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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Olive Branch, 11/27/13

Accent on worship

     This week as I considered the beginning of Advent, the church’s New Years’ Day,  perhaps a bit irreverently I found my mind going back to the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, with Bill Murray. He played Phil Connors, a reporter sent to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to report on the festivities surrounding the celebrity rodent. In the movie, the twist is that when his alarm goes off the next morning, he begins a cycle of repeating the same Groundhog Day over and over again. Of course he is soon able to predict each occurrence that he encounters, because he had “been there” the day before.

     Doesn’t that sound like our church year, except we have a three-year cycle?

     Have you heard the phrase, “they always showed up”? It’s a phrase I hear as I check references related to someone I may consider hiring. It is, of course, intended to be complimentary. Who would say anything derogatory when asked to provide a reference? To my cynical, now senior-citizen ears, it sounds distinctly negative. I ask myself, did the person do or accomplish anything once they “showed up”? This empty affirmation is consistent with our current social consciousness, where we cannot accept anything but affirmation. (Have you noticed that in youth sports, there can no longer be winners or losers, and that everyone gets a trophy?)

     Does the promise of salvation through our baptism sometimes allows us a similar type of “no losers in this game” mentality?  All we have to do is “show up” (or not)! After all, we know the end of the story.

     Nothing sets us Christians at odds with the world like the season of Advent.  This year I saw the first signs of the approaching, “Holiday Season” the week after Labor Day! We Advent Christians drag our feet until Advent 4, and then hang the greens. We have our own “Black Friday”, it will be April 18 this year.

     So if Advent is all about preparation, for what are we preparing this year that we didn’t prepare for last year or the year before?

     The Church celebrates its New Year on December 1 this year. Perhaps when our alarm goes off, and we expect to start the same predictable Groundhog Day, we need to realize that this Incarnation invites a response from us, it requires far more of us than just showing up. Wachet auf! Preparation asks us to see December 25 through the eyes of the thief we heard about on Christ the King Sunday, and then to respond accordingly. Each moment of every day, preparation asks us to find, make, and LIVE that connection to our Incarnate Lord.

     Thank God for Advent!

    - Al Bipes 

Sunday Readings

December 1, 2013 – First Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 2:1-5 + Psalm 122
Romans 13:11-14 + Matthew 24:36-44

December 8, 2013 – Second Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 11:1-10 + Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Romans 15:4-13 + Matthew 3:1-12

Thanksgiving Eucharist
Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28
10:00 a.m.

     Bring non-perishable food items to help re-stock local food shelves. Monetary donations are especially welcome (for every $1 donated, food shelf personnel are able to buy about $9 worth of food!)
     The entire offering received at the Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day will be given to Sabbathani Community Center and Community Emergency Services.

Advent Procession to be Held This Sunday, December 1 – 4:00 p.m.

All are invited to this contemplative service of lessons and carols for Advent.

Please Note

Church offices will be closed this Friday, November 29 (the day after Thanksgiving).

Incarnation Icon

     Adam Krueger and Thomas Fenner have commissioned an Incarnation icon, which they are giving to Mount Olive in memory of Adam’s mother. The icon writer (or painter), Nicholas Markell (who also wrote the icon of the Ascension in Mount Olive's columbarium), will present the icon to Adam and Thomas and will discuss the icon -- its genesis, its symbolism, its meanings -- at the Adult Forum on December 8 (rescheduled from December 1 as previously announced).

2014 Pledge Cards

     A letter and pledge card for 2014 was sent to Mount Olive members last week. The Stewardship Committee would like to have all pledge cards returned by this Sunday, December 1, either to the church office or placed in the designated box next to the coat area.

Thursday Evening Bible Study

     On Thursday evenings (except for Thanksgiving Day) through December 19, Vicar Beckering is leading 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 meets in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Each gathering will begin with a light supper. All are welcome!

 Creche Needed

     Our Godly Play church school program is in need of a Christmas creche, preferably one made of wood that the children can handle.  If you have one you can donate or loan to us for a while, please bring it to the church office.  Thank you!

 -  Patsy Holtmeier and Carol Austermann

Mittens + Gloves = Warm Hands

     At the Community Meals in December (7th and 21st), mittens and glove will be given to our guests who need/want them. If you would like to donate mittens and/or gloves to this cause, please call Irene Campbell at 651/230-3927.

Book Discussion Group

     For December 14, The Book Discussion group will discuss The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty, and on January 18 (postponed one week due to the Liturgy Conference), we will discuss Moon Tiger, by Penelope Lively.

How are you?

     “Just fine!” or some similar response is often our automatic reply.  If things aren’t really all that fine, we aren’t sure the inquirer really wants to know so we hesitate to elaborate further.  The fact is life brings changes to each of us and we are often surprised by how difficult and even painful these changes can be.  As Christians we know we can share the complications of life with each other, but often we aren’t sure how to go about it.

     Mount Olive Congregational Care group would like to open a conversation so that those of us who care for others can share experiences and insights, and in so doing, strengthen one another through shared faith.  A four-week structured group will be offered at Mount Olive on Fridays at 1:00 PM beginning December 27. Cathy Bosworth, Vicar Emily Beckering and Marilyn Gebauer will act as facilitators. Each week a brief educational component will be offered with equal time for each person to share personally in a confidential, supportive setting.

     If you have interest in attending, or have questions about this, please call Cathy Bosworth or Marilyn Gebauer. Cathy can be reached at 952-949-3679 or Marilyn can be reached at 651-704-9539 or If four or more people have interest in participating, each will be contacted to confirm the group will meet as planned.

To the Wearers of Albs

     As the season of Advent approaches and the worship assistants’ albs get more frequent use, please take a moment or two to check your alb to see if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Take a good, long look! Also, look for additional information on the alb closet door. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Carol Austermann at 612/722-5123.

Caring Bridge

     Several have asked for a Caring Bridge web address for Gene Hennig. His daughter, Kate, has asked us to share the following, for those who want the latest updates on his surgery and recuperation:

Communion Ministry at Mount Olive

     We are looking to add some new Communion Ministers to our team.

      As an extension of Pastor Crippen’s ministry, each week Communion Ministers visit members of our congregation who aren’t able to attend a Sunday service because of a short-term recuperation or long-term illness. During our visits, we share the Eucharist, creating a connection to our weekly worship.

     Each year Communion Ministers make more than 200 visits, and we want make sure we meet the needs of congregation members as they arise.

     We typically ask Communion Ministers to visit 1-2 members one time per month, and while the visits are usually on Sundays, they can be scheduled for other days, too.

     If you are interested in becoming a part of this rewarding experience or would like more information about it, please contact Tom Graves and Ginny Agresti at 651-292-1685, or by email at

Fair Trade Craft Sale

     The Missions committee is hosting a Fair Trade Craft Sale during Advent. Purchase beautiful and unique Fair Trade items from SERVV International, 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.

     The crafts will be available for purchase after both services on December 1, 8 and 15 (cash and check only).  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.

ELCA Disaster Relief: Super Typhoon Haiyan

     Gifts designated to "Pacific Typhoon Response" will be used by Lutheran Disaster Relief in full – 100 percent – to help with immediate and long-term need. Your generous offerings of prayer and financial support will help those affected as they journey to recover.

     If you wish to make a donation toward relief efforts, use your blue missions envelope or any other and mark it clearly for Typhoon Relief. This past Sunday, November 17, Mount Olive members contributed $2420 toward this effort. The need is great, and our continued donations help.

Field Trip!

     Interested in attending the largest choral music event in the world?  Ever seen the film “The Singing Revolution” or maybe have heard the recent concert of the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir?  Ever thought of visiting Saint Saviour’s Church in Riga, Latvia that Mount Olive was instrumental in resurrecting (with Arden and Jana Haug) in the 1990’s?

     Join former Mount Olive Cantor Mark Sedio and his partner, Jeff Sartain as they lead a trip to the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this summer from June 27 through July 7.  The group will visit three interestingly diverse capital cities: Vilnius (Lithuania - a gem of a city with stunning Baroque architecture and a center of Jewish learning), Riga (Latvia’s lovely capital - not only lots of red brick like Copenhagen but also a treasure chest of a peculiar brand of Art Nouveau), and finally Tallinn (Estonia - boasting one of the best preserved Medieval city centers in all of Europe).  The culmination of the trip is the All-Estonia LAULUPIDU (the Song Festival which happens only once every five years) in which 120,000 people join together in song. It is one of the largest choral events in the world!  All this, plus side trips to places like Cesis (Latvia) - a pristinely preserved Latvian town and the Estonian island of Saaremaa with its many windmills, mysterious crater lakes, and one of Europe’s largest stone Teutonic fortresses.

     Tour brochures are available in the church office. For more information, contact Mark at 612/767-9230 or

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