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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Olive Branch, 122/2/15

Accent on Worship
Vicar Anna Helgen 

Einstein, Spacetime, and God***
     Two weeks ago, we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Without going into the nitty gritty details (because I don’t know them!), Einstein proved in this theory that space and time are not two separate entities. Instead, they’re connected and constitute one unified whole called spacetime. David Tenant, of Doctor Who, explains, “Mass causes spacetime to curve. The natural motion of things is to follow the simplest path through spacetime, but since objects with mass curve spacetime, stuff moves towards the most massive object. That’s what you feel as gravity -  it is warped space and time that’s keeping your feet on the ground.” Cool, huh? Here ends this brief physics lesson.

     During Advent, we wait in joyful expectation that God comes to us as Emmanuel. It is a
season of waiting and wonder. Einstein’s theory of relativity provided a new way of looking at the universe. In the same way, Advent is a good time to slow down and consider new ways of looking at God. What if God is like spacetime?     

     Walter Isaacson, author of Einstein: His Life and Universe, calls the theory of relativity the “most beautiful theory in the history of science.” He explains, “It is a mathematical, as well as conceptual masterpiece. It’s something that can be visua-lized as bodies telling space and time how to curve and the curving of space and time telling bodies how to move, and then the math goes with it.”        

     This is a theory of interconnectedness. Spacetime and mass depend on one another, just like we rely on God and God relies on us. It’s fun to imagine that God, like spacetime, warps, bends, and stretches to enter our lives.And thus God is with us, always, filling our bodies with God’s own space and time, and meeting us where we are.

     May this season of Advent fill you with wonder at God’s constant presence in our lives.

***I apologize for any errors regarding Einstein’s theory of relativity. I am no physicist!

Sunday Readings

December 6, 2015: Second Sunday of Advent
Malachi 3:1-4
Psalmody: Luke 1:68-79
Philippians 1:3-11
Luke 3:1-6

December 13, 2015: Third Sunday of Advent
Zephaniah 3:14-20
Psalmody: Isaiah 12:2-6
Philippians 4:4-7
Luke 3:7-18

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

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

New Members to be Welcomed This Sunday
     Mount Olive will welcome new members and associate members this Sunday, December 6, during the late liturgy.

     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
December 6:  "Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Vocation," presented by Lori Brandt Hale, Associate Professor of Religion at Augsburg College, Minneapolis.

     Dr. Hale has served as Secretary of the International Bonhoeffer Society. Her book, Bonhoeffer For Armchair Theologians, is published by Westminster John Knox Press.

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.

National Lutheran Choir Christmas
Festival Concerts: "The Spotless Rose"

Fri., December 11, 2014  (4:30 pm & 8 pm) and
Sat., December 12, 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

Images of God: Thursday Bible Study    

     The second session of Thursday Bible Study is underway and runs through 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.

Fair Trade Sale
     The Missions Committee will host a fair trade sale again this year.  Purchase beautiful and unique fair trade items made by artisans in developing regions around the world.  These items are available from SERRV, a non-profit 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 each liturgy on December 6, 13, and 20 (cash and check only).  See the attachment /insert to view some of the items that will be for sale and to read an artisan’s story.  Fair trade coffee, chocolate and other food products 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. 

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 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.

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

Our Neighborhood
Mount Olive sits on the border between two Minneapolis neighborhoods: Central and Powderhorn. The borders of Central are Lake St. to the North, 35W to the West, 38th St. to the South, and Chicago Ave. on the East. Powderhorn is also Lake St. to the North, Chicago Ave. to the West, 38th St. to the South, and suns over to Cedar Ave. to the East. This puts us in a wonderful spot to positively impact two vibrant communities. Here are a few statistics to help better understand who the people are living here.

                                Powderhorn Park               Central
Population:               8,529 people                     8,307 people
Ethnic makeup:        4% American Indian         2.2%
                                 1% Asian                           3.6%
                                 13% African American     25.1%
                                 26% Latino                       44.4%
                                52% White                         21.1%
            ** 51.2% speak another language other than English at home

Median Income:        $44,979 (42% below $35,000/y)    $47,505 (37% below $35,000 year)
Housing:                 1,686 Owners                   1,021 Owners
                                1,560 Renters                   1,201 Renters

     We are diverse, multi-generational, and urban.
     What stresses us out: Struggling urban diversity (racial tensions and competition), struggling urban life (more expensive, less safe), struggling black households (avg. income for black family went down last year)
     This is information that gives us better understanding of our neighbors and ourselves. Please pray for our neighborhood (Central and Powderhorn Park) throughout Advent as we continue to seek God’s will in the opportunities we have to be the presence of God and in the presence of God.

Thank you for the continuing donations of food, coats, hats, mittens and scarves. The coats will be distributed here at Mount Olive and also sent over to the Central Lutheran Church Free Store - a great place to send household items, good clothes (large men's sizes and belts!), etc. The food and offering received at the Thanksgiving Eucharist will go to Sabathani Community Center on 38th and 4th Ave. and to Community Emergency Services (CES) on Franklin and 11th Ave.

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:
•    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).

Youthlink Donations

     I am again collecting donations of clothing items and toiletries for homeless teens.  The following items are most needed currently by homeless teens who are living on the street; Travel size toiletries, adult sized winter clothing, jackets, coats, men's jeans, hand and foot warmers, and thinner gloves. 
     Please leave any donations in the coat room in a bag labeled "Youthlink"  by Sunday Dec. 13.  If you have any questions, please contact Julie Manuel at or 612-695-6198.

 Yes, You Can Make a Difference!
     Restoration 2015 is mostly going into hibernation, with the approach of winter. Most of the masonry and roof repair is complete. About one-third of the stained glass windows will have new protective glass.  Our beautiful church will be safe and sound for the winter. The remaining work will be completed as soon as the arrival of spring allows.

     Here’s something you need to know: In the past few months, around $36,000.00 in
“over and above” giving has been contributed toward Restoration 2015. These special gifts make a huge difference. We have budget-ed funds to cover the interest on our building loan, so special gifts like these directly reduce the amount that is borrowed.

     If year-end donations are something you are considering, think of making one toward Restoration 2015 also. Be sure to mark your envelope or check with the words “Restoration 2015.”      
     Thank you!!

Minneapolis Area Interfaith Initiative December Program
     MAII  holds monthly educational programs at the Southdale Library.  All who are interested in inter-faith dialogue and relations are welcome to attend.

     Their next program is this Sunday, December 6, at 2 pm. It will be held in the Ethel Berry Room of the Southdale Library, 7001 York Ave. S. in Edina. The program is free of charge.
This month's program, "Interfaith Landscape in the Twin Cities," will be presented by The Rev. Dr. Tom Duke.

     Rev. Duke is the founder of Saint Paul Interfaith Network (SPIN), former Executive Director of the Saint Paul Area Council of Churches (now Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul), and former pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in the Midway in St. Paul.  Rev. Duke will discuss the history of interfaith relations in the Twin Cities, ways that faiths have worked together, the current situation and thoughts for the future.

     Presented by MAII (Minneapolis Area Interfaith Initiative).

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