Monday, December 28, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

Holiness! That's the focus of Luke 2:22-24. When the devout Mary and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the temple, it was an issue of holiness. Mary, having endured the bloody event of childbirth, went for the necessity of ritual cleansing, to be counted again among God's people Israel. Cleansing meant being brought into the presence of holiness. The infant Jesus, being the firstborn of Mary, was to be dedicated to the Lord as commanded in Exodus 13. Again, Jesus, though true God, was also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, and thus followed the Law and was dedicated to the holy God.

I sometimes wonder about the issue of holiness. For Simeon and Anna, the other two figures in today's Gospel (Luke 2:22-40), holiness was real. Seeing the Christ of God in their midst, they rejoiced in His holiness that would bring about the consolation and redemption of God's people. What about us? When we come into the place where God has promised to come among us in His chosen means, we are brought into the presence of holiness. Do we treat worship that way? Do we expect the righteous and holy Christ to come among us in His body and blood?

Praise God that our holiness is grounded in our Lord Jesus Christ. I said this morning that we NEVER go directly to God. Demanding to stand in the presence of true holiness would mean certain death for us sinners. Rather, we always approach the throne of God through Christ, because in Christ God has first come to us.

Only a couple of events, but one of which I want to bring to your attention. On Thursday night (New Year's Eve), there is a Family Game Night at 6:30 p.m. Bring a snack to share and your favorite game. Word has it that the bell will again sound at midnight!

I'll be out of the office all week, but will be back for worship on Sunday, when Confirmation Instruction will begin again.

Please remember in prayer:
Those who serve in our armed forces: Andrew Epley (Iraq), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Rob Vadney (Ft. Sill), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi), William Worley (NAS Kingsville)

Those who travel, that they be kept safe and given joyful homecomings

The Church throughout the world, as she proclaims the infant Christ and looks to His return in glory

Those who are ill, undergoing treatments, recovering, and dying, that they may be comforted by the peace that passes all understanding, who is Christ Himself

Those who mourn the loss of loved ones, that they may be comforted by the news of a blessed resurrection and a happy reunion in heaven.

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, December 28
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 30
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, December 31
Game Night, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, January 1
Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts

First Sunday after Christmas, Series C December 27, 2009

Lessons for First Sunday after Christmas (Lutheran Service Book)

Exodus 13:1-3a, 11-15 -~ God’s people remembered their rescue from Egypt at the cost of the firstborn sons.
Psalm 111 -
Colossians 3:12-17 ~ Those redeemed by God’s grace give up their complaints to live in the peace of Christ.
Luke 2:22-40 ~ Mary and Joseph presented Jesus, who was recognized as God’s redemption for His people.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: God’s Strong Hand for Redemption
Through all succeeding generations, the people of Israel redeemed their first born sons with the sacrifice of a lamb or dove, remembering how God had rescued them from Egypt at the great cost of the first born sons of all the land. God’s own Son, born in the flesh, first son of Mary, was presented to the Lord along with two turtledoves, but Himself became the redeeming sacrifice for all of Israel, and not for Israel alone but even for the nations. God’s strong hand has redeemed His people from bondage to sin and death. He calls upon those who have been rescued to sacrifice their complaints against each other and so live with the peace of Christ in their hearts.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Almighty God, redeeming Lord, as You have given Yourself to rescue me from the bondage of sin, so let me give up my right to seek payment for grievances against me so that I may live in the peace of Christ with all my neighbors. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: To remember the cost of their freedom from slavery, the Israelites returned an offering to the Lord for their first born sons. When we have an opportunity to invest the time and treasure of our lives in the service of God’s kingdom, it should remind us that we have been set free from the servitude of our self interest.

OFFERING PRAYER: A lamb for the first-born won the release
Of Israel’s children from Pharaoh’s domain.
Now bless these gifts, Lord, to show forth Your peace
In service to all those for whom Jesus came.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: The purchase of their first born reminded the Israelites of God’s redemptive hand in Egypt. God calls upon us to remember the sacrifice of His own Son and the great cost by which we were redeemed from the bondage of sin and death, but we spend more energy remembering grievances we have over the way we have been treated by others. God will never forget His steadfast love for us, expressed and completed in the gift of His grace in Christ Jesus. We live in the peace of God’s redeeming love when we forget our complaints against others and forgive as God in Christ has forgiven us.

Monday, December 21, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Greetings, fellow redeemed!

This evening, I brought the sermon you all heard this morning to Trinity, Refugio. We same the sang Christmas carols, but without accompaniment - that's a capella for you music types. With the singers present, seven in all, we filled the sanctuary with the sounds of God's promises at Christmas. Talk about belting out Christmas songs!

That's what is so powerful about old (I'm talking centuries here) Christmas songs - the words of the carols recite God's promises fulfilled in Christ. Look at Hark the Herald Angels Sing; all the truths of the Second Article of the Creed are contained in that hymn. Go to Of the Father's Love Begotten and you get the truth of God the Son, begotten from eternity. Sing From Heaven Above to Earth I Come and the earth-changing words of the angel to the shepherds are recited yet again. Praise God for those early hymn writers and the powerful hymns they produced!

The food pantry at Mt. Olive continues to provide individuals and families. While we cannot provide huge amounts of food, we do provide for at least a meal or two. Over the past week, I've filled at least three or four requests for food, and Mary has filled a couple more. What this means is that our food pantry has an ongoing need for certain items: breakfast cereals; canned soups, vegetables, and fruits; plastic shopping bags for food distribution.

This week is filled with Christmas opportunities and services.

Monday is time for ONE LAST CHRISTMAS PROGRAM REHEARSAL at 7 p.m. Musicians and singers, please try to be there somewhat earlier.

Tuesday is a great opportunity for Jr. Youth. Mixing some work and fellowship. the Jr. Youth continue the tradition of Christmas cookie baking, and then taking those cookies to some of shut in members. Needed for this service are: sheet pans, rolling pins, cooling racks, sprinkles. More info will be coming tonight or tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, choir rehearsal will be held at the regular time. Also on Wednesday, we'll get together to have a quick look at the Candlelight Service with available Sr. Youth.

Thursday, services begin! Here's the Schedule

Christmas Eve Christmas Program, 6:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service, 11 p.m.

Christmas Day Divine Service, 9:30 a.m.

One group that I ask you to keep in your prayers during this Christmas week is the Altar Guild. These women of faith perform a great service to the Church of our Lord Jesus, getting the proper appointments ready and readying the elements for the Holy Eucharist. With the many color changes over the next few days, the Altar Guild will again perform their duties with distinction.

Please remember in prayer:
Those who serve in our armed forces, especially Andrew Epley (Iraq), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Rob Vadney (Ft. Sill), Edwin Rodriguez and Richard Rhode (North Carolina), William Worley (Kingsville), Ryan Radtke, John, Sorensen, and Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi)

The families of those who serve in our armed forces

Those who have lost loved ones recently, for whom this holiday season will be difficult

Those who travel

The poor, the unemployed, the underemployed, and the homeless

In Christ,
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, December 21
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.
Girl Scouts (?), 6:30 p.m.
Christmas Program rehearsal, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, December 22
Jr. Youth Cookie Baking and Christmas Caroling, 12:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 23
Choir Rehearsal, 6 p.m.
Candlelight Service practice and music practice, 7 p.m.

Thursday, December 24
Children's Christmas Program, 6:30 p.m.
Lessons and Carols Candlelight Service, 11 p.m.

Friday, December 25
Christmas Day Divine Service, 9:30 a.m.

Monday, December 14, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good morning, fellow redeemed!

Gaudete Sunday was yesterday, the Sunday of rejoicing during the season of Advent. I love the cartoon classic, "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas." I'm not sure if I'm more drawn to the Dr. Seuss simplicity or the grinch himself. But, there is a misleading element: The joy of Christmas is not community or having hands to clasp.

In reading Zephaniah, the Old Testament lesson yesterday, we learn just who rejoices, and what His rejoicing is about:
The Lord your God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing. (3:17)

The rejoicing is the rejoicing of our Lord! The true God rejoices over His restoring love in Jesus Christ. God in the flesh is present with His people, and He rejoices. God with us, Immanuel, is present, and His presence brings, in turn, our own rejoicing.

Wednesday will be last of the Advent Midweek Services. In the theme of hearing the Advent stories, this week we hear Mary's story. Advent services are at 12:15 p.m. (Midday Prayer) and 7:15 p.m. (Vespers).

Thursday brings us Mt. Olive Lutheran School's Christmas Program at 7:15 p.m.

This coming Sunday, December 20, there will be no Confirmation Class. However, there will be Christmas Program practice at the regular time (2 p.m.). There will also be a practice on Monday, December 21, at 6 p.m. It's important that we have as many people as possible at these practices to prepare for the Christmas service on 6:30 p.m.

It's time for one of my fatherly lecture:
With the beginning of the Christmas break this week, I want to impress on all of you the importance of traveling safely. While some will not be going anywhere other than church or to visit some relatives in town, please remember that many serious accidents take place less than five miles from home. I encourage all of you to practice good safety that we already know: drive at a safe speed, wear safety belts, keep distractions in vehicles to a minimum, and, most importantly, if you're drinking, don't drive.

Please Remember in Prayer:
All those serving in our armed forces: Andrew Epley (Iraq), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Rob Vadney (Ft. Sill), Edwin Rodriguez and Richard Rhode (North Carolina), Ryan Radtke, John Sorenson, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi), William Worley (NAS Kingsville)
The Church throughout the world as she proclaims the birth of her Lord
The pastors of our circuit and our circuit counselor, Pastor Eckert, during this busy Christmas season
The new officers for Mt. Olive elected yesterday
All who are traveling this season, that they be kept safe
The families of those who have lost loved ones this past year, as they deal with grief in this blessed season

In Christ,
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, December 14
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 16
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Prayer at Midday, 12:15 p.m.
Vespers, 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, December 17
School Christmas Program, 7:15 p.m.

Looking Ahead:
Sunday, December 20
Divine Service, 8 and 10:30 a.m.
Sunday School and Adult Bible Class, 9:15 a.m.
Jr. Youth to The Nutcracker, TBA (performance begins at 2 p.m.)
Christmas Program Practice, 2 p.m.

Monday, December 21
Christmas Program Practice, 6 p.m.

Tuesday, December 22
Jr. Youth Cookie Baking and Caroling, TBA

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts for the Week

Fourth Sunday in Advent, Series C December 20, 2009

Lessons for The Fourth Sunday in Advent (Lutheran Service Book)

Micah 5:2-5a ~ The birth of Israel’s ruler in Bethlehem was to signal the gathering of God’s flock.
Psalm 80:1-7 (antiphon: v. 7)
Hebrews 10:5-10 ~ God took on our flesh in Christ and offered up His body to make us holy by His sacrifice.
Luke 1:39-45 (46-56) ~ Elizabeth and Mary greeted each other and praised God for His mercy incarnate.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: God is Coming in Person!
God’s love is revealed specifically and personally: our Ruler, born in Bethlehem; the Messiah willingly sacrificing His own body for us; Mary nourishing the unborn Savior and rejoicing in God’s mercy shown to her, and through her to God’s people. God Himself came to us in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, born in Bethlehem in the region of Ephrathah, to carry out His Father’s will in rescuing us from the power of sin and death: God in the flesh – God in person!

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Dear Father in heaven, with love You sent Your Son to give His life for me. May every gift I give this Christmas time may be tinged with love as unselfish as Your love for me, that I may give the greater gift as well by sharing the meaning of the Christ Child with my family and friends. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God works His universal love through the particularity of His presence in the person of Jesus, born in Bethlehem. God uses particular offerings from our individual lives to bring His message of grace to all people. In the gifts we give and the words we speak, God’s love is expressed for all to see and hear.

OFFERING PRAYER: Now bless these gifts, O Lord, we pray, which from our lives we bring
That they may work a mighty deed and glory to your name,
As with the angel hosts of old we lift our voice to sing,
And marvel at Your holy birth in little Bethlehem.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: We cannot imagine why the Mighty God would come to us in the person of Jesus, born in little Bethlehem. We turn God’s love around and look for things about ourselves that make us ‘lovable’ to Him. We think it must be something we said, or something we did, or just something about us, but in God’s choice of Mary to be the mother of our Savior, we see that His choice is pure grace on His part. “The Mighty One has done great things for us” – “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Monday, December 7, 2009

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts for This Sunday

Third Sunday in Advent, Series C December 13, 2009

Lessons for The Third Sunday in Advent (Lutheran Service Book)

Zephaniah 3:14–20 ~ When God Himself comes as King, His people will rejoice and celebrate.
Psalm 85 (Antiphon: v. 2)
Philippians 4:4–7 ~ With joyful thanks we await the Lord’s return, with His peace filling our lives.
Luke 7:18–28 (29–35) ~ Jesus reassured John by pointing out His healing deeds which brought great joy.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: A Lift for Heavy Hearts
Our heavy hearts are lifted by the news that His love overcomes our failures. Zephaniah assured the people of Zion that God, who was always the true King of Israel, would come to set right all those things ruined by earthly kings. In Jesus, we see that our King has come, just as John’s messengers were told, for the blind see, the lame walk, the deaf hear, and the poor rejoice. Today our hearts are lifted up with joy and filled with peace as we welcome Christ, our King.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, in this Advent season, restore to me the joy of your salvation as you assure me that my sins are forgiven. Let me be a messenger of that joy as I share the reason for this season with others. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Just as we rejoice in God’s good gifts to us, we sorrow at the suffering in our world caused by abuse of power and selfish motives. Christ came as King to heal and restore all things. He uses His people in that task. Redeemed by Him, we show Christ-like kindness to those who need good news.

OFFERING PRAYER: Our hearts are filled with joy today,
For Christ our King sets all things right!
With healing power He leads the way!
Lord, bless these gifts with righteous might.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: There is so much going on in our lives that would keep God at a distance. How can we rejoice at God’s coming when His presence is a threat? Instead of rejoicing, we are easily offended by any implication of our wrong-doing! But God will not let our attitude, or our sins, keep Him away! He comes to us with His love, as the healing and restoring King, claiming us as His own. His embrace in Christ Jesus sets our hearts at peace, and our souls rejoicing!

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

How do we prepare for the Lord's arrival? That's the question of Advent. To be sure, we prepare for the Lord's first advent in our celebration of Christmas. Is that what we're really about during these weeks before Christmas? Look at the busy schedules, the endless angst over gifts, and the over-taxed family. When Christmas arrives, it always seems to be about a cute little story more than anything else - the reason for the season or some other such thing. Isn't this really true God coming in the flesh, the Creator of the universe becoming man?

But, as much as we prepare for the celebration of the first advent of our Lord, how do we prepare for the second advent, when our Lord returns as judge of the living and the dead? Are we expecting God the Son in the flesh to appear in glory? Will He really understand all those times we attributed understanding to Him as an excuse to ignore His gifts and treat Him with disdain?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote: It is very remarkable that we face the thought that God is coming, so calmly, whereas previously peoples trembled at the day of God . . . . We have become so accustomed to the idea of divine love and of God's coming at Christmas that we no longer feel the shiver of fear that God's coming should arouse in us. We are indifferent to the message, taking only the pleasant and agreeable out of it and forgetting the serious aspect, that the God of the world draws near to the people of our little earth and lays claim to us. The coming of God is truly not only glad tidings, but first of all frightening news for every one who has a conscience.

The Lord spoke through Malachi, telling that He would indeed come suddenly, unexpectedly to His temple among His people. He would be the refiner of gold and silver and the caustic soap that cleans the worst of stains. Our Lord Jesus, true God in the flesh, is that purifier and launderer. He washes us in His blood to make us whiter than snow. In other words, as unable to make ourselves prepared for our Lord's arrival as we are, so much more is our Lord Jesus able to prepare us - that's the message of Advent. Our Lord purifies and and cleanses us through His dying and rising.

Lest we believe that being Christian is as easy as some say, know that it is a painful, exacting life, for it means enduring the purifying fire of our Lord. It means seeing ourselves as God's Word sees us - that, in spite of our feeling that we're all good at heart, we really aren't. Our Lord brings us through death into His life. Yet, in this life, every day is a life of contrition and repentance, and a life of fleeing back to our Lord's promise at our Baptism. As tough as that sounds, it's great news, for it tells us of our Lord who brings us through death into life, bringing us to look to His appearing in glory.

Today is also the day of St. Nicholas of Myra:
Of the many saints commemorated by the Christian Church, Nicholas (d. A.D. 342) is one of the best known. Very little is known historically of him, although there was a church of Saint Nicholas in Constantinople as early as the sixth century. Research has affirmed that there was a bishop by the name of Nicholas in the city of Myra in Lycia (part of Turkey today) in the fourth century. From that coastal location, legends about Nicholas have traveled throughout time and space. He is associated with charitable giving in many countries around the world and is portrayed as the rescuer of sailors, the protector of children and the friend of people in distress or need. In commemoration of "Sinte Klaas" (Dutch for Saint Nicholas, in English "Santa Claus"), December 6 is a day for giving and receiving gifts in many parts of Europe. [From “Commemorations Biographies,” Lutheran Service Book, LCMS Commission on Worship]

Today's Christmas Program rehearsal was, in a word, fantastic. Through the assistance of Bethany Waddle, Matthew Catherman, Dawn Johnson, and other adults, most of the songs in the program are well on their way to being learned. A few readings need to be added, but it will be a joyful task. Please pray for these young people who will be telling the story of God's salvation in this years Children's Christmas Service. Rehearsal continues next Sunday at 2 p.m.

I want to issue a gentle reminder of next Sunday's schedule: Divine Service at 9:30 a.m., Sunday School and Voters Meeting at 10:30 a.m., and Meal at 11:30 a.m. This particular meeting is important, as we need to do the business of next year's budget.

Wednesday of this week continues the Advent preparatory services with the theme of Advent Stories. Last week was Zechariah; this week will bring us Elizabeth. Advent Prayer at Midday is held at 12:15 p.m., and Advent Vespers is held at 7:15 p.m.

Tuesday night, the LWML has its annual Christmas Dinner at Olive Garden. If you haven't done so already and you wish to attend, please call the Church Office to add your name to the list. Also from the LWML:
Bake Sale on Sunday! One given for the bake sale: it's always good!

Many thanks to the many folks who participated in decorating the church on Sunday morning!

Special Prayer Concerns:
Members of the Armed Forces: Andrew Epley (awaiting deployment), Michael Baker (returned from deployment), Rob Vadney (Oklahoma), Richard Rhode, Edwin Rodriguez (North Carolina), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi), Bill Worley (NAS Kingsville)
Pastors and the congregations committed to their care in this busy season
The sick, the unemployed, the homeless, and the despairing, that our Lord would move us to reflect His great love

In Christ,
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, December 7
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m., Youth Room
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m. Fellowship Hall
Church Council, 7 p.m., Overflow

Tuesday, December 8
LWML Dinner at Olive Garden

Wednesday, December 9
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Advent Prayer at Midday, 12:15 p.m.
Choir Rehearsal, 6 p.m.
Advent Vespers, 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, December 10
Cub Scout Pack 278 Christmas Caroling, 5:15 p.m.

Sunday, December 13
Divine Service, 9:30 a.m.
Sunday School, 10:30 a.m.
Voters Meeting, 10:30 a.m.
Meal, 11:30 a.m.
Confirmation Instruction, 12:30 p.m.
Christmas Program Rehearsal, 2 p.m.
Sr. Youth, 6 p.m.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Rev. Franke's Theme Thoughts for This Sunday

Second Sunday in Advent, Series C December 6, 2009

Lessons for The Second Sunday in Advent (Lutheran Service Book)

Malachi 3:1–7b ~ God's messenger will prepare for the Lord’s coming.
Psalm 66:1–12 (Antiphon: Psalm 66:12b)
Philippians 1:2–11 ~ God is completing the good work of His righteousness in believers.
Luke 3:1–14 (15–20) ~ God sent John to prepare the way for Jesus’ arrival.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Hope in the Face of Reality
Malachi brought the welcome message that God would come to His people, but he also warned them that their eyes would be opened to the reality of their sin! Because God does not change, His people must straighten up their lives! John’s message in the wilderness was much the same: “let your lives show the hope you have placed in God by turning from your wicked ways!” St. Paul gave thanks for the fulfilment of this hope through the redeeming life of Jesus Christ, as God works in His people.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord God, we have placed our hopes in You to right the wrongs in our world, but we realize there is much wrong in our own lives, too. Prepare us for the day of Christ by filling us with Your love and righteousness. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: We look in hope for Christ’s return, but in our waiting, we often take advantage of those around us who are vulnerable. When we see Christ already among us in the weak and helpless, we will be quick to lift up their hopes by sharing coat and food.

OFFERING PRAYER: When empty hopes desert our hearts, and we have lost our way,
Direct us, Lord, to place our trust in You, our coming King;
And in these gifts we bring to You, and all we do and say,
May hollow hearts be filled with hope and joyful songs to sing.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: The “hopes and fears of all the years” are often co-mingled in our hearts because those things for which we hope will bring us up short against realities we’d rather not face. God’s coming confronts us with the distance we have placed between ourselves and God! That distance is clearly seen in the waywardness of our lives. But in His grace, God overcomes that distance by uniting us to Himself through the righteousness that comes in Jesus Christ. Christ is our Hope; in Him our hearts are united in God’s love.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

We live in THOSE days! That was the message from Jeremiah 33 this morning - we live in THOSE days, the days in which God's promises proclaimed by the prophets have been fulfilled in Christ! Yet, as great as THESE days are, we live in a continual Advent season, a continual season of waiting, and waiting, and waiting - waiting for the day when our Lord appears in glory, the Last Day. We long to see THOSE days, days when Advent is fulfilled, when days are ended and we are in the presence for all eternity.

Advent Midweek services begin this week on Wednesday. At 12:15 p.m., there is Prayer at Midday. This is a short prayer service that includes a reading, a meditation, and a hymn or two. At 7:15 p.m., it is Advent Vespers. This is an evening order of service with music, hymns, readings, and meditations.

Today was a successful Christmas Program practice from 2 - 3:30 p.m. We will continue these practices over the next few Sundays. Good job! By the way, if you weren't in attendance this week but are planning to be here next week and wish to participate, please send a reply and let me know which children, ages, grades, that sort of thing.

This is a good time to give a reminder of December 13. This is the date of our fourth quarter Voters Meeting. That means a changed schedule: 9:30 a.m. Divine Service, 10:30 a.m. Sunday School and Voters meeting. This meeting is particularly important because of the need to work through and approve the budget.

It's time to decorate Mt. Olive in preparation for the Christmas season! Decorating begins this coming Saturday, December 5, at 9 a.m. Also, an insert will be included this coming Sunday for the purchase of Christmas poinsettias ($7 each).

After my email of last week, I thought I'd give an update of my family situation. As many of you read, my dad's sister died last Tuesday morning. Aunt Betty was one who often hosted my brother and me for a week during the summers of our younger days. She was my dad's last surviving sibling. She will be missed. Services are pending. I'll keep the Board of Elders posted. My mother's sister was hospitalized again on Friday and is probably going to stay a few days longer than her last trip there, undergoing medication therapy of different types.

Many of you expressed your sympathies and condolences to my family over the past days. I can't tell you how much that has meant to my family and me, to hear our brothers and sisters in Christ sharing our sorrow. You all have been a great blessing to us!

Prayer Concerns:
Those who serve in our armed forces: Andrew Epley (awaiting deployment), Michael Baker (returned home!), Edwin Rodriguez and Richard Rhode (North Carolina), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi).
The Church throughout the world as it celebrates Advent and begins the walk to the manger in Bethlehem
The sick, especially Barbara Williams and Vickey Bott
Those who mourn, especially my family, and especially my dad and mom, at the death of my Aunt Betty
Public servants and emergency workers (police officers, firefighters, nurses, EMTs, doctors, etc.) whose duties seem to be multiplied during this season
The teachers in our Sunday School as they teach the old, old story of God's plan of salvation in Christ

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, November 30
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, December 2
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Advent Prayer at Midday, 12:15 p.m.
Choir Rehearsal, 6 p.m.
Advent Vespers, 7:15 p.m.

Thursday, December 3
Cub Scout Den Meetings, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, December 5
Christmas Decorating, 9 a.m.

Sunday, December 6
8 and 10:30 a.m. Divine Service
9:15 a.m. Sunday School and Adult Bible Class
12:30 p.m. Confirmation Class
2 p.m. Christmas Program practice

Saturday, November 28, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good afternoon, fellow redeemed!

Many of you have expressed your heartfelt sympathies on the death of my aunt. It's my opportunity to say thanks. Please know that I'll be forwarding that message to my parents in Austin. It's one more indication of the generosity of God's people at Mt. Olive!

Tomorrow begins Advent, the four Sundays selected to prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus. As seasons go in the ancient Church calendar, Advent is the latest seasonal development. At the beginning of the season's development, Advent lasted forty days, mirroring the season of Lent, the forty day penitential fast leading up to Holy Week and Easter. Beginning on November 11, the feast day of St. Martin of Tours, the season was sometimes called St. Martin's Lent. After some time, the season was shortened to four seasons. The first Sunday of Advent is always the Sunday closest to St. Andrew's Day, November 30. In it, we hear of four distinct themes: the King's approach and arrival to take His throne (Advent 1), John the Baptist and his proclamation (Advent 2), the prophetic preparations (Advent 3), the blessed virgin Mary (Advent 4).

Advent is also a season that gives us the opportunity to focus on the prophecies of the prophets, God's ancient preachers to His people Israel. Tomorrow, the sermon text will be Jeremiah 33:14-16.

The Christmas program this year follows a pattern of prophecy and fulfillment, focusing on the meaning of the Lamb. Christmas program rehearsal begins Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. and will last 90 minutes. Any parents who are available will be gladly appreciated!

Advent, being a preparatory season like Lent, also observes midweek services. Each Wednesday (December 2, 9, and 16), there will be services: Prayer at Midday (12:15 p.m.), and Advent Vespers (7:15 p.m.). The readings and meditations of these services will center our attention on the stories of prominent characters in the Christmas accounts.

Finally, Adult Bible Class continues its study of the relationship between Church and State. Tomorrow, we take up the important topic of what to do when the voice of the State and the voice of God are at odds. I also want to address a current events subject I brought up last week and reached what I have come to believe was a mistaken conclusion.

God bless!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good afternoon, fellow redeemed!

I apologize for not having an update to you sooner - we decided to take a few days off. I'll pick up the regular updates next week. Here are a couple of important notes:

Thanksgiving Service on Thursday at 9:30 a.m.

Regular Confirmation Instruction will resume on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

Christmas program rehearsal will begin at 2 p.m. on Sunday afternoon.

On a more personal note, I ask that you keep my family in your prayers. When arriving in Austin Sunday evening, an ambulance was taking my mother's sister to the hospital. She is slated to return home tomorrow. This morning, my dad's sister died rather suddenly.

God bless!

The Rev. John Diaz Installation

The Rev. John Diaz was installed as pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church in George West, Texas on Christ the King Sunday, 2009. Participating clergy were: Gentet, Brynestead, Biar, Autry, Diaz, Eckert, Wagstaff, and Doria.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Great Resource from LCMS Commission on Worship!

Maybe you saw this on the LCMS Let Us Pray E-news, but it is worth noting again.

Check out the new lectionary summaries for Advent Series C and One-Year Series lectionaries available at:

These Lectionary Summaries are designed to be included in Sunday bulletins for worshippers to read prior to the service. As such, they provide a thematic summary of the readings for each Sunday and festival, as well as a description of how the readings fit into the particular season of the Church Year, where appropriate.

These summaries are provided free of charge and may be edited as needed for local use. They will normally be posted two to four weeks in advance.

First Sunday in Advent

First Sunday in Advent

Lessons for The First Sunday in Advent (Lutheran Service Book) November 29, 2009

Jeremiah 33:14-16 – God promised safety for His people through the righteous branch of David.
Psalm 25:1-10 (antiphon: v. 6)
1 Thessalonians 3:9-13 – God’s faithful will be kept holy by the righteousness of Christ until His return.
Luke 21:25-36 – The fig tree is a symbol of God's protection and His enduring word of promise.

In Jeremiah’s day, God promised to set things right once again, through the promised Branch from King David’s family tree. Jerusalem will be kept in safety and all of God’s people made holy through the righteousness of Jesus Christ, the Branch of David, when He comes again at the end of days. Jesus pointed to a fig tree as a sign that even in the distress of these latter days, we may expect our redemption in the Person of Christ Himself, just as surely as summer follows the leaves of spring.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Lord Jesus, help me watch faithfully for Your return just as Your people of old awaited Your birth so many years ago. Help me hold firmly to Your promises and share that faith joyfully with others. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: When the distress of troubled times disrupts the peace of our lives, we often seek stability in the comforts of life; we find refuge in recreation or solace in shopping! God offers a better branch to pin our hopes of peace on: The Son of David who has come to set things right in our lives once again.

OFFERING PRAYER: We bring these gifts, Lord, not to buy Your favor,
Because we know, in love You sent our Savior;
So now we pray Your blessing on these offerings,
And also for our lives, Your peace in sufferings.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: The things that disrupt our peace are not only nations in anguish and apprehensions of what may come. Our hearts are weighed down with anxieties that we bring upon ourselves by our sinful living. We need something solid to cling to – or some peace-maker to cling to us! Christ Jesus is the strong Branch of David’s line, King of God’s realm of peace, who has strengthened our troubled hearts and made us blameless and holy by righteous sacrifice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Mt. Olive Update

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

Here is a reminder, a request, and a very important date.

Reminder: If you wish to go to the Casting Crowns concert on Thursday evening (gates open at 5 p.m.) and you wish to take advantage of group rates, you need to contact Kim Waddle (855-6560) ASAP!

Request: This Friday is the annual Thanksgiving Feast at Mt. Olive Lutheran School. This is a day when parents are invited to feast with students and teachers. Needed for the feast are DESSERTS! I'll commit to baking a couple of pies. If you're able to provide a dessert, or if you're willing to help serve the meal (beginning at 11 a.m.), please send a blast to the Church Office - 991-3416 or One of Mt. Olive's faithful dropped off three turkeys today and made them available for the feast!

Very Important Date: SSGT Michael Baker, one of the saints at Mt. Olive, will be returning home from deployment in Iraq this weekend! A special "Welcome Home" for Michael and his unit is being held Saturday morning at the Performing Arts Center on TAMU-CC's campus at 10 a.m. I'll be there!

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

Theme Thoughts

Christ the King Sunday

Lessons for Proper 29 (Lutheran Service Book) November 22, 2009

Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14 ~ Daniel saw one like a son of man with authority, glory and power in an eternal kingdom.
Psalm 93 (antiphon: v. 2)
Revelation 1:4b–8 ~ Jesus is the ruler of earthly kings who has made us to share in His glory and power.
John 18:33–37 ~ Jesus witnessed faithfully before Pilate, that He is King of the Jews, and King of this world!

GATHERING THE TEXTS: A Kingdom Out of this World!
Jesus’ testimony in Pilate’s court, “My kingdom is not of this world,” is an indication of the source of His authority. Daniel’s vision looked to the fulfillment of Jesus’ words when One like a son of man in the clouds of heaven would be given authority, glory, and power. In another vision, the Apostle John saw One coming with the clouds, who by His blood has made us citizens and heirs of His eternal kingdom. Through Jesus’ ministry of life and death, the authority of His Kingdom has come to bear on our world.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: King Jesus, your rule is not from this world, but you have power over all the governments on earth! Help me welcome your kingship in my heart so that everything I say and do may glorify your name and share the love of your kingdom. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Jesus is the One who will be revealed as King of kings when He comes with power and great glory in the clouds of heaven. As we have been claimed by the power of His love, we give our lives in service to His Kingdom.

OFFERING PRAYER: King of glory, King eternal, servant King of all the earth,
You have claimed us by Your dying, claimed our lives and all our worth.
As we place these gifts in service to Your mission and Your love,
Bless us to give faithful witness ‘til You call us from above.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: If Jesus were in fact, our earthly king, we would fight to protect Him or even to preserve His kingdom. Why is it then, that we don’t put as much energy and effort into promoting His kingdom of grace through our witness and our care for others? Thanks be to God, Jesus’ redemptive love has covered even this sin of failure, and by His grace, preserved us in His love.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

The temple... It's one of those foreign concepts in the Bible that kind of puzzles us. But, for the disciples who were talking with Jesus in today's Gospel (Mark 13:1-13), the temple was special! The temple was the sign that God was dwelling among His people! Only at the temple could sacrifices for sin be offered, and, only at the temple would the priests pronounce forgiveness. At the temple was the proper place of prayer during the morning and afternoon incense offerings. When Jesus made His prediction that the temple would be brought down, it was unthinkable.

But, it wasn't unthinkable, for the presence of God was no longer a temple made of stone; it was in the presence of God in the flesh who made His dwelling among people (John 1:14). Jesus is the temple! He's an everlasting temple, one that will never be felled. You see, when Jesus begins His series of warnings, He's pointing to the cross! Many would be misled because they thought the cross was a sign of weakness. Yet, it's at the cross where Jesus offers the sacrifice (Himself), and it's at the cross that Jesus pronounces forgiveness for the sake of His own blood. The cross gives us the picture of prayer, for we come to the Father only through Jesus.

Many still are misled. "God is everywhere" is the battle cry of many who want to bypass Christ and His cross. "I can worship any way I want." Unfortunately, that statement reveals more idolatry than anything else. In fact, God is everywhere. But, He doesn't promise to bring His forgiveness everywhere and in every way. In fact, God is everywhere, but you and I are bound by time and space. It's in God's chosen means that He breaks into time and space, bringing Jesus' death and resurrection and giving them to us. In the waters of our baptism, in the preaching of the Gospel, in the Holy Eucharist, our Lord brings His gifts through His chosen means.

Mt. Olive collected $160 for Timon's Ministry in Flour Bluff this morning. That amount will be matched by $140 from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, to make a total offering of $300.

As noted last week, Casting Crowns will be performing at Concrete Street this Thursday night. The venue opens at 5 p.m., with preconcert (a front band) to follow shortly. The evening is expected to be completed by 10 p.m. Tickets are approx. $32 per person. Kim Waddle has graciously offered to purchase group tickets (must be at least 15 tickets) on Tuesday, which will bring the ticket price down to $20 per person. If you wish to take advantage of the reduced ticket price, please notify Kim (855-6560 or BY MONDAY! Jr. Youth are urged to attend, and Mrs. Waddle will be able to provide you more info about your tickets. That's: Casting Crowns, very popular Christian group, performing at Concrete Stree this coming Thursday.

This coming Sunday is Guitar Worship. Again, we will sing primarily great hymns of the Church with a praise song here or there, all accompanied by guitar and electronic keyboard instruments. If you're interested in singing with us, please inquire with me or join us Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.

Advent is approaching rapidly - right around the corner! That means Christmas decorating is also right around the corner. The Altar Guild invites all members to join in decorating the church on December 5.

For me, this week is a special week each month. It's during this week that I'm privileged to bring the Holy Eucharist, as well as the greetings of God's people, to those who are homebound and cannot attend worship each week. Please remember this important ministry in prayer!

Finally, Lou Jander included this quote from C. F. W. Walther in his latest update. Here is C.F.W. Walther on the Mission of the Church:
"...Dear Brethren, we are assembled here not for our own sake. We are in the faith and by this faith we hope to be saved! But there are still many millions who have no faith. This is why we are here - so that we might bring salvation to as many people as we possibly can... Only for this reason does our gracious God allow Christians to live on earth, that they might bring others to the saving faith." C.F.W. Walther, "Essays for the Church" (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992) II: 262.

Prayer Needs:
Those who serve in our armed forces: Michael Baker - returning from deployment, Andrew Epley - awaiting deployment, Edwin Rodriguez, Richard Rhode - North Carolina, Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, and Dru Blanc - NAS Corpus Christi.
Those in our community who are destitute and homeless, that God would guide us to care for our neighbor.
Those who do not know their Lord Jesus Christ, that we may be given a bold witness and genuine caring and concern for them, and that they may be given willing ears to hear us.
The leaders of our congregation as they work with the finances for the coming year, and as they seek leaders to serve in the future.

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, November 16
6:30 p.m. - Girl Scouts (Overflow)
6:30 p.m. - Zumba Aerobics (Fellowship Hall)

Notify Kim Waddle (see above) if you are going to the Casting Crowns concert on Thursday.

Tuesday, November 17
6:30 p.m. - Board of Elders

Wednesday, November 18
8:30 a.m. - School Chapel
9:30 a.m. - Bible Study (The Unexplainable: Angels)
6:00 p.m. - Choir
7:00 p.m. - Zumba Aerobics (Fellowship Hall)
Guitar Worship Practice (Sanctuary)

Thursday, November 19
6:30 p.m. - STARC meeting (Fellowship Hall)
Pack 278 Den meetings (various rooms)

Casting Crowns concert at Concrete Street (see above)

Friday, November 20
Pastor out of the office

Sunday, November 22
Guitar Worship at both services

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bokenkamp Congregational Ambassadors

Bokenkamp Needs Helpers

There are many opportunities to help at Bokenkamp. The shelter is in need of volunteers, guitar strings, landscape workers, Spanish CDs and DVDs, point store items, etc.

Pastors, do yourselves a favor. Identify one of your members with an interest in Bokenkamp Children’s Shelter who will be your congregation’s Ambassador, to share information via your bulletin, newsletter, and in person. It will keep you from feeling guilty about not sharing all this with your members! Your Ambassador will also provide an avenue of communication from your people back to Bokenkamp.

Have your Ambassador get in touch with Sarah Hill, Director of Volunteer Services, 361 994 1214, ext 338 or .

Monday, November 9, 2009

Theme Thoughs For This Week

Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Lessons for Proper 28 (Lutheran Service Book) November 15, 2009

Daniel 12:1-3 ~ In the end, God’s people will rise from death to eternal life, but others to eternal shame.

Psalm 16 (Antiphon vs 11 b,c)

Hebrews 10:11-18 ~ Jesus’ single sacrifice for our sins has removed our guilt for all time.

Mark 13:1-13 ~ The marvels of culture will not prevent distress, but God’s word will preserve His people.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: Faith Shaking Tremors

Great distress and cruel persecution are enough to shake our faith. When Daniel saw the turmoil among the nations, he rejoiced that those who trust in God will rise to eternal life. The persecuted Christians in Rome were reassured that even the distress of this world cannot shake the eternal victory Jesus has won for us by His single sacrifice. Jesus warned the disciples that the massive temple structure would be torn down but even the tribulations of the last days would not shatter the ones who put their trust in God’s gracious promises.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: O Lord, I am so prone to waver and can be so easily distracted from Your truth. Grant me a constant faith and firm trust in Your promise that in Jesus Christ You have assured my victory over all the adversities of this world and an eternal place with You in glory. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: The marvels of this world will not endure the trials of time, but God in His grace has preserved His people through the single sacrifice of His Son on Calvary. When we invest our goods in that message of Life, we help others stand firm in faith until the end.

OFFERING PRAYER: O Lord, when timber, stone, and mortar crash

And all the structures of this world are falling,

Let us rejoice that we have placed this cash

Where You will use it in Your Kingdom’s calling.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: Just like the disciples, we can easily get caught up in the magnificent technology of our day and can become distressed when it fails or no longer impresses. When the structures of civilization are not able to calm the turmoil of nations and bring peace, but instead inflame jealousy and strife, we may forget that these are only created orders. When crises and conflict shatter our lives, we need to remember the only thing that cannot be shaken is the glory of heaven. We can rest safely in God’s promise that through the One who sacrificed Himself for us, our names are in the book of life and we shall rise to eternal life. This promise is the content of our witness before rulers and kings, and gives the only assurance of enduring through the perils of this world.

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good evening, fellow redeemed!

Judgment - a common theme in the readings this time of year. Today's readings were no different! The example of the widow of Zarephath leads us to examine our faith - do we trust God in this way? The Epistle from Hebrews reminds us that Christ will come again in glory, but this time it is to claim those who cling to Him by faith. That necessarily means there will be those who do not. Then there's the Gospel. In reading this, Jesus identifies all of us essentially as the scribes.

There is a thought pattern common among all people that whatever is important to us, and whatever status we carry or claim for ourselves, is important to God. In fact, in the shadow of the cross, we hear Paul say from 1 Corinthians 1 that God chooses the foolish, mundane things of this world to shame the flashy and the wise. Believing that God will adhere to our set of values is a road that undoubtedly has punishment at the end of it. Again judgment is a common theme.

That theme drives us daily to repentance and to recall God's promise to us in our baptism. It's in the shadow of the cross that we are given God's forgiveness. Always, always, always, our rescue, our confidence, our courage in the face of judgment comes not from us - we would wreck it all - but the almighty God who has reconciled the world to Himself through Christ.

This morning we got to see firsthand God in action as He claimed Benjamin Christian Harris through the waters of Holy Baptism. Please keep this family, and all the baptized, in your prayers that they be kept faithful and enter into the marriage feast of the Lamb which has no end.

Tonight saw the great Mt. Olive Chili Cook Off and Talent Show! About 35 people were in attendance. Michael Huck took home top honors, with Dru Blanc and Sue Catherman filling out the top 3. The spiciest was mine, and the most unique was Bethany Waddle's white chicken chili. Thanks to judges Christine Huck, Emily Jirovec, and Dru Blanc. We also saw a number of really good talent acts, and some acts that were good even with the lack of talent. Youth Gathering participants raised a little over $130, which will be matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

This coming summer, four young people and two leaders have signed up to go New Orleans for the National Youth Gathering 2010: Victoria Slinin, Ashley Hanelt, Liz Childs, Jason Rhode, Jonathan Jennings, and Pastor Kevin. Look for upcoming fundraising events.

Monday night, the Church Council will meet, with part of the discussion being the budget for 2010. Please pray for Mt. Olive, that she would be guided in God pleasing ways and that her Lord would be glorified in her.

As a lead up to next weekend, the third Sunday of the month is the designated Jr. Youth activity day and the second Saturday of the month is designated Young Adults activity day. Look for updates during the week and check the bulletin next Sunday to keep abreast of the happenings!

I will be out of the office all day Monday and Tuesday.

Prayer Concerns:
Those who serve in our armed forces: Michael Baker (inprocessing at Ft. Hood), Andrew Epley (New Jersey), Edwin Rodriguez and Richard Rhode (North Carolina), Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, and Dru Blanc (NAS Corpus Christi).
The Church throughout the world, as this world speeds to the Last Day, that the Church's proclamation would be kept pure and that many will come to know their Lord Jesus Christ
Sarah Huggins and Sophia, Ruth Prytz' great-granddaughter and great-great-granddaughter, as they gain strength after Sophia's birth

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

Monday, November 9
Girl Scouts, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.
Church Council, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, November 10
Birthday of Martin Luther
Birthday of U. S. Marine Corps

Wednesday, November 11
Veterans Day
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 9:30 a.m.
Choir, 6 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 7 p.m.
Guitar Worship practice, 7 p.m.

Thursday, November 12
Pack 278 Pack meeting, 6:30 p.m.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mt. Olive Chili Cook-Off

It's less than 48 hours to the Mt. Olive Chili Cook Off and Talent Show! In response to a couple of questions:

Yes, everyone is invited to bring a pot of their best red! Hot or mild, red or white, the more chili means the judges have to work that much harder!

Do we need to register our talent?
Giving me a heads up on the talent would be great! Of course, if you show and wish to sing a song or do some gymnastics or some other such thing, I could probably squeeze you in!

Chili Cook Off and Talent Show
Sunday, November 8, beginning at 5 p.m.

This coming Sunday, the Gospel is the familiar story called "The Widow's Mite" from Mark 12. But, there's more to this story! The text is Mark 12:32-44.

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"...and the Word of God will do its healing work once again."

Dear Friends in Christ,

I'm writing this while in South Carolina at Chaplain's school. The other day I received an email from a LCMS chaplain who works for his city’s Police and Fire Departments. He relayed how he talked a "jumper" off of a city bridge. Due to circumstances, he had to take the “jumper” to several hospitals to receive appropriate help. While at one hospital, the chaplain met a couple of policemen who asked about getting chaplain services to help them deal with the death of some children who were killed by family members. A time was set up to meet with the policemen, and an interesting comment was made by the chaplain concerning the upcoming days of ministry. He said, "...and the Word of God will do its healing work once again."

Think about this profound statement. This man was saying that God's Word is an active force that changes lives. He is the messenger who brings God’s Word to a crisis situation, and God's Word brings healing to those who hear it. Scripture says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrew 4:12)

Applied to us this means we too are messengers who bring God's active word to those around us. We proclaim it, and God does a work in the hearer's life. We don't need to justify or defend it. It is God's Word which does a healing work. We only proclaim it.

For example, as I was turning in paperwork to the Program Director at the Chaplain's School, the woman mentioned that she had been told she had poor self image. A door was opened to a hurting soul. After being reminded of her baptism and how she was united with Christ, raised with Him, and seated at the right hand of God the Father (a position of honor), this woman was shocked to hear that God rejoiced over her with singing. She had favor with God because of who she was united with. It wasn't about her actions, but about Christ's actions. The implication was that if she was united with Christ, then who would direct her steps (God), who would be the author and perfector of her faith (God), who would never leave or forsake her (God). The Program Director had never heard this message even though she was a devout Christian. This simple proclamation of the Gospel brought great comfort to her troubled soul. God's Word brought healing to her soul in this simple message.

Ponder this: Knowing God's Word and proclaiming it brings comfort to us because the change or healing is what God chooses to do in people. We experience the joy of watching God's Word perform miracles in people. We are free to proclaim His Word, and people are free to hear and receive healing work from God.

Granted, it is important to understand how to use the Word properly and that is being taught in Divine Service, Sunday School, and Bible studies. I encourage you to continue learning God's Word, proclaiming God's Word, and watching God's Word as it does its healing work once again.

Excited to hear what God is doing through you,

Pastor Brynestad

This Week at Mt. Olive

Good afternoon, fellow redeemed! Sorry I'm so late with my update this week!

Saints - God's holy people, those who have been sanctified in the blood of the Lord Jesus and hold on by faith for dear life. This past Sunday, we celebrated All Saints Day. It's one of my favorite days of the Church Year, with the great music and the great message of saints who have gone before us in the faith who will rise on the last day, and saints now who have been brought to the life of faith. Why do we praise God on All Saints Day? We praise God for the example of faith of those saints who have gone before us. Look up names like Polycarp of Smyrna, Athanasius, and Augustine, and we are given accounts of the great stands of faith by these saints of old.

Next Sunday, November 8, the Sr. Youth, especially those going to New Orleans, will be hosting a Chili Cook-Off with Talent (or No Talent) show. The eating and fun begins at 5 p.m. Fire up a pot of your favorite red and participate in the festivities. Two categories of chili will be present: hot and mild (and I'll let you guess which one I'm doing). This is a free will offering event, though a suggested donation of $5 per person is being requested. Proceeds will be matched by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Mt. Olive rose to the occasion this past weekend. A special door offering was taken in support of two Navy pilots who were lost last week. God continues to bless this community through Mt. Olive as an offering of $500 was received! I'll be in contact with one of the faithful at Mt. Olive associated with the squadron as we determine the best way for this assistance to be given.

Prayer Concerns:
The families of the two Navy pilots lost this past week, that they may know the comfort of Christ
Those who serve in our armed forces, including Michael Baker (Iraq), Andrew Epley (in New Jersey), Edwin Rodriguez, Richard Rhode (North Carolina), Dru Blanc and John Sorensen (NAS Corpus Christi).
All Christians as they live in the life of their Baptism
With thanksgiving for those who have gone before us in the faith, for their examples of faith
The whole Church throughout the world, as she continues to look forward to the return of her Lord Jesus.

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, November 2 (All Souls' Day)
6:30 p.m. Girl Scouts
6:30 p.m. Zumba Aerobics

Tuesday, November 3
Pastor Jennings out of the office for Circuit Conference

Wednesday, November 4
6 p.m. Choir
7 p.m. Zumba Aerobics
Guitar Worship practice

Thursday, November 5
6:30 p.m. Pack 278 Den Meetings

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Winkel

Brother Dale has jury duty so tomorrow's Winkel has been moved to St. Paul-Kingsville. Coffee begins at 9:00 A.M. Divine Service begins at 9:15 A.M. May God grant you safe travels.
Peace in Christ,

Theme Thoughts for November 8, 2009

Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

Lessons for Proper 27 (Lutheran Service Book) November 8, 2009

1 Kings 17:8-16 ~ God used a nearly empty jar of flour and a widow’s heart full of faith to sustain Elijah.
Psalm 146 (antiphon 9a)
Hebrews 9:24-28 ~ Jesus gave His life in our place once, so that we may have life for all time.
Mark 12:38-44 ~ Jesus contrasted those who gave in order to get, with a poor widow who gave all she had.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: It’s the Thought that Counts.
When a gift is less than we’d like, we console ourselves with the thought! Even when the gift is great, the thought behind it is often greater. We cannot imagine a mother giving up the last measure of flour to make bread for a stranger when she and her son will starve! It is hard to grasp the commitment that moves a widow to give her last two coins and face a life of poverty. Neither can we comprehend the love that moved our Savior to sacrifice Himself to do away with sin so that we may enter with Him into God’s eternal presence! It is the thought behind that gift that counts!

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Dear Lord and Savior, when I fully understand the gift of love that You have given to me, I wonder at my little gifts of service to You and to my sisters and brothers. Move my heart to generosity that I reach out in loving ways share Your gift of gracious life with all. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: God doesn’t measure His love to us in abstract terms, but gives in proportion to our needs. Our need for grace is total, and our Savior’s gift is complete! In response we give to God in relation to His gifts to us; however, we can never out give His love!

OFFERING PRAYER: Whether we place one coin or two, or all our living
in service to Your Kingdom, Lord, it is our heart
Behind the gift that makes it worth the giving;
May all these coins and each of us be blessed to do our part.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: We are so accustomed to trusting only what we can see that we rely on impressions and judge by appearance. If we were told to give all our savings to some mission project and God would take care of our physical needs, our response would be something like, “Yeah, right!” And yet, God has promised – and provided – much more through the gift of His Son. He not only fills the canisters of our pantry with provisions for physical life; He keeps the storehouse of His grace full of His love for all eternity.

Monday, October 26, 2009

This Week at Mt. Olive

Yesterday was the annual celebration of Reformation - a celebration of our heritage as Lutherans. Here's some Reformation vocabulary that might come in handy.

Justified - Sometimes it's called "just as if I'd never sinned," but I think the jingle sells it short. Imagine being in a capital trial in a courtroom with all evidence pointing to the accused, which is you. Things aren't looking good for your future, since the death penalty seems certain. The judge bangs his gavel and says, "Acquitted." The judge is almighty God. The accusation is that you are guilty of all sin. You have been declared "not guilty" of a crime for which you are most certainly guilty! You're free!

Grace - The Latin terminology for this word is "Favor Dei propter Christum", the favor of God on account of Christ. Because Jesus took your sin (your rebellion against your heavenly Father) upon Himself and went to the cross and crucified it there, God the Father has determined that there is no longer any reason not to look on you favorably. Instead, you might say God smiles on you because of Jesus.

Faith - Faith is that which grabs hold of Jesus' death and resurrection and holds on for dear life. But, what is faith? The old Lutheran guys really did us a favor in defining faith. Faith is knowledge (we need to know certain things about Jesus - look at the creeds and you'll see them), assent (all those things you know about Jesus, you believe they're true), and trust (because of these things you know to be true, you trust Jesus to be your Savior).

This is what the reformers said was the article by which the church stands and falls: Justification by grace through faith.

In recent years, I've become really tired of the words "saved" and "salvation," mainly because they get misused a lot. Yesterday, in the sermon, I used a different word: RESCUE. We have been rescued from ourselves, really, and delivered into the household of almighty God. That's the Reformation!

Saturday evening, Mt. Olive will host a "Trunk - Treat" night, sponsored by the young adults group. Set up your car between 6 and 6:30 p.m., and then join in the fun of handing out treats and some information on Mt. Olive until about 8:30 p.m. Don't want to drive over but want to participate? Treats - the store bought, wrapped kind - will gladly be accepted, and the kids will most definitely eat them!

Looking ahead, on Sunday, November 8, Mt. Olive Sr. High youth (MOSH) will sponsor a Chili Cook Off that includes a talent-no talent night. A few door prizes will be given. Stir up your best pot of red, get a group together for the talent competition, and come help the Sr. Youth get to New Orleans! Rumor has it that Carnac the Magnificent may make an appearance again.

In recent weeks, we've included Edwin Rodriguez, one of our members who has been stationed in North Carolina and deployed to Afghanistan, in our prayers. Last week, Jessica, his wife, let me know that Edwin was on his way home. Praise God!

Prayer needs:
Those who serve in our armed forces (Michael Baker - Iraq, Edwin Rodriguez and Richard Rhode - North Carolina, Ryan Radtke, John Sorensen, and Dru Blanc - NAS Corpus Christi)
The President of the United States, the Congress, all judges and magistrates, and government at all levels, that we may lead a peaceable life in all godliness and quietness
Those who till the earth during this harvest season
Our baptismal faith and that of our children, that we would all be kept safe and secure in the holy arm of Christendom
The Church throughout the world, that we would remain faithful in our confession of the Triune God

God bless!
Pastor Kevin Jennings

This Week at Mt. Olive:
Monday, October 26
Girl Scouts Cadettes, 6:30 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, October 28
School Chapel, 8:30 a.m.
Bible Study, 10:30 a.m.
Choir, 6 p.m.
Zumba Aerobics, 7 p.m.
Guitar Worship practice, 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 29
Cub Scout den meetings, 6:30 p.m.

Saturday, October 31
Trunk - Treat night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Theme Thoughts for All Saints' Day

Lessons for ALL SAINTS (Lutheran Service Book) November 1, 2009

Revelation 7:(2-8) 9-17 ~ John saw the multitude of saints in glory serving the Lamb at His throne.
Psalm 31:1-5 (antiphon Rev. 7:14)
1 John 3:1-3 ~ God loves us so much that He called us to be His children, and made us His for eternity!
Matthew 5:1-12 ~ Jesus revealed the true nature of blessings in the Kingdom of God.

"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isaiah 43:1) With these words, God reminds us that we and those believers who have gone before us are saints (that is "holy ones") because of His action. No other truth brings as much comfort. If sainthood were up to us by good works, our hope would be uncertain at best and futile at worst. We would be lost for sure and there would be no celebration today. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:57)

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: Gracious and eternal God, be with me in suffering and in death to strengthen and comfort me by your Holy Spirit. Keep me in the true faith and give me peace and joy in the assurance of the resurrection of the dead and the glory of life everlasting through Jesus Christ, your Son, my risen Lord. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Because we know that our citizenship is in heaven where we have an everlasting inheritance, we are free to be generous with the earthly goods God places in our care. Our use of these blessings should bring eternal blessing to the lives of the poor, the meek, the mournful, and those who seek justice.

OFFERING PRAYER: Blessings abound in the power of Your Word;
Blessed are we in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Grant that these offerings we bring may secure
Blessings eternal for meek and for poor. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: We do not recognize the saints of God because we see things from earth’s perspective and our point of view, where joy and wealth and power and fame are the blessings we seek. Surely the Lord knows who His saints are because He has clothed them with the robe of Christ’s righteousness. When we are known by Him, we are called children of God – and called to be His children. Then opportunities to serve become blessings, and even persecution becomes a sign of our identity as a saint of God’s grace.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mt. Olive Update

Good afternoon, fellow redeemed!

Just an update and reminder:
Car wash, sponsored by the Jr. Youth, with those going to NOLA, tomorrow beginning at 10 a.m.

Oktoberfest tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Bob and Charlene Westrup

I'm also looking forward to our annual Reformation celebration Sunday morning. We'll be singing great hymns of the faith, and the sermon text is Romans 3:19-28, giving us the theme of Getting Serious.

Look forward to seeing you all this weekend.

God bless!

Vicar Jim Autry Installed

Trinity Lutheran, West Sinton, has received authorization from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, to install Jim Autry as Vicar. Jim has been serving in Word and Sacrament ministry at Trinity as a Deacon, under the authorization of Texas District President Ken Hennings. Now Jim is enrolled in the four year Specific Ministry Pastor program at Concordia Seminary. He has nearly completed the first of 17 courses, administered via the internet. Students are on the web, live with their instructor and classmates for weekly 2 hour sessions. Each course is 10 weeks long and follows the same calendar as the residential program of the seminary.

The SMP program vicarage begins at the same time as the student begins his course work at the seminary. It is defined as a “concurrent-deferred” vicarage, meaning that the student serves his vicarage while he engages in his theological education in the ministry situation in which he will serve as a Specific Ministry Pastor. Periodic reports are made by the student and the supervising pastor to the Director of Vicarage.

Each SMP Vicar has a Pastor-mentor, who upholds the student in faith and life through encouragement, support, and prayer; mentors the student in formal studies on a regular basis; works with the student to contextualize course content to his life and ministry; provides feedback on the student to the Seminary and District. The SMP student is expected to meet with his mentor weekly for 2 to 3 hours of discussions and work focused on the week’s learning material.

As Jim’s Pastor-mentor, I will preach at Trinity, West Sinton, on Sunday, Oct 25, and install him as SMP Vicar at the regular 9:30 a.m. service. You are certainly welcome to attend if you able. I urge all our congregations in Circuit 27 to have a prayer for Vicar Autry and Trinity and the ministry that they share under the Spirit’s guidance.

Monday, October 19, 2009

LWML Zone Rally In-Gathering

Twenty First Sunday after Pentecost – Proper 25

Lessons for Proper 25 (Lutheran Service Book) October 25, 2009

Jeremiah 31:7–9 ~ The remnant of Israel will cry out to the Lord as they return from exile.
Psalm 126 (antiphon: v. 5)
Hebrews 7:23–28 ~ Jesus, our High Priest, was appointed by God’s covenant to be our intercessor forever.
Mark 10:46–52 ~ When Bartimaeus received his sight, he joyfully followed Jesus, the One who had healed him.

GATHERING THE TEXTS: O Lord, Save Your People!
Jeremiah brought hope even to the exiles of the northern kingdom of Israel. The remnant would be restored with tears of joy; even the most vulnerable would be brought back by God’s merciful hand. The writer to the Hebrews pointed to Jesus as the eternal Priest who intercedes for His people and sacrificed Himself to save them from the power of their sins. While He was on this earth, Jesus responded to the cries of the vulnerable, like Bartimaeus, who called out, “Son of David, have mercy on me.” When his sight was restored, he followed Jesus joyfully.

PRAYER BEFORE THE SERVICE: O Lord, have mercy on me! You have rescued me from spiritual darkness by giving me eyes of faith to see Your light. Grant me also, a joyful spirit, that I may follow You along the pathway of Life, always trusting Your power to rescue those who are vulnerable to the dangers of this world. Amen.

STEWARDSHIP THOUGHT: Our merciful God responds to the needs of those most vulnerable to the dangers of life. When we call out for help, He hears and answers, as He did with blind Bartimaeus. We also respond with the help we can provide to those in need around us.

OFFERING PRAYER: Lord, save Your people in their need,
And save us from the power of greed,
That all these gifts may bring You glory
And work to spread salvation’s story. Amen.

CONVICTION AND COMFORT: Because we are beset by many problems in life and blinded by our own sin, we need intercessors to call out for us and to encourage us, “Take heart; get up, he is calling you.” Without prophets to gather us and support us, we lose heart and cannot trust in God’s promised redemption. God has provided more than a prophet and a greater Priest! His own Son intercedes for us on the bases of the gift of His life, offered up for us, once for all, to give us life and hope and make us well for all eternity!

This Week at Mt. Olive

Salvation - that's a word used a bunch around the church. But, what is salvation? What does it mean to be saved? The deliverance of sinners from the punishments of hell that they so rightly deserve, and the deliverance of those same sinners to the household of God the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ by the working of the Holy Spirit - that's what salvation is.

In the Gospel for yesterday (Mark 10:23-31), Jesus' disciples were perplexed. Righteous men obeyed the commandments, who worked hard and enjoyed the fruits of that labor, would find it difficult to enter the kingdom of heaven. The disciples rightly asked, "Who, then, can be saved?"

Jesus' response is one for the ages: "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God." That includes the impossible: the salvation of sinners, the deliverance of sinners from the punishments of hell into the household of God. That's the promise for all who believe, one sealed by the Holy Spirit who works our faith. God does the impossible: He becomes man, and suffers, dies, and rises (Mark 10:33-34) for all sinners.

For with God all things are possible! So often that passage is quoted to support the notion of God working the impossible to help me balance my checkbook, escape the ravages of cancer, find a spouse, pass an algebra test, and so on. Is it God working? I won't say no! But we dare not short God His due: He has done the impossible - saving sinners! Recalling this impossible task, we praise God for all the things we think of God doing when He does the impossible.

Two major events mark the calendar this week, and both are on Saturday, October 24.
At 10 a.m., and continuing into the early afternoon, the Jr. Youth and those going to the National Youth Gathering in New Orleans will be offering a car wash. Tickets are still available. The suggested donation for the car wash is $5 - what a deal! And, I promise somehow to have the old disco song "Car Wash" playing at least once - the young people have graciously volunteered to put on a dance to it, even though they don't know it, ... yet.

At 6:30 p.m., the Fellowship Committee is hosting an Oktoberfest at the home of Bob and Charlene Westrup. Presale tickets for $10 are still available. If you're interested in attending, please contact a member of the fellowship committee (Charlene Westrup, Stephanie Waterman, Nancy Cox). And, there will be sauerbraten (almost as fun to say as it is to eat!).

Each week, Mt. Olive hosts two Bible study opportunities for adults. On Sunday morning, the class meets in the Fellowship Hall. The current topic is a Christian introduction to the Muslim faith - we have a few weeks left. The second opportunity is Wednesday morning at 9:30 a.m. in the Overflow. The current topic is The Unexplainable, and we're currently in the lesson on dreams.

Looking ahead, a Trunk Treat night is in the works, sponsored by the Young Adults. This is an opportunity for the people of Mt. Olive to serve the community! Look for a bulletin insert this coming Sunday with more details.

Last night, the Jr. Youth enjoyed a night of fun and, well, messiness. It was Fear Factor Game Night last night! Activities involved shaving cream, water balloons, whipped cream, sprinkles, peanut butter and cheerios. Just look for the pictures on the Youth Bulletin Board in the narthex.

Please Remember in Prayer:
Those who serve in our armed forces (Michael Baker - Iraq, Edwin Rodriguez - Afghanistan, Andrew Epley, Deysi's husband - preparing for deployment, Richard Rhode - North Carolina, Dru Blanc and Chris Sorensen - NAS Corpus Christi)
The family of our school director, Noelia Torrez, as they mourn the death of her father
Those who are studying in schools, college, universities, home schools, seminaries, and the like, that God would bless those who teach them and their own learning.
All Christians, that they may rejoice in the faith of their baptism.

In Christ,

This Week at Mt. Olive
Monday, October 19
6:30 p.m., Girl Scouts, meeting in The Overflow
6:30 p.m., Zumba Aerobics, in the Fellowship Hall

Tuesday, October 20
6:30 p.m. Board of Elders meeting

Wednesday, October 21
8:30 a.m., School Chapel Service
9:30 a.m., Bible Study
6:00 p.m., Choir
7:00 p.m., Zumba Aerobics

Thursday, October 22
6:30 p.m., Cub Scout Pack 278 Den Meetings

Saturday, October 24
10 a.m. - 2 p.m., Jr. Youth Car Wash in the Parking Lot
6:30 p.m., Oktoberfest at the home of the Westrups