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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Olive Branch, 3/5/14

Accent on Worship

Remember that you are Dust

     We begin this Holy season with the imposition of ashes: a vivid, tangible reminder of our mortality, our need for repentance, and our need for God’s grace.

     Ashes have long served this purpose for the people of God. When lamenting, ancient Israelites would fast, wear sackcloth, and put ashes on their heads to show their sorrow and contrition. We, along with Adam, Eve, and the people Israel, are to name our sin honestly and remember: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.”

     This ritual forces us to face what we can avoid so easily in our culture. In a society where we are told that we can medicate away our pain, overcome any flaw through self-help books, and will or work ourselves into perfection, we can easily deceive ourselves about the urgency of our condition. These ashes, by contrast, point us to the realities of our sin, our brokenness, our inevitable death.

     The ashen cross does not allow us to deny that we have failed to live as God intended: it’s as plain as the cross on our face.

     The very shape of this mark, however, also points us to the one who hung on the cross, to the one who lives beyond the grave.

     Both of these truths are marked on us so that we do not lose sight of either: what we have done/left undone and what God has done for us. Just as we are called to honestly acknowledge our sin, we are shown that our God has already fully dealt with it. We are pointed again beyond ourselves to the one who “is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love,” created human life from dust, gives a garland instead of ashes (Is. 61:3), makes crucifixion yield to resurrection, and brings life out of the ashes of death.

     So as we remember that we are dust and to dust we shall return, we are also reminded just what the Triune God can do with dust and ashes.

- Vicar Emily Beckering

Sunday Readings

March 9, 2014: First Sunday in Lent
 Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
 Psalm 32
Romans 5:12-19
 Matthew 4:1-11

March 16, 2014: Second Sunday in Lent
 Genesis 12:1-4a
 Psalm 121
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17
 John 3:1-17

This Week’s Adult Forum 

March 9: “From Earth, to Eden, to Ground: The Opening Chapters of the Book of Genesis” (part 3 of a 4-part series), presented by Scholar-in-Residence, Prof. Earl Schwartz of Hamline University.  

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.

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, starting March 10, 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.

  Martin Luther, in the Small Catechism, says this about individual confession: “Before God one is to acknowledge the guilt for all sins, even those of which we are not aware, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer.  However, before the pastor we are to confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us.”  (The Small Catechism is printed in our worship book, ELW, in the back; the part where Luther speaks of confession is on p. 1165.)  The value of this practice for Luther was the gift of being able to be honest before another about all sin that troubles us, that one might truly hear the absolution God gives.

  Though Luther was in favor of individual confession continuing, it has fallen out of practice in many Lutheran communities over the centuries since the Reformation.  However, our worship books have retained an order for this because of the wisdom in recognizing that at times people have need of a deeper assurance of their forgiveness which can come from a fuller, more open confession of sin.  My hope in the times I’ve scheduled it is that it might permit both those who are still working full time and those who are retired to have opportunity.  If you are not able to come at any of these times and would desire confession, I am always available as your pastor for that ministry, and not just in Lent.  Please just ask and we’ll set up an appointment.

  You, the people of God at Mount Olive, have called me as your pastor that I might hear your confession and declare God’s forgiveness.  It is my hope in offering these opportunities, in addition to any corporate confession we are accustomed to make in our liturgies, that I might thereby continue to be faithful to this call and in service to you, my sisters and brothers.

- Pr. Joseph Crippen

Pictorial Directory Update

By now you should have received word that Mount Olive’s online pictorial directory is available on a secure page on our website.  Instructions were sent last week via email for signing up to gain access to this page. This can be done at any time.

For those who requested a paper copy of the directory, they are now available for pick up in the church office.

A Farewell Celebration

March 14 will be Donna Neste's last day as our Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator.  Donna has served God and Mount Olive admirably for many decades and it's time to bid her a fond farewell. There will be a meal and celebration after the second liturgy on Sunday, March 16.

Soup-Makers Needed!

     Soup makers are needed to provide soup and bread for our midweek Lenten meals. Soup and bread for the lunch following Wednesday midday Eucharist should feed 40-50 people, and for the supper before Wednesday Evening Prayer, we need soup and bread for about 10-12 people.

     If you can help by signing up to bring a meal (or two!), the sign up chart will be on the refreshment table at coffee hour on Sundays.

2014 Lenten Devotional Books

     Copies of Susan Cherwien’s  Journey Into Lent 2014 are available in the narthex and in the church office, for your devotional use this Lent.

     Again this year, the devotional is also available online. Visit the blog and save it as a favorite, so that it’s easily accessible to you throughout the season of Lent.

March is Minnesota FoodShare Month!

     Donate cash or groceries to the local food shelf during Minnesota FoodShare month in March! 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.

Introducing our new Interim Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator

     The Vestry is pleased to announce that we have hired Ms. Connie Toavs (pronounced "Taves" with a long A sound) as our new interim Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator.

     Connie began her work with Donna Neste this week and will take over after Donna's last day on March 14.

     Connie is retired from a long career working in a variety of affordable housing initiatives at both the federal and local level.   In the words of her resume, her work has focused on:  Low income (affordable) Housing ... with significant experience working directly with families living in public housing, with community agencies, and with public housing residents in the development of collaborations and partnerships to meet the evolving needs of public housing residents; always with a consistent emphasis on building self-sufficiency and resident leadership and always in an urban setting with great diversity of race, culture, age, language and abilities.

     Connie is a long-time active member of Holy Nativity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in New Hope.

     The search committee was impressed with her ability to articulate how her Christian faith has informed her life and work.   Connie will join us frequently on Sunday mornings, including this coming Sunday.

     Please seek her out to welcome her and get to know her!

Centering Prayer Group to Meet During Lent

Sue Ellen Zagrabelny, Mount Olive member and an oblate or lay associate at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, WI is hosting a Centering Prayer group this Lent. Centering prayer, a monastic discipline at the monastery, is an emptying of oneself in prayer in order to be accessible to the Spirit. This Centering Prayer Group will be offered at Mount Olive at two different times over a period of 5 weeks:  on Tuesdays, the group will meet after Bible Study, from 1:15 to 1:45 March 4, 11, 18, 25 and April 1.  On Wednesdays, the group will meet before the Lenten Supper at 5:30 to 6:00 on March 12, 9, 19, 26 and April 2. Both sessions will meet in the library.
     If you have questions, please contact Sue Ellen Zagrabelny at 815-997-6020 or via email to

Every Church a Peace Church

     The next regular bimonthly potluck supper meeting will be on Monday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Stephen Lutheran Church, 8400 France Ave. S. in Bloomington (952-831-4746,

  The speaker for this meeting is Pr. Gwin Pratt.  Pratt is the senior pastor at St. Luke Presbyterian Church in Wayzata. Pr. Pratt will lead a discussion entitled, "Why Should Christians Care about Climate Change?"  The issue of global climate change is of immense importance. The health and economic well-being of literally billions of human beings is at stake.

  It is our hope that many skeptics on ALL sides of this matter will come and join in this discussion.

A Note of Thanks

     A heartfelt word of thanks is extended to all the coffee hosts for January and February.

     These folks helped to make our time of coffee and conversa- tion following Sunday liturgies possible – and more enjoyable!

Joy Obadiaru
Connie & John Marty
Marlene & Jim Sorenson
Mary Crippen and family
Walt & Judy Hinck
Audrey, John and Eleanor  
Paul Odlaug
Gail Neilsen
Lora & Allen Dundek
Sandra & Steve Pranschke
William Pratley & Deb
Donn & Bonnie McLellan
the Missions Committee
Carla Manuel

The Complete Rameau Concerti
Sunday, March 23, 2014, 4 pm
Mount Olive Lutheran Church

     Sponsored by Mount Olive Music & Fine Arts, Tami Morse, harpsichord, Marc Levine, violin, and Tulio Rondon, viol da gambe, will present a complete performance of the five Harpsichord Concertos of Jean-Philippe Rameau.

Spring Ahead!

Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday, March 9. Don’t forget to set your clocks accordingly!

Upcoming Reads

For their meeting on March 8, the Book Discussion Group will read Howards End, by E. M. Forster, and for April 12 they will read Elizabeth and Hazel, by David Margolick.

Adult Forum Earl Schwartz Videos

The four-part adult forum series with Earl Schwartz is being recorded on video and will soon be available to view online using a new Mount Olive Lutheran Church private channel on YouTube. Establishing that secure channel, uploading our videos, and making sure that accessibility for the Mount Olive community is easy, is requiring a bit more time than originally thought. The project is well underway and our team of experts hope to have the process working smoothly soon. Once that occurs we will send a link out to the entire congregation so you can begin viewing this first series of videos and many more in the future.

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