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Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Olive Branch, 12/9/15

Accent on Worship

Now the natural world
is dormant
now is the time of darkness
sunlight is waning
life is in seeming stasis
and in this dark time
this time of dormancy
and twilight
the church
moves into Advent.

Longing is at
the heart of the
in Advent.
for possibility
for fulfillment
as children
it is a longing
for Christmas
and the birth of the baby Jesus
and that is enough
But as we age
the longing
more than ourselves
and family
it is a longing
for peace
in the dark time of the year
woven in the darkness of time
fulfillment is growing a body
in the dark time of the year
in the dark.
all earth is hopeful.
Excerpted from “Longing,” a text by Susan Palo Cherwien from her book, “From Glory Into Glory: Reflections for Worship.”

Sunday Readings

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

December 20, 2015: Fourth Sunday of Advent
 Micah 5:2-5a
Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45 [46-55]

Midweek Advent Vespers
Wednesdays, Dec. 2, 9, 16, and 23
7:00 p.m. 

Sunday’s Adult Forum

December 13: No teaching forum this day. All are invited to the St. Lucia Scandinavian Brunch.

Hanging the Greens

     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.  On 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

     The Missions Committee fair trade sale continues.  New items have been ordered for the next two weeks.  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 organiza-tion whose mission is to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportun-ity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide.

     The handcrafted fair trade items will be available for purchase after both services on December 13 and 20 (cash and check only).  See the attachment 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.

Welcome, New Members!

     This past Sunday, December 6, Mount Olive was pleased to welcome the following folks into membership:

Dan & Janelle Wade, Harry & Jeanette Eklund, Col Erlandson, Janet Meeks, Emily Hellerich, and Chandler & Tricia Van Ee Molbert and their daughter, Elena. Jerry Ostlund (previously received as an Associate Member) moved into full membership.

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.

TRUST Youth: Aliveness Project Holiday Baskets

     This past Sunday, Eric Manuel participated with TRUST Youth in the annual Aliveness Project Holiday Baskets activity.  Over $1000 was raised for the kids to purchase gifts for families living with AIDS.  The kids had lunch at Lutheran Church of Christ the Redeemer, headed to Target to make their purchases for 11 individuals, and then headed back to wrap the gifts.  Our group had a mother we purchased for, and we were able to get her a vacuum, a coffee pot, some kitchen knives, and pans.  All in all, it was an awesome time - thank you to those who donated to this event!

Tending the Family of God

     Duty and delight.

     We Christians tend to use those two words together. For example, it is our duty and delight to give God praise and thanks. Similarly, it is our duty and delight to care for one another.
     If someone you have seen at worship has started to be missing, care for them. Make a phone call, write a note, send an email.

     Duty and delight.

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 the 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!

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

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

Advent Perspectives

     The last two weeks has been both relieving and frustrating at the same time. The calls are flooding in for direct care as funding from the federal government has dried up and any organization that helps with emergency assistance needed to use it by November 30. That means there's not much wiggle room for people if they get behind, which is tough always, but especially in December. As my brain starts reeling in efforts to meet people’s needs and see in to the future and plan and prepare and work, my eyes glance to the now hanging neighborhood map with its tiny colored dots. Or they rest on my devotional book on my desk or I may smell the fragrance of the often burning candle I light at home for my evening tea. I am reminded to Advent. I am reminded to not just wait, but anticipate - to know that something is coming and is ahead for us, and hopeful amidst the chaos and frustration and heartache. That's what we (me, neighborhood ministries, you, this church) are doing. We are praying and resting in the wait for how we are to work and move in our neighborhood and world. It's been a gift and relief to let go of that consistent pressure to move ahead, and this process has created a place to lay down those winding plans and know that God is working and moving in us, through us, and for us. Please continue to pray with us for this neighborhood and the lives that it holds. Thank you.

Home Baskets for Our Saviour’s Housing

     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 d├ęcor 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

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 catalogs 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 this Sunday Dec. 13.  If you have any questions, please contact Julie Manuel either by email to or by calling her at 612-695-6198.

- Julie Manuel

Hats, Scarves, Mittens Oh my!

     Neighborhood Ministries is collecting winter gear for children and adults.

     New or gently used items can be donated in the box near the West assembly area. There is designated space for coats in the coat rack. Items will be given away at the Community Meal through-out winter or brought to the Central Lutheran Free Store. Thank you!

Care within the community: a pastoral word  (part 3)

Sisters and brothers,

     “I know you’re busy, but . . .” I sometimes hear that from people at Mount Olive, usually by way of apologizing for “taking my time” with something of concern. I understand why people say it. People want to be supportive of me, and they recognize that a pastor’s life is often full. I’m also a person who moves quickly and can seem preoccupied because my mind is thinking of one thing while my person is doing something else. That’s something I’m working on. But we’re also conditioned not to “bother” other people with our problems. So I understand why people say it. But I really wish you wouldn’t.

     This third pastoral word regarding our care for each other as a community is about how we work together as pastor and people. And I need this to be said above all else: I am never “too busy” to have a conversation with you, or listen to your concerns or cares. It’s my job. It’s part of why you called me here. Having someone call and ask for time to talk doesn’t take time away from my work. It is my work. Or at least part of it.

     Within this congregation there is a great amount of care that happens apart from my direct involvement. Often if I or the vicar visit someone in the hospital we are not the first Mount Olive visit, and we won’t be the last. This is good, that we care for each other. The more people here reach out to each other in need, offering help, receiving help, being gracious listeners and fellow journeyers, the more this community is shaped to be Christ in this world.

     But you have called me to be your pastor, and that means you’ve also asked me to be someone who is “pastor,” someone who offers the care of Christ in a pastoral way. I share that ministry with all of you. In a more formal way, I share that pastoral care role with our vicars who serve here. But if you need to talk with me, I want you to know that is one of the graces of this ministry among you people that I love. (And remember, as I said last week, our conversations are confidential.)

     The best way to meet is to set an appointment, by phone or e-mail. Random drop-ins work, but are subject to whether I happen to have time free at that moment. I respond to e-mails within a day, and phone messages as soon as I can after I get them. I keep my own calendar, so Cha Posz isn’t able to schedule these, but I’m pretty easy to reach at the church number (612-827-5919), my e-mail (, or my cell phone (612-280-4593). Mostly folks meet with me in my study at church, but I can go wherever it makes the most sense.

     When should we talk? Whenever you have need of spiritual conversation with your pastor. It might be a major crisis, but it doesn’t have to be one. Perhaps you’re in a time of transition spiritually or otherwise. Maybe there are things you need to sort out and a pastoral ear could help. Perhaps you just are wondering about your place in the world and what God is doing with you. Maybe you seek forgiveness from God and want to make confession. There are endless reasons you might wish to talk, so don’t discount it if you’re drawn to want a conversation.

     It is a privilege to serve you as pastor, and I thank you for your trust. Let me know if I can help walk alongside you in your journey as we all seek to be faithful to Christ and bear Christ in the world.

In the love of Christ,

- Joseph


Corrections Department

     The December 2, 2015, edition of The Olive Branch, in an article entitled “Yes, You Can Make a Difference!,” preliminarily reported that “around $36,000 in `over and above’ giving had been contributed to Restoration 2015,” the fund which is being used to help pay for the restoring the brickwork, roof and stained glass of our beautiful church building.

     The “about $36,000” figure was considerably off the mark! It was actually more than $42,000!  The discrepancy is the result of A.D.D. on my part (“Arithmetic Deficiency Disorder”). My apologies for misrepresenting the generosity of the wonderful people of Mount Olive.

     A principal payment of $22,985 was made in November. The balance, plus whatever gifts are received in December, will go to reduce the amount that is borrowed as well. The current loan balance is $182,012.

- Art Halbardier, Director of Property

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.

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