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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Olive Branch, 2.22.13

Accent on Worship

Your Choice

     When greeting someone upon seeing them, how do you do it?  Do you smile and with a full-voice say, “Hi! Great to see you” or do you mumble? The degree of how much you mean it is perceived through body language and the tone of voice offered.  With mere tone of voice you can communicate something more credibly than the words actually spoken.  “Hello” mumbled with a low voice could evoke a “Really?”  Most of the time we’re honest with our greetings and our “And also with you” or our corporate declaration “I renounce them!” is very heart-felt.

     Roman Catholics have a phrase:  “Full and conscious participation” when it comes to liturgy.  Spoken responses and corporate song may involve a deliberate choice to “enter in” – using full voice:  body, mind and soul!

     I’ve heard congregations sing as though they’re embarrassed to sing.  Indeed it’s possible: the voice is one of those things – a deep part of us we can’t really change (although we can learn to use it better) – and to sing in public can be very frightening, exposing a deep part of who we are.  But this is precisely its value!  We don’t offer to God just surface things!  If we sing out of this fear, a kind of half singing becomes the norm.  Yet when many sing out, this fear is removed, and it’s easier to join in.

     To sing out does take a choice for those who can.  We decide to breathe in,  and push a good amount of sound out!  When we all do that and sing out, no one sticks out, and we don’t really run the embarrassing risk of an unintentional solo because we’re all there for each other.

     That being said, this can be difficult for some, for reasons that we can’t know.  Maybe their vocal chords just don’t work right, or perhaps even emotionally they come to this liturgy unable to sing.  In that case, the rest of us need to step in and sing for them too.

     When sung notes approach the higher side, it’s especially important to sing them out more (rather than pulling back) – it helps the neighbor feel confident to do the same, and everyone feels empowered by each other.  When we all do it, young voices, older voices, middle-age voices, trained voices,  un-trained voices – all of our voices combine to create the best and unique blend possible.   One of my favorite moments here is when we sing the Bach setting of “Lord Thee I Love” – everyone sings their part full voice – even those who think they don’t have a very good voice can sing out without fear!

     So in our liturgy (no matter how many people are there) when we greet God and each other in spoken responses and especially song, how will you choose to do it?

     May God grant us courage, and if anything is to be silent in worship,  let it be our judgments.

- Cantor Cherwien

Midweek Lenten Worship
Wednesdays in Lent
Noon – Holy Eucharist
7:00 pm – Evening Prayer

2013 Lenten Devotional Booklets Now Available

     Return to God: A Lenten Journey Into Wilderness, To Jerusalem, written for the Mount Olive community by Susan Cherwien, is now available at church. Pick one up for use in your Lenten journey this year. They are in the narthex and Chapel Lounge at church.

     The devotional is also available online in a daily blog at If you are an online reader, bookmark the page!

Upcoming Adult Forums

     Sunday, February 24 – “The Art of Lectio Divinia,” presented by Sister Carol Rennie OSB and Sam Rahberg from the Benedictine Center.

     Sunday, March 3 – “The Exodus,” part 1 of a 2-part series, led by Dr. Earl Schwartz.

Church Clean Up - Mark Your Calendars!

     The next church clean-up day will be held on Saturday, February 23, (tomorrow!) from 8:30 am – 2:30 pm. Plan to come and pitch in – many hands make light work!

This Sunday’s Adult Forum: The Art of Lectio Divina

     Lectio Divina is one of the great treasures in the tradition of Christian of prayer.  Translated "Divine Reading", it is a prayerful reading of the Scriptures we believe to be divinely inspired and a way of letting the Spirit form us to the likeness of Christ.  Join Sister Carol Rennie OSB and Sam Rahberg to explore and practice how to sustain a relationship with God, through the text, over time. Materials will be provided.

     Sam Rahberg is the Director of the Benedictine Center and a spiritual director. Sam has experience in parish education and administration and holds a master's degree in theology from Saint John's University, Collegeville.

     S. Carol Rennie OSB is former prioress of St. Paul's Monastery and a member of the Benedictine Center's spiritual direction team. She is a teacher of teachers, an experienced retreat leader, and has a special interest in group spiritual direction.

Lenten Bible Study: Practice Faith

     Christian faith practices are widely accepted, but not broadly understood outside of a moral/ethical understanding.  But what is the Biblical root of these practices?  Why are these things so important that they are mentioned over, and over, and over again in the Bible? What have Christians done in the past and what can we do now to keep these practices alive in our lives?

     Come to this six-week Bible study led by Vicar Neal Cannon on Thursday nights from 6-7 pm, starting February 14. It meets in the Chapel Lounge and a light supper is served.

February 14 – Hospitality and Welcome
February 21 – Tithing and Generosity
February 28 – Prayer
March 7 – Celebration and Sabbath
March 14 – Sharing the Gospel
March 21 – Serving our Neighbor

Words for the Pilgrimage

Wednesdays in Lent: February 20, 27, March 6, 13, 20

Noon – Holy Eucharist, followed by a soup and bread luncheon
6:00 p.m. – Soup, Bread, and Table Talk
7:00 p.m. – Evening Prayer

“Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”  Hebrews 12:1b-2a

     Christian believers have long likened our life of faith to a journey, a pilgrimage through this world.  On our Wednesdays this Lent we will explore words from an ancient sermon written to “the Hebrews.” These are words which use the same image, that of pilgrimage, and which provide guidance, direction, hope, and encouragement for this pilgrimage of life, as well as warnings and exhortations.  The book of Hebrews will be our companion on our journey, not a tour guide, but a fellow-traveler with us as we seek to live faithfully in this world as disciples.

     At noon, the preaching will be at the Eucharist; in the evening it will be during the soup supper, with conversation to follow.

Book Discussion Group

     For the March 9 meeting, the Book Discussion group will read Midnight's Children, by Salman Rushdie. For the April 13 meeting they will discuss In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant.  Looking ahead, in May we will discuss Children of God, by Mary Doria Russell.  This is the sequel to her novel The Sparrow which we read earlier.


     For the past month a Vision Task Force comprised of Andrew Andersen, David Cherwien, Pastor Crippen, Judy Hinck, Adam Krueger, Connie Marty, Peter Tressel, and Donna Neste have begun to develop a process that will allow the congregation to discern God’s vision for Mount Olive Lutheran Church and our shared ministry to our neighborhood and the world.  A number of events have converged that make this an ideal time to undertake such a process: We have just completed a (quite successful) 5-year campaign and building renovation, Pastor Crippen is well into his third year as our pastor and has a stronger sense of who and where we are, and Donna Neste’s retirement as our Neighborhood Ministry Coordinator will occur in the spring of 2014.

     Through a study of God’s word, prayer, visits around the neighborhood, interviews with community leaders, together we will work to match information gained with congregational interests and assets.  A series of three congregational meetings will occur this spring and summer to build community around our history, our values, and God’s vision for our future as his people in this place.  The task force will compile the information provided and present the findings and proposal for next steps to the October Semi-Annual meeting of the congregation.

     How can you be involved in this important work?  Following are some of the needs already identified.

Pray for this important effort and faithful discernment of God’s will; specific requests will be posted from time to time, but you can begin now to lift up the process that Christ’s church and God’s people are served by it.

Commit to study God’s word; specific “vision passages” of scripture and others will be provided as a guide.

Get involved; volunteers will be needed for the following; contact any member of the Task Force or the church office:

Augment the Task Force (especially those who are gifted in strategic thinking)—needed now through October;
Triads of people to visit, observe, and pray about what they see in our neighborhood—commit to 2-3 visits as a group over a 2 week period;

People to interview identified community leaders about what they see in and hope for the neighborhoods around Mount Olive—commit 2 to 3 visits over a 2-3 week period; sample interview questions will be provided;

People to help provide childcare at the three congregational meetings;

People to provide refreshments at the three congregational meetings;

People to provide transportation to/from the three congregational meetings

Engage with and encourage other members to join you in these activities to help discern God’s vision for us and shape the direction of our journey in the coming years.

It is exciting to think about being deliberate in seeking what God has planned for Mount Olive, her people, and our neighborhoods.  Won’t you be a part of discovering what that is and how it could look for our life together?

Taste of Ethiopia Thanks

     A big thank you to all who cooked, decorated, worked in the kitchen, cleaned up, and were joyful participants in "Taste of Ethiopia."  It was an educational, meaningful, and enjoyable event.  We have sent our thanks to Dinku Bato and his family.  We wish him the best in his studies and research, and we will keep the Ethiopian / Oromo churches, both near and far, in our prayers.

     Some people asked for more information on the spice berbere that was used in many of the dishes.  This spice can be found in bulk at the Wedge Co-op, the Seward Co-op, and at many of the local Ethiopian grocery stores in the Phillips and Seward neighborhoods or near the Snelling /University Avenue intersection in St. Paul.  A description of berbere can be found at:

In Search of Missing Tablecloths

     Mount Olive is missing 4 long, cream-colored tablecloths (regularly used for funeral luncheons). If you have borrowed them, or if you brought them home to launder after an event, please return them as soon as possible. They may be returned to the upstairs kitchenette. Thanks!

Theology on Tap    

Have you ever wanted to get to know the people sitting next to you in the pews a little better?  Do you enjoy a good beer while sharing stories with friends?  Then come to Theology on Tap!

     Theology on Tap is a new group at Mount Olive that meets once a month at local bars/restaurants to enjoy a good beverage (beer/wine/soda?  It’s up to you!), good food, and good conversation.  Each month we’ll also dive into a dialogue about faith and life (no preparation or book reading required, only your personal knowledge and insight) as we explore Christianity in the 21st century.  Contact Vicar Neal Cannon (, 612-827-5919 x12) if you would like to join us for Theology on Tap!

March Event Details
Who: Anyone 21+ is welcome to join
Where: Chatterbox Pub
              2800 Cleveland Ave S., St. Paul, MN
When: Tuesday March 5, 7:30-9:00pm
Discussion Topic: Violence and Christianity in the 21st Century
         #gundebate #justwar #turntheothercheek
Facebook Page & Group: Mount Olive Theology on Tap.  (“Like” the page to get updates on Theology on Tap)
Contact: Vicar Neal Cannon (

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