Mount Olive Lutheran Church

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

December 2011/January 2012 Newsletter

Olive Leaves December 2011- January 2012

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Pastor’s Article

by Pastor Paul C. Sizemore

"Advent and Christmas – A Time for Singing"

A young woman named Mary learns that she is to be the Mother of our Savior. How does she respond? She sings: “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior! For he has regarded the lowly estate of his maidservant! For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For he who is mighty has done great things for me and holy is his name!” (Luke 1:46-49)

John the Baptist’s father, Zachariah, learns that his wife Elizabeth will give birth to the promised forerunner of the coming Messiah. What does he do? He sings: “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us!” (Luke 1:68-69)

The angels sing the great news on the night of our Savior’s birth: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men!” (Luke 2:14).

An elderly gentleman named Simeon, quite old, is promised by God that he will live long enough to see the promised Messiah with his own eyes. When he sees the Baby Jesus in the temple, what does he do? He sings: “Lord now let your servant go in peace. Your Word has been fulfilled. My own eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared before the faces of all peoples; a light to enlighten the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel!” (Luke 2:29-32)
The Advent and Christmas Seasons are a time for singing!

Isn’t it true that when mere spoken words are inadequate to communicate to another our deepest feelings, we human beings turn to song? At no time in the year is this truer than at Advent and Christmas. No single event in history has generated more music and works of art than the good news we celebrate each Christmas. The history of God’s coming to us as a Child has been told in the simplest carols and the most complex oratorios. We hear and sing this music each year and yet it is forever new, it seems, to our ears! Singing is one way we respond to God’s enormous gift to us of the Christ Child; of his enormous gifts to us of life and salvation! Yet, in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas shopping, decorating, baking cookies and fruitcakes and sending cards to others in the mail, we may not take advantage of the Advent Season now before us.

The Sundays and the Wednesdays before Christmas provide us with some special worship services, here at Mount Olive Church, where the Word of God will be proclaimed to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people. When the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service of Holy Communion is celebrated and everyone’s candles are lit and the houselights dimmed, will we be personally be prepared? We should be! But to be prepared properly, we all need time for spiritual growth and reflection. We need quiet time at church and at home, to once again hear the angels sing! This Advent and Christmas Season, my prayer is that God will come to each of you again, as he alone is able, in his still small voice! A blessed Advent Season and a Merry Christmas to all!

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Altar Guild

by Susie Hoffman

Advent is a time of hope. Our hope and sure defense is in the promise of our loving God who sent His Son to take our sins on His shoulders. It is a season of four weeks of preparation for the coming of our Savior Jesus into our world as a human baby.

The blue of the paraments is a color associated with hope and with royalty. The beautiful “new” tradition of the Advent Wreath is new only in relation to other OLDER Christmas customs. About the 16th century the practice of using lights and greenery wreaths spread quickly in Eastern Germany. The evergreen testified to a continuation of life; the circle, to eternity; the candlelight, to God’s Son as the Light of the World. There are usually four candles for the four weeks of Advent with a central candle known as the Christ Candle. One candle is lighted the first week, with one additional candle lit in succeeding weeks until all four are lighted. The Christ Candle is lighted on Christmas Eve to signify the birth of the Christ Child.

The paraments are rich in meaning. The promise of a coming Savior is shown as the ROOT OF JESSE (Isaiah 11:1) in the stump and sprouting shoots of the pulpit hanging. It is crowned by the CHI-RHO symbol made up of the stylized “X” of the tree trunk superimposed over the letter “P”, which is a monogram of the title “CHRIST” taken from the Greek. The three crowns show us Jesus as our Prophet, Priest and King. The angel trumpets “Gloria” to announce the Messiah’s birth. The candle on the lectern hanging symbolizes the Light of the World come to earth.

Christmas fulfills the Advent hope and expectation of the birth of the promised Savior. It centers in the birth of Christ. The white paraments reflect the gladness, light and joy Christians experience in their response to His birth. White speaks to us of the Godhead, purity and perfection. The Christmas Season lasts twelve days from the evening of December 24th through January 5th. It is a celebration of the message from John 1:14; “the Word becomes flesh, and dwells among us”. In western tradition, January 6th is celebrated as the “Epiphany of our Lord”. It is associated with the coming of the three Wisemen from the East, even though years, not days, separated these two events. This is seen as a foreshadowing of the gathering of the Gentile nations to worship God’s Son. We celebrate the baptism of Jesus to emphasize the beginning of His public ministry.

The white of the altar paraments remains in place until after this celebration. THE SUNDAYS AFTER THE EPIPHANY are celebrated with green paraments. This season will extend into February.

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Preschool News

by Krista Bernthal

Merry Christmas from the Preschool! We wish you all of the best during the holidays. Stop in sometime during December to see our preschool getting ready for Christmas. It is such an exciting time for the children! Please also come to the December 7th Advent dinner and service. There will be a freewill offering for the dinner to support the Preschool. The Preschool children will be presenting a program about The Lights of Christmas!

We will be very busy during January and February soliciting donations for our February 17th Mardi Gras dinner and auction. Please help us find unique items for people to bid on. Ideas include gift baskets, gift certificates, antiques, baked goods and crafts. If you know of a business you can ask a donation from, let me know and I will give you a solicitation letter to hand them. Call Krista Bernthal anytime with questions: 781-7180.

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Social Ministry News

from Kathie Voyles

Mt. Olive will again be supporting a food/supply drive for the holidays. The USO center is located at the Columbia Metropolitan Airport and is the first of its kind in SC, serving approximately 46,000 service members traveling through the airport each year, along with 65,000 active duty troops and their families stationed at Fort Jackson and other bases throughout our area. All programs and services offered there are free to troops and their families. Items that are needed are:

INDIVIDUALLY WRAPPED AND PACKAGED Snacks and Beverages: beef jerky, granola/power bars, peanuts/cashews, Rice Crispy Treats, sunflower seeds, trail mix, sweet and salty snack mix, chewing gum, drink mix-crystal light/ocean spray, Starbucks instant coffee, and hot chocolateAdditional items needed: 3oz or smaller sunscreen, shaving cream, hand lotion, or hand sanitizer; small packs of tissues, lubricating & rewetting eye drops, Band aids, disposable razors, international calling cards, and iTunes gift cards.

Monetary donations are also welcome! Please make checks payable to “USO South Carolina.” ALL donations are 100% Tax Deductible. Tax ID # 13-1610451. Items need to be dropped off in the narthex by December 4th.

Mark your calendars for the 2012 American Red Cross Blood Drives to be held at Mt. Olive on February 25th and July 28th. Katrina Davis will be in charge of recruiting volunteers for this vital ministry. If you would like to give blood on a more regular basis, please contact the American Red Cross to set up a time.

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“The Bible is the cradle wherein Christ is laid.”—Martin Luther
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Evangelism from Dan Jorgenson
Evangelism: Everyone Matters to God

During our Natural Witnessing course, we used material from the Ablaze program. There is some very good material associated with the program. The following excerpt from Daily Devotion, by Rev. Barry J. Keurulainen addressed his initial impression of Ablaze— “to share the Good News of Jesus with 100 million unreached or uncommitted people. “Yeah, right. I thought, “How crazy is this? “This is just about numbers—another wild idea by people who sit in offices and have no grasp on reality.” But the vision would not let me go. The question that kept surfacing was, “Can we do any less?” This was especially brought home to me when I read these words:

“I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgiving be made for everyone . . . This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved . . . For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men . . .” (1Timothy 2:1-6).

Do you hear the reoccurring theme as to who matters to God? Everyone! Christ gave Himself as a ransom for all men—not just some or most—but all men. I have heard it said that numbers are not important when it comes to matters of faith. Don’t tell that to God. A book of the Bible is named “Numbers.” If you read the book of Acts, you will very quickly get the impression that numbers do matter to God and to the early Christian Church—twelve, to begin with, and then one hundred twenty. Soon there were three thousand added to their number.

But who’s counting? God apparently was. Why? Because numbers matter to God. Remember what Jesus said about the shepherd: One, two, three, fifty-six, fifty-seven, eighty-nine, ninety-one, ninety-nine—where is number one hundred? The shepherd went out looking for the one. Why? Because numbers mattered to the shepherd. Remember the woman with the ten precious coins? One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine—where is the tenth coin? She turns the entire house upside down in search of it—and when it is found, there is partying and celebrating among her friends.

Who matters to God? Everyone! God wants all to be saved! Not most. Not a majority. He wants all to be saved. So, He keeps count. Like the woman with the coins and the shepherd with the sheep, numbers matter to God. Not numbers in themselves, but who those numbers represent. Each number represents a soul for whom Jesus gave His life as a ransom. He paid the debt that each of us owed to God on account of our disobedience. His final words, “It is finished,” literally mean “paid in full.”

As you think about the upcoming year, consider Pastor Keurulainen’s thoughts, also think about who matters to you. Who matters to you but does not know or believe that they matter to God? Commit yourself to praying for their family, their job, their health and, pray for their relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Listen and watch for God’s answer to your prayer and be prepared to witness to them, offer them an opportunity to join you in Bible study or in our church over the holidays. Never forget, everyone matters to God.

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Operation Santa

The members of David Mash’s Bible Class were able to fund Christmas gifts for 10 children through the Lexington-Richland School District Five’s Operation Santa project. The school social workers used an in-depth screening process to determine families in need who were not getting help through other community programs. Several members of the class shopped and wrapped the gifts of clothing, toys, and items from each child’s wish list.

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from Charlie Sandt

Inspiring a deeper understanding of true giving--An introduction of Stewardship to the congregation

In the December issue of Stewardship there is a moving story about a child who wanted to give a Christmas gift to Christ. The young boy had waited until the Christmas Eve service was over and then handed the gift to an usher explaining that it was a gift for Jesus. When the usher saw the pastor passing by, he handed the bulging envelope to him explaining that it was a gift for the Lord offered by a little boy.

Opening the envelope, the clergyman found a small toy car. Instantly, he surmised that the child had given a gift that was very important to him; a present from his mind, his heart, and his hand. This is what true giving is all about; offering to God what matters to us most: our hearts, our minds, our talents, our time, and our talents.

Christmas is a joyous time. But it should also be a challenging time when we consider how we should respond to God’s precious gift of Christ to us. The hymn “In the Bleak Midwinter,” written in the 19th century by a woman named Christina Rossetti, sums up what we should give Christ at Christmas in the fourth stanza:

What can I give him, poor as I am?If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part; yetWhat I can I give him: give my heart.

Prayer: God, you are the greatest giver we can imagine. You gave us your dear Son, our Lord and Savior. Help us, loving God, to willingly give you our hearts in totality. Amen

A Stewardship Minute is available to subscribers of Stewardship at Simply click on the “Stewardship Download Center” and log in using with your account number (Username) and zip code (Password), both of which can be found on the invoice or mailing label. Parish Publishing, LLC

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by Sarah Vickers

Everyone had a fun (and wet) first children's Christmas program practice. Our next practice will be Sunday, December 4th, immediately following the late service in the fellowship hall. A lunch will be provided for the children.

The children will present their program, "Through the Eye's of a Child", after the Advent supper on December 14th. I'm "picturing" that fun will be had by all as we present the story of Jesus's birth.

The Youth Group is having a special meeting for all youth interested in going to the Youth Gathering in San Antonio, TX in 2013. If you will be in the 9th-12 grades for the 2013-2014 school year be on the lookout for an informational meeting coming up the first of the year. Mrs. Lisa will talk about past trips and give trip information.

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by Carole Mueller, Mt. Olive LWML President

The LWML is planning a Christmas Luncheon at Copper River Grill, 1230 Bower Parkway, on Tuesday Dec. 13th, at 11:30 a.m. All ladies are invited. There is a sign-up sheet posted on the LWML bulletin board outside the workroom. Last date to sign up is Sun., Dec. 11th. Hope you can come!

Due to holiday activities, the Olive Branch will not meet again for monthly meetings until January. Meetings will be the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays of the month, with Bible study from 10:00 – 11:00. We will be continuing with our study on the hymn, “Take My Life and Let It Be.” After lunch & a brief meeting we will be working on our current project of sewing little dresses for African children. We conclude approximately 2:00 p.m.

Upcoming events: Carolina District Joy Event Spring 2012 (March 17th, Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Anderson, SC); Southern Zone Rally (Mt. Olive, April - date to be determined). The last mite distribution to our district amounted to $150.26, with a total to date being sent of $389.13. Place all monetary contributions in the large mite box located in the back of the sanctuary. If I can answer any questions, please give me a call at 359-7951 or e-mail me at

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PASTORAL ACTS: November 2011

WEDDING: November 5, 2011 Stephanie Magic & Dale Burgess

BAPTISMS: November 6, 2011 Phillippe Randolph Folks

November 27, 2011 Eli Joseph Duncan

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Announcements & Opportunities

Christmas Decorating

It is time once again for the "Hanging of the Greens" at Mt. Olive. We will get started at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 and continue until it looks like Christmas in every corner! Help of all kinds is needed: tree luggers, branch fluffers, wreath and ornament hangers, bow arrangers, and advice givers?! Let's get ready for a wonderful celebration of our Savior's birth! Come on and "Deck the Halls" y'all! If you have questions, contact Karen Meetze.

Parish Fellowship Christmas Baskets
The Parish Fellowship Committee is now accepting non-perishables to make Christmas baskets for our 19 homebound and restricted members. Some suggested items are sugarless candy, crackers, Little Debbie cakes, cookies, and small boxes of raisins. You may also bring perishable items, such as homemade breads, muffins, or cookies and fruit, by Sunday, December 4th. Our elders will deliver baskets that afternoon when they take communion.

Women’s Bible Study: "Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment"
This twelve-week Bible study will help us discover what the Bible says about contentment and ways to apply it to daily life. Author and former missionary, Linda Dillow, has given practical exercises in the word that lead to a more fulfilled and content Christian life. Trusting God totally is the theme from this excellent study. Join the class beginning, December 4 during the Sunday School hour. Books will be provided, and the study will finish on February 26. Watch for sign-up sheets coming.

Pastor’s New Members Class Continues through December 11th
New Members’ Sunday will be December 11th during the 10:30 AM worship service.

Stephen Ministry Update
Bill & Aresa Boykin will be attending the week long training for Mt. Olive’s Stephens Leaders in January 2012 in Orlando, Florida. After our leaders are trained, those interested in becoming Stephen Ministers will complete 50 hours of training in weekly sessions.

Additional Church Parking during Church Services
There is additional parking available behind the Wagner House and in the Adair Piano parking lot. If you are able to walk the extra distance, remember to park in these additional lots especially when Mt. Olive will be overflowing on Christmas Eve and on Sundays when there is a combined worship service.

The Carolinas Area Lutheran Marriage Encounter: Making good marriages GREAT!
The end of 2011 is approaching and it is time for us to begin publicizing our next Marriage Encounter weekend which is scheduled for February 17-19, 2012 in Myrtle Beach. For more information, contact Charles and Billie Roach, 99 Cannon Woods Drive, Marion, NC 28752 or visit

Midweek Bible Studies
Please remember that the two midweek Bible studies will not meet on Wednesdays during Advent, as there will be church services. The Bible studies will resume on Wednesday, January 4, 2012 at 6:30 PM. Both groups begin by sharing a light meal prior to studying God’s Word. Everyone is welcome to attend.
The Bible study in the Northeast will continue to meet at the Blythewood home of Bob & Teri Massa. This group will study selected passages from the Old Testament.
The second Bible study meets at church in the fellowship hall. The group is studying the lectionary for the following Sunday. Call our Lay Minister, Bill Boykin, 781-5845, at church, for further details.

Nursery Reminder
The church nursery is open during the Sunday school hour and 10:30 service from 9:00-Noon for children ages 3 years and younger. The nursery is located inside the back entrance of the church, across from the Wagner House. Parents, remember to bring your diaper bag with extra diapers, clothes, sippy cup, etc. Flora Weed is in charge.

February Newsletter Deadline
Mark your calendar! The deadline for submitting articles for the February newsletter is January 20th. Also, those of you who love taking pictures of Mt. Olive events (and Christmas photos) can e-mail them to me so that I can include some of them in the Olive Leaves, our Face Book page and this website! Send articles and photos to me at

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