“Advent may be one of the most counter-cultural things we do. Waiting, anticipating, patiently watching for God’s blessing to blossom in the world – this is not the way of the world. We live in an instant gratification culture, where people loudly declare what they want and then expect someone to provide it. Our culture lacks the patience to work through the ills of society in a wise and careful and fruitful way, preferring short term answers which may or may not be good for the long term. Our culture teaches us to embrace our entitlement instead of our responsibility.”
I wrote that in this space in my first Advent with you, and came across it recently. It seems even more true today. Given the frantic and frightening times in which we live, I find myself wondering what might happen if we truly embraced being counter-cultural? That is, if we prayed that the Holy Spirit might make us so like Christ we looked like Christ and not like the world that surrounds us? If we weren’t afraid to be different?
Might we begin to be people whose Advent reality seeps into the culture? A friend at a time, a co-worker at a time, a family member at a time, could others perhaps see our lives and learn to watch for and work with God for this world’s healing?
We follow the God who came among us as a vulnerable child in poverty, to a family like millions around the world with very little to live on. What if we welcomed such families today, even if loud voices around us shout, “they don’t matter!” We follow the God who became a refugee among us, dependent upon the kindness of strangers to welcome a family running away from violence. What if we were such kind strangers, even if loud voices around us shout, “keep away!” We follow the God who suffered death unjustly to bear love into a world of hate. What if we became such sufferers in love in this world, even if loud voices around us spew hate daily?
We can only know what would happen when we actually do this. When we become bearers of Advent in this world in our bodies and voices and hands and hearts and lives. When we pray, “Amen, come, Lord Jesus,” and by that mean we seek the spirit of Christ to make us Christ.
But we have this promise: as Christ continues to be born among us and shape us, all flesh will see God’s salvation. Surely that’s worth praying for. Surely that’s worth being different for.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
December 20, 2015: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55
Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]
December 27, 2015: First Sunday of Christmas
I Samuel 2:18-20, 26
Sunday’s Adult Forum
December 20: “Elizabeth and Mary: Bearers of Hope,” presented by Vicar Anna Helgen.
Hanging the Greens to be Held This Sunday
Many hands make light work, so all are invited to come and help decorate the nave and chancel for our Christmas celebrations at Mount Olive. This Sunday, Dec. 20, 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 – BYOB (bring your own broom!).
Fair Trade Sale – Last Week
The Missions Committee will continue to host the fair trade sale for one more week. 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 20 (cash and check only). See the attachment to view some of the items that will be for sale. Fair trade coffee, chocolate and cashews from Equal Exchange through Lutheran World Relief’s Coffee Project will also be available. This is not a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to buy good products for a good cause.
Give Stock or Mutual Fund Shares
Instead of using cash, make your year-end gift to the church or Mount Olive Foundation with appreciated stock or mutual fund shares. In addition to receiving an income tax deduction for 2015, transferring these assets to the church or the Foundation enables you to avoid capital gains taxes on their appreciation. Giving stock or mutual fund shares also allows many people to make a larger gift than might have been possible with cash.
To learn more about stock or mutual fund gifts, please contact Andrew Held, Thrivent Financial, at (952) 475-9700 or firstname.lastname@example.org. With all gifts of appreciated assets, you are encouraged to consult with your tax advisor prior to making any gift.
New Opportunity for Ministry
The Congregational Life Committee is looking for people who would be willing to assist members who have difficulty or are more cautious walking from the south parking lot to church.
For more information, contact Sandra Pranschke at email@example.com, or 612-859-5448.
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.
Christmas Carry-In Breakfast
Celebrate the Feast of the Nativity, December 25, with a carry-in breakfast preceding the liturgy.
Bring a favorite Christmas food and enjoy a time of conversation with fellow Mount Olive worshipers from 9:00 to 9:45.
To the Wearers of Albs
‘Tis the season! Joy, peace, hymns, and wax.
All of the server’s albs have been laundered. Some of them have reached their final resting place. Please inform me if you have a wax accident, and I will clean the alb as quickly as possible.
Thank you for your service.
- Carol Austermann
The deadline for information for the weekly Olive Branch is on Monday of the week it is to be published. Please have all information to be included in the newsletter in to the office by Monday of that week.
Thanks for your help!
Tim Lindholm has stepped aside as Mount Olive Treasurer. Kat Campbell-Johnson has agreed to handle the Treasurer’s duties and the Vestry is develop-ing a plan for accomplishing this work until a new Treasurer is elected at the semi-annual congregation meeting in April.
We will update the congregation as these plans develop.
Book Discussion Group Update
Mount Olive’s Book Discussion Group meets on the second Saturday of each month, at 10:00 a.m. in the West Assembly Area at church. All readers are welcome! For the January 9 meeting, they will read Grand Opening, by Jon Hassler, and for February 13, they will read God's Hotel, by Victoria Sweet.
Advent Centering Prayer
All are welcome to participate in an opportunity for contemplation 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.
Olive Branch Publication Schedule
There will no Olive Branch published during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. Regular weekly publication will resume on Wednesday, January 6.
News From the Neighborhood
Anna Scott, Coordinator of Neighborhood Outreach & Ministry
Another big THANK YOU to all who have helped fill our donation corner to the brim!
Deliveries will be made to our partner organizations this week, and some used for ministries here at Mount Olive. Here's a snapshot of who we work with and support with these gifts!
• Food goes to: Sabathani Community Center on 38th St and 4th Ave and CES on 11th and Franklin;
• Coats go to: Central Lutheran Church downtown. Central runs a Restoration Center with resource assistance and a Free Store - a great place to send household donations throughout the year!
• Home Care baskets go to: Our Saviour's Housing for their transitional housing residents. Hygiene supplies (like hotel shampoo and soap) are collected year round for use in their emergency shelter;
• Hats, Gloves, Scarves go to: Neighborhood Ministries to be distributed at the Community Meal throughout the winter.
All collected supplies are also used in our daily “direct care” ministry here. Any day that someone comes in I can speak with them about what needs they may have. It may be help paying a bill or rent, but often includes basic needs like a warm meal, a pair of gloves, or a supply of soap. It is a blessing to offer these things as people need them because they are readily supplied by you. If ever anyone comes to this church, please feel free to use these items to serve their needs. There are cans of soup stored on the top of the coat rack or please reach right in to the grocery cart and ask what they can use. Warm it up for them in the kitchen. Offer a kit of shampoo and soap and toothpaste. If they don't have gloves, feel free to offer some. It is there to be given away. If they have more pressing needs, please give them the office phone number and have them contact me. Please keep in mind that these services and offerings are not only for neighbors, but for the Mount Olive community as well. If you or your family are experiencing hardship in any season, please feel encouraged to contact me or Pastor Crippen in confidence about ways we can offer support and community.
Thank you for your help in serving our friends and neighbors!
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).
Youthlink Donations -
I am still taking donations of clothing items and toiletries for homeless teens. The following items are most needed currently by homeless teens who are on the street: travel- sized toiletries, adult sized winter clothing, jackets, coats, men's jeans, hand and foot warmers, thinner gloves. Please leave any donations in the coat room in a bag labelled "Youthlink" by this Sunday Dec. 20. If you have any questions, please contact Julie Manuel via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 612-695-6198.
- Julie Manuel
Hats, Scarves, Mittens Oh my!
Neighborhood Ministries is receiving donations of winter gear for children and adults.
New or gently used items can be donated in the box near the coat room. There is designated space for coats in the coat rack. Items will be given away at the Community Meal throughout the winter or brought to the Central Lutheran Free Store. Thank you!
Images of God: Thursday Bible Study
The second session of Thursday Bible Study is underway and runs through tomorrow evening, December 17. 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.
Pr. Crippen will begin a 6-week study of Daniel on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2016.
A Recipe for you!
Some people have requested the recipe for the chocolate drink served at the Fair Trade sale on Sunday, Dec. 6. Here it is.
Barcelona Hot Chocolate
2/3 cup boiling water
2 ounces good-quality dark or bittersweet (60 to 70 percent cocoa) chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/3 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup brewed espresso or strong coffee (regular or decaffeinated)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 2-inch piece orange rind strip
1/4 cup frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
Cocoa powder (optional)
Combine 2/3 cup boiling water and chopped chocolate in a medium saucepan, stirring until chocolate melts. Add milk and next 4 ingredients (through rind); cook over medium-low heat, stirring with a whisk. Heat 5 minutes or until tiny bubbles form around edge of pan, stirring frequently (do not boil). Discard rind. Pour 1 cup mixture into each of 4 mugs. Spoon 1 tablespoon whipped topping over each serving. Dust with cocoa powder, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.