Growing up, the holidays were a chaos of packing away food, making sure everything was brought along, each kid had a coat and two matching shoes, and, usually late, we would arrive into the warmth of the rest of our families’ jumbling hospitality. At grandma and grandpa’s house, a big, long, mix-match of tables was streamed together and set to serve a most wonderful meal. The kids, as I was, were always at our appropriate table way on the end- the kid table. It was fine, but I felt kind of separate, as if being at the adult table was a rite of passage or a privilege that I couldn’t fathom making it to. Even as a young adult I was resigned to hang out with my cool cousins at our kid table because there was still no room.
Little did I know what making it to that table would cost. It would cost others their ability to be there and fill those seats. Maybe my brother couldn’t make it home, so we missed him, and that seat was a bit less cozy in his absence. Or, unfortunately as life goes, you lose those whose places are permanently established in memory, and the space they leave behind is unfillable. My grandparents have passed away now, and Thanksgiving is no longer at their home. I would fit at the adult table, but it no longer means what it used to. There was always a cost to being at the table. Only a few could fit, and the rest had to wait until there was space.
This is not so with God’s table! It goes on and on forever. There is always room and everyone is served, and loved, and cared for. Can you even imagine? For you and I, stuck in a world of finite space and confined by limited resources, we can hardly even comprehend what that table means. God wants us all at the table. Every last one of us can share in this eternal meal of peace and fraternity and thanksgiving. There are no worries of the day, and no fears of tomorrow, and the cranberries never run out.
There is no kids table way on the end or special circles that separate us. God’s table is set, prepared, and bountiful for each one of us.
Now that’s a dinner I won’t show up late for!
Praise be to God.
- Anna Scott
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.
Sunday, November 29
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 to 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 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 29: "Who We Are, Where We Are," presented by
Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach & Ministry, Anna Scott.
Tending the Family of God
This week in this city and throughout this country, family and friends will gather at table for a Thanksgiving meal. If someone expected at that table isn’t there, people will notice and people will act.
Every week we in this congregation gather at table for a thanksgiving meal. We call it Eucharist. If someone expected at this table isn’t here, will we notice? Will we act?
National Lutheran Choir Christmas Festival Concerts: "The Spotless Rose"
Fri., December 11, 2014 (4:30 pm & 8 pm) and
Sat., December 12, 2014 (8 pm)
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.
Images of God: Thursday Bible Study
The second session of Thursday Bible Study is underway and runs through December 17 (excluding 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.
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!
Get Involved in Climate Change
Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light is one of the newly adopted mission projects for Mount Olive in 2016 as we strive to become involved in climate change advocacy and to be better stewards of our earth and its resources. MNIPL works together with people of faith to educate ourselves, change our practices to be earth friendly, and advocate in the public arena for responsible policy.
If this is a passion of yours, the Missions Committee needs your help and ideas. Contact Judy Hinck via email to email@example.com, leave a note in the church office, or come to the Missions Committee meeting on Tuesday, December 1, at 7:00 p.m.
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.
Staff Christmas Gifts
As is our tradition, this is the time of year that we gather monetary gifts for our terrific church staff. If you would like to contribute, please note “staff gifts” on your check and deposit it in the offering plate on Sunday morning or send it to the church office. Please have the gifts in by Sunday, December 20.
Thanks for your generosity.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for the many ways which you've shown love and care for one another and your neighbors this year. Whether a smile, a bag of diapers, a check, some towels, an extra coat. It is all a blessing.
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!
Let us pray for one another: a pastoral word (part 1)
Sisters and brothers,
In this community of faith we take seriously and joyfully the privilege and burden of carrying one another and the world in prayer before Almighty God. From time to time questions arise about this: Can we do this better, more faithfully? What information should we share? In the next three issues of the Olive Branch I’ll talk about these issues and perhaps inspire further dialogue.
To help us, we keep a printed prayer list in Sunday’s service folder and the weekly Olive Branch. Many use this list in their daily prayer. However, often names are placed here and left for years, or whose circumstances even I or the vicar don’t know, and the length of the list might in fact inhibit some from praying it. Please note, though: the length of the list is not an issue. It should be as long as it needs to be. The question is whether it can be improved as a tool to help us as we seek to hold others in prayer.
The Congregational Care group and I have a plan. In the next few weeks, Sue Ellen Zagrabelny, of the care group, will call the members on this list who have submitted names of non-members, and ask for information to be shared with the vicar and me. The questions are: 1. Is this person still in need of the congregation’s daily prayer? 2. What in particular are we praying for (so that as your pastor I at least can know what is going on with them)? 3. Can their situation be shared beyond the pastor and vicar? 4. May we give their name to the prayer chain? These questions will also be asked of any new prayer requests, to keep up to date. The vicar and I will take care of the Mount Olive members on the list and make sure that list is still current.
We’ll also make a couple changes in how we list names. First, we’ll keep prayer requests on the list for three weeks and then remove them, unless we’re told otherwise. This will help keep the list as timely and current as possible. Second, we’ll split the list into two sections, those shorter term requests, and more chronic, long-term requests.
Next week, I’ll talk about the question of confidentiality and the needs of our sisters and brothers. In all this, I invite your participation in this dialogue in conversation, thought, and prayer.
In the love of Christ,
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 playground 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: http://lwrgifts.org
• Heifer Project International: http://www.heifer.org
• Common Hope : http://commonhopecatalog.myshopify.com
• Bethania Kids: http://bethaniakids.org/creative-giving-catalog
• Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: www.elca.org/goodgifts
(We will have ornaments during the fair trade sale that you can use to make a donation).