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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Olive Branch, 12/14/12

Accent on Worship

Wait for It

     “I thank my God every time I remember you . . . I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.”  (Philippians 1:3, 6)

     I’m not the best “waiter” in the world.  I don’t mean the person who takes your order in a restaurant; I used to do that and was actually pretty good at it.  I mean I don’t wait well.  I can get impatient at times.  But God has slowly been teaching me patience in my life and now I’ve come to value the perspective a little patience brings.

     Advent is a time of waiting for the Church.  It is a season where the Church has learned to practice patience, where the Church teaches patience to those of us who do not wait well.  Patience as we wait for the Lord’s coming again.  Patience as we wait for God to restore all things.  Patience as we look for signs of the coming of God into a broken and evil world.  Coinciding with the darkest time of the year, Advent also carries that sense of patience as we wait for God’s light to come into our darkness.

     In the words of Paul above (which were actually from last Sunday’s readings), Paul is also waiting for something.  He waits for the completion of God’s salvation among the Philippians, the shaping of these beloved friends of his into people of God, children of God who bear the mind and heart of Christ, who rejoice always, who give themselves for the sake of the world.  People who pray with thanksgiving, and who keep their hearts and minds focused on what is good and excellent, people who welcome the peace of God into their lives, peace which surpasses all understanding.  Paul believes that God is working this transformation on them and is confident it will be accomplished.

     I would like God to finish me, to make me the person I’m meant to be, but I’d rather it happen sooner rather than later.  I’d like to be the kind of people Paul sees in the Philippian congregation, but I’d like it to happen much more quickly than it seems to be happening.  The Advent prayer that our Lord comes and re-makes us as a part of the healing of the world is one I deeply hope for.  I’m just not eager to have it take the rest of my life.

     So my prayer this Advent is for patience.  According to Paul in his letter to the Galatians, patience is a spiritual gift, so the good news is we can pray for it.  And so I do.  This is my prayer for all of us at Mount Olive as well, that we might be given the gift of patience as we seek God’s grace and transformation as a congregation into the people of God we’re meant to be.  Patience, as we wait for God to work through us and others to bring healing to the world.  Patience, as we learn to trust God’s timing, and not ours.

     Come, Lord Jesus, stir up your power and come.  And give us patience as we wait for your coming to bless the world.

- Joseph

Advent Evening Prayer

Wednesdays in Advent at 7:00 p.m.

Christmas Worship Schedule

Christmas Eve, December 24: 
9:30 pm – Choral Prelude
10:00 pm – Holy Eucharist

Christmas Day, December 25
9:00 a.m. – Christmas Carry-In Breakfast
10:00 am – Festival Holy Eucharist

Sunday Readings

December 16, 2012 – Third Sunday of Advent
Zephaniah 3:14-20 + Psalmody:  Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7 + Luke 3:7-18

December 23, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Micah 5:2-5a + Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55
Hebrews 10:5-10 + Luke 1:39-55

Special Congregation Meeting to be Held This Sunday, December 16, Noon

     A milestone meeting of the congregation will be held in the Undercroft following the second liturgy on December 16 to receive and approve the work of the Capital Campaign Tithe Task Force.  A total of 30 invitations were sent to not-for-profit organizations based on the recommendations of members/friends of the congregation, Neighborhood Ministries, and Missions committees.  Twenty of these invitations resulted in requests for funding (26 projects totaling $217,560) from the remaining $91,000 of the tithe ($20,000 was already awarded to Lutheran Social Services for their Center for Changing Lives).

After a thorough review of the requests received using the process and criteria endorsed by the congregation, the Task Force recommended the distribution of remaining funds as outlined in the attachment/insert to the vestry who in turns recommends approval by the congregation.  

Fair Trade Craft Sale – one more Sunday!

     The Missions committee is hosting a Fair Trade Craft Sale during Advent.  Purchase beautiful and unique Fair Trade items handmade by disadvantaged artisans in developing regions around the world.  With each purchase, you help artisans maintain steady work and a sustainable income so they can provide for their families.  Lutheran World Relief partners 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 one more Sunday, December 16 (cash and check only).  See the separate attachment/insert to view some of the items that will be for sale.  Fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate from Equal Exchange will also be available.  This is not a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to buy good products for a good cause.

Book Discussion Group

     Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. For the January 12 session, they will read Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks. All readers welcome!

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, in honor of a loved one, for $120 you can “buy” a stove for a family in Guatemala that provides a safer and more efficient way of cooking. 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 International
Common Hope
Bethania Kids

Christmas Carry-In Breakfast

     All are invited to come to Christmas Day Eucharist an hour early for a Christmas breakfast together, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Bring a favorite breakfast or brunch dish to pass.

Thanks for Hurricane Sandy Donations

     Thank you to those from Mount Olive who responded to the ELCA's call for donations to support those affected by Hurricane Sandy in the United States and internationally.  Between donations received and the Missions Committee’s allocation of $250 from its discretionary funds, Mount Olive was able to provide $1,935 to the ELCA as it responds to those most in need.  We have expedited this check to the ELCA so that our funds could be utilized immediately. The Missions Committee will continue to monitor the situation and will continue the congregation's contributions to Lutheran World Relief, which works for long-term support for challenged communities, including those affected by natural disasters.

     Once again, thank you for helping Mount Olive support those in need in our neighborhood, our nation, and beyond.

Can You Help?

     We've received a request for assistance from a former friend of Mount Olive, Joyce Davies-Venn.  She and her husband, Emile, and their daughter, Ophelia, were part of the Mount Olive community for a few years; Ophelia was confirmed here in 2002. (Emile's sister, Caroline Roy-Macauley, was very active at Mount Olive at that time. They have all since moved away, Caroline to England and the Davies-Venns to Georgia.) Some may remember this family, they were immigrants from Sierra Leone, West Africa.

     Emile died unexpectedly last May, as a result of complications from surgery, and Joyce is struggling in Atlanta with the financial burden this has placed on her. Their daughter, Ophelia, recently graduated from college with a degree in social work, but has been unable to find work to help support herself and her mother. Joyce has contacted Mount Olive to ask if we can provide any financial assistance at all.

     If you can help and wish to make a contribution, please make your donation payable to Mount Olive and clearly designate on the envelope or in the memo line that the gift is for "Joyce Davies-Venn."  Mount Olive will pass along to Joyce whatever is received in the next couple of weeks.

A Note from Our President

Dear fellow redeemed,
     At the December meeting of the Vestry, we received our normal review of the previous month’s financial statements.  Your directors have done an excellent job of managing expenses to the 2012 budget as approved by the congregation.  In fact, spending is well below budgeted amounts for most areas.  At the same time, we find that overall giving for general operating fund expenses has also been under what was projected for the approved budget.  The net result is that, as of November 30, we have spent approximately $40,000 more in carrying on the various missions of Mount Olive than we have received.
     Historically, the final weeks of the year have been a time when we see a surge in giving and some or even all of this shortfall may disappear naturally.  However, rather than simply count on that being the case and in an effort to be forthcoming with the congregation, the Vestry decided to make you aware of where things currently stand financially.  Ending the year in the black without making additional draws on our line of credit is our objective and making members and friends of Mount Olive aware of our current cash position is an important part of realizing this.
     If your charitable giving plan includes additional contributions toward our shared work before year-end, thank you and God bless you for your faithfulness.  Likewise, if you have been blessed in a way that allows you to consider doing more financially than you intended before year-end, again thank you and God bless you for your generous spirit.

Kind regards in Christ,
Adam Krueger, President
Mount Olive Vestry

Staff Gifts

     Reminder: in order to be a part of this year's Christmas gifts from the Congregation to our Staff, contributions should be received no later than this Sunday, December 16.  Thank you.

Conference on Liturgy: Jan. 18-19, 2013

     By now you should have received the brochure for this year’s Conference on Liturgy, to be held January 18-19, 2013. The theme of this year’s conference is, “The Green Altar: Liturgy as Care for the Earth.”
The keynote speaker this year is the Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis, special adviser on environmental issues to His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch.

     The conference begins with a hymn festival on Friday, January 18, at 7:30 p.m. Leadership for the hymn festival this year will be by the Mount Olive Cantorei, Cantor David Cherwien, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer.

     Please note that the cost for Mount Olive members to attend this year’s conference is $35/person.

Out of Darkness

     All are invited to attend the annual candlelight vigil, “Out of Darkness,” for child victims of war, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. This vigil is hosted by the Twin Cities Peace Campaign at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 4537 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis.  This moving and beautiful service has become part of the Christmas tradition for many local many Christians.

Olive Branch Publication Schedule

     Please note that there will be no Olive Branch published during the week between Christmas and New Year. Weekly publication will resume on January 4, 2013.

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