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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Olive Branch, 10/30/13

Accent on Worship

All Saints Day

     My grandmother was an awe-inspiring lady; she could turn any gathering into a celebration, leftovers into a feast, and a spare piece of paper and a bit of paint or scraps of fabric into a work of art. So many of my happiest childhood memories are wrapped up in her and the special times that she created.  My grandma was one of many who handed down the faith to me. In sharing her life, she shaped my values, my convictions—even how I decorate. When she passed away, I lost not only my grandma, but one of my dearest friends.

     After her funeral, I sat in her sewing room, surrounded by the works of her hands and the pictures of those whom she loved, and I wept. I trusted that she was with God, but I wanted her with me. At the age of 22, I thought of all the years that I would have to live without her, and of all the new memories that would not include her. I couldn’t help but weep for how long I would have to wait to be with her again. And my heart ached at the prospect of this: was I never again to hear her sweet voice singing in the kitchen? Never again to sit at the table with her over a cup of tea?

     But on this All Saints Day, I am reminded that the distance between us is not as far as I had once imagined. Those whom we have loved and who have died are still held in God’s loving care and so never really leave us. We are bound to them and they to us: knit together into the Body of Christ. And so, my grandma is not that far away after all: her voice is among those singing praises around the throne, and when I come to the Eucharist, I meet my grandma and all the saints at our Lord’s Table.

     In worship, especially on All Saints Day, we are made aware that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we commune with all those whose memories are still treasured in our hearts. We remember those who have gone before us and joined the great cloud of witnesses that surrounds us daily. We give thanks to God for giving them to us to love, and for the ways that God has worked through them to shape us.

     But on this day, we also remember our own baptisms into Christ’s life and death: we are also counted among the saints. It is a day for celebrating what is yet to come: the end of tears and pain, and the coming of God’s kingdom in all of its fullness. It is a day for hearing again the promise of eternal life that is meant for all the saints in all times and places. And this particular All Saints Day is a day for celebrating the entrance of two new saints into this cloud of witnesses, whom God will claim as God’s own in the waters of baptism this Sunday.

     Death has been swallowed up in the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ, for our beloved dead and for us, so that we may live in confidence and in hope until we are gathered to our heavenly home in the company of all the saints.

     Peace, hope, and the joy of what is yet to come, be with you, dear Saints.

       - Vicar Emily Beckering

Sunday Readings

November 3, 2013 – All Saints Sunday
Daniel 7:1-3, 15-18 + Psalm 149
Ephesians 1:11-23 + Luke 6:20-31

Nov. 10, 2013 – Time after Pentecost, Sunday 32
Isaiah 1:10-18 + Psalm 32:1-7
2 Thessalonians 1:1-4, 11-12 + Luke 19:1-10

Adult Forum 

November 3: “Praying with Icons” A discussion led by Dwight Penas about how icons are "structured" to draw us to prayer, how they can influence how and for what we pray.

All Saints

     On All Saints Sunday, November 3, we remember and celebrate those who have preceded us in the faith and now “from their labors rest.” We recite their names; we light votives in their memory. And in the Adult Forum that day, we’ll have a chance to walk among some of them. There will be a display of icons of some of our forebears in the faith.  There will be a discussion about how icons are "structured" to draw us to prayer, how they can influence how and for what we pray. And then we’ll be free to view the icons, walking among the saints of old (any maybe not-so-long-ago), venerating them as we see fit.

     If you have an icon that you would like to set among others, we welcome and encourage you to do so. Please, if you bring an icon for display, help us: Bring only icons of persons, not events. Put your name on the back of the icon lest it go astray. And identify the icon: Who is it? If the person is relatively unknown, why is that person memorable?

A Word From Your Pastor:

Sisters and brothers,

As we approach November at Mount Olive we begin to consider the question of stewardship, as we always do.  We have already approved a budget, as is our custom here, well before we have asked each other to pledge our giving for 2014.  This is a little uncommon in congregations of the ELCA, but it is a good thing.  We commit to the grace we will attempt to do as servants of Christ in this place, and then we commit to each other how we will keep those promises.

I find this time in our life together to be extremely exciting and hopeful.  God has blessed us so much, and I hear from so many a desire to live our lives in that blessing in ways that are significant and which make a difference.  The visioning leadership team has heard this same deep desire from all of you that we might find more ways to be involved in service in this place and in the world, and as you heard at the October semi-annual meeting, that desire is taking shape in the vision that Mount Olive is sensing God is placing before us.  I am confident that we are growing in a direction there that is led by the grace of the Holy Spirit in our midst.  (For a refresher on the current status of the visioning, please see the two reports attached to the Olive Branch on the October 16 issue, or ask the church office for copies, which were handed out at the Oct. 20 meeting.)
But this week and next in the Olive Branch, leading to our worship on Sunday, Nov. 10, I want to raise some questions and thoughts for our consideration as brothers and sisters in Christ as we consider the way we financially are called to serve.  What I would like us to think about is the possibility that in the next few years we might see this congregation, see ourselves, learn a new way of stewardship of our wealth in addition to that of our talents.

This is, and always has been, a generous congregation.  We have a long history of faithfully meeting our obligations and, if there is additional need expressed, a history of rising to the occasion and meeting that.  This is good.  However, given the outpouring of grace we all receive daily from the Triune God, the inexpressible joy and sustenance we have in the privilege of gathering weekly for Eucharist together, the experience of the very presence of our God in Word and Sacrament and in each other, perhaps we might consider that we are drawn to find a deeper, more committed response.
Simply put, we know we can take care of the basic needs of this congregation, building, staff, various resources and so on.  We commit a relatively small percentage, 11 percent, beyond that to give away, to serve in the world, and as many of you have pointed out at our October semi-annual meetings each year, we don’t challenge ourselves much to increase what we do in those areas.

So the first question I have for all of us to ponder is this: if the good news of God’s love so transforms our lives and gives us hope in life and in death, what might it mean if we sought to let our financial practices follow that joy, that transformation?  What if we began to commit to each other that our passion to serve as the Body of Christ led us to deepen, each of us, our financial commitment to each other and to the mission we share?  Not so we can make ends meet: we’re very good at that.  No, so our lives can show forth the Gospel in ways we might have never dared imagine before.

I am convinced that there is so much more God could be working through us, and the means to do those things are in our grasp, in our pocketbooks, in our resources.  Should we dare to ask, the Holy Spirit could enflame us to a way of transformational giving which will astonish and delight us and bring God’s grace to this broken, suffering world.

Let us pray about this and talk about this together.  As you consider your pledge for next year, ask yourself what it would mean to let go of more than you thought possible out of the abundance that you know God has given you and from the joy that you will experience from what God will do with what you have given.  As Paul said to the Corinthians, “God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.”  (2 Cor. 9:8)  What would it mean for us to trust Paul and leap into such a sense of our abundance and what God will do with us, with the wealth entrusted to our care?

In the love of Christ,
- Joseph

Mark Your Calendars for NovemberFest!

     On Sunday, November 17, the Congregational Life Committee will hold a NovemberFest Fundraising Dinner. This event will be a fun opportunity for Mount Olive members and friends to visit with each other and guests, eat a wonderful meal of German food prepared by members of our church, play some games (led by Hans Tisberger), all to help raise money for new ovens for the Undercroft kitchen.  A freewill offering will be received. If you want to come, stop and sign up afte both services on November 3 & 10, so we know how much food to prepare.

Theology on Tap

Faith journey conversations for folks 21 and up
When: Tuesday, Nov. 19, 7:30 pm
Where: Longfellow Grill, 2990 W. River Pkwy, Minneapolis
Topic: That “small, quiet voice”-- how and when do you hear it, what does it tell you, what gets in the way?
Contact: Bob Anderson, 952-937-8656

“How Long, O Lord?”
Thursday Evening Bible Study Begins Next Week!

     In Psalm 13, David cries out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” No doubt David is not the only one to ask God these questions, for here is not a household untouched by pain or suffering. Thursday evenings starting on Nov. 7, Vicar Beckering will lead a topical study on the Biblical witness to suffering and who God is for us in the midst of that suffering. This Bible study series will meet Thursday evenings in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and run for six weeks, with the exception of Thanksgiving. Each gathering will begin with a light supper. All are welcome!

Galatians Study at Becketwood 

     Pr. Crippen is offering a second run of the current six week Galatians Bible study at Becketwood Cooperative on six Tuesday afternoons. This study examines one of Paul’s most important and influential letters.

     The idea behind offering a second time for this study is to provide a time during the day for this study (currently running on Thursday evenings at Mount Olive), and also to offer it in a place where it might be easier for some to attend than getting to church. Note: This is not only for Mount Olive members, nor is it only for those who live at Becketwood. It was just thought that this is a relatively central location, and having an afternoon meeting is better for some who don’t like driving in the evenings.  All who are interested in this study are welcome! Becketwood is at 4300 W. River Parkway in Minneapolis.

 Book Discussion Group

     Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. at church. For Nov. 9, they will read Parade's End, by Ford Madox Ford, and for December 14, The Optimist's Daughter, by Eudora Welty.

Daylight Savings Time ends this weekend!
Don’t forget to set your clocks 
back one hour on Saturday night.

Volunteer Opportunities Abound

     On Sunday, November 10, during both coffee times representatives from various Mount Olive groups will be available to talk about volunteer opportunities with their committees and groups. Please come see what volunteers accomplish at Mount Olive and what opportunities exist for service at Mount Olive. Volunteering is a great way to serve  our congregation and our neighbors.

An Update from Jessinia Ruff

Jessinia left in August 2013 to live in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic with SCORE (Sharing, Christ, Our, Redeemer, Enterprises) International's GAP year program (Global Adventure Pursuit) until the beginning of May 2014. She is studying Spanish and Biblical study classes as well as doing mission work in the local church and a nearby village of San Jose.

 Hello Mount Olive!

I miss my home church dearly. I am currently writing from my apartment in Juan Dolio, Dominican Republic. Down the street from me is the Church of Juan Dolio where I have been attending and serving through leading worship (in Spanish!). Tuesday through Friday I attend classes. There are 12 students in the program here ages 18-24. I have Spanish for 4 hours in the mornings in which I am able to apply what I'm learning immediately into my life. I also am taking Biblical studies classes in the afternoons. The topics differ every week. So far I have studied Bibliology, Spiritual Disciplines, Old Testament Poetry, the book of Joshua, leadership and Anthropology. My faith is deepening greatly in each of the hard questions asked and topics explored. It is challenging me to really think about who God is and who I am in Christ.

On Mondays I travel to the nearby village of San Jose where a missionary has planted a church, clinic, and school. I am starting a ministry with the teenage girls of the village. As of right now I am still building relationships with the girls along with building my Spanish skills so I may better communicate with them. These girls are not Christians and have parents who look down upon Christianity. My goal is to love, encourage and serve these girls in whatever way I can to show them who Jesus is. This is one of the hardest endeavors I have ever been on but has by far been the most rewarding. I enjoy the people here: the students, the missionaries, and the Dominicans. I love living near the beach and am soaking up the warm climate.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to live and serve here for 6 more months. I return for two weeks at Christmas and look forward to seeing you all then. Thank you for all of your support and prayers. I would love hearing from you through email ( You can also read more about what I'm doing and how you can help, visit my blog here:
     - Jessinia Ruff

Church Library News

      As we savor and reflect on the passing days of Fall, the newest display of interesting and worthwhile books in our church library include:

Hill Country Harvest, by Hal Borland
Homeland: A Report from the Country, by Hal Borland
Borland Country, by Hal Borland
Farming the Lord’s Land: Christian Perspectives on American Agriculture, by Charles P. Lutz, ed.
A Fine and Peaceable Kingdom, by Kent Durden
Wild Goose, Brother Goose, by Mel Ellis
Gifts of an Eagle, by Kent Darden
From the Orange Mailbox: Notes from a Few Country Acres, by A. Carman Clark
Confessions of a New Bird Watcher and Conversation With a Barred Owl, both by Margaret Clarkson
Winds in the Woods: The Story of John Muir, by John Stewart
The Flight of the Snow Geese, by Des and Jen Bartlett
Wood Carving, by Freda Skinner
Lads Before the Wind: Adventures in Porpoise Training, by Karen Pryor, w/Introduction by Konrad Lorenz.

     I’ll close with two quotes from Ralph Waldo Emerson that I have shared before but they are always timely and appropriate to consider:  "Libraries Change Lives," and "In a library we are surrounded by many hundreds of dear friends."

- Leanna Kloempken

Attention, Bakers!

     We will again be baking communion bread for most liturgies in November through May.  There is currently a regular group of five bakers, but additional bakers are always welcome. If you might be interested in baking communion bread, Please contact John and Patsy Holtmeier either by email to, or by phone: 952-582-1955.

National Lutheran Choir
All Saints Concerts: “REMEMBER”

Saturday, November 2, 2013 - 7:00pm
St. Andrew's Lutheran Church
900 Stillwater Street
Mahtomedi, MN 55115

Sunday, November 3, 2013 - 4:00pm
St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran Church
17205 County Road Six
Plymouth, MN 55447

     Choral classics, poetic offerings and a quiet space for remembrance blend for an unforgettable experience. These concerts are sure to sell-out, so order your tickets today!

     Craig Hella Johnson, renowned conductor and founder of the Grammy-nominated choral ensemble, Conspirare, guest conducts this year's All Saints program, with Organist/pianist Bill Chouinard.

     For additional information and tickets, please contact the National Lutheran Choir office at 612-722-2301, or visit their website:

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