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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Olive Branch, 12/7/12

Accent on Worship

Free to Worship

     Once you open a package, you can’t put things back in the way they were before.

     These words were spoken at the Tuesday noon Bible study and I’m struck by how true they are.  Have you ever tried to put a newly bought item back in its tightly wrapped packaging?  It never fits quite right, almost like it has groaned and stretched its arms outside of its original compact shape.  You can never get it back in, no matter how hard you try.

     The words of the prophet Malachi remind me of this type of newly opened gift, “For he is like a refiner’s fire and like a fuller’s soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver.” That’s what its like when we encounter the grace, forgiveness, and love offered to us through the Christ Child.  Every time we, like unrefined silver and gold, truly encounter this love we become refined, heated, and changed permanently.  When we truly encounter God things never really go back to the way that they were.

     That doesn’t mean that we don’t sin.  Like silver, we have to be constantly heated and churned over and over by the Refiner.  It’s not a one-time process.  We are called every day to encounter the Great Refiner in worship and prayer so that our lives can be changed, and molded so that sin does not reign over us.  We remember, especially in this Advent season, that we are freed from sin by the child who came to us in a manger.  We sing Zechariah’s song from Luke 1 as our psalm this week, and we sing that because of the coming of this child, “We are free to worship you without fear,” because salvation and forgiveness came to us in the manger, and ever since the world has not been the same.

     During this season of Advent, let us consider what it means that God sent his Son into the world as a child in a manger, and how this helps us to encounter God in new and amazing ways.  Let us come to worship and be refined through word, song, prayer, and meal.  And when we head out into the world, let us remember that we are a like a gift that cannot be put back the way we were before.

     Praise be to God!

- Vicar Neal Cannon

Advent Evening Prayer

Wednesdays, December 5, 12, and 19
at 7:00 p.m.

Sunday Readings

December 9, 2012 – Second Sunday of Advent
Malachi 3:1-4 + Psalmody: Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11 + Luke 3:1-6

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

Special Congregation Meeting to be Held 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

     The Missions committee will be hosting a Fair Trade Craft Sale this 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 on December 2, 9, and 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.  

     New this year, we will also have items available for sale from The Art Shoppe. The Art Shoppe, located in Midtown Global Market, is a local artist collective and micro business venture that Mount Olive helps to support.

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

Book Discussion Group

     Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. For the December 8 meeting they will read Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, and for the January 12 session, Caleb's Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks.

Help Needed!

     Our Sexton, William Pratley, has been out for several weeks recovering from surgery. He returns to work next week (thanks be to God!), but with lifting restrictions. Until he is completely recovered, snow removal help may be needed!

     If you are willing to help clear sidewalks and steps at church when needed, please call the church office and let us know. We own a snow blower and several shovels, so we have the tools needed – all we need is a few folks who are willing to use them.

     Volunteers labor with snow removal will save the church $125 per snow event.

You Can Help!

Our Saviour’s Residents

     Sixty five people now have their own apartments after years of homelessness and health problems.  Their limited budgets make it tough for them to afford the necessities to care for their homes.  Brighten their holidays by providing some holiday Cheer (pun intended).
     Some suggestions:
Dish soap
Laundry soap
Trash bags
All-purpose cleaner
Sponges or towels
Glass cleaner
Toilet paper
Paper towels

     Feel free to add additional cleaning supplies or other items:
Personal hygiene items
Candy, cookies, snack mixes, cocoa,
or other treats
Socks, gloves, hats, scarves or slippers

     Gifts can be packaged in any way: a laundry basket, reusable shopping bag, plastic tub, etc.  Feel free to decorate the gift or include a card.  Dollar Stores are great shopping sources.

     Please bring your gifts to Mount Olive’s coat room no later than December 16.  Your usual generous response is anticipated and will be much appreciated.

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