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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Olive Branch, 3/11/15

Godly Promises Kept

     Our readings from the Old Testament this Lent have been a journey through a series of covenants the LORD God of Israel made with the people of Israel.  To Noah, to Abraham and Sarah, and to the whole people of God at Sinai and in exile, God promises a relationship, and commits to do certain things, including hold these people in loving faithfulness forever.

     This week is the outlier, the story not of a specific covenant but of God’s way of keeping these promises.  The people have sinned in their wilderness journey, again.  (Isn’t it helpful how much like us they are?)  Angry at Moses, angry at God, they complain, not for the first time.  “There is no food and no water.”  Forgetting they’ve just said there is no food, they add, “And we detest this miserable food.”

     Strangely, serpents then come amongst the people and bite them, and many die.  The writer attributes them to God.  If that’s so, then even more strangely, God immediately instructs Moses to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole, so that if the people look at it they will live, recover from the venom.  And so it is.  The people survive, in spite of their sin.

     It’s a weird story.  Yet Jesus refers to it in Sunday’s Gospel, comparing himself to the serpent on a pole.  He says he will be lifted up so all may see him and live.

     Setting aside the questions around the snake attack, for Israel this moment in the wilderness was a clear sign God had not abandoned them.  When they were in peril, admittedly of their own making, God provided a way to life.  A thousand years later, God’s keeping of the promise of everlasting faithfulness and love to the people leads to the very Son of God being lifted up on the cross to provide a way of life.

     The challenge in God’s covenants with us is our persistent inability, unwillingness, and failure to keep our part.  What we hear on Sunday is, regardless of our failings, we belong to a God who always keeps promises, always, and provides a way to life.  Even if it means dying to do it.

In Jesus’ name,
- Joseph

Sunday Readings

March 15, 2015: Fourth Sunday in Lent
Numbers 21:4-9
Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22
Ephesians 2:1-10
John 3:14-21

March 22, 2015: Fifth Sunday in Lent
Jeremiah 31:31-34
Psalm 51:1-12
Hebrews 5:5-10
John 12:20-33

Sunday’s Adult Forum: March 1-22, 2015

Scholar-in-Residence, Dr. Craig Koester, on the book of Revelation.

Save the Date: Saturday, April 18, 10:00 am-Noon
End of Life Decisions:  The Conversation Continues 

     The conversation began at the February 1 Sunday Forum (to view Pastor Crippen’s presentation online, visit and the February 7 workshop at Mount Olive.

     We will continue to look at how we as people of faith approach our deaths and the deaths of our loved ones by specifically addressing the Honoring Choices Health Care directive. How do we know what we want and what are the options?  How, when, and with whom do we have the conversation?
     These and other questions will be addressed.  Help with completing the form will be available, as well as a notary to finalize any documents that are completed on that date.

     Scheduling this workshop is dependent upon the demand for it.  If you would like to participate, please let Marilyn Gebauer or the church office know in advance.  You can contact Marilyn at 612-306 -8872 or, or the church office at (612) 827-5919.

     Some suggestions made previously for future workshops include:
Estate planning – with or without an agent
Funeral planning – burial rites, “green funerals”,  
            the Columbarium
Writing a will
Assisted suicide – ethical and faith considerations
Establishing a volunteer group at MO to serve as
            healthcare proxies for fellow members who are
            without close family, friends, etc.
Near death experience
You may have ideas for future topics of discussion.
            If so let Marilyn or the church office know.

Book Discussion Group Update

For the March 14 meeting we will discuss  The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho; for April 11, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain; and for May 9, The Boat of Longing, by O. E. Rølvaag.

Paschal Garden

     Volunteers will be on hand for the next three Sundays (March 15, 22, and 29) before, between, and following the liturgies to receive your donations to purchase Easter flowers for this year’s Paschal Garden.

Midweek Lenten Worship
Wednesdays during Lent
Holy Eucharist, at noon
Evening Prayer at 7 pm

A Note of Thanks

     Adam and Thomas wish to thank the Mount Olive family for the many kindnesses shown them at the recent death of Adam’s father, Al Krueger.    

     The many prayers offered before, during and after his illness, cards received, email and Facebook greetings posted, and tutor substitutes are all an immense witness to the love we feel from this congregation and her staff.

     From the depths of our hearts, we say thank you for your love and support during these times.  It’s always great to be part of such a caring community, but especially so when you experience the loss of a loved one.  God bless you all!

- Adam Krueger & Thomas 

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 donate non-perishable groceries, they may be brought to the grocery cart in the coat room.

Chancel Cleaning Day

     The Mount Olive Altar Guild invites interested persons to participate in the chancel cleaning to prepare for the Easter season. The cleaning will take place on Saturday, March 28, from 9 am - noon. If you would like to help, please contact Steve Pranschke at 612-803-0915 or by email to

     Your helping hands are truly appreciated.  I find it is enjoyable to work alongside one another in preparing our worship space at such a special time. Thanks!

- Steve Pranschke

Mount Olive Music & Fine Arts Presents Jearlyn Steele on Sunday, March 15, 4 pm

     A native of Indiana, Jearlyn relocated to Minnesota and, after much encouragement, ventured out singing in churches, community centers, and nightclubs. This eventually led her to theater where she has performed at such venues as Penumbra Theater of St. Paul, the Old Log Theater in Excelsior, The Historical State Theater in downtown Minneapolis, The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul, and the world-renowned Guthrie Theater. Over a decade ago, Jearlyn, along with her siblings, “The Steeles,” began a successful run of the pop/gospel musical Gospel At Colonus, which made its way to Carnegie Hall.

     Come to see and hear Jearlyn – and bring your friends! A reception will follow the concert.

Action Alert

     Sign up now to visit Guatemala and our Common Hope partners. One or two groups will be going. Pick your dates and get in on the action. Leave your name at the office, sign a yellow info sheet or contact Judy Hinck either by email to or by calling 612-824-4918. Teams will be set by Easter.

Opening Reception for the Paul Granlund Exhibit to be Held This Sunday

     This coming Sunday, March 15, there will be an opening reception for the Paul Granlund sculpture exhibit from 2:00-4:00 pm, prior to the Jearlyn Steele concert. A video will be presented at around 3:00 pm in which we see Paul Granlund at work in his studio and view parts of the foundry process for creating the finished metal sculptures.

     Members of the Granlund family will be at the reception. Please invite your friends and family and especially artists you may know to join us.

Holy Week at Mount Olive

Sunday of the Passion/Palm Sunday
Sunday, March 29
Holy Eucharist, 8 & 10:45 am

Monday-Wednesday of Holy Week,
March 30-April 1
Daily Prayer at Noon, in the side chapel of the nave

Maundy Thursday, April 2
Holy Eucharist at Noon
Holy Eucharist, with the Washing of Feet, 7:00 p.m.

Good Friday, April 3
Stations of the Cross at Noon
Adoration of the Cross at 7 pm

Holy Saturday, April 4
Great Vigil of Easter, 8:30 pm, followed by a festive reception

The Resurrection of Our Lord
Sunday, April 5
Festival Eucharist at
8 & 10:45 am
Easter Brunch at 9:30 am

Vestry Listening Sessions Continue

     Vestry Listening sessions continue this Sunday, March 15. This is an opportunity for the congregation to discuss the Vision Expression statements introduced earlier this month.

     This week’s focus will be on Worship and Finance.  Following both the first and second liturgies, Al Bipes (Worship) and Kat Campbell-Johnson (Business & Finance) will be available in the East and West Assembly rooms to hear your ideas on the work of their committees.

     Grab your coffee and join the small group to talk. Each session will last 30-45 minutes, and you may move in and out as you wish.

Opportunities to BE involved:

     Check out the information located in front of the main office or in the Olive Branch for more details. There is also a sheet listing coming events and opportunities throughout March. Post it on the fridge or door and pick at least one in which to participate!

Needed: Food donation deliverer! As food is being donated for Minnesota FoodShare month, is anyone available and willing to take a load of food to CES at 1900 11th Ave. S.? A drop-off time can be arranged and helping hands to load. Please let Anna K. know.

"Bottom," a play about sex-trafficking – Saturday March 17, 7 pm Minnehaha Upper Academy

Better Halves Couples' Workshop – Saturday March 21, 9:00- 11:30am at Mount Olive

Who We Are, Where We Are Map

     Have you “pinned” yourself yet? If not, please do so by letting us know where you live, using the map hanging in the East Assembly room. Instructions are posted by the map – please contribute your pin!

Peace With Justice Forum

     All are invited to a Peace with Justice Forum on Sunday March 15, 2015, 12:30-2:00 pm at Central Lutheran Church, 3rd Ave and 12th St, Minneapolis, next to the Minneapolis Convention Center.

     The topic is “Immigration is in the News: A Faith Response.”  The presenter for this forum is Reverend John Guttermann. He will discuss President Obama’s proposals for executive action on immigration reform and the court decision that delayed the President’s executive action, and the current realities for area immigrants and their families and work being done in Minnesota. He will describe the program that visits detained immigrants here in the Twin Cities and give some direction on how our churches can helpfully respond.

     Reverend Guttermann has been an advocate for immigrants and their families and sees the immigration reform and the immigrant rights movements as connected to the ongoing struggle for civil and human rights for all people.

     Lunch is available ($7.00). Validated parking is available in the Central parking lot/ ramp on the south side of the church.

JRLC Day on the Hill: Dignity in Democracy
Submitted by Connie Marty

     Dignity in Democracy! was the theme of the 2015 Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) Day on the Hill on Tuesday, March 10.  Six members of Mount Olive joined over 700 people of faith from across Minnesota to use their gift of citizenship and civic engagement to speak out on social justice issues. In the morning we listened to speakers, prayed together, were updated on key legislative issues and met by legislative districts to plan our meeting in the afternoon at the Capitol with our legislators.

     We advocated on the following social justice issues:
1. Support affordable, accessible Child Care for all Minnesota families;
2. Raise MFIP grants by $100 per month (they have not been raised for 30 years);
3. Restore the Vote that would remove barriers that limit offenders' from voting after they have
    served their time in prison;
4. Safe Harbor Funding for Victims of Human Trafficking;
5. Reform of the Payday lending industry.
(If you would like to see more detail on any of these pieces of legislation currently being introduced at the Capital, check out or our Neighborhood Ministries bulletin board.)

     Senator Jeff Hayden represents District 62, the neighborhood around Mount Olive.  Some of us met with him and he had some insights to share with us as members of the faith community:
“These are human issues that affect real people and real lives.  The faith community can lead the way.  It's a perception-- a way we model and talk about how and what we value as we live with one another.  We have to remember that we are a community and these are neighborhood issues.  All the churches in the neighborhood should work together.  Our faith is our commonality that breaks down barriers between races and erases our differences.” (paraphrased)

     He told the story of how one constituent asked him to sponsor legislation that would affect the neighborhood.  Senator Hayden told that person that if he would go to the three other churches in the area and ask them to join in coming to the capital and advocating for the legislation then he, as their Senator, would sponsor the bill.  But he insisted that the people of his district bring the call to action to the capital and not just assume Senator Hayden could accomplish it by himself.  The community can lead the way.

     JRLC invited us continue to take action and engage on these issues until they become law:
to sign up to get timely action alerts, to communicate with our legislators throughout the session about issues we care about, to write letters to the editor of our neighborhood papers to educate the general public on these concerns, to form a social justice email tree in our faith community, and more.

     Mount Olive members who attended were:  Mary Rose Watson, Kathy Kruger, Judy Hinck, Carol Austermann, Connie Marty and Anna Kingman.

(Photos from Day on the Hill are included in this newsletter)

Sabbatical Information, part 2

     Pr. Crippen will be on sabbatical from April 6 through July 15.  He will be taking time to put together and reflect on the work he’s been doing on preaching, some of which was presented in January forums here.  The scope is covering the theology and heart of preaching as well as the craft and art of preaching.  Part of the work is to see if there’s something publishable, or usable to the church in some way.  There will also be time for relaxation and rest, including a couple trips with family.

     Next week: more about who is serving as interim during this time.

Church Library News

     In response to a request for library materials on parenting, which might be helpful to the Youth Committee as they were engaged in a Listening session Sunday, I found the following books, which could be quite helpful to couples and/or families:
Five Cries of Parents (new help for families on the issues that trouble them most), by Merton P. Strommen and A. Irene Strommen
Families Where Grace is in Place (getting free from the burden of pressuring, controlling and manipulating your spouse and children), by Jeff Van Vonderen
Mothers and Daughters Together (we can work it out), by Kay Strom and Lisa Strom
Stepfamilies (living in Christian harmony), by Bobbie Reed
How to Parent Your Tw/Teenager, by Dr. Mary Manz Simon
Parenting Your Disabled Child, by Bernard Ikeler
Nine Challenges for Parents, (leading your child into responsible adult-hood) by Lucy and William Hulme
Firstborn, by William Hulme
WHY JOY? (learning to love my special child) by Jane Jennings
Family Planning on a Crowded Planet, by Wilton Yates
Be Good to Each Other (an open letter on marriage), by Lowell and Carol Erdahl
Marriage to a Difficult Man, by Elisabeth D. Dodds
Helping Your Children Feel Good About Themselves (a guide to building self-esteem in the Christian family), by Kenneth A. Erickson
When Children Ask About Sex (a guide for parents), by Joar Graham Selzer MD
Superkid? (raising balanced children in a Super Kid world), by Dr. Elaine McEwan
The Strong-Willed Child (birth through adolescence), by Dr. James Dobson
What a Son Needs From His Dad, (how a man prepares his sons for life), by Michael A. O'Donnell, PhD
Different Children-Different Needs (the art of adjustable parenting), by Charles F. Boyd, w/David Boehe and Robert A. Rohm, PhD
When Your Child Hurts (hope for parents of children undergoing long-term medical care), by Charlotte Adelsperger
Where Does a Mother Go to Resign?,  by Barbara Johnson

        These books are on display in the library in two places -- on the wall directly across from the check-out desk and also in a smaller group near the left-hand window.  There is also a display of good Lent and Easter reading near the window on the right.  Stop in soon to browse among these areas or any particular need or interest you may have at this or any time.

        As we close this article, I will provide a smile for your day with two questions posed from Corny Humor: More Wit and Witticisms, published by the National Federation of the Blind, as follows:  "Why did the book join the police?" (So he could work undercover!)  and "What is the smartest insect in the world?" - (a bookworm!)    

- Leanna Kloempken

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