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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Friday, January 11, 2013

Accent on Worship

The Gift of God

     On The Baptism of Our Lord Sunday, the question that comes to mind for me is, what is baptism?  Baptism is a practice that almost all people hold dearly in the Lutheran Church.  Even those who don’t worship regularly or believe strongly have a sense that baptism is something they should do for their children.  So why is this?  Why do we baptize?

     In the Lutheran tradition (as in most mainline Christian traditions), baptism is a sacrament.  Sacraments are traditionally described as an earthly element (think water, bread, and wine) combined with God’s Word that delivers a promise to us.  According to Luther, the promise is not so much about who gets it, but who gives it.

     Luther writes in the Large Catechism, “Baptism is nothing else than water and the Word of God in and with each other, that is when the Word is added to the water, Baptism is valid, even though faith be wanting. For my faith does not make baptism, but receives it.” So according to Luther, baptism is a promise that we receive by God’s will. This promise says more about the giver than the receiver.  So while baptism is something that we can learn about, and understand through study of scripture, it’s primarily a promise and a gift of the Holy Spirit given to us by God.

     In my experience, this makes a lot of sense.  This summer I worked at a long-term care facility which housed many patients with serious brain injury.  Because of their brain injuries, many of the residents I worked with would have had trouble understanding baptism on an intellectual level, or even feeling spiritually moved towards “deciding” to be baptized.  In some traditions, this is a problem because people are encouraged to make “a decision” for Christ, or to choose him.  But how can you make a decision if you don’t understand nature and need for baptism?

     The Lutheran understanding of baptism is helpful in this because we hold that God comes to us in baptism, not the other way around.  In other words, it doesn’t matter if we’re mentally capable of understanding baptism because baptism is more about what God does for us than what we do for God.
     So in this season of Epiphany, where we remember God coming to us in the form of Jesus Christ, remember that the Triune God also comes to us in our baptism whether we were baptized old or young or whether we feel our faith is strong or weak.  In baptism we have a promise that God cares for us, seeks us out, and loves us without any work of our own!  Praise be to God!

-Vicar Neal Cannon

Sunday Readings

January 13, 2013 – Baptism of Our Lord
Isaiah 43:1-7 + Psalm 29
Acts 8:14-17 + Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

January 20, 2013 – 2nd Sunday after Epiphany
Isaiah 62:1-5 + Psalm 36:5-10
I Corinthians 12:1-11 + John 2:1-11

Adult Forum

     Sunday, January 13 – “An Introduction to the Church Year, part 2, presented by Susan Cherwien.

     Sunday, January 20 – “Authentic Sound: Culture in Expression,” presented by The Rev. Marilyn Witte.

Conference on Liturgy: Jan. 18-19, 2013

     This year’s Conference on Liturgy will be held January 18-19, 2013. The theme of this year’s conference is, “The Green Altar: Liturgy as Care for the Earth.”

     The conference begins with a hymn festival on Friday, January 18, 2013, at 7:30 p.m. Leadership for the hymn festival this year will be by the Mount Olive Cantorei, Cantor David Cherwien, with reflections by The Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer.

     Please note that the cost for Mount Olive members to attend this year’s conference is $35/person.  Additional registration forms are available at church, or by calling the church office.

Thursday Evening Bible Study

     Starting January 3 and running for six weeks, there will be a Thursday evening Bible study meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.  Pr. Crippen will lead a six-week series titled “Captive Conscience” which focuses on reading the Bible, how we are shaped by God’s Word, and what lenses we use as we read the Scriptures.

     As with last year, there will be a light supper when we begin.  If anyone wishes to provide a meal, please let Pr. Crippen know.  Looking ahead, in Lent Vicar Cannon will lead another six week study.

Every Church a Peace Church

     Mount Olive will host the next monthly potluck meeting of Every Church a Peace Church on January 14, 2013, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The speaker for this meeting will be Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr., Prof. of Justice and Christian Community at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. He will address the topic, "Peace from Below: Martin Luther King's Legacy and our Vocation."

     Plan to come and give a warm Mount Olive welcome to visitors from various faith traditions and congregations and hear a highly informative presentation.

Reconciling in Christ Festival Worship

     The Reconciling in Christ Program of ReconcilingWorks Twin Cities welcomes all people to join in their eighth annual Metro Area Festival Worship on Saturday, January 26, 2013, 4:30 p.m., at First Lutheran Church (463 Maria Avenue, Saint Paul).  The service of Word and Sacrament celebrates the welcoming ministries of Metro area Lutheran churches.  Rev. Anita Hill will preach.
     The RIC program rosters Lutheran congregations that welcome and affirm LGBT persons in their full sacred worth.  Both the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Synods are RIC Synods and together include dozens of RIC worship communities.  A light supper will follow the service.  All are welcome!

Altar Flowers

     The sign up chart for weekly altar flowers has been posted in its usual spot next to the church office. If you would like to sign up to provide flowers for worship to commemorate a special day, in memory of a loved one, in honor of a special event, or simply to help beautify our church for worship, please sign up on the chart for the date you want, and be sure to include your designation. The cost of the altar flowers this year is $50 per Sunday for two bouquets. If you wish to provide only one of the bouquets, simply sign on only one of the two lines provided for each Sunday. The cost for one bouquet is $25.

Bread Bakers

     Are you interested in being one of our Communion Bread Bakers at Mount Olive?   Or would you just like to learn how to bake bread?  A "Bread Baking Party" and demonstration will be held at 5:30 p.m. this Sunday, January 13, at John and Patsy Holtmeier's home, 601 Drillane Road, in Hopkins.  Call or email Patsy if you are interested.  507-327-4999,

Olive Branch Deadline

     Please note that The Olive Branch is prepared each week on Wednesdays (so that those who do not have email can receive the information at roughly the same time as those who do have email). The deadline for articles or announcements to be published is each Wednesday at noon. If you have information to share with the church community and want it to be published in the newsletter, please be sure it is submitted to the church office by Wednesday of the week you would like it published. It is also helpful to note how many weeks you wish your article or information to be included.

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. For the February 9 session they will read In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant. All readers welcome!

Cantor’s Sabbatical Next Fall
Do you have an Extra Room?

     Cantor Cherwien will be on Sabbatical September through November 2013.

     As specified in his letter of call, Cantor Cherwien is eligible for a three-month sabbatical leave after each six years of service. His second cycle will be completed this coming fall. It is not only a time for Cantor Cherwien to gain some new experiences and
energy, it is also a time to invite in some new and fresh ideas and experiences from a guest musician, and for Mount Olive to provide some energizing experiences to a guest musician!

     It was determined by the Worship Committee and Vestry that to continue to provide for the highest meaningful quality of liturgy during this time, an interim person would be sought who could serve full time during those three months to carry out these responsibilities. An effort was also made to find someone with some unique gifts to bring into our midst during this time (hopefully, different from Cantor Cherwien’s gifts!)

     Housing might be needed for this Interim Musician next fall.

     Having cast the net quite widely in covering those responsibilities here at Mount Olive during this time, it is very likely that the person invited to serve as interim will be from out of town. If you have extra space in your residence which could be made available to this person, please let the office know. Also let is if pets would be allowed – one prospective candidate has a dog and would hope to have this companion along while here in Minneapolis for this purpose.

Church Library News

      At the beginning of this New Year it is time to make special resolutions, even if they are sometimes difficult to keep!  One suggestion to all adults is that we resolve "to keep reading, to help children to get into the reading habit, and to make use of all libraries available to you (most especially our own church library!)

    The newest display in our library contains these interesting and helpful books:
The Heart of Paul: A Relational Paraphrase of the New Testament, by Ben Campbell Johnson
The Parables of Jesus in Matthew 13, by Jack Dean Kingsbury
Salvation By Surprise, Studies in the Book of Romans, by Earl F. Palmer
Meredith’s Second Book of Bible Lists, by J. L. Meredith
The Complete Gospels (new Translations of the Four Gospels, Plus the Gospels of Thomas and
        Mary, the Sayings Gospel Q, The Secret Gospel of Mark and 12 Other Gospels From the First Three
        Centuries), by Robert Miller, editor
Gifts From the Bible: An Illustrated Collection, by Ennen Reaves Hall
The Bible’s Most Fascinating People: Stories from the Old and New Testaments, by R.P.
The Fullness of Life - Aging and the Older Adult, by Cedric W. Tilberg, editor
The Evening of Life - Thoughts for Mature Years, by Fredrik Wishoff
Families Where Grace is the Place, by Jeff Van Vonderen

     The Second Annual "Take Your Child to the Library Day" will take place Saturday, February 2.  This is a grassroots program launched by enterprising librarians in Connecticut, and 120 libraries participated last year.  Along with the resolution mentioned above, I hope you will help extend this program during 2013.

     A bumper sticker I spotted recently seemed appropriate to share with you (let me know if you agree!) and it read like this -- "Librarians Are One For The Book!"

 -    Leanna Kloempken

Thank You!

      Mount Olive's chancel, nave and narthex were again beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.  This was accomplished through the efforts of many:  those who brought in and placed the trees, the volunteers who hung all of the greenery, and those who hung the lights and Chrismons on the trees.  

     Thanks also to those who removed the greens and trees and cleaned up after.  We are grateful and wish to thank all of you for your time and willing hands.

Another Note of Thanks

     A complete printed set of The St. John’s Bible has been given to Mount Olive by David and Susan Cherwien for display in the Chapel Lounge.  They are given in thanksgiving to God in honor of their parents, Walter and Marian Cherwien, and John Palo and Myrtle Grapatin Palo.  In addition, Art and Elaine Halbardier are creating and donating a cherry wood bookstand for it.  These seven volumes are reproductions of the original, hand-written St. John’s Bible recently completed for St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville.  Thank you to the Cherwiens and the Halbardiers for this gift of God’s Word!


     Congratulations to former vicar Mark Niethammer and his wife Amalie on the birth of their first child, a daughter, Julia Astrid Niethammer. She was born on Jan. 8 at 12:01 p.m. at 8 lbs, 2 oz. Amalie and Julia are doing well.

Save the Date!

     The Mount Olive Missions Committee will sponsor Taste of Ethiopia on Sunday, February 10. Watch for more information!

Brunch Suggestions, Anyone?

     In preparation for the Conference on Liturgy and other public events at Mount Olive this season, Susan Cherwien is updating the brochure of Places To Have Brunch Near Mount Olive. If you have any suggested additions or deletions, please contact Susan at

2012 Year-End Contributions Statements

     Contribution statements for 2012 are printed and available to be picked up at church, near the coat room. You may call the church office if you would like your statement mailed to you.

     If you have any questions about your statement, or if you require a detailed amortization of your contributions, please call Cha at the church office.

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