Accent on Worship
For “Accent on Worship” this week, I’d like to reprint the reflection from the conference on liturgy’s hymn festival, written by Paul Westermeyer. The hymn festival was about “Images of Creation: the Earthiness of Liturgy.” This reflection was about smoke, and it preceded the hymn “Isaiah in a Vision Did of Old.”
– Cantor David Cherwien
Isaiah had a vision that the whole earth was full of the glory of God. So did Ezekiel. Ezekiel perceived God to be so holy that all you could see was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of God [Ezekiel 1:28]. God was protected by glory which was in turn protected by the appearance and the likeness of the glory. For Isaiah God was also protected by glory; and the glory of God was itself so holy that you could only approach it through smoke [Isaiah 6:4].
But in Christ God became flesh. Now we see God’s glory in Christ, full of grace and truth [John 1:14]; and we sing, “Holy, holy, holy” with a new vision. Both Isaiah’s vision and the one in Christ lead us to serve the earth and its creatures. When the smoke settles and the tomb is empty God asks, “Whom shall I send?”
The message God gives us is no picnic because it is full of grace and truth. The holiness of God’s anger has been kindled against a people who have wreaked injustice on the earth. There is no smoke now. God tells Isaiah to say to the people: “Hear, but don’t understand if you won’t. See, but perceive nothing if you won’t” [Isaiah 6:9]. Isaiah asks, “How long, O Lord?” God answers, “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate” [Isaiah 6:11]. It is a message of doom.
Second Isaiah is coming, to be sure, with a word of comfort, valleys lifted up, hills made low, and the glory of God to be revealed. But God still comes with justice, and the nations are as a drop from a bucket [Isaiah 40:15]. The glory of God is revealed in Christ, to be sure, but in Christ the justice we are called to do on the earth is, if anything, even more heightened.
We continually need to get two things straight. First, the holiness of God is holy indeed, and we are right to point to it through smoke since even when we see it in Christ it is veiled in flesh beyond our understanding. Second, the holiness of God has implications for how we are to treat the earth which is charged with the grandeur of God. We usually get it backwards. We mistakenly think that by removing the smoke and tinkering with our worship we by our works can make God clear. Then, we think that is all we need to do, when in fact it is not only impossible and wrong; it is yet another clever way to avoid our calling to serve and care for the earth and all its creatures.
“Holy, holy, holy,” says the Sanctus. The beams shake, the house is filled with smoke, and God says, “Go.”
– The Rev. Dr. Paul Westermeyer
January 27, 2013 – 3rd Sunday after Epiphany
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 + Psalm 19
I Corinthians 12:12-31a + Luke 4:14-21
January 20, 2013 – 4th Sunday after Epiphany
Jeremiah 1:4-10 + Psalm 71:1-6
I Corinthians 13:1-13 + Luke 4:21-30
Upcoming Adult Forums
Sunday, January 27 – A presentation by the Minnesota Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing (MICAH).
Sunday, February 3 – Bread for the World Offering of Letters, facilitated by Donna Neste.
The Presentation of Our Lord
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Holy Eucharist at 7:00 pm
From the Mount Olive Foundation
The Mount Olive Lutheran Church Foundation is excited to be able to fund an annual gift to the Church from the earnings of its endowment in the amount of approximately $26,000. The value of the endowment is now approximately $800,000, thanks to generous donors and those who have included the Foundation in their estate plans. The use of the endowment gift is restricted to activities that directly benefit Mount Olive, therefore no outside programs are eligible for the annual gift. The Foundation in the past has preferred gifts that are capital items or special programs not able to be funded out of the budget or through other Church funds. Please submit any ideas that you have to a Vestry member under whom the program or gift would fall. The Foundation has asked that the following questions be addressed: 1. Amount of funds requested. 2. How will the funds be used? 3. How will this request benefit the mission of Mount Olive? 4. If there is not enough money to fully finance this request, would less money be useful?
Please submit your ideas and answers to the four questions above to the appropriate Vestry member by February 8. Vestry Members are: Adam Krueger (President); Lisa Nordeen (Vice President); Elizabeth Beissel (Secretary); Kat Campbell-Johnson (Treasurer); Carl Manuel (Congregational Life); Brooke Roegge (Education); Andrew Andersen (Evangelism); Eunice Hafemeister and Carol Austermann (Neighborhood Ministries); Paul Schadewald (Missions); Brenda Bartz(Property); Dennis Bidwell (Stewardship); Al Bipes (Worship); and Beth Sawyer (Youth).
Prayer Shawl Ministry News
The members of the Prayer Shawl Ministry will meet following the second liturgy this Sunday, January 27. They will meet downstairs in the Undercroft. The purpose of this meeting is to further define and plan our ministry to the people of Mount Olive. Feel free to join the group, and bring your knitting/crocheting if you like. Please contact Peggy Hoeft with any questions about this group: 952-835-7132, or by email to email@example.com.
Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper
Tuesday, February 12, 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.
All are invited!
Taste of Ethiopia, February 10
Mark your calendars for “Taste of Ethiopia,” on Sunday, February 10. The preacher and education hour leader will be The Reverend Dinku Bato, a Ph.D. student at Luther Seminary in Congregational Mission and Leadership, from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Between 1998-2009 Pastor Bato was the national coordinator of the Mekane Yesus University Student Ministry (EECMY-USM) in Adddis Ababa. He will be joined at Mount Olive by his wife Mergitu and three sons: Amen (13), Ketim (9), and Melala (8). At the education hour, he will talk about the history and current context of Christianity in Ethiopia and Lutherans in particular. After the second liturgy, please join us for a lunch of Ethiopian food, prepared by members of Mount Olive. The annual “Taste of” event, which highlights the culture, foods, and history of various areas of our global community, is a long tradition at Mount Olive.
The Missions Committee is in need of volunteers who would be willing to cook a dish at home and bring to church on Sunday, February 10. The Missions Committee has the recipes. This is a wonderful chance to contribute to the event and to learn a new cuisine. We are also in need of volunteers to help prepare decorations for the event on Saturday, February 9. If you are interested in preparing one recipe at home and bringing it to church or in helping with decoration or set-up, please contact Paul Schadewald at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-237-8517.
Book Discussion Group
The Book Discussion Group will NOT meet in February because several members will be traveling at the usual meeting time. For the March 9 meeting we will discuss Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie. For the April 13 meeting we will discuss In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant. Looking ahead, in May we will discuss Children of God by Mary Doria Russell. This is the sequel to her novel The Sparrow which we read earlier.
A New Opportunity to Serve
Noticing that many of the guests linger after the Community Meal, the Neighborhood Ministries Committee took a survey to determine whether there was interest in staying for a social hour after the meal. There was enough favorable response so that we are considering providing a social time. However, the volunteers serving the Community Meal are obviously otherwise occupied. This is where you come in. It is our hope that a Mount Olive group or individual would like to take on this service. There is interest among the guests particularly in playing board games, and doing craft activities. The social hour could be kicked off, for instance, with a game of Bingo. A social time such as this could help fill a need for people who are often isolated and seeking to form relationships.
This service would require only a couple of hours on the Saturday that the community meal is served. If you or your committee or other group might be interested in carrying out this activity, please contact Carol Austermann (722-5123) or Eunice Hafemeister (721-6790) or speak to any member of the Neighborhood Ministries Committee.
Haug Family Ending Mission Work in Slovakia
The ELCA just contacted the Missions Committee to let us know that the Haug family has ended its mission to Slovakia/Eastern Europe. Pr. Arden Haug has taken the position of pastor at Lake of the Isles Lutheran Church here in Minneapolis. We pray that their transition goes well.
Upon the recommendation of the Missions Committee, Mount Olive had allocated $2,000 in the 2013 budget to support the Haug family, as part of the 4% congregational support to missions. The ending of this particular mission offers new possibilities. The Missions Committee will take time to examine how these funds should be used in 2013 and into the future. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions, please contact Paul Schadewald, Missions Committee Director, at email@example.com.
You will notice some ‘rearranged’ seating in the nave this Sunday. One of the pews near the front (pulpit side) has been exchanged for a shorter one from one of the upper galleries to provide additional wheelchair accessibility. This mirrors the open space already available on the lectern side. Please leave these spaces available for those who need them, including the section of pew directly next to them for companions. Thanks to the Vestry, the Property Committee and the Thursday C.P.R. team (Art and George) for making this possible, that Mount Olive might continue to be a place of welcome for all.
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!
Vestry Meeting Updates
Submitted by Lisa Nordeen, Vestry Vice President
From the December, 2012 meeting
The December 10, 2012 meeting of the Vestry centered primarily around end of the year wrap-ups for many of the different areas represented on the board. First on the agenda was a discussion about restricted accounts and their general oversight and viability. Kat Campbell-Johnson presented an overview of all of the accounts and their standing as a starting point for a review of the accounts.
As we look forward to 2013, the Stewardship committee would like to remind the congregation to turn in their pledges for the upcoming year. Pledge cards can be placed in the collection plate at Sunday services.
William’s recovery has been progressing and we would like to thank all of you who have stepped in to help with the upkeep of the church during these past few weeks. The Properties committee also welcomes everyone to participate in the winter clean up which will take place in January after Epiphany. Watch for details in the Olive Branch.
The past month has been an extremely busy one at Mount Olive. Pastor Crippen and Cantor Cherwien have been busy with several funerals as well as preparing for Advent and Christmas. Congregational Life has worked the funerals and also served a well hosted an Advent luncheon for senior members of the congregation and a luncheon for synod pastors.
The Tithe Task Force will present their recommendations to the congregation after the second service on Sunday, December 16. All are asked to attend to approve the suggestions.
Missions will once again be hosting a “Taste of…” meal on February 10, 2013. This year Ethiopia will be the focus and that Sunday will include preaching from an Ethiopian pastor and delicious foods to be sampled after the service. Look for details in a future Olive Branch.
From the January, 2013 meeting
The first Vestry meeting of the new year was held on January 14 and was a positive one on many fronts. As we look forward to the coming year there are several items to note. Mount Olive is a generous congregation and many organizations have offered thanks for gifts they have received from us. Thank you letters have been received from the Capital Campaign Tithe grant recipients and those letters, along with more information about the organizations, will be posted in the near future. In addition, December giving was very strong and allowed us to pay off several commitments and end 2012 with a slight positive balance, and with an overall increase in member giving of 12% over 2011.
A number of people will be working to promote sustainability and green living. Also, Judy Hinck has been appointed as a new member of the Missions committee.
In the coming weeks look in The Olive Branch for a request for ideas that can use funding from the Mount Olive Foundation. Last year’s application process was a great success and Vestry Directors will gather ideas to bring to the Foundation.
Pastor Crippen and Cantor Cherwien both wrapped up a busy Advent and Christmas season. As they shared in their reports, when you add it up the numbers can be surprising. For example, Cantor Cherwien presented 90 hymns throughout the season and Pastor preached six sermons in 11 days during the Christmas season.
In the next few weeks look in The Olive Branch for details of some of these upcoming mission events. On February 10, the Missions Committee will host Taste of Ethiopia. Reverend Dinku Bato will be preaching that day and will also be a part of the adult forum. An Ethiopian meal will be served after second service. The following week, Lisa Ruff will lead an Adult Forum on their family’s work with Common Hope. She will be joined by representatives of Common Hope who wish to thank the people of Mount Olive for the gift they received from our Capital Campaign tithe.
The Stewardship Committee has noted pledges for $409,115 this year, which is about $3,000 less than last year. Approximately 1/3 of the congregation has submitted pledges to date. If you want to submit your pledge there is still time to do so.