacrament.  We approach God (not ourselves).  The Gospel is preached (not so much a life history) to a gathering of people who are in a unique place and need to hear the Gospel,  and “with all the choirs of angels, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven” we eat the family meal,  and sing the unending hymn WITH them.  But what is that song?

     Unfortunately, in my couple of years of being involved in funeral services, plans get made by people who won’t be there (they are the ones who have died).  Even if the family picks “favorites” of the deceased, will the others present at the service be able to enter in?  Perhaps.  Perhaps not.

     On one occasion, a family wanted the song “The Little Brown Church.”  I had never heard of it before; neither had the congregation.  And the family was indignant about that (perhaps projecting a little grief which isn’t a bad thing).  Of course, I was able to find it,  and we included it,  but few sang because only the family knew it and they were not able to sing at that service through their tears.  What did that do?  I felt bad for them, and did not feel very pastoral in that situation.

     Recently we had a funeral service where we had been given a list of hymns from Florence Peterson to “consider” for her funeral.  Since it was made up of hymns sung regularly at Mount Olive, we were able to take that list and build a deeply meaningful funeral liturgy.  Most could sing – and if needed, for the family on their behalf.

     This Sunday in the adult forum, I will present some new things to think about as we consider funerals – including why we, the people of God in this place, should be there for funerals whether we knew the person or not.  (Come to find out why).

-Cantor David Cherwien

Sunday’s Adult Education

Sunday, October 28, 9:30 a.m.
     This week our forum will be "Lux Aeterna: Music for Funerals,”   presented by Cantor Cherwien.

Congregation Meeting This Sunday

     The semi-annual meeting of Mount Olive congregation will be held this Sunday, October 28, following the second liturgy (beginning at approximately 12:15 p.m.).  The main purpose of this meeting will be to approve a budget for 2013, and to consider several constitutional and bylaw amendments the Vestry is recommending to the congregation.  These amendments were included with the last two issues of The Olive Branch, and are also available in the narthex at church. Copies of the proposed budget are also available with the amendments. All voting members of Mount Olive are encouraged to attend.


     Former Mount Olive Vicar Leslie Mahraun will be ordained into the Ministry of Word and Sacrament this Saturday, October 27, at 2:00 p.m. at St. John Lutheran Church in Fargo, ND.  She has accepted a call to serve St. John as Associate Pastor. Also Vicar Neal Cannon’s brother Paul will be ordained on Sunday in Illinois.  Please remember Leslie and Paul in your prayers.

Prayer Shawl Group

     The Prayer Shawl Group gathers for knitting and crocheting, coffee, and conversation on the first Saturday of the month.   We meet at Blue Ox Coffee Company, 3740 Chicago Ave. S.  Please join us on Saturday, November 3, from 1 - 3 pm.   Don't be shy --- even if you do not know how to knit or crochet, come anyway!  Members of the group are happy to teach knitting or crocheting to beginners.

Deadline is November 1

     All Mount Olive worship assistants are reminded that they should submit their work or school scheduling needs for the first quarter of 2013 as soon as possible. If you have special scheduling circumstances from Jan.-March, 2013, please contact Peggy Hoeft ( by November 1.

All Saints

     On the Feast of All Saints, 4 November, we remember and celebrate those who have preceded us in the Faith and now “from their labors rest.” We recite their names; we light votives in their honor. And in the Adult Forum that day, we’ll have a chance to walk among some of them. There will be a display of icons of some of our forebears in the faith. We will reflect briefly on the meaning of “sainthood” and of their portrayal in icons. And then we’ll be free to view the icons, walking among the saints of old (any maybe not-so-long-ago), venerating them as we see fit.

     If you have an icon that you would like to set among others, we welcome and encourage you to do so. Please, if you bring an icon for display, help us: Bring only icons of persons, not events. Put your name on the back of the icon lest it go astray. And identify the icon: Who is it? If the person is relatively unknown, why is that person memorable? Note that we do not require that you bring hand-painted or –written icons. Most of us can’t afford those.

Church Library News

     Our library is the recipient of a new gift book, given in memory of Florence Peterson, and we bring it to your attention now because it is so timely for what is happening in our nation's political scene just now.  The new book is entitled The American Presidents: Biographies of the Chief Executives from George Washington through Barack Obama, by David C. Whitney (Revised and Updated 11th Edition by Robin Vaughn Whitney).

      This is a remarkable resource illuminating the lives, times and legacies of the men who have shaped the office of our nation's Presidents.   A very interesting and informative read, regardless of whether it is done before or after the upcoming election.  Find it on display in our library this very Sunday.

     We close with the following quotation from Rita Dove: "The library is an arena of possibility, opening both a window into the soul and a door onto the world."  

- Leanna Kloempken

Book Discussion Group

     Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. For the November 10 meeting they will read, Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and for December 8 they will read Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury.

Dobson Organ Dedication

     Mount Olive's own Lynn Dobson is busy building the new Pipe Organ for the Chapel at Merton College, in Oxford England, as we speak.

     This is his first instrument on foreign soil and we rejoice with him in this project.  A contingent from Mount Olive has been invited to attend the dedication of this new organ which will be in late April of 2014.  There are a very limited number of spaces open for this trip. If you are interested in joining this happy band of travelers, please contact Tom Olsen for the details. Tom can be reached at 952-929-9781 or any Sunday morning at coffee hour.

National Lutheran Choir Presents “The Call” with Milwaukee Choral Artists

     The National Lutheran Choir and special guest ensemble, Milwaukee Choral Artists, will co-present a hymn festival entitled, “The Call,” to mark All Saints.

     For tickets visit or call 612-722-2301.

Saturday, November 3, 2012 – 7 pm
St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church
Mahtomedi, MN

Sunday, November 4, 2012 – 4 pm
St. Bartholomew’s Catholic Church
Wayzata, MN.

October Vestry Update, 10-15-12

     The October 15 Vestry meeting was a productive session.  Conversation continued in regards to the Capital Campaign Tithe.  The final tithe amount will be listed as $91,000 and the task force is meeting to determine the recipients of the grants being distributed from these monies.  An update will be given at the Semi-Annual Congregational Meeting.

     The Vestry invites the entire Mount Olive congregation to attend a discussion about the proposed State Constitution Amendments on October 22.  Respectful conversation from a faith perspective will be led by President Adam Krueger and other members of the Vestry.

     Minimal changes were made to the 2013 Budget during a short discussion.  The 2013 Mount Olive Budget will be presented at a preview meeting following the second liturgy on Sunday, October 21.  Voting on the 2013 Budget will take place at the Semi-Annual Congregational meeting following the second liturgy on Sunday, October 28.

     New members were approved during the Vestry meeting, as were new committee appointments.  It was agreed that it is great to see so many new members becoming active participants in a variety of ways.  Sunday, November 11 will be Volunteer Opportunity Sunday where all members can learn more about the opportunities available to serve the Mount Olive community.  It will also be the Sunday where we think about our stewardship of our wealth and consider our pledges for 2013 to the work God has called us to do together.

     Director reports included information on the planning of upcoming events such as the Fair Trade Christmas sale and the “Taste of…” dinner.  There are also new items on the Wish List (list located in church office) so members are encouraged to see if there are any that they could assist in purchasing.

Respectfully submitted,
Lisa Nordeen

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