Accent on Worship
Maybe It’s Not Bread We’re Talking About
Every three years the lectionary steers us to five weeks of exploring the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel in August. Beginning with Jesus’ feeding of the five thousand on July 29, we will spend the rest of the summer reflecting on Jesus as the Bread of Life. These five weeks can be challenging for the preacher. Week after week we hear Jesus call himself the Bread of Life, and after a while one wonders if there is anything new to say about that.
For obvious reasons the Church has taken these verses as a rich description of our Eucharist, the Meal of Life. When Jesus says on Aug. 5 that he is the “living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats of this bread will live forever,” it’s hard not to consider the gift of life we receive in his Supper. When he speaks on Aug. 12 and 19 about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, again, how are we not to think of the gift of his Body and Blood as we share in Holy Communion?
But what is interesting about this whole episode in John’s Gospel is the deeper question John always has about belief in Jesus and what it takes for him to draw us into faith. John speaks of signs Jesus does, signs which are intended to lead us, the reader, the worshipper, to faith. Just prior to recounting this miraculous feeding and its aftermath, John has told us about Jesus and the woman from Samaria. There the sign is water, and Jesus’ claim is that he is our Living Water. But as with the bread, it’s not really about water at all.
So at the heart of John 6 is a probing investigation into what we need for faith. Jesus feeds miraculously, then walks on water. Following these two remarkable events, some of the skeptics still ask him, “What sign are you going to give us, then, so that we may see it and believe in you” (6:30). (You mean, other than multiplying food and defying physical laws and the properties of water?) It turns out that in John’s Gospel there are always those who see and those who do not, those who believe and those who do not, and it usually has nothing to do with whether or not Jesus has done something impressive. In John 6 more and more desert Jesus the more he talks about who he is and what he is bringing, to the point that he asks his closest disciples if they, too, will leave him.
So as we walk with John these five weeks, that becomes our question. What signs do we need to see or experience to believe in Jesus and have life in his name? What is challenging about his witness that makes some leave him, and will we also leave him? Or will we agree with Peter who said, “Lord, where else would we go? You have the words of eternal life” (6:68)? By the end of the Gospel, John has Jesus telling Thomas that those who believe without seeing are the blessed ones. That’s always been our challenge, living 2,000 years after the Son of God lived among us.
But perhaps Jesus, and John the evangelist, too, are telling us that just because you were there doesn’t mean you’ll believe. Maybe it truly is a blessing to believe without seeing. Because once we believe, we actually do begin to see the healing grace of the Triune God everywhere, signs of God’s salvation, and we begin to live abundant life as promised. Peter was right, after all: where else would we go for such abiding, eternal life?
Adult Forum This Sunday, July 29
“All this is from God, who reconciled us through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18
Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only the union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?
Join the conversation on Sunday, July 29. Our guest is Tim Feiertag, Grassroots Organizing and Training Coordinator at Lutherans Concerned North America headquarters (LC/NA) in St. Paul. Tim holds a degree in Social Work from Valparaiso University and a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. His involvement in Lutherans Concerned includes being co-chair of the Kansas City/Lawrence Chapter, serving on the national board of directors and as Regional Director for the Central Region. In 1998, he was elected co-chair of LC/NA, a position he held until 2002. Across time he has participated in and conducted various trainings, from I-Wheel to RIC and Building an Inclusive Church. He comes to LC/NA and St. Paul from the Missouri Children’s Division in Kansas City where he served as a caseworker for abused and neglected children and their families.
The Property Committee will meet this Sunday, July 29, at 11:00 a.m. in the Undercroft. Those experienced in maintaining the Mount Olive facility and those who would like to become part of the property team are invited and encouraged to attend. The meeting will be over by lunchtime. If you have any questions, please contact me at 651 558 7979. – – Brenda Bartz, Director of Properties
Book Discussion Group
Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group regularly meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. For the August 11 meeting they will read The Razor’s Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham, and for September 8, The Sparrow, by Mary Doria Russell. All readers welcome!
Contribution statements for the first half of 2012 are available and ready to be picked up at church. Please take yours when you come to liturgy. If you would like yours mailed to you, just call the office
School Supplies Drive
Summer’s just begun and for the Neighborhood Ministries Committee that means looking forward to the beginning of …. school!? That’s right!
Summer is when we start thinking about gathering school supplies for distribution to 100 neighborhood children at the August 4 community meal. While this is an item in our budget, the generous contributions we receive each year from the congregation help us to provide as many supplies as possible. Please look for a Neighborhood Ministries Committee member during coffee hour for one more Sunday – July 29 – and offer your support to this vital neighborhood ministry.
– Kathy Kruger, Neighborhood Ministries Committee member
Phil Knutson, Reception, August 5
Phil Knutson, the ELCA representative in Southern Africa and friend of Mount Olive will be visiting the Twin Cities. All Mount Olive members and friends are invited to a reception for Phil Knutson at the home of Donn and Bonnie McLellan, Sunday, August 5th, 5:00 p.m.
Mount Olive has sponsored Phil Knutson’s work in Southern Africa for many, many years. He has experience working for the ELCA during the apartheid era as well as now in post-apartheid South Africa. He has been a good friend and partner to Mount Olive. Phil will share information about his work and answer questions. And we, in turn, can offer him encouragement, support, and hospitality.
If you are interesting in attending the reception at Donn and Bonnie McClellan’s home, please RSVP to Donn and Bonnie at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 952-452-2049.
Donn and Bonnie McLellan will send directions. It should be a very fun, very casual reception. Thank you to Donn and Bonnie for hosting.
Mary, Mother of Our Lord
Wednesday, August 15
Holy Eucharist, 7:00 pm
Gethsemane Episcopal Church
The Bargain Box
Each August, Mount Olive Neighborhood Ministries sponsors The Bargain Box, an affordable way for neighborhood families to obtain good quality clothing (new and gently used) for children of all ages to wear as they return to school in the fall. This year, the Bargain Box will be on August 4, from 8-11:30 a.m.
You can help by donating new or gently used children’s clothes or money to purchase clothes (please include “Bargain Box” in the memo line of your gift), before August 4.
If you have any questions about Bargain Box, please contact Irene Campbell at 651-230-3927.
August Choral Ensembles
Interested women are invited to come and sing for the August 4 Eucharist at 9:30 am. There will be one rehearsal on Wednesday, August 1, at 7:00, for one hour. The group will sing several liturgical things and an anthem for women’s voices, conductor will be Christine Hazel.
Men are invited to join together to sing for the August 12 Eucharist. There will be one rehearsal, on THURSDAY, August 9, at 7:00, for one hour. This group will also sing several liturgical things and an anthem for men’s voices. Cantor Cherwien will lead this ensemble.
Sierra Leone Mission Concludes
The Missions Committee wanted to pass along the thanks of our mission partners CHECSIL in Sierra Leone for the nearly ten years of support it has received from Mount Olive as a congregation.
As many of you remember, Mount Olive started supporting Sierra Leone as a response to the civil war and the needs of displaced people in that country with the encouragement of Mount Olive’s Caroline Roy-Macauley. During the transition period in the country, Mount Olive has provided for children’s support as well as needed capital and environmental projects. The CHECSIL leadership sends their thanks for the many contributions that Mount Olive has made. CHECSIL is now in transition as an organization, and this is an appropriate time for Mount Olive to transition from its yearly congregational donations. CHECSIL still welcomes individual congregation member donations as well as your prayers, and the Missions Committee will be staying in contact with CHECSIL about its future developments.
Vestry Update, 9 July 2012
The July 9 Mount Olive Vestry meeting was the first with the newly-elected and installed Vestry members in attendance. Upon recommendation of the Nominating Committee, the Vestry appointed Elizabeth Beissel to fill the vacancy at secretary. (After sitting in on the June Vestry meeting as a guest, Joe Beissel had decided that it would not be possible for him to fulfill his duties as secretary due to difficulty hearing.)
In unfinished business, Paul Schadewald reported that the Capital Campaign Tithe committee will be meeting this week to review the approximately 40 suggestions that have been offered up by members of the congregation.
Pastor Crippen will be working to determine a time for the Vestry members to meet and start on the visioning process. Members who have just transitioned off of the Vestry will also be included in the retreat.
Several committees have met in the last month, including the Public Relations Committee Task Force. Their focus was an overview of the variety of different kinds of communications and technologies available to share information about Mount Olive not only with members of the congregation, but also with the community and around the world.
Adam Krueger updated everyone on the status of Walker Methodist Church in regards to their needs. In recent correspondence, Walker has indicated that they have enough donations and other monies to purchase another building and they may not need to utilize any of Mount Olive’s space.
There will be several upcoming events to watch for. Congregational Life will be hosting a garden tour on July 22 and will be going to three different houses. There is a forum scheduled for Sunday, July 29 after the liturgy to discuss the marriage amendment that is on this fall’s ballot. The Bargain Box will be on August 4 to plan to share what you can with others.
A representative from Trust met with the Vicar, the Education Director and the Youth team to explore the possibility of Mount Olive’s youth becoming a part of a larger program where they would meet once a month with youth from other faiths. The hope is that this could also include options for further travel with a service component.
This was Vicar Doughty’s last meeting with the Vestry. Thanks were offered for all of his service during his internship year.
The next Vestry meeting is scheduled for August 13, 2012.
Garden Party and Picnic
Mark your calendars now for Wednesday, August 29, which is the date set for the annual Mount Olive Women Garden Party and Picnic, to be held at the home of Gail Nielsen, 4248 12th Avenue South, Minneapolis, starting about 4:30 p.m. In order to plan for enough food, please RSVP to Leanna Kloempken at 952/888-1023, or to the church office, by or before Monday, August 27. And yes, Gail says “men are welcome too!”
Church Library News
One of the current book displays in our Louise Schroedel Memorial Library is for women and it’s about women! Even though the weather is very hot, and you are spending alot of time inside in the air conditioning, this may be just the time for you to invest a little reading time acquainting (or re-acquainting) yourselves with books about or by the below-named famous women:
Women of Faith: Portraits of Spirit-filled Women, by Grace Stageberg Swenson
Rose Wilder Lane, Her Story, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by Rose Wilder Lane
The President’s Wife: Mary Todd Lincoln, by Ishbel Ross
Bess W. Truman, by her daughter Margaret Truman
Tramp for the Lord (sequel to The Hiding Place), by Corrie ten Boom
Corrie Ten Boom: Her Life and Her Faith, by Carole C. Carlson
Maria: My Own Story, by Maria von Trapp
In the Shadow of the Rising Sun, by Judy Hyland
Just Mahalia, Baby: The Mahalia Jackson Story, by Laurraine Goreau
Joni: The Unforgettable Story of a Young Woman’s Struggle With Quadripalegia and Depression, by Joni Eareckson
Joni: A Step Further, by Joni Eareckson and Steve Estes
Grace of Monaco, an interpretive biography by Steven Englund
The New Women’s Devotional Bible, NIV
I hope many of you read the article in the July 12 edition of the Star Tribune, entitled “Friends Forever,” compiled by Kim Ode. It speaks of younger days when women, in particular, devoured popular reading books, such as the Betsy Tacy book series, written by Maud Hart Lovelace about her childhood in Mankato, MN. Others will have allegiance to such classics as the Little House books or Anne of Green Gables, perhaps unaware of how these stories will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Another favorite for many are the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. Check out our church library for some of these books, and other favorites that remain with us from our much-younger Sunday School days!
Another thought along the same line is this quotation by Anthony Trollope — “The habit of reading lasts when all other pleasures fade. It will make your hours pleasant to you as long as you live.”