Accent on Worship
I think the assignment for this week’s “Accent on Worship” is to reflect on Christmas, as this issue of the Olive Branch is the last to go out before our celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus. But it is still only the Monday of the third week of Advent, and given what happened in Connecticut last week, I’m reluctant to leave Advent just yet. This Sunday we will have a foretaste of Christmas, as we hear of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth during their pregnancies, John the infant’s leaping in recognition of his holy cousin, and we will continue with Mary’s song of praise and hope, the Magnificat. It will still be Advent, but it will feel as if we’re already leaning toward Monday and Tuesday’s celebration.
But I am, as I said, reluctant to go there yet. Because Advent is a season which speaks to the realities of this world in which we live and helps us navigate through the darkness. It points to the light, to the coming of Jesus into the world then, now, and in times to come, and that is a good thing. But Advent speaks to our hearts in a time when that coming seems far too distant in either direction to have an impact, times when the darkness seems to be able to overcome the light. As we despair over the senseless deaths, are frustrated by our nation’s continuing unwillingness to join every single one of our fellow Western, developed nations in having real control of guns in this country and thereby enjoy their much-reduced rates of gun-related deaths, and are deeply saddened and grieving once more to face the mass death of children and teachers, Advent speaks to our hearts.
We had planned last Sunday’s worship well before the shootings at the elementary school, and didn’t change the service. We had planned to come and worship God last Sunday, using the readings for the Third Sunday of Advent, and singing hymns which reflected those readings, Advent hymns which we sing every year, and so that is what we did. And yet, this is the gift of the Church, the gift of Advent to me, and I suspect to many who gathered Sunday, that what we sang and heard powerfully spoke to where we were. We sang a plea that we see the coming of Jesus bring light to a world seemingly steeped in impenetrable darkness: “Our hope and expectation, O Jesus, now appear; arise, O Sun so longed for, o’er this benighted sphere” (ELW 244). We sang hope that our Lord indeed comes “the broken heart to bind, the bleeding soul to cure” (ELW 239). And we sang this promise: “In darkest night, his coming shall be, when all the world is despairing, the morning light so quiet and free, so warm and gentle and caring. Then shall the mute break forth in song, the lame shall leap in wonder, the weak be raised above the strong, and weapons be broken asunder” (ELW 242).
This is the gift of Advent, that we can name our fears alongside our hopes, name our longing and desire for God’s grace and life in spite of the way the world looks, name our desperate need for God’s coming in light and healing. When we celebrate our Lord’s birth next week, we will begin to celebrate how God has come and is coming, how that light makes a difference even in a world where children are killed. Because we do believe that the coming of the Son of God into the world is the beginning of the restoration of all things.
For now, I’m not ready to go there, not just yet. For now, I’m grateful for you all gathered in this place with me in Advent waiting, watching, hoping. Grateful for honesty about the brokenness of the world and our need for healing from God which our worship helps us find. And most of all, grateful that we belong to a God whose promised coming then, now, and in the future is already bringing about the healing that this world needs, if only we watch for it, and are a part of it. Advent helps us do just that.
Amen, come, Lord Jesus, we pray. For now, that’s enough.
In Jesus’ name,
December 23, 2012 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Micah 5:2-5a + Psalmody: Luke 1:46b-55
Hebrews 10:5-10 + Luke 1:39-55
December 30, 2012 – First Sunday of Christmas
1 Samuel 2:18-20, 26 + Psalm 148
Colossians 3:12-17 + Luke 2:41-52
Christmas Worship Schedule
Christmas Eve, December 24
9:30 pm – Choral Prelude
10:00 pm – Holy Eucharist
Christmas Day, December 25
9:00 a.m. – Christmas Carry-In Breakfast
10:00 am – Festival Holy Eucharist
Name of Jesus, January 1, 2013
10:00 am – Holy Eucharist
Can You Help?
We’ve received a request for assistance from a former friend of Mount Olive, Joyce Davies-Venn. She and her husband, Emile, and their daughter, Ophelia, were part of the Mount Olive community for a few years; Ophelia was confirmed here in 2002. (Emile’s sister, Caroline Roy-Macauley, was very active at Mount Olive at that time. They have all since moved away, Caroline to England and the Davies-Venns to Georgia.) Some may remember this family, they were immigrants from Sierra Leone, West Africa.
Emile died unexpectedly last May, as a result of complications from surgery, and Joyce is struggling in Atlanta with the financial burden this has placed on her. Their daughter, Ophelia, recently graduated from college with a degree in social work, but has been unable to find work to help support herself and her mother. Joyce has contacted Mount Olive to ask if we can provide any financial assistance at all.
If you can help and wish to make a contribution, please make your donation payable to Mount Olive and clearly designate on the envelope or in the memo line that the gift is for “Joyce Davies-Venn.” Mount Olive will pass along to Joyce whatever is received in the next couple of weeks.
Conference on Liturgy: Jan. 18-19, 2013
By now you should have received the brochure for this year’s Conference on Liturgy, to be held January 18-19, 2013. The theme of this year’s conference is, “The Green Altar: Liturgy as Care for the Earth.”
The conference begins with a hymn festival on Friday, January 18, at 7:30 p.m. Leadership for the hymn festival this year will be by the Mount Olive Cantorei, Cantor David Cherwien, and the Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer.
Please note that the cost for Mount Olive members to attend this year’s conference is $35/person.
Out of Darkness
All are invited to attend the annual candlelight vigil, “Out of Darkness,” for child victims of war, on the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28, 2012, at 6:30 p.m. This vigil is hosted by the Twin Cities Peace Campaign at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, 4537 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis. This moving and beautiful service has become part of the Christmas tradition for many local many Christians.
Christmas Carry-In Breakfast
Christmas morning, December 25, 9:00 a.m.
Bring a favorite breakfast or brunch dish to pass.
Olive Branch Publication Schedule
Please note that there will be no Olive Branch published during the week between Christmas and New Year. Weekly publication will resume on January 4, 2013.
Thanks to the following people who pitched in – sometimes weekly – to help with all of the custodial duties while our Sexton, William, was recuperating from surgery. They ably covered all sorts of tasks from event set-up/tear-down, snow removal, restroom cleaning, dust mopping, vacuuming, dusting, changing light bulbs, yard clean up, boiler maintenance, recycling and trash removal, and sanctuary cleaning.
Andrew Andersen, Don McLellan, Joe Beissel, Victor & Marilyn Gebauer, Art & Elaine Halbardier, Judy Graves, Dan Adams, Adam Krueger, JoAnn Sorenson, Gretchen Campbell-Johnson, Jerry Jones, Al Bostelmann, Steve Manuel, Carla Manuel, John Meyer, Stan Sorenson, Eric Manuel, Vicar Neil Cannon, David Molvik, and George Oelfke.
Every Church a Peace Church
Mount Olive will host the next monthly potluck meeting of Every Church a Peace Church on January 14, 2013, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The speaker for this meeting will be Dr. Charles Amjad-Ali, Martin Luther King, Jr., Prof. of Justice and Christian Community at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul. He will address the topic, “Peace from Below: Martin Luther King’s Legacy and our Vocation.”
Plan to come and give a warm Mount Olive welcome to visitors from various faith traditions and congregations and hear a highly informative presentation.
Book Discussion Group
Mount Olive’s Book Discussion group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10:00 a.m. For the January 12 session, they will read Caleb’s Crossing, by Geraldine Brooks. For the February 9 session they will read In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant. All readers welcome!
Thursday Evening Bible Study Returns January 3, 2013
Starting January 3 and running for six weeks, there will be a Thursday evening Bible study meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Pr. Crippen will lead a six-week series titled “Captive Conscience” which focuses on reading the Bible, how we are shaped by God’s Word, and what lenses we use as we read the Scriptures.
As with last year, there will be a light supper when we begin. If anyone wishes to provide the first week’s meal, please let Pr. Crippen know. Looking ahead, in Lent Vicar Cannon will lead another six week study.
Reconciling in Christ Festival Worship
The Reconciling in Christ Program of ReconcilingWorks Twin Cities welcomes all people to join in their eighth annual Metro Area Festival Worship on Saturday, January 26, 2013, 4:30 p.m., at First Lutheran Church (463 Maria Avenue, Saint Paul). The service of Word and Sacrament celebrates the welcoming ministries of Metro area Lutheran churches. Rev. Anita Hill will preach.
The RIC program rosters Lutheran congregations that welcome and affirm LGBT persons in their full sacred worth. Both the Minneapolis and Saint Paul Area Synods are RIC Synods and together include dozens of RIC worship communities. A light supper will follow the service. All are welcome!