For me and a small group of Advent-observing friends, Advent used to be a time of scorn. We had much to say about “the world” which didn’t share our Advent observation, jumping straight to Christmas with its commercialism and creating a lust for more “things”. We often regarded ours as a dark time – and we longed for Christ to stomp down here, coming back to fix things once and for all.
Now I think of that in a different way: Christ does come back … on an ongoing basis. Do I notice and respond to that?
As I get older, I’ve been re-thinking this world-evaluation thing, too. Is it really a terrible world? (no). Is the world perfect? (no). Are we humans really worthy of the gift of hope and/or good? (yes). I under-stand Christ to be in a lot more than I used to. And at the end of the day (so to speak…) is Christ with me? Has Christ been born in me again? (yes). The whole unconditional sense of grace – what does that mean as we regard others – including “the world” and “commercial-ism”?
Two acquaintances we know are going through pregnancy. People who have gone through this can develop a new understanding of Advent. Focus changes. Not on how horrible everything is, but the excitement and hope of the new life growing inside the woman’s womb. The possibili-ties! Parents do what they can to prepare for this life, to do whatever is possible to help that life be its fullest-potential in body and soul.
For me now, this is Advent: Christ growing inside us, creating a new focus for our outlook. Sure, there are terrible things in the world. I wish commercialism didn’t have such a grasp on our hopes and dreams. But we can adjust our thinking and find peace amidst it all. In these dark days (literally here in the Northern Hemisphere), there is the glow of light and warmth IN us that no one can take away.
And the commercialism and jumping the gun on Christmas celebrations? Christ may be in that too. It doesn’t bother me anymore. It doesn’t take away my Advent observation. I still appreciate our lectionary’s trajectory. I appreciate Wednesday Vespers as a way of removal from the attempts to re-shape our observation. Yet, I can now allow myself to also enjoy what so many others do: the lights, the music, the smell of evergreen, the generosity, the basic sense of good-will and genuine
Nothing can take away that Advent-life growing in all of us — that daily-new-life born in us. Do we hear its heart-beat?
-Cantor David Cherwien
December 7, 2014: Second Sunday of Advent
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a
December 14, 2014: Third Sunday of Advent
Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
I Thessalonians 5:16-24
John 1:6-8, 19-28
This Sunday’s Adult Forum – December 7:
“Poetic Exclamations in the Hebrew Bible and the Gospel of Luke,” presented by Professor Earl Schwartz of Hamline University in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Fair Trade Craft Sale
The Missions Committee is hosting a fair trade sale. 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 organization whose mission is to eradicate poverty wherever it resides by providing opportunity and support to artisans and farmers worldwide. See the attachment for one of our own member’s experience with how proceeds from SERRV sales helped people in Haiti.
The handcrafted fair trade items will be available for purchase after both liturgies on December 7, 14, and 21 (cash and check only). See the attachment/insert to view some of the items that will be for sale. Fair trade coffee, tea, cocoa, and chocolate from Equal Exchange will also be available. This is not a fund-raiser, just an opportunity to buy good products for a good cause.
Book Discussion Group’s Upcoming Reads
For their meeting on December 13, the Book Discussion group will read Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen. For the meeting on January 17, (postponed one week because of the Conference on Liturgy) they will read, The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield.
The Book of Esther: Thursday Evening Bible Study Continues
Vicar McLaughlin is currently leading a study on the Book of Esther, exploring the historical context and many issues raised in this book, including justice, violence, power and privilege, the role of women, the presence of God, and what it means to be called “for such a time as this.”
This study meets in the Chapel Lounge on Thursday evenings, beginning with a light supper at 6:00 pm.
This Bible study runs through December 18.
Annual Conference on Liturgy: “Common Ground: Hearing the Word Through the Lectionary”
Friday–Saturday, January 9-10, 2015
Each Sunday at Eucharist, Christians of many different traditions gather to be fed by Word and Sacrament and share the same readings from Scripture. In the Revised Common Lectionary there is a visible sign of the unity of the Church for those who know they encounter the same Word of God each week with their sisters and brothers in many places.
This year at Mount Olive’s annual Conference on Liturgy we will explore the richness of this shared, “common” tradition, consider the ways that the use of a common lectionary can bless the life of the parish, and ask questions of its place in the present and future life of the churches who use it.
The keynote speaker this year is Dr. Gail Ramshaw; workshop presenters will be Pastor Joseph Crippen, The Rev. John Setterlund, and Dr. Paul Westermeyer.
Registration fee for Mount Olive members is $35/person.
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 a month of food for a child orphaned by AIDS through ELCA Good Gifts. We have catalogues from different charitable organizations that you can use or you can order from the organizations’ websites. Some of these organizations are:
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Lutheran World Relief
Heifer Project International
Common Hope http://commonhopecatalog.myshopify.com/
Thank you to all who donated and to all who helped transport our food donations to their recipients for Thanksgiving. We received over $2,000 to share between CES and Sabathani – that’s $34,000 worth of food and care for our neighborhood! I hope you see that blessing overflowing in each day and each face on your path.
Here is a wonderful neighborhood participation opportunity to witness the nativity story come alive in our own neighborhood! In the Heart of the Beast Theater, along with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, will present LA NATIVIDAD – a bilingual telling of the Christmas story. Audience members move with the puppet actors and process with Maria and Jose as they seek shelter. The show moves from Lake Street to St. Paul’s for the Nativity and celebration with music and food.
This event takes place December 11,13, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, at 6:30 pm, starting at In the Heart of the Beast theater (1500 E. Lake Street).
Individual and group tickets are available online at hobt.org.
Flyers with additional information are available at church.
Wednesdays in Advent
December 3, 10, and 17
Thanks to all who have turned in pledges. Especially because we’re facing 2015 expenditures up some 7%, at our Vestry meeting Monday, December 8—last of the calendar year—I want to report where pledges stand now compared with those a year ago. If you’ve been intending to turn in your card but haven’t quite gotten to it you’re, well, not alone. You can e-mail your pledge to Cha Posz at the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org). Indicate the dollar amount, whether it’s per year/month/week or whatever, and name or names (address and phone needed only if they’re different from current Mount Olive directory). Or, this Sunday put your completed pledge card in the box near the coatroom or in the Stewardship box in the office.
Our 2015 “budget” is shorthand for the mission and ministry we do together, and it requires some collective stretching, whether we’re pledgers or nonpledgers. Thanks! —Donn McLellan, Director of Stewardship
Weekly Centering Prayer on Advent Wednesdays
Centering prayer, a silent acknowledging of the presence of the Divine, is held each Wednesday evening in Advent at 6:15 p.m. in the library. Led by Mount Olive members, the format will begin with a short reading from the Psalms, followed by 20 minutes of silence. At the end there will be a few moments to come together for a closing prayer.
New to the process? Look for brochures in the rack by the glass display case to get a more detailed description.
Plan on coming on Wednesday evenings during Advent for Centering Prayer, December 3, 10, and 17.
National Lutheran Choir Christmas Festival Concerts:
“The Hopes and Fears of All the Years”
Fri., December 12, 2014 – (4:30 pm & 8 pm) and Sat., December 13, 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 www.nlca.com.
Mount Olive Christmas Cards
There are still some of the Mount Olive Christmas cards available for sale this year. The cards cost $2.50 each if you buy 5 or less. If you buy 6 or more they are $1.75 each. The cards are available in the church office and will be available Sunday mornings. Please contact Paul Nixdorf or Andrew Andersen with any questions.
Pray for Nigeria
Weekly we pray for Naomi and the other kidnapped girls in Nigeria. The ELCA is working closely with the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN) in this effort. This week the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria is holding its General Church Assembly in Yola. Some 200 members and leaders will gather in the Cathedral Church in Yola in the midst of killings and church burnings. We are asked to these support faithful followers of Christ with our prayers.
In addition to your private prayers and prayers of the church at Mount Olive, you are invited to join in a Nigeria Prayer Vigil this Sunday, December 7th at Lake Nokomis Lutheran Church, 5011 31st Ave S. in Minneapolis at 5:00 p.m.
– Global Mission Committee
Help with the Greens – Up and Down!
Many hands make light work, and there are several opportunities for people to help decorate the nave and chancel for our Christmas celebrations at Mount Olive. On Sunday, Dec. 21, 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.
Also, and probably most important given it’s more easily forgotten, the taking down of the greens and trees will happen on Wednesday, Jan. 7, beginning at 8:30 a.m. In particular, this last task requires a lot of hands, so having a good group come will make the work much easier.
Staff Christmas Gifts
The six people who work at Mount Olive serve us and God in many and exciting ways. At a recent congregational meeting I stated that it feels as though Mount Olive is “humming on all cylinders” right now, and that is due in large part to our capable and faithful Pastor Joseph, Vicar Meagan, Cantor David, Neighborhood Ministries Coordinator Anna, Administrative Assistant Cha and Sexton William. Every year we provide a special Christmas gift for them, and we want to remind you of that opportunity again. Please submit your monetary gifts to the church office or in the offering plate. Checks should have “Staff Christmas Gift” noted on the memo line. The congregation has been very generous in the past, and I thank you in advance for your gifts this year.
– Lora Dundek, Vestry President
A Note of Thanks
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Thank you for your prayers, cards, calls, and visits. They gave me a great deal of comfort and assurance that the Lord was with me and all would be fine.
I have asked to have my name removed from the prayer list because I am doing well. However, it will be several months before I have fully recovered, so an occasional prayer for me would be greatly appreciated.
Yours in Christ,
Mary Rose Watson