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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Olive Branch, 3/26/14

Accent on Worship


You’ve heard it said, “Seeing is believing.” You’ve also heard it said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn. 20:29). The trouble with believing only what we see is that our own sight (our perceptions, evaluations, and understanding) is often skewed, deceptive, and can lead us astray.

This week’s gospel—the story of Jesus healing a man born blind—reveals just how misleading our own sight can be. The Pharisees in the gospel refuse to see Jesus and the man as anything but sinners. The man’s neighbors cannot see passed his status as a blind man who begged. Even the man’s parents are unable to see the beauty of their son’s healing because they are afraid of being associated with Jesus. Everyone’s sight in this story is obstructed by fear for their own security and by pre-conceived notions about God, the Messiah, and the man born blind. How often our own fear or prejudices prevent us from seeing how God is at work and inhibit us from experiencing God’s intent for our lives!

Unlike the Pharisees, the neighbors, and even his own parents, the man born blind does not act out of fear. Instead, he trusts what Jesus says about how to be healed and about who Jesus is. Because he relies on Jesus’ promises, the man who once was blind is the sole person in the story who can really see: he alone recognizes Jesus as the Son of God.

After hearing this, we may ask, “Which group do we belong to, Lord? Are we those who do not see or those who think that we see but will become blind?”

Our fear of judgment prevents us from seeing Jesus—from believing the good news—that Jesus comes to everyone in the gospel and to all of us in order to heal us all from our inability to see as well as from false sight. He comes to us in the preached and written word, in the Eucharist, and through one another so that we might know him, and live in the joy of a relationship with the Triune God. Day by day, in this relationship, Jesus invites us to see ourselves and one another as God sees us—precious, worth healing and love. When we believe this, scales fall from our eyes, fear loses its power, and we are truly healed. That is seeing.

- Vicar Emily Beckering

Sunday Readings

March 30, 2014: Fourth Sunday in Lent
1 Samuel 16:1-13
Psalm 23
Ephesians 5:8-14
John 9:1-41

April 6, 2014: Fifth Sunday in Lent
Ezekiel 37:1-14
Psalm 130
Romans 8:6-11
John 11:1-45

Bishop Visits Mount Olive

     We are happy to welcome Bishop Ann Svennungsen, who is bishop of the Minneapolis Area Synod, our synod, to Mount Olive this coming Sunday, March 30, the Fourth Sunday in Lent.    

     The bishop will preach at both liturgies and will do the Adult Forum between liturgies.  This is her first official visit to this congregation since her election in 2012.

This Week’s Adult Forum 

March 30:  A conversation with Bishop Ann Svennungsen, Minneapolis Area Synod.  

Midweek Lenten Worship on Wednesdays
March 12 – April 9

Noon: Holy Eucharist, followed by soup luncheon
7:00 pm: Evening Prayer, preceded by soup supper, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Notice of Congregation Meeting

     The April Semi-annual congregational meeting will be held after the second liturgy on Sunday, April 6.   Business before the congregation will include election of officers and Vestry members for 2014-2015, annual report of the Mount Olive Foundation, and an update on the Capital Campaign.

     At the April 2013 congregation meeting, the congregation approved a limited capital campaign that would help to put Mount Olive and its many ministries on firm financial footing in 2014 and beyond.  A target of $182,000 was approved to be used for two purposes. The first is to restore funds that the congregation borrowed over a number of years from its restricted accounts (funds given by individuals who designated them for specific purposes); and the second is to create a cash reserve to help cover routine future expenses at times when donations are insufficient.

Vestry Nominees

     At the semi-annual congregation meeting on April 6, the following slate of nominees for Vestry positions will be presented to the congregation for voting.  Nominations may also be made from the floor.

President:  Lora Dundek (second 1-year term)
Vice President:  Robert Gotwalt (first 1-year term)
Secretary:  Peggy Hoeft (second 1-year term)
Treasurer:  Kat Campbell-Johnson (third 1-year term)
Director of Education:  John Holtmeier (filling third year of a vacated 3-year term)
Director of Missions:  Judy Hinck (first 3-year term)
Director of Stewardship:   Donn McClellan (first 3-year term)
Director of Youth:  Amy Thompson (filling third year of a vacated 3-year term)

Luther College Cathedral Choir to Perform at Mount Olive

     The Luther College Cathedral Choir will perform in concert at Mount Olive on April 5, 2014, 7:00 p.m. No tickets are needed, but a freewill offering will be received at the concert.

     The Cathedral Choir, directed by Dr. Jennaya Robison, performs a varied program of sacred music, including choral masterpieces by J.S. Bach, Hassler, and Ralph Vaughan Williams. At the heart of the program is Estonian composer’s Ēriks Ešenvalds’ “Stars” for choir, water-tuned glasses and Tibetan singing bowls. Favorite works by Olaf Christiansen, F. Melius Christiansen, Moses Hogan, Z. Randall Stroope, and others are included in an eclectic program suitable for listeners of all ages.

     The choir is in need of housing for some of their members. If you are able to provide hospitality for choir members, please contact Cantor Cherwien as soon as possible.

Housing Needed!

     Housing is needed for Luther College's Cathedral Choir, Saturday, April 5.  If you can house two or more students,  PLEASE call the office,  or let Cantor Cherwien know this Sunday or the following Sunday.  He'll be roaming the church with the clipboard.

     Students will need to be picked up and brought to your home after their concert here at 7:00 pm,   maybe a snack that evening.   Two in a double bed is OK.  After providing breakfast for them, they need to be back at Mount Olive at 7:00 am Sunday the 6th.

     There are 23 hosts needed (four each), so if you can help, please do!

Friendly Callers Meeting

     Mount Olive Friendly Callers will meet this Sunday, March 30, immediately following the first liturgy. This meeting will take place in the Undercroft.

     Please bring the names and numbers of the people you are calling on a regular basis.

Thanks ...  
     Many thanks to all who helped with Donna’s retirement party on March 16.
Thanks especially for those who provided assistance with Skype, the video, the photo loop, the decorations, the food, the set-up, the clean-up and all of the other details that helped to make it a joy-filled day for her.

- Carol Austermann

And More Thanks
     I was touched and totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and gratitude from the Mount Olive community at my farewell reception on Sunday, March 16!    
     Thank you for all the years of support for the Mount Olive Neighborhood Ministries programs and all the support that you have given to me.  Thank you for all your kind words and the generous parting gifts.  I have never felt so loved and appreciated as I did that day.

- Donna Neste

A Servant Community: Lenten Midweek

  Baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, the community of the faithful are also bound into the servant role of our Messiah, called to give of ourselves for each other and the world.   Just as the kingdom comes into the world fully when the Son of God sets aside all power and domination and goes to the cross, so too we live out our lives as servant people who are willing to lose all for the sake of the other.

     This Lent in our midweek worship, both at the noon Eucharist and evening Vespers, we will be using Paul’s first letter to Corinth as an entrance into reflection on the servant life of the community of Christ, on what our call means in our life together and our life in the world, on what it is to live in the kingdom of God now.

An Invitation to Confession

     During the season of Lent I am making myself available at some regular times to hear individual confession and to offer absolution to any who desire it.  I will be in the chancel from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. each Monday in Lent, and continuing through the Monday of Holy Week.  If you wish to come for confession, simply come to the altar rail.  There will be a worship book so we can follow the rite together.  If someone is already there, please wait near the back of the nave and when I’m free, come forward.  While waiting, even if I’m free and you want to prepare yourself, praying the psalms in the pew or reading Scripture is worth considering.

- Pr. Joseph Crippen

Paschal Garden

     Volunteers will be on hand for the next two Sundays (March 30 and April 6) before and between the liturgies to receive your donations to purchase Easter flowers for this year’s Paschal Garden.

Noon Liturgy on Maundy Thursday

     There will be a simple noon Eucharist on Maundy Thursday this year, in addition to the Eucharist at 7:00 p.m.  In the evening will be the full rite beginning the Triduum, including confession and absolution, footwashing, and the stripping of the altar.

     The noon service is offered to accommodate those who have difficulty getting out in the evening, and will include confession and absolution and the Eucharist.

Easter Carry-In Brunch

     There will be a carry-in Easter Brunch between liturgies on Easter morning, April 20.  Bring your favorite Easter treats to share.

Holy Week at Mount Olive

Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday, Sunday, April 13
Holy Eucharist, 8 & 10:45 am

Monday-Wednesday of Holy Week, April 14-16
Daily Prayer at Noon, in the side chapel of the nave

Maundy Thursday, April 17
Holy Eucharist at Noon;
Holy Eucharist, with the Washing of Feet, 7:00 p.m.

Good Friday, April 18
Stations of the Cross at Noon;
Adoration of the Cross at 7 pm

Holy Saturday, April 19
Great Vigil of Easter, 8:30 pm, followed by a festive reception

The Resurrection of Our Lord, Sunday, April 20
Festival Eucharist at
8 & 10:45 am

Lenten Centering Prayer Group  

     Sue Ellen Zagrabelny is leading a Centering Prayer group this Lent. The monastic discipline of Centering prayer is an emptying of oneself in prayer in order to be accessible to the Spirit. This Centering Prayer Group will meet at Mount Olive at two different times over a period of 5 weeks:  on Tuesdays after Bible Study, from 1:15 to 1:45 March 4, 11, 18, 25 and April 1; and on Wednesdays, before the Soup Supper at 5:30 to 6:00 on March 12, 9, 19, 26 and April 2. Both sessions will meet in the library.  

Sign Up to Bring Tutoring Snacks

     Check out the snack sign-up sheet for Way to Goals Tutoring in the lower level.  Snacks for approximately 25 youth and tutors are needed on Tuesday evenings through May 27.  Your help is very much appreciated!

Night On the Street

     On Friday night, April 11, Mount Olive and TRUST Youth will again participate in Night On the Street at Plymouth Congregational Church.  Night On the Street is an opportunity for teens to learn about youth homelessness through activities, speakers, and by experiencing what it is like to sleep in a card board box in the parking lot.

     We've been asked to raise enough funds to provide one week’s worth of safe housing and supportive services for a homeless youth, $140 (seven days of housing and supportive services).  All donations to A Night On the Street will go to Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative, which provides housing and services for homeless youth.  If you would like to make a donation, please contact the church office or Julie Manuel.

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month!

     This is an annual event which is supported by congregations and other religious and civic associations throughout Minnesota to help re-stock Minnesota food shelves.

     Mount Olive has participated every year since it began in 1982.  We encourage you to be extra generous with your food or financial donations for our local food shelf during the month of March.  This drive fills the shelves of 300 food shelves across the state of Minnesota.

     Fifty percent of all food shelf recipients are children.  Twenty percent of all adult recipients are elderly.  More than sixty percent of those adults who use food shelves are the working poor.

     If possible, we encourage you to give funds (using your blue missions envelope, clearly labeled for the food shelf) instead of food donations. Ten dollars given to the food shelf can buy $40 worth of food when purchased by the food shelves.  How-ever, all donations are welcome! If you enjoy shopping for food to donate, please place your food donations in the cart in the cloak room.

Use Your Thrivent Choice Dollars Now

     If you entrust your insurance or investment needs to Thrivent Financial, chances are that you have Thrivent Choice Dollars that you can designate to a qualifying charitable organization.  Why not designate your Choice Dollars to our Mount Olive Foundation.  Doing so costs you nothing and it helps to build our church’s endowment.

     You must designate your 2013 Choice Dollars by March 31, 2014.  Here’s how to do it: call a Member Care representative at 800-THRIVENT (800-847-4836) and when prompted, say, "Thrivent Choice;" or Register and designate your dollars online at

     Don’t leave money on the table.  Put it to work at Mount Olive by acting before March 31 (this coming Monday!).

Life Transitions Support Group

     Caregiver? Chronic Illness?  Loss of home?  Loss of loved one?

     We each encounter a variety of losses throughout our lives.  Have you wished for a familiar place where you could find some reassurance, share your story, discover a simple skill or two that could help in those moments when you feel overwhelmed?

       Beginning May 14, join us for a four-week structured support group at Mount Olive.  Cathy Bosworth will serve as facilitator for this group on Wednesday evenings.  Each week a brief educational component will be offered with time for you to share personally in a confidential, supportive setting.  Vicar Emily Beckering will offer guidance on the Lament Psalms, which we will use as a vehicle for prayer and healing.  Tentatively, the group will meet at 6:30 p.m. in the Youth Room. We will establish a firm meeting time  when we know what works best for those who wish to participate.

     If you are interested in attending, or have questions, please contact Cathy Bosworth (952-949-3679, email or call the church office.  If three or more people express interest in participating, each will be contacted to confirm the group will meet as planned.

Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads

For their meeting on April 12, The Book Discussion Group will read Elizabeth and Hazel, by David Margolick. For the May 10 meeting they will read, The Small Hand and Dolly, Susan Hill.

From the Church Library

     In other parts of this newsletter, you will find information about the upcoming congregation meeting on Sunday, April 6.    We are happy to announce that we will be having a free books give-away table at this meeting and you are invited to watch for it and to take advantage of this opportunity.

     Someone asked where the books to be given away come from?  One of the ongoing tasks in our main library includes a periodic weeding of books that are removed from our shelves, but still have merit.  Books may be removed for a variety of reasons, such as: age and condition (is there a newer version of that same book with updated information?); shelf space available in each category (our shelving units just aren't very expandable); plus, we continue to receive quantities of donated books and we have to choose the books that best fill a need in our overall and varied collection, leaving a nice variety of books that will be placed on our give-away table on Sunday, April 6.  By choosing a book (or more) for your own collection, you will be able to have a bit Mount Olive’s library in your own library!

    If there are books left after the congregation meeting, they will be placed on a similar give-away table at the next Community Meal.

     An excellent saying from the writings of John Wesley will close our article this time:  "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as you ever can!"

- Leanna Kloempken

Confirmation Class Pictures of Mount Olive Members  

     Pentecost Sunday, June 8, 2014, is also confirmation Sunday. For the days surrounding Pentecost we would like to display photos of the confirmation classes of current members. They will be in the hallway display case. A small sign next to each photo will identify who’s class is shown, and we will have the opportunity to go on a “where’s Waldo” search of each class photo trying to spot the current member.   After several weeks a sign will then be added identifying the location of the member in the photo.

     If you want to take part and have your confirmation photo in the display case please place your photo in  an envelope and write “To Paul Nixdorf”  and also your name, church and town (and year, if you are willing) in which you were confirmed on the envelope and leave it in the church office.  With the photo please include a note with your name plus a description of where you are located in the photo.  Please submit photos to the office by May 31.

     The display will remain up from the first week in June through early to mid-July. Your photo will then be returned to the envelope you provided and can be picked up at the church office.

Thank you.

- Paul Nixdorf

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