Accent on Worship
Pastor Joseph Crippen
Monday, over the lunch hour at the Midtown DMV, I bought the license plate tabs for the car Martha drives, but we own. Her tabs expired in January. It is February. The tenth of that month. I walked over to Midtown Market with some trepidation, knowing that I was in violation of the law, suspecting that the people at the DMV would likely be a little harried, and intent on being as pleasant as I could be that I might avoid a scolding.
Now, my mother, of blessed memory, would doubtless say with irony, “It’s too bad that the DMV sent the renewal form in February so that you had to be late getting these.” Of course, the truth is otherwise. The renewal notice has been on my desk at home for some weeks now, and I’ve been “meaning” to get to it. The point is, one of our vehicles was in violation of state law, and I am the only one responsible for that violation. I knew that accounting must be made.
This month in our Sunday liturgies, we might carry some of the same trepidation into our hearing of the Gospel readings. Jesus is in full Sermon-on-the-Mount preaching, and he’s saying hard things about how we live, how we think of others, how we show ourselves in the world.
There is no room for us to wiggle, either. As with my tabs, we know that these standards he sets – hatred of others is like killing, thinking of sins is like doing them, no law of God is to be set aside –we know that we regularly do not meet them with our lives.
What makes everything different for us is that it is our Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God, whose love for us is profoundly greater than we ever could have imagined, in whose death and resurrection we live and hope, it is our Lord Jesus who is saying these things. This gives us two reasons not to fear. First, we rest wholly in the forgiveness and grace of God the Son of God reveals to us. We don’t need to come in with trepidation. Second, Jesus isn’t trying to make things harder for us, he’s simply telling the truth about our lives and showing us the way of living that is life in God’s kingdom.
It is that second one in which we want to live for awhile, pondering, thinking. Just as I know that our car needs up-to-date licensing, regardless of whether or not I take care of it, regardless of whether or not I want to take care of it, we also know that our lives are best lived fully as God intended and designed, regardless of whether or not we do it, regardless of whether or not we want to do it. These words in the Sermon on the Mount, were we to live them fully, would create a world of beauty and grace, of life, not death. They are the gift of God to us, were we to live them fully, because they show a life and a world as God made them to be.
There’s no reason for us to fear Jesus this month, but let’s at least try to see that he’s only telling the truth about our lives, and how we live them. Denying one is outside the law when the opposite is true is just foolish. Rather, we could try listening to Jesus, accepting the truth of our situation, seeking his grace and help to live as he is inviting, even while we ask forgiveness for our shortcomings. The path of wisdom lies in seeing the truth our Lord reveals and moving toward that truth, not denying it.
In the name of Jesus,
February 16, 2014: 6th Sunday after Epiphany
I Corinthians 3:1-9
February 23, 2014: 7th Sunday after Epiphany
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18
I Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23
This Week’s Adult Forum
February 16: “The Lament Psalms in Prayer and Devotional Life,” presented by Vicar Emily Beckering.
A Farewell Celebration
March 14 will be Donna Neste’s last day as our Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator. Donna has served God and Mount Olive admirably for many decades and it’s time to bid her a fond farewell. We invite members of the congregation to donate to a gift in Donna’s honor. Please make checks payable to Mount Olive Lutheran Church (be sure to designate them “Donna’s Gift”), and bring or mail them to the church office by Friday, March 7. There will be a meal and celebration after the second liturgy on Sunday, March 16. For questions, contact Carol Austermann or Kathy Thurston.
Taste of Mardi Gras Thank You!
Thanks to everyone who contributed to the success of “Taste of Mardi Gras: A Celebration for Lutheran Volunteer Corps.” Thank you to all the people who cooked, decorated, invited guests, and enjoyed themselves. It was a fun time.
Our partners from Lutheran Volunteer Corps and guests from Luther Seminary enjoyed themselves. We learned more about LVC and gave their good work a boost financially. Remaining food was offered to the Lutheran Volunteer Corps members and served at Our Saviour’s Shelter during the evening meal.
We’ll have more details about the Taste of Mardi Gras and our contribution to Lutheran Volunteer Corps in a forthcoming Olive Branch. Stay tuned.
(Remember: If you prepared and brought a dish, please remember to pick up your personal pots, pans and serving dishes from downstairs.)
Scholar In Residence
Beginning on February 23 and continuing through March 16, Professor Earl Schwartz of Hamline University will make presentations to the Adult Forum as the first Mount Olive Scholar in Residence. He will engage the Forum with presentations he has titled “From Earth, to Eden, to Ground: The Opening Chapters of the Book of Genesis.” Professor Schwartz has led Bible studies for the Adult Forum in the past, and he never fails to excite, inspire, and educate. The Scholar-in-Residence program is made possible by a generous grant from the Mount Olive Foundation. We will all be grateful to the Foundation for this grant and to Professor Schwartz for his contribution to the knowledge and spiritual formation of those who hear him.
100th Birthday Celebration
On Sunday, February 23, all are invited to join Paul and Ted Odlaug and their families for coffee and cake as we celebrate the 100th birthday of Dorothy Odlaug. Dorothy’s birthday is February 22, President’s Day.
The reception will take place in the Chapel Lounge after the second liturgy. We know that Dorothy is eagerly looking forward to seeing all of you at this time as she has been unable to be among you now for almost a year. Please, no gifts. Cards or just greetings would more than welcome.
Paul & Ted Odlaug
2014 Lenten Devotional Books
Susan Cherwien has prepared another Lenten devotional booklet for our use during this upcoming season of Lent.
Copies of Journey Into Lent 2014 are available in the narthex and in the church office. Pick yours up soon! If you need a copy to be mailed to you, just contact the church office.
Lent begins March 5.
The Board of Directors of Mount Olive Lutheran Church Foundation soon will meet to recommend the designation of its annual gift to the congregation. It appears that this gift again will break another record, allowing more to be done in and for our congregation.
The Foundation Board actively solicits gift designation suggestions from the Pastor, Cantor, Director of Neighborhood Ministries, and every member of the Vestry. Individual congregation members also can be part of this process. If you know of a worthy project or need at Mount Olive, please speak with the Vestry member whose program area applies to your suggestion. He or she will share your recommendation with the Foundation board for consideration.
Since its 1972 inception, the Mount Olive Foundation has distributed over $300,000 to benefit our church. It is our privilege and joy to further Mount Olive’s meaningful mission, now and far into the future.
– Keith Bartz, President
Stories for the Journey: Thursday Evening Bible Study
The Thursday evening Bible study meeting in the Chapel Lounge from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. continues this week. Pr. Crippen is leading a series on the parables of Jesus and how they provide us a vision of God’s reign. As with all these Thursday series, there will be a light supper when we begin. The series runs through February 20.
Attention Worship Assistants
The Servant Schedule for the 2nd quarter of 2014 (April – June) will be published at the beginning of March. The deadline for submitting requests to me is February 14. Please send your requests to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book Discussion Upcoming Reads
For their meeting on March 8, the Book Discussion Group will read Howards End, by E. M. Forster, and for April 12 they will read Elizabeth and Hazel, by David Margolick.
Bread for the World Workshop Coming to Mount Olive in March
One of three annual Bread for the World workshops will be held at Mount Olive this year on Sunday March 2, beginning 1:00 p.m. A light lunch will be served in the Undercroft after the late liturgy for those who plan to stay for the workshop. If you plan to attend please call Donna Neste at church so that the servers can plan accordingly. More information about the workshop is written below. There are also brochures available on the Neighborhood Ministries bulletin board directly below the stairs by Donna’s office.
Bread for the World Workshop
“Hunger-No More!! Hunger-Know More!!” is the title of the series of Bread for the World metro area workshops this year. They start with an abbreviated workshop from 7 to 9 pm on Monday, February 24, at the Eastlund Room of Bethel University, 3900 Bethel Drive in Arden Hills. Amelia Kegan of the Washington, DC, Bread for the World National Staff will be the keynote speaker on Saturday, March 1, from 9-Noon at Church of Corpus Christi in Roseville (southwest corner of Fairview Avenue and County Rd. B), and on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. at Mount Olive Lutheran on 31st and Chicago in Mpls. She will talk about hunger globally and in our own country. Anyone concerned about hunger and about learning effective methods of response will benefit. Registration is 15 minutes prior to the start. A freewill offering will be received. No pre-registration required.
National Lutheran Choir to Host City-Wide Hymn Festival
On Sunday, February 23, at 4 p.m., the National Lutheran Choir will join forces with hundreds of Twin Cities’ church choir members for a City-Wide Hymn Festival to be held at Central Lutheran Church (333 South 12th St., Mpls.). Mark Sedio, Cantor at Central Lutheran, will conduct the massed choir. David Cherwien and the NLC will lead and perform.
Tickets for this event are $25/adults; $23/Seniors; and $20/Students, and can be obtained by calling the NLC office at 612-722-2301 or by visiting them on the web: www.nlca.com.