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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Olive Branch, 3/15/13

Accent on Worship

A Reason to Worship

     There is a group on Facebook for ELCA clergy, and as much as I’d like to participate, I can’t read a single post and its comments without getting so frustrated I leave the post.  Typically people post questions of theology or practice, and seek responses or conversation with other ELCA clergy, which sounds good in theory.  But in practice, there’s always someone who gets sarcastic or snotty in their comments and dismissive of the one who posted, or commonly, of leadership in the ELCA.  It’s very tiresome.

     In the last week or so, someone posted a question about the liturgy of adoration of the cross, and wondered how people in the readers’ congregations did this, did they kneel, prostrate themselves, touch or kiss the cross, none of the above, or what?  It was a good question, and I almost posted an answer that at Mount Olive all of these things can be seen at our Good Friday liturgy when I saw that someone else posted just about the same thing.  I didn’t need to be redundant.

     Then I looked down the list of comments and saw: “I don’t care for such ‘man-made’ things,” a commenter who went on to mock even the conversation.  And there it was.  A posting dismissing what is valuable to the spiritual life of other Christians, even other Lutherans.  One can almost set one’s clock by such regularity.  In this case it was the dismissal of another congregation’s worship life based on some sense that the commenter had a “pure” worship, untainted by any human choice.  Of course, that can’t exist.  All our worship is human-made, though focused on God.

     But I thought of this as we consider on Sunday Mary of Bethany and her anointing of Jesus with perfume the value of which was the equivalent of nearly ten month’s wages for a daily laborer.  In John’s account Sunday, Judas complains that this could have been sold and the money given to the poor.  (Matthew and Mark both say “the disciples” complained.)  Mary is mocked for her act of devotion to her Lord, when in fact she may be the only one who’s paying attention to what’s about to happen.  This is on the verge of Holy Week, and Jesus has been foreshadowing his suffering and death, and the male disciples seem blithely unaware most times.  Mary, having just received her brother back alive from Jesus, decides to do an utterly extravagant and foolish thing.  She anoints Jesus with precious perfume, worth far too much.  But she does this because she is focused on Jesus, because he is her Lord, because she can sense something awful is about to happen, and because when you have the Lord with you, you worship him.

     We could learn from these disciples’ negative example when we consider other people and their worship.  Certainly our worship priorities and what we do at Mount Olive are easily mocked in some circles.  But how often do we do the same, criticizing others for their way of devotion?  Perhaps all Christians would do well to be silent when a Mary worships the Lord in a way we don’t understand or appreciate, and trust that perhaps she knows what to do when the Lord is near.

     At any rate, that’s where the Spirit seems to be leading me.  To remember that when we have the Lord with us all we can do is worship.  And to remember that others might express that worship in ways different from mine, and have different priorities.  But to rejoice that worship is happening all the same.  And perhaps the Spirit could help me, and us, find a little of Mary’s joyful extravagance as we consider worshipping the God who in Jesus has given us life and grace.

+ In Jesus’ name,

Paschal Garden

     Members of the Worship Committee will be on hand this Sunday and next, March 17 and 24, between the liturgies, to receive your donations to purchase Easter flowers for this year’s Paschal Garden.

Sunday Readings

March 17, 2013 – Fifth Sunday in Lent
Isaiah 43:16-21 + Psalm 126
Philippians 3:4b-14 + John 12:1-8

March 24, 2013 – Sunday of the Passion
Isaiah 50:4-9a + Psalm 31:9-16
Philippians 2:5-11 + Luke 22:14—23:56

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

This Sunday’s Adult Forum

     Sunday, March 17 – “Symbolism in Bach’s Mass in b minor,” presented by Art Halbardier.

Semi-annual Congregation Meeting to be Held Sunday, April 28

     The Vestry has announced the date of the April semi-annual congregation meeting to be Sunday, Apr. 28, after the second liturgy.  Among the items on the agenda will be election of officers and directors, whose terms will begin on July 1.  Any wishing to suggest names to the nominating committee for the positions of president, vice-president, secretary, and directors of congregational life, evangelism, or neighborhood ministries are encouraged to contact Adam Krueger, congregational president.

     Also on the agenda are several constitutional and bylaw amendments presented to the congregation by the Vestry, which were attached to this issue of The Olive Branch as a separate document in the weekly email.  The first page, the constitutional amendments, is a second hearing of amendments presented and approved at the October semi-annual meeting.  Should these be approved again, with at least a 2/3 majority of those present and voting, they will be formally ratified.  The second pages are bylaw amendments which only need the one hearing and vote at this meeting.  Included in these amendments are bylaws establishing a business and finance committee, directed by the treasurer, and some corrective edits to several directors’ bylaws.

Dusting and Polishing Day

     The Altar Guild will host a chancel-cleaning event Saturday, March 16 (tomorrow!), from 9:00 to 11:00 a.m. Bring your favorite duster and polishing rags, and help prepare our worship space for Holy Week and Easter. Questions? Contact Beth Gaede: bethgaede [at] comcast [dot] com.

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.

Music & Fine Arts Event Date Revision

     Please note that the Uptown Brass will appear in concert at Mount Olive on April 21, 4:00 p.m. (not April 14, as previously published!).

     These five world-renowned brass virtuosos are all members of the Minnesota Orchestra and will present an exciting concert of gorgeous brass sonorities featuring great music ranging from Bach to Piazolla.

Book Discussion Group

     For the April 13 meeting the Book Discussion group will discuss In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant.  For the May 11 meeting we will discuss Children of God by Mary Doria Russell.  This is the sequel to her novel, The Sparrow, which we read earlier.

From the Vision Leadership Team

     A member of Mount Olive recently asked about our current “visioning” process after reading about it in The Olive Branch.  He said the very concept got him thinking about visions and wondering if there might be people in the congregation or known by members who see visions today.  It wouldn’t be surprising if there were.  There is a strong and long history in both Christian and Jewish tradition of God giving visions to select individuals in particular ways that edified and strengthened the Church.  Consider the prophet, Isaiah, or Hildegard von Bingen, a twelfth century Benedictine nun.

     “Isaiah, Mighty Seer of Old” is a powerful hymn to Isaiah’s vision of the throne room of God that continues to inspire Christians of all ages with its imagery and majesty.  Likewise the writings of Saint Hildegard have seen a remarkable rise in popularity in recent decades as people find themes in her visions that speak to many modern concerns: bringing science, art, and theology together; social justice and the duty of seeing that every person has opportunity to use their God-given talents; nature as God’s creation entrusted to our care to be used for our benefit but not to be mangled or destroyed.

     If there are people with even a hint of such vision in our midst, it is crucial to include what they "see" in Mount Olive’s visioning process.  The challenge, of course, is to engage them and provide opportunities to share their vision.  We may not know who they are or even whether they are.  They could be quite average or they might appear rather strange.  They may be heavily involved in parish life or somewhere on the fringes.  They may not even know themselves that God wants to use them in this way.

     We trust that God has a plan for Mount Olive and has important work for us do.  So we have committed to seek out opportunities for our people to catch and share their vision for what our ministries might look like.  We want each and every member to be involved in the process, allowing God to speak to us through prayer, Word, and Sacrament, observations of life in our neighborhoods, interviews with community leaders, and three focused congregational meetings.  Each of these will offer an opportunity for God-given visions to be shared, heard, and nurtured. Watch The Olive Branch in coming weeks for ways in which God might use you to reveal his vision for Mount Olive.

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month!

     It’s not too late to donate cash or groceries to the local food shelf during Minnesota FoodShare month in March. Minnesota Fooshare is the largest annual statewide food drive, mobilizing over 2,500 congregations, businesses, schools and civic organizations.   The Minnesota Council of Churches is just one of the sponsors of this annual event, which has a rich 31-year tradition celebrating the generosity of Minnesotans.  Hunger, however, is another fact of life in Minnesota.  According to Second Harvest, 100 million meals a year are missed by the citizens of this state.  Minnesota FoodShare serves 300 food shelves that in turn serve individuals and families in need of food.  The goal this year is $1 million in donated gifts.  A donation of money more than doubles the amount of food available to food shelves, because food shelves can purchase food at discounted prices.  If you choose to give in this way, make your check payable to Mount Olive and write Food Shelf on the memo line. If you prefer to donation non-perishable groceries, they may be brought to the cart in the coat room.

Have You Noticed?
Capital Campaign Tithe Display

     The current display in the Display case next to the Coat Room (between the church narthex and parish house) currently features information of an the last chapter of  Mount Olive’s most recent Capital Campaign, begun in 2007.  This effort, in which members and friends of the congregation raised over $1.1 million, made the renovated and welcoming spaces of the parish house, office spaces, and kitchens possible without incurring additional debt.  But in true Mount Olive fashion, the congregation chose to also set aside a tithe of the capital funds for use outside our walls.

     With $111,000 to share, it was decided to fund a few larger projects and multiple smaller projects and people and organizations were invited to submit requests to be reviewed by a team comprised of people from the Neighborhood Ministries and Mission committees as well as members from the congregation at-large.  The goal was to fund capital projects that embodied the ideals of the congregation and might also provide opportunities for future partnership with funded organizations.  Knowing that not all requests could be funded the application and review process was also seen as an opportunity to expand our knowledge of organizations serving God’s people both locally and internationally.

     The display case highlights the organizations that received funding as well as their response to your generosity.  A quick summary of the work these gifts enabled:

• Aliveness Project-a local agency serving persons living with HIV/AIDS is in the process of relocating and our gift was matched 100% to move them closer to the reality of occupying and furnishing these new spaces.

• Alliance Housing develops, owns and operates affordable housing in south Minneapolis.  Our gift will help furnish the apartments slated for East 26th and 17th Ave S.

• Bethania Kids is a long-time favorite mission of the congregation to the children of India.  Your funds to them are enabling them to open a new childcare center in the state of Orissa to provide medical and educational support and benefit to the people of this region.

• Common Hope, a mission to the people of Guatemala, received a grant to launch a new initiative that would assist families of young children provide the literacy skills necessary to succeed in school by providing training and children’s books.

• Division of Indian Work, Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches serves the social needs of urban American Indians while honoring their cultural traditions.  The funds they received enables them to update their computer lab used by young people to increase their technology and job skills.

• Lutheran Summer Music program received funds that allowed them to upgrade their again technology and broaden their reach to the youth of the church and also acquire a complete Bach Cantata collection that will serve not only as a resource to their ongoing work with youth, but also be available for loan to congregations unable to purchase music of this caliber of their own.

• Lutheran Social Services-seed funding to help build the Center for Changing Lives on Park Avenue.  This multi-function facility provides space for worship, meeting, and serving the needs of those who come to LSS for help.

• Minnesota without Poverty was granted funds to improve the Art Shoppe, a venture MOLC has been involved with from the start that enables artists to market their creations and realize an income from their work.  Funds will be used to make their store (in the Global Market near the church) more accessible for the artists and patrons alike.

• Our Saviour’s Community Services is another long-time partner with MOLC.  Their English Learning Center was in need of some new tables and updated materials to continue to be effective in helping adult immigrants and refugees gain fluency and increased independence and your gifts made that possible.

• St Paul Partners is a non-profit based in St Paul that enables the people of Tanzania to have universal access to safe water and health education.  Funds provided from the Capital Campaign Tithe have been dedicated to the construction of a new well in the Iringa Region of Tanzania.

     So on behalf of the countless lives touched by your generosity and compassion, in the moment and in the future, thank you.  Stop by the display case to read more about each of these projects as well as to hear from those who have benefited directly from this extraordinary effort.  To God alone be glory!

Liturgical Servers: Important Notice about Albs

     Acolytes, sacristans, assisting ministers, anyone who wears an alb, please check your alb’s condition.  Easter is coming and these garments need to be clean and wax-free, so let me know if yours is not.  If you are wearing alb #19, please let me know, because it needs to be replaced.

– Carol Austermann

National Lutheran Choir to Present Bach’s Mass in B Minor
Thursday, March 21, 2013 - 7:00pm
Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis

     Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in B minor (BWV 232) stands as one of the landmark creations in music history. The work was among the last composed by Bach before his death in 1750. The Mass was never performed in its totality during Bach's lifetime and it disappeared for much of the 18th century. Felix Mendelssohn, among others, was responsible for a revived interest in Bach's work and so there were a number of performances of the entire Mass in the early 19th century.

     Soloists Susan Palo Cherwien (soprano), Susan Druck (alto), Matthew Anderson (tenor), Paul Max Tipton (baritone) and many of the region's finest orchestra musicians will accompany us for this one-night-only performance.

     For ticket information, call 612-722-2301 or visit their website:  Don't miss it!

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