These days we often hear “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” There is much troubling about religious institutions of all kinds. Many people today long for a spirituality, something of the heart and soul, that connects to a greater reality, and shy away from a religion, a human construct that can seem to work against true spirituality.
There’s a lot we could say about this, but as we are in the middle of the season of Advent, there is something Advent could teach about “religion.” The word comes from the Latin, and the Romans used the term as we do, in the same contexts. Its roots are the interesting thing. Religion is from “religio.” “Ligio” gave us “ligament;” it’s a word of connection, linkage. Ligaments keep muscles and bones joined and working together. Re-ligio, religion, is in its deepest sense “reconnecting,” “relinking” with God.
Religion can and has been corrupted by human beings of nearly every culture and faith to become a system which tries to control the divine, or control people, or any number of things which even border on evil.
But what if we claim that deeper root? One of Advent’s central hopes is that God has come, is coming, and will continue to come and be with us. What if we thought of religion as our life of connection to God’s coming? Our prayer, our liturgy, our song, our proclamation of God’s Word all serve to “re-ligament” us to God’s coming into this world and our lives.
When we have our ligaments connecting us to God supple and in good repair, when we have “religion,” we find ourselves more deeply open to the coming of the Holy Spirit into our lives and the world. That’s a spirituality worth praying for. This Advent let us then also pray for “re-ligamenting,” true religion that connects us with the Triune God and each other in the saving life God is bringing to this world.
December 14, 2014: Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
I Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
December 21, 2014: Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55
This Sunday's Adult Forum
There will be no Adult Forum this Sunday, Dec. 14.
All are invited to attend the St. Lucia Scandinavian Brunch.
Fair Trade Craft Sale
The Missions Committee will continue to host the fair trade gift sale. New items have been ordered for the next two weeks. Purchase beautiful and unique fair trade items made by artisans in developing regions around the world. These items are available from SERRV, a nonprofit fair trade organization whose mission is to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.
The handcrafted fair trade items will be available for purchase after both services on December 14 and 21 (cash and check only). See the attachment/insert to view some of the items that will be for sale. 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.
Transitions Support Group
All are welcome to drop in and visit the Transitions Support Group to see if this is a place where you might find some solace and reassurance for the challenges or uncertainties that are before you. This is an opportunity to share in fellowship, prayer, and discussion with others in the Mount Olive community.
Please note the time and location for our next meeting. The next session meets Saturday, January 10, 9:00 am at the home of Richard & Grace Wiechman, 3120 E. Minnehaha Parkway, Minneapolis. It will be facilitated by Amy Cotter and Cathy Bosworth. If you have questions, please contact Cathy at 612-708-1144 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads
For their meeting on December 13, the Book Discussion group will read Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. For the meeting on January 17, (postponed one week because of the Conference on Liturgy) they will read, The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield.
The Book of Esther: Thursday Evening Bible Study Continues
Vicar McLaughlin is leading a study on the Book of Esther, exploring the historical context and many issues raised in this book, including justice, violence, power and privilege, the role of women, the presence of God, and what it means to be called “for such a time as this.”
This study meets in the Chapel Lounge on Thursday evenings, beginning with a light supper at 6:00 pm.
This Bible study runs through next Wednesday, December 18.
Annual Conference on Liturgy: “Common Ground: Hearing the Word Through the Lectionary”
Friday–Saturday, January 9-10, 2015
Each Sunday at Eucharist, Christians of many different traditions gather to be fed by Word and Sacrament and share the same readings from Scripture. In the Revised Common Lectionary there is a visible sign of the unity of the Church for those who know they encounter the same Word of God each week with their sisters and brothers in many places.
This year at Mount Olive’s annual Conference on Liturgy we will explore the richness of this shared, “common” tradition, consider the ways that the use of a common lectionary can bless the life of the parish, and ask questions of its place in the present and future life of the churches who use it.
The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Gail Ramshaw; workshop presenters will be Pastor Joseph Crippen, The Rev. John Setterlund, and Dr. Paul Westermeyer.
Registration fee for Mount Olive members is $35/person.
Christmas Wish Tree
There are needs and wishes on the tree outside the West assembly room (near the coat room) from two families who hope to have a Merry Christmas this year. If you are able, please take an ornament and bring back the wish it names by Dec. 21. These gifts can be put in the box outside the upstairs kitchen.
- Anna Kingman
Wednesdays in Advent
This is a wonderful neighborhood participation opportunity - to witness the nativity story come alive in our own neighborhood! In the Heart of the Beast Theater, along with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, will present LA NATIVIDAD - a bilingual telling of the Christmas story. Audience members move with the puppet actors and process with Maria and Jose as they seek shelter. The show moves from Lake Street to St. Paul's for the Nativity and celebration with music and food.
This event takes place December 11, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, at 6:30pm, starting at Heart of the Beast theater (1500 E. Lake St.). Individual and group tickets are available online at hobt.org.
Flyers with additional information are available at church.
Home Care Holiday Kits for Our Savior’s Housing
Help brighten the holidays and ease the budget of a resident of the Our Saviour's Housing program as they gain stability and a permanent place of their own off the streets. Please create and bring your 'welcome home' gift baskets to church this week or by Sunday Dec. 14th. Suggestions for kits include: glass cleaner, toilet cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, disinfectant wipes, micro-fiber cloths, laundry soap, sponges, fabric softener, dish soap, bleach, bathroom tissue, and paper towels.
If you can help assemble baskets and get them to Our Saviour's on Sunday, please meet Anna Kingman by the West Assembly room around 12:15pm. Thank you!
- Anna Kingman
Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach and Ministry
Alternative Gift Giving
Are you looking for something different to do this year for Christmas gifts? Take part in a growing tradition by giving gifts that help those in need.
The Missions Committee is promoting the idea of alternative gift giving this Christmas. For example, in honor of a loved one you can buy a month of food for a child orphaned by AIDS through ELCA Good Gifts. We have catalogues from different charitable organizations that you can use or you can order from the organizations’ websites. Some of these organizations are:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Lutheran World Relief
Heifer Project International
Common Hope http://commonhopecatalog.myshopify.com/
Christmas Worship Schedule
Christmas Eve, December 24
9:30 pm – Choral Prelude
10:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Christmas Day, December 25
9:00 am – Christmas Carry-In Breakfast
10:00 am – Festival Holy Eucharist
Weekly Centering Prayer on Advent Wednesdays
Centering prayer, a silent acknowledging of the presence of the Divine, is held each Wednesday evening in Advent at 6:15 p.m. in the library. Format will begin with a short reading from the Psalms, followed by 20 minutes of silence. We will end with a few moments to come together for a closing prayer.
New to the process? Look for brochures in the rack by the glass display case to get a more detailed description.
Plan on joining us on Wednesday evenings during Advent for Centering Prayer, December 3, 10, and 17.
Seniors Advent Luncheon
Many thanks to all who helped to make this year’s Seniors Advent Luncheon a wonderful event again this year!
It was a great afternoon of dining, singing, and fellowship for all who attended. Thanks to Anna Kingman for sharing photos of this event, they are attached/enclosed with this issue of The Olive Branch.
National Lutheran Choir Christmas Festival Concerts This Weekend:
"The Hopes and Fears of All the Years"
Fri., December 12, 2014 – (4:30 pm & 8 pm) and Sat., December 13, 2014 – 8pm
Basilica of Saint Mary, 88 N. 17th St., Minneapolis
Immerse yourself in the beauty and majesty of the Basilica of Saint Mary for the National Lutheran Choir’s signature Christmas Festival Concert. During this busy season of parties, shopping and rushing around, take time to reflect upon the true meaning of Christmas through sacred song, poetry and readings.
Tickets: $28 Adult, $25 Senior, $10 Student, age 17 and under FREE. For tickets or more information call (888) 747-4589, or visit www.nlca.com.
Mount Olive Christmas Cards
There are still some of the Mount Olive Christmas cards available for sale this year. The cards cost $2.50 each if you buy 5 or less. If you buy 6 or more they are $1.75 each. The cards are available in the church office and will be available Sunday mornings. Please contact Paul Nixdorf or Andrew Andersen with any questions.
Christmas Carry-In Breakfast
All are invited to come to Christmas Day Eucharist an hour early for a Christmas breakfast together, beginning at 9:00 a.m. Bring a favorite breakfast or brunch dish to pass.
Help with the Greens – Up and Down!
Many hands make light work, and there are several opportunities for people to help decorate the nave and chancel for our Christmas celebrations at Mount Olive. On Sunday, Dec. 21, after second liturgy, is the hanging of the greens, where all wreaths and roping are placed. Any who wish to help, just come to the nave after coffee time.
Also, and probably most important given it’s more easily forgotten, the taking down of the greens and trees will happen on Wednesday, Jan. 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. In particular, this last task requires a lot of hands, so having a good group come will make the work much easier.
Staff Christmas Gifts
The six people who work at Mount Olive serve us and God in many and exciting ways. At a recent congregational meeting I stated that it feels as though Mount Olive is "humming on all cylinders" right now, and that is due in large part to our capable and faithful Pastor Joseph, Vicar Meagan, Cantor David, Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator Anna, Administra-tive Assistant Cha and Sexton William. Each year we provide a Christmas gift for them, and we want to remind you of that opportunity again. Please submit your monetary gifts to the church office or in the offering plate. Checks should have "Staff Christmas Gift" noted on the memo line. We have been able to be very generous in the past, and I thank you in advance for your gifts this year.
- Lora Dundek, Vestry President
Sunday, Dec. 14 – 6:30 pm
Join the Minnesota Chorale, under the direction of Kathy Romey, organist Lynn Trapp, and professional soloists in singing G.F. Handel’s much-loved oratorio, Messiah.
Bring your own score (or borrow one or buy one at the event) and come to sing a long or just to listen and enjoy. The event will be held at St. Olaf Catholic Church (215 S. 8th St. in Minneapolis). Free parking is available in the Energy Ramp at 9th St. & 3rd Ave.