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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Olive Branch, 11/18/15

Accent on Worship

Not Of This World

     “President Francois Hollande vowed that France would wage ‘merciless’ war on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. . . . He called the carnage [that ISIL inflicted in Paris] ‘an act of war.’” So read the front page article in the StarTribune on Sunday morning.

     I despair that France’s president declared “merciless war” (but is there any other kind?). I despair over the deaths in Paris. I despair at all the attention we gave to the French deaths while remaining unaffected by similar tragedies in Beirut, or any number of other places. I despair that well-meaning people fight about that perception that we care for France and not for others.

     ISIL is merciless in attacking innocent people in Paris, so France will be merciless in attacking ISIL. That’s the deal. Violence happens, and the only answer is violence. This is how humanity always operates. Last year, addressing graduates of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, our president said of the U.S. military, “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail.” With respect, the problem is deeper than a question of when our military is appro-priately used. We can only see nails, so we always want hammers. Somehow, we need to imagine a different world, where there are no nails, and no need for hammers.

     I have no idea what the nations of the world should do about ISIL and the destruction they are sowing. (As of this writing, it seems that apart from President Hollande, most western leaders have no idea what to do either.)  I only know that vowing to be merciless in response makes my heart sick.

     Next Sunday Pontius Pilate will interrogate Jesus as to what kind of king he is, and where his kingdom is. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus will say.

    But we live in this world. So we need to learn how Christ rules. We follow the Christ, ruler of all that is, whose Spirit fills our hearts, making us anointed ones, Christs. If Christ rules over all things, then Christ rules over this world, too. But not as we would rule.

     God’s response to the world’s murderous violence is to take it on, and be killed. Not to be merciless. I don’t know what that means for governments who have to protect citizens. I do know that I cannot, as one who follows the Christ, condone humanity’s continuing obsession with violence and violent response. At the least, I know I am called by the crucified and risen King whom we serve to follow the path of God, where nails may harm me, but where I cannot pick up a hammer.

     The Triune God’s hands and feet are marked by our violent nails. I expect that is our destiny, too.

- Joseph

Sunday Readings

November 22, 2015: Christ the King
Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14
Psalm 93
Revelation 1:4b-8
John 18:33-37

November 29, 2015: First Sunday of Advent
Jeremiah 33:14-16
Psalm 25:1-10
I Thessalonians 3:9-13
Luke 21:25-36

Thanksgiving Day Eucharist
Thursday, Nov. 26, 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!)

     As has been our custom for a number of years, the entire offering received at the Eucharist on Thanksgiving Day will be divided between Sabbathani Community Center and Community Emergency Services food shelves.

New Member Welcome – Note Date Change!

     Mount Olive will welcome new members and associate members on Sunday, December 6, during the second liturgy (please note change of date!).   If you are interested in becoming a member or associate member, please contact the office via e-mail to  or by phone, 612-827-5919. You may also contact Pastor Crippen at church, or Andrew Andersen (763-607-1689).

     A welcome brunch will follow the liturgy for new members and for all who would like to be part of the welcome festivities.

Sunday’s Adult Forum

November 22: "Looking at Luther Through Finnish Eyes: Toward A New Understanding," part 2, presented by Dwight Penas.

Advent Procession
Sunday, November 29
4:00 pm

Many Thanks!

     Fair weather on Sat., November 14, allowed for the rebuilding of the retaining wall on the
front corner of the church yard.
     Many thanks to Steve Manuel for several hours of work he spent freshening up our presence on the corner. And, we had fun working together!

- Art Halbardier, Director of Properties

Tending the Family of God

     If a member of our family were to go missing, we would be making phone calls, we would be talking to people who might know where our missing family member was, we would be sending people out to search for the one who was missing -  and nothing would be quite right again until the one who was missing had been found.

     In this congregation, we are a family of faith. So why is it that so often when one of the members of this family does go missing, we carry on a through nothing has happened? Shouldn’t there be
phone calls made, people talked to, search parties sent out?

     Because, really, nothing can be quite right again until
the one who is missing has been found.

Images of God: Thursday Bible Study     

     The second session of Thursday Bible Study is underway and runs through December 17 (the study will not meet Thanksgiving Day). The study, “Images of God,” is led by Vicar Anna Helgen and explores how we talk about God through the language of image and metaphor. The sessions
will reflect on common images of God and participants will have the opportunity to share a creative presentation of an image of God that speaks to them.

     The sessions begin with a light supper at 6:00 p.m. All are welcome.

Conference on Liturgy Update

     Each January since 2003, Mount Olive has hosted an annual conference on liturgy.
We are currently in the process of re-tooling, perhaps re-shaping, and most certainly, re-energizing this conference.  We’ve initiated an evaluation process that will look at many things including what kinds of topics will serve as themes, and what time of year might best enable participation for this valuable conference.  We’ll consider many facets in that process, and will send a survey to past participants to gather input from them.

     As a result, this coming year we are temporarily putting the conference on hold, meaning that this coming January (of 2016), we will not be hosting the event.

While this may be disappointing to some of us, it in no way demonstrates a diminished value – in fact, quite the opposite.  We’re confident that when we
resume,  it will be even better!

Book Discussion Group Update

     Mount Olive’s Book Discussion Group meets on the second Saturday of each month, at 10:00 am in the West Assembly Area at church. All readers are welcome!  For the December 12 meeting they will read The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James. For the January 16 meeting they will read, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr.

Advent Centering Prayer

     All are welcome to participate in an opportunity for contempla-tion during the season of Advent.

     Centering prayer will be offered on Wednesday during Advent, from 6-6:30 pm, in the north transept (near the columbarium) prior to Advent Vespers services, beginning December 2.

     New to Centering Prayer? Each session begins with a short instruction. A brief reading from the Psalms and the sound of a bell will signal the beginning of a 20-minute period of silent contemplation. The bell will then signal the end of the session which will end with the Lord's Prayer.
     Questions? Call Sue Ellen Zagrabelny at 612-875-7865.

News From the Neighborhood
Anna Scott, Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach & Ministry

Tis the season! 

     As we approach Advent and prepare for Christmas, please consider ways to give beyond gifts, showing love around the community. There are many ways that Mount Olive partners with its surrounding organizations and churches to support good work being done. Here are a few ways to show Christ’s love in our neighborhood!

1) Bring a gift of food (or cash) on Thanksgiving Day or any day to be delivered to CES or Sabathani. Much needed items include: 5 lb. bag of sugar, 5 lb. bag of flour, cooking oil, canned chicken or tuna, soups, baked beans, pasta, white rice, jam, pancake mix, or hygiene items.

2) Coats, hats, mittens, scarves oh my! There is a coat donation area by the little kitchen,            
and a box for any hats, mittens or scarves to keep bodies warm through the winter.
      3)  Give a home basket to a resident in Our Saviour’s Transitional Housing. Their 100 Permanent
Supportive Housing residents (73 men, 27 women) have all gained their own apartments after years of homelessness and health problems. The residents’ limited budgets make it tough for them to afford many essential items to really make their house a home. Brighten their holidays and ease their budgets by providing a festive gift basket! Please note that we serve primarily men and no children. You may choose what to include, but we suggest items such as:
• Kitchenware (including cooking & eating)    • Shower curtains and liners    • Mini desk fans
• Basic tools    • Throw blankets and pillows    • Towel and full bed sheet sets    • Headphones              • Household décor items such as picture frames   • Calendars or day planners   • Clock radio
• Socks, gloves, hats, scarves, or slippers    

*For an extra special gift basket, you might also include: • Gift Cards for Target or Cub Foods/Rainbow   • Personal hygiene items     • Candy, cookies, snack mixes, cocoa, coffee, tea, or other treats     • Costume jewelry, make-up, or wallets

Gifts can be packaged in any way: a laundry basket, reusable shopping bag, gift bag, plastic tub, etc. Consider a foldable personal shopping cart for an extra special gift! Feel free to decorate the gift or include a card.  ***Can be dropped off in hallway by the coats/kitchen

3) Your TIME. Deliver for Meals on Wheels, help sort and distribute holiday meals for
Community Emergency Services or find a local neighborhood group that needs extra hands and love. If you’re interested and want more specifics, please contact Anna Scott at the office or by email to

Mark your calendars!

     The Missions Committee will host its annual Fair Trade Craft Sale on Sundays, December 6, 13 and 20.  Items from SERRV, a nonprofit Fair Trade organization will be available for purchase after both services.  Fair trade coffee, chocolate and other food products from Equal Exchange through Lutheran World Relief’s Coffee Project will also be available. Plan now to stop and do a little Christmas shopping!

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 play-ground toys for refugee children in Kenya through Lutheran World Relief.  We have catalogues from different charitable organizations that you can use or you can order from the organizations’ websites.

Some of these organizations are:

Lutheran World Relief:

Heifer Project International:

Common Hope :

Bethania Kids:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
(We will have ornaments during the fair trade sale that you can use to make a donation).

Minneapolis Area Interfaith Initiative

     MAII is a group of lay and clergy volunteers from the Greater Minneapolis area who are committed to increasing interfaith understanding, organizing interfaith programming and encouraging personal relationships across faiths in Greater Minneapolis. We involve a diversity of faith communities as well as various parts of Greater Minneapolis. MAII is a member of Twin Cities Interfaith Network (TCIN) and North American Interfaith Network (NAIN).

     Religion is a core identity for many people. The religions of the world have many common values that could be built on to solve local and international issues. Too often the differences between religions and within religions are used to polarize and foster discrimination, fear, and hate.

    The objectives of this organization are to increase interfaith understanding and personal relationships across faiths in Greater Minneapolis in order to build a stronger, more peaceful and more respectful community, to educate the public in greater Minneapolis about local religious traditions, focusing on common values as a way to unite to solve problems locally and throughout the world; and to strive to understand and respect religious differences, without needing to come to agreement or seeking to convert.

     This group holds various meetups on a variety of topics. These gatherings are open to the public. Visit them on Facebook for information about these meetings if you are interested in the important work of this group ( or call 763-639-5298 for more information.

End of Frenzy, Free to Plan

     It’s been a hectic several months of urgent masonry repair and roofing repair to prepare our historic church building for winter. Repairs to stained glass windows continue. Weather has been wonderfully favorable. Maybe it will continue?

Other activities in my arena have had to take a back seat. But, now it is possible to begin looking forward.

     I would like to gather two committees to meet over the next few months to begin planning for several potential projects:

1. A group to look at options and formulate a plan to air condition the sanctuary, to look at the  potential of  solar energy to offset the cost of electricity as well as reduce our carbon footprint, and to consider lighting alternatives.

2. A second group to develop plans for improved and more easily maintained landscaping around the property, improvements to the Parish House entry, and a plan for upgrading the South parking lot.
     If you have an interest in participating in one of these groups, please be in touch with me no later than November 30, so work can begin soon after. Either contact me via email ( or a phone call (763-639-7701.

     Joining one of the committees is NOT intended to become a lifetime commitment. The goal for these groups will be to prepare a plan for consideration before summer of 2016.

     Architect Todd Grover, who worked with us on the 2010 Parish House remodel, will participate with these groups in a planning process.

     Do you think these projects are important? Interesting? Timely? Please be in touch soon so we can begin.

-Art Halbardier, Property Director

TRUST Youth: Aliveness Project

     Again this year, TRUST Youth will participate in the annual Holiday Baskets activity for The Aliveness Project on Sunday, December 6.

     The youth will purchase and wrap gifts to give families living with AIDS.  If you would like to make a cash donation to help purchase Christmas gifts for  these families, please contact Julie Manuel at 612-695-6198 or via email to

 A Note of Thanks

     The pre-Thanksgiving/Advent /Christmas altar cleaning was handily completed by a great crew consisting of Matt Crosby, Jan Crosby, Cynthia Prosek, Bob Lee, Beth and Neil Hering, Beth Gaede, Mary Dorow, Mary Dodgson. Margaret Bostlemann, Elisabeth Hunt, Katherine Hanson, Eunice Hafemeister, Timm Schnabel, and Steve Pranschke.

     Thank you to all those who helped move this project along.

- Steve Pranschke, Altar Guild Chair

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