"I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." Psalm 121

During times of crisis, Christians find hope, solace, comfort, and courage in their faith. Mount Olivet will provide messages, reflections, and words of hope and courage as long as we are facing this pandemic. We are in this together, and we will get through this together. For we are not alone, but accompanied always by Jesus the Christ, our Lord and Savior, the one whom even death could not defeat.

October 13 - The Gospel Unplugged

Pastor Kalland and Pastor Lose discuss how “Jonah Learns God’s Love Is for All,” based on Jonah 3:10,4:1-11, our scripture reading for this Sunday, October 17.

Questions to Ponder:
How are you like Jonah?
Are there people in your life that you think are not worthy of God’s love and grace?
When in life have you had to rethink your assumptions about God?

October 10 - Devotion

“Then Jesus began to speak, and taught them, saying, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.’” – Matthew 5:2-3

These are words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.  Each verse begins with words of grace. The first thing Jesus says is not, “Do this and you will live.”  Before a single instruction is given – the first words are “Blessed are you…” And that is the key to it all.

The grace of God alone enables you and me to become what God wants us to be! Law and demand can never shape or empower us. Only grace can do that. It’s like my wife and I saying throughout the years to our four children: “You are special and you are so deeply loved.” That not only says something about them, it has the power to make them special!

In the same way, Jesus calls us in all our relationships to deal properly with anger and lust, to speak honestly, to avoid retaliation, and to love our neighbors. The call to life-giving relationships which honor all other persons who are created in the image of God.

But when we fail to be who God created us to be – and we will – when we fail one another – and we will – when we fail, and we repent, asking forgiveness, God is there to forgive and to restore.

The good news of the Gospel is that each of us is pronounced blessed and loved by God. Ours is the gift of the kingdom. It doesn’t make sense. Grace comes to us not by our own efforts, but by simply letting go and accepting our poverty. We see it best in the places where we are broken, in the dark holes where something is missing, in the silence of unanswered questions. Can we hear the blessing? Will we hear it? And let those words fill our lives with God’s love, shaping us into sons and daughters of God?

Blessed are you…for yours is the kingdom of heaven!

-Pastor MacLean

October 6 - The Gospel Unplugged

Pastor Dixon and Pastor Lose discuss how “Elijah Hears God’s Voice in the Silence,” based on 1 Kings 19:4-16, our scripture reading for this Sunday, October 10, 2021, at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and Victoria, MN.

Questions to ponder:
Where have you found God?
Where do you want to find or look for God?
Where does God find you?

October 4 - Devotion

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. -Leviticus 19:18

There’s nothing remotely simple about reaching out to someone who has hurt you. Reaching out to someone whom you can barely stand to cross paths with feels about as simple as walking across a canyon on a tight rope.

But here’s the deal. That canyon, when we refuse to reach across it, becomes larger with each passing day until one day we may not even exactly remember the reason for the hurt, because our hearts have become nothing more than big painful holes of grief. Grief at the sadness that we’ve allowed to overtake them, grief at the hours wasted obsessing over the one who hurt us, grief over lost days that were spent thinking on the injustice, rather than on the joy that God has placed right in front of our faces.

The thing is, we all hurt one another. We’re human beings, we fall short. And whether intentionally or unintentionally, we’ve all said or done or looked at someone in such a way that made them feel diminished, insulted, critiqued, unworthy, or unloved. And that, my friends, is what causes the great divide.

The Good News is that God can cross that canyon in the blink of an eye, if we but have the humility to ask. And there is no one here on this earth that knows hurt like our Heavenly Father—He who absorbs the pain of all His children.

Dear Lord, You know our grudges inside and out. You know those who have hurt us and those whom we have hurt. Remove the pain, Lord. Help us reach out in love, to extend that olive branch across the canyon before the darkness overtakes the light. Help us to forgive, Lord—You that forgave more than most. Amen.

-Pastor Hammersten

September 29 - The Gospel Unplugged

Pastor MacLean and Pastor Lose discuss how “God Calls Samuel,” based on 1 Samuel 3:1-10, our scripture reading for this Sunday, October 3, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
Do you think God has called you and you didn’t realize you were being called?
Can you imagine or believe that God would call you?
What distractions in your life hinder you from hearing God’s call?

September 6 - Devotion

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us – and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.” -1 John 3:16

To lay down one’s life for another is simply to respond to people in need – people who have all kinds of needs right around us. The word “ought” here in Greek is present tense: it points to a regular obligation, an ordinary duty and calling, day in and day out, rather than just great heroic deeds of virtue. We are called to love the people we see, not just the people we choose, or the people we like, or the people we agree with, but the people we see around us.

But the problem is we often find it easier to talk about love than to do it. In a book I read years ago, “The Knowing-Doing Gap,” the authors write that one of the main barriers to turning knowledge into action is the tendency to assume that talking about something is equivalent to actually doing it. The writer of 1 John knew this human tendency. So the writer urges, “Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” True love, born of God, always acts. The kind of love the writer of 1 John is talking about is the act of actually seeing the needs of others and acting for their well-being.

I don’t know what there is for you and me to do as acts of love. All I know is that there is someone who needs us. Maybe it means sending a card or e-mail to someone to encourage them or thank them. Maybe it means making a phone call to someone who needs it right now. Maybe it means getting together for coffee and listening to someone with your undivided attention. Maybe it means calling Laurie Hancer and serving with love through your church.

To love, as Jesus taught, is to care about the needs of others. A church living this kind of love cares about the world’s pain. It reaches out to the lonely and aging, the sick and the poor. It cares for its own people in the congregation, but it also turns outward to the community and the world’s needs around it. The question is, will we?

-Pastor MacLean

September 1 - The Gospel Unplugged

Pastor MacLean and Pastor Ruud discuss how “Nothing Will Separate Us from God’s Love,” based on Romans 8:28-39, our scripture reading for this Sunday, September 5, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
How has God brought good out of bad circumstances in your life? Do you see it during or after the difficulty?
How often do we need to hear this? Together and as individuals?

August 30 - Devotion

“Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness… So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them… God saw everything that he had made, and indeed it was very good.” -Genesis 1:26-27, 31a

We are bombarded in our society by critique. As students, employees, neighbors, parents, brothers, sisters, and children, we are graded and judged on nearly every aspect of our being. We are told if we “just” shape up and work harder, if we “just” dedicate ourselves to the task at hand, we will: get into the school we want, get the internship we want, kick the addiction, get the raise, the promotion, the body, and the love we crave. The problem is, all this critique makes us forget the most important message of all:

We are created in God’s image! God made each of us exactly as we are!

Does this mean God doesn’t want us to be our best, most healthy selves? Of course not. God wants us to be happy! But, when we listen to the critique more than the Love, we are missing out on the joy-filled life God wants for us. Do you think God wants you to criticize His work, or be thankful and love His work?

Tonight, find a quiet moment, and spend 10 minutes alone, with God, looking in a mirror. Ask yourself: What is my favorite thing about my personality/soul? What is my favorite thing about my amazing body? What part of me could use God’s love and forgiveness? What would God say to me, His beloved child? And then soak in God’s sweet whispers.

Dear Lord, help me to remember that You created me to be exactly as I am. You know everything about me, everything! And you love me! Help me to love myself too, Lord. Help me to remember that I am Your child. A child of God! Worthy of love and care and respect.

-Pastor Hammersten

August 25 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week, Pastor Kalland and Pastor Ruud discuss the story of Paul and Silas in Prison, found in Acts 16:16-34, our scripture reading for this Sunday, August 29, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
What is your prison? Where is your jail?
Where are there places, for us and the world, that need a word of hope?

August 23 - Devotion

I grew to appreciate Henri Nouwen in 1976 while he was a Fellow at the Collegeville Institute for Ecumenical and Cultural Research at Saint John’s Abbey, Collegeville, Minnesota. I was a student worker with that amazing staff. Nouwen was a grace-filled, humble, loving man of God. His deep love for Christ and insistence that we are loved first by God continue to inspire.

Years ago Fr. Nouwen shared the following, it sure seems fitting for today.

“Imagine having no need at all to judge anybody. Imagine having no desire to decide whether someone is a good or bad person. Imagine being completely free from the feeling that you have to make up your mind about the morality of someone’s behavior. Imagine that you could say: “I am judging no one!”

Imagine — wouldn’t that be true inner freedom?…But we can only let go of the heavy burden of judging others when we don’t mind carrying the light burden of being judged!

Can we free ourselves from the need to judge others? Yes, by claiming for ourselves the truth that we are the Beloved Daughters and Sons of God. As long as we continue to live as if we are what we do, what we have, and what other people think about us, we will remain filled with judgments, opinions, evaluations, and condemnations. We will remain addicted to the need to put people and things in their “right” place. To the degree that we embrace the truth that our identity is not rooted in our success, power, or popularity, we can let go of our need to judge. “Do not judge and you will not be judged; because the judgments you give are the judgments you will get” (Matthew 7:1).

Imagine if we treated others and ourselves as children of God.

Remember you are remembered. Blessings.

-Pastor Kalland

August 18 - The Gospel Unplugged

Pastor MacLean and Pastor Ruud discuss the story of Peter and Cornelius and the Reception of the Gentiles, found in Acts 10:1-16, our scripture reading for this Sunday, August 22, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
How does this message remind us to look upon all of humanity as children of God?
How may God still be calling us into new understanding of God’s grace?

August 16 - Musical Devotion

Hallelujah Chorus from Messiah by George Frideric Handel
Performed by the Senior Choir on April 1, 2018

George Frideric Handel was born in Halle, Germany, in 1685 yet moved to London in 1712 and lived his life in England as a naturalized British subject. Before the 1730s, Handel’s reputation had been fully established with his writing of numerous Italian operas, but as the public grew tired of the model, he turned to writing English oratorio. Messiah was his sixth compositional work in this genre and was a reflection on Jesus as the Messiah, called Christ. The libretto was assembled and written by Handel’s friend, Charles Jennens (1700-1773).

The work is divided into three major parts. It is in Part ll that the well known statement of God’s glory is found in the Hallelujah chorus. Text for this chorus comes from the book of Revelation in the New Testament. Revelation 19:6: “Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” Revelation 19:16: “And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.” and Revelation 11:15: “And he shall reign for ever and ever.

By most historic accounts it is estimated the composer spent only 24 days writing the oratorio. Although this pace of writing seems unbelievable, historians have pointed out that many of Handel’s operas, of comparable length and structure to Messiah, were composed within similar timescales between theatrical seasons.

After an initial modest public reception in 1743, the Messiah gained in popularity, eventually becoming one of the best-known and most frequently performed choral works in Western music. In 1759, when Handel was blind and in failing health, he insisted on attending an April 6 performance of Messiah at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden. Eight days later, he died at home.

Mount Olivet is pleased to sponsor a Messiah sing-a-long scheduled for Sunday afternoon, December 5. You are invited to come and hear our singers perform the Messiah solos, and to join in the singing of the choruses for this special musical work. Mark your calendars today and stay tuned for more information as time nears!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music

August 11 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week, Pastor Dixon and Pastor Lose discuss the story, the Ethiopian Eunuch, found in Acts 8:26-39, our scripture reading for this Sunday, August 15, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
Where does the Spirit find you?
Whom has the Spirit sent to you?
To whom has the Spirit sent you?

August 9 - Devotion

The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers; the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; -Isaiah 24:4-6

I know, the above scripture from the prophet Isaiah isn’t all that joyful, hopeful, or uplifting, and if it makes you a bit uncomfortable, perturbed, or even fearful to read it, I’m with you.  Yet, as we have looked to a hazy sky due to wildfires in Canada, heard of flooding in Europe, landslides in India, witnessed another record year of global heat, watched the lawns and parks of Minnesota turn increasingly brown due to continued drought, and any number of other extreme climate examples, I can’t help reflecting on our God-given relationship to creation.

Scripture makes it clear. God has placed us in rich, intimate relationship with the created world, and our actions, especially collectively, have great effect on how air, earth, sea, and creatures interact in all their wonderful and powerful forces.

We adults will likely not see the full extent of the effects we and recent past generations have had on the world. But as I watch my children experience the joy of jumping off a dock into a clear northern lake this summer, I wonder what it will be like for them.

There’s still great hope.  While the consequences of our exploitation of the world are real, God has not abandoned us. The next chapter in Isaiah speaks of God’s work of new life with the people.  Perhaps the new life God creating now is in our hearts to give heed and recognize more greatly all that God has gifted to us. God’s will is that we care for this wondrous world.

Let us pray and act this petition today, God your kingdom come, your will be done, in our relationship with all you have made.

-Pastor Ruud

August 4 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week, Pastor Freeman and Pastor Ruud discuss the story, the Raising of Lazurus, found in John 11:1-6, 17-27, 38-44, our scripture reading for this Sunday, August 8, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
When have you wondered in your time of need where God is?
What does Jesus show us about God’s character?


August 2 - Devotion

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. -James 5:13-16

A couple of years ago, I visited a thriving church in Iowa, and I was struck by what they said at the beginning of each worship service: “It’s no accident that you are here…we’ve been praying for you!”

Wow! It reminded me of the letter of James.

The whole letter of James, from which these Bible verses come, tells the community that prayer has the ability to shape us to be the people God wants us to be. The letter of James closes with this fifth chapter, emphasizing the importance and the power of prayer in our everyday lives. When prayer is practiced, the community bears much fruit – it shares love, it creates anew, it forgives, it trusts.

In last week’s Monday devotion, Pastor Lose emphasized the power of prayer, as well. He mentioned that it may not always be an easy practice, as our culture does not encourage it, but once you get past the initial discomfort, prayer will transform you. Not only will you long for this time of connection with God, you will recognize that community life struggles without it!

Prayer transcends our human ways, understandings, and abilities. Prayer helps us to recognize that God is God and we are not!

Let us pray…

Dear God, you give us the gift of prayer because you love us and you want us to love others. Help us to pray and share its fruits with the world. Amen.

-Pastor Freeman

July 28 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week, Pastor Hammersten and Pastor Lose discuss the story, Feeding of the Five Thousand, found in John 6:1-14, our scripture reading for Sunday, August 1.

Questions to ponder:
Where and when in your life do you give thanks?
Where have you seen miracles in your life?

See you in church or online this Sunday!

July 26 - Devotion

In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. –Mark 1:35

Throughout the Gospels, there are a number of references to Jesus withdrawing from his work and ministry for a time of solitude and prayer. Sometimes, like in this scene near the beginning of Mark’s story, he steals a few quiet hours in the morning before his companions are awake. At others, he withdraws for an evening, and occasionally for an entire night. Jesus clearly found these times of quiet contemplation and prayer important, and after each time away he seems to return to his ministry with renewed energy and focus.

I don’t think we’re all that different. If we are to tend the tasks entrusted to us with care, energy, and focus, we also need to find moments for quiet time and prayer. Perhaps you will have an opportunity to steal away to a deserted place this summer: slipping away for few days to a cabin up north or hiking a portion of the Superior trail, for instance. But you don’t necessarily have to go far to find moments for solitude and prayer that Jesus models.

You can head down to our Conference & Retreat Center for midweek worship, or spend five quiet minutes in the morning reading Scripture and praying. You can plan an early morning walk or evening bike ride and practice the art of simply being in the presence of God. Given how tethered we are to our devices, you could take a social media “sabbatical” one day a week to clear your head for more reflective thought, or decide not to check email on the weekends.

Whatever you do, I can assure you of two things. First, it will take some practice. Our world and culture does not encourage quiet reflection and prayer. So be prepared, initially at least, for a twinge of discomfort, or even guilt, at the thought of doing “nothing.” Second, you will soon find that you treasure these moments and that this time of doing nothing actually prepares you do to everything else better.

Which makes me want to revise what I said earlier. Jesus actually isn’t withdrawing from his work and ministry to pray, he’s withdrawing for moments of quiet prayer for the sake of his work and ministry. And we can do that, too!

-Pastor Lose

July 21 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Freeman and Pastor Lose discuss the story, Jesus Heals the Gerasene Demoniac, found in Luke 8:26-39, our scripture reading for this Sunday, July 25.

Questions to ponder:
What prevents you from being the person God wants you to be?
When does Jesus’ healing induce fear?

See you in church or online on Sunday!

July 19 - Musical Devotion

If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments by Thomas Tallis
Performed by the Senior Choir on March 29, 2018

Thomas Tallis (1505-1585) was a prominent English organist and composer, who throughout his life worked for four successive monarchs: Henry Vlll, Edward Vl, Mary Tudor, and Elizabeth l. Tallis was able to avoid the religious controversies that existed around him by adapting his compositional style in order to satisfy each ruler.

In earlier years English music consisted of Latin texts, however, during the English Reformation where the Church of England broke away from the Catholic Church, the Latin liturgy was replaced with scripture and prayers in English. During the Tudor period, Thomas Tallis was among the first to write sacred music in English under the reign of Queen Elizabeth l.

 If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments, published in 1565, is an unaccompanied anthem for four voice parts utilizing a passage from the Gospel of John.

 In the text, Jesus is speaking to the disciples foretelling his own death and explaining that he will no longer be with them in person. Translators make several different choices regarding the word advocate. It is often translated to helper, comforter, or counselor. This English motet beautifully portrays the promise we are given in the Holy Spirit. A gift, given by a God who remains with us and for us.   

If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. -John 14:15-17

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music

July 14 - The Gospel Unplugged

Pastor Dixon and Pastor Ruud discuss the story, Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son, found in Luke 7:11-17, the scripture reading for Sunday, July 18, 2021.

Questions to ponder:
Who or what points you to God?
What does it mean to you to embody the heart of Jesus?

July 12 - Devotion

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. -Galatians 5:22-23

Everyone who heads north this summer to our Cathedral of the Pines camp will be meditating on the fruits of the Spirit as Paul describes them in his letter to the followers of Jesus in Galatia (somewhere in modern Turkey). Paul lists nine of these fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Paul wants the people to understand that the marks of the Christian life are not attainable by following certain rules or customs. There is no set of instructions one can follow to achieve joy. It is a gift from the Holy Spirit that follows trust in God through Christ Jesus (that trust being another gift of the Holy Spirit!).

This is what a community of Christ-followers looks like. It is blessed with joy and peace and generosity. It is not defined by adherence to certain dress codes, or ways of speaking, or religiously tinted political adherences. Where the fruits of the Spirit are evident, there the Spirit is active. And where the Spirit is active, there faith flourishes.

Where can you observe the Spirit at work in your life? How does it feel?

I pray that you would recognize those spaces or relationships or moments blessed by the Spirit so that you might 1) be grateful for them as true gifts from God, and 2) see in them a calling from God to a life of faith that makes you more joyful.

-Pastor Dixon

July 7 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Freeman and Pastor Ruud discuss the story, The Widow of Zarephath, found in <a href=”https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=489741343″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>1 Kings 17:1-16</a>, our scripture reading for this Sunday, July 11.

Questions to ponder:
<em>When have you, despite your deep needs, provided hospitality to another?</em>
<em>When have unexpected characters been vessels of God’s hope and love for you?</em>

See you in church or online on Sunday!

July 5 - Devotion

Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away; for now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth; the time of singing has come… -Song of Solomon 2:10-12

You may think this is an unusual passage on which to base a devotional. However, a couple I’m going to marry in August chose this Scripture for their wedding and I decided to look into this book. The Song of Solomon (or Song of Songs) is one of the most unique books in the Bible. Nowhere in its eight chapters is God ever mentioned. The book does not speak of Israel’s religious history or traditions. There is no mention of the law or covenant, of prayer or faith, or the prophets, or anything overtly religious.

So if this book doesn’t even mention God or Israel’s faith, why is it in the Bible? One of the reasons is that it came to be read as an allegory. In early Jewish tradition the book was interpreted as an allegory of God’s love for Israel. In early Christianity the book was read as an allegory of Christ’s love for the church, or for the individual soul.

Most modern scholars, however, read these poems more literally. Set within the larger context of the Bible, which affirms that God created human beings and all things, these poems express the goodness of human love as a gift from God. God created us to find fulfillment in our relationships with each other. But the Song of Solomon attests that the goodness of human love doesn’t always need to be dressed up in God talk to be beautiful.  So as you enjoy all your summer activities in this beautiful weather, remember that through the eyes of faith your celebrations of the goodness of life, of human love, and friendships are gifts from God. God wants us to enjoy each other and the beauty of the earth— gifts from a God who passionately loves us!

-Pastor MacLean

June 30 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Dixon and Pastor Lose discuss the scripture story, Bread from Heaven (Exodus 16:1-18), which is our scripture reading for Sunday, July 4.

Some questions to ponder:
What is your daily bread? 
What goes to spoil in your life?
Do you feel comfortable grumbling to God?

See you in church or online on Sunday!

June 28 - Devotion

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. – Deuteronomy 6:5

Anyone who has ever ventured to dip their toes into romance can tell you one thing is true in the world of love: We cannot make ourselves love someone any more than we can make someone love us. Not in the truest sense of soul-mate-partner-for-life kind of love anyway. We can pretend to be what we think the other is looking for and fall into an illusion of love for a while, perhaps, but when we let our guard down and show all of who we really are-the good and the bad-that’s when we find out if he loves me, or loves me not.

When we’re completely ourselves, when we expose our bumps and bruises, our flaws and imperfections and still are loved just as fiercely, or even more so, that’s true love. And that is how God loves us. Unconditionally! In spite of, and maybe even because of, our humanness.

God has chosen not to make us love Him. Like any loving relationship here on earth, one person cannot hold all the power. When we are baptized, the Holy Spirit plants those first little seeds of faith into our souls, giving us what we need, then it’s up to us to nurture that love and trust by coming to church and by hearing God’s word, receiving communion and by praying. With God, true love is always a sure thing, because we solely need to reach up, and God does the rest. The last petal is always He loves me.

Eternal God, help us to always remember that YOU are our soul-mate-partner-for-life. Help us to see that it is you who continually reaches for us with your almighty arm, waiting for us to simply look up, and to reach up, to You. Amen.

-Pastor Hammersten

June 23 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Dixon and Pastor Ruud discuss the scripture story, Crossing the Red Sea, in Exodus 14:10-29, which is our scripture reading for Sunday, June 27.

Some questions to ponder:
What questions does this text bring up for you?
Where or when have you gone from hopelessness to hope? From entrapment to freedom?

See you in church or online on Sunday!

June 21 - Musical Devotion

It is Well with My Soul by René Clausen
Performed by the Senior Choir on March 11, 2018

René Clausen is a well-known American composer whose sizable library of choral works are widely performed and recorded by high school, church, college, and professional choirs alike. The anthem, It is Well with My Soul, is part of the René Clausen Choral Series, whose purpose is to offer well-written but accessible pieces for volunteer church choirs.

The story behind this hymn text is well known to some, but also worth sharing again for those who have never heard how the lyrics came about. It is a story of immense loss and sorrow, yet continued personal faith in the comfort of a loving God.

The author of the hymn, Horatio Spafford (1828-1888), was a successful attorney and real estate investor who lived with his wife, Anna, and their four young daughters in Chicago, IL. Spafford heavily invested in the real estate of Chicago in the spring of 1871. Unfortunately, in October of the same year, the Great Chicago Fire destroyed the city and Spafford lost the majority of his fortune. In an effort to give his family a distraction, Spafford sent them to Europe with plans to follow shortly. Tragically, on November 21, 1873, the luxury ocean liner was rammed by a British vessel and sank in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean within twelve minutes.

More than 200 people lost their lives, including all four of Horatio Spafford’s daughters. His wife, Anna was the only family member who survived the tragedy. Spafford immediately set sail for England. During his voyage, as he passed over the spot where the shipwreck had occurred, these words of comfort and hope came to him and have since become the lyrics for this beloved hymn. The composer, Philip Bliss, titled the tune Ville du Havre, after the name of the stricken vessel.

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say
It is well, it is well with my soul.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music


June 16 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Ruud and Pastor Lose discuss the scripture story, Jacob Wrestles with an Angel, in Genesis 32:22-31, which is our scripture reading for Sunday, June 20.

Some questions to ponder:
Have you ever felt like you were wrestling with God?
What about a time you felt like you had a second chance? How did that feel?

See you in church or online on Sunday!

June 14 - Devotion

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6.8

Today, June 14, is Flag Day in the United States of America. A day set aside to remember our history. The flag is a symbol of our great Republic. Ideally we let it stand for something we honor, hopefully something that points to the better parts of our human nature. We are encouraged to reflect upon the values of our Republic and the valor of the men and women in uniform who have defended it. It’s an emblem that ideally represents freedom, hope, and courage of our country’s ideals since our early days. It represents the Republic, “one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”

Just so we are clear, we do not worship the Flag. The Cross is where our full and true allegiance lies. We worship God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We preach Christ crucified and risen from the dead. May we never forget the sacrifice of others, especially Jesus.

So today let’s remember the Flag of the United States and more importantly, every day may we remember the love of God made visible in the life, death, and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ. He makes each day new and eternal life a reality.

-Pastor Kalland

June 9 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Hammersten and Pastor Lose discuss the scripture story Abraham and Sarah Will Conceive in Genesis 18:1-14; 21:1-6, which is our scripture reading for Sunday, June 13.

Some questions to ponder:
Are the times when you’ve heard a promise from God… and laughed?
Does it give you a sense of freedom that we can be honest in our reactions to God in our lives?

See you in church or online on Sunday!

June 7 - Devotion

This is what I have seen to be good: it is fitting to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of the life God gives us; for this is our lot. -Ecclesiastes 5:18

I have been reveling in the strawberries which are rapidly ripening in my backyard this week. Along with that, I am giving thanks for whomever the previous owner was who planted them. I confess, I can claim no toil of my own in the sweet delight other than picking them red and juicy off the plant. Still, they have been a nice treat at the end of a stress-filled day of work or doing outdoor chores.

The book of Ecclesiastes is not one I go to often for devotional reading, but a passage from chapter 3 noting the truth that there is a time for everything under the sun has been chosen by the families of three deceased parishioners for whom I have had the privilege of officiating funerals recently. It has reminded me that the writer of Ecclesiastes encourages us to live in the present and take note of the simple earthly pleasures and gifts of daily life, lest we take them for granted or miss them all together. Things like tasty food, a refreshing drink, satisfactory work, joyful play, and love between neighbors.

Surely the writer does not mean life is only about pure enjoyment or that we can selfishly hoard the gifts of our days forgetting about neighbors in need. Rather, it is a reminder to take joy in the ordinary, common, daily, simple gifts which all finally flow from the hand of our Creator. It’s a reminder to be mindful and present and grateful. After all, there will be plenty of difficulty and suffering in life, too.

Martin Luther said of the above passage, “This statement is the interpreter of the entire book: Solomon intends to forbid vain anxieties, so that we may happily enjoy the things that are present and not care at all about the things that are in the future, lest we permit the present moment, our moment, to slip away.”

Yes, indeed. In Christ, we are free to toil for today, to take delight in the smallest joys and gifts of the present, and hope in what’s to come and what God continues to call forth.

Let us pray… Dear God, mmmhh, that’s a good strawberry. Thanks. Amen.

-Pastor Ruud

June 2 - The Gospel Unplugged

This week Pastor Freeman and Pastor Ruud discuss the scripture story The Call of Abraham and Promise of God in Genesis 15:1-6, which is our scripture reading for Sunday, June 6.

Some questions to ponder:
Can we struggle with belief and still have belief?
How does this story fortify your faith?

See you in church or online on Sunday!

May 31 - Devotion

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. – Isaiah 2:4

To remember and to recommit. This is what I believe Memorial Day is about. Established in multiple locations across the country in the years after the Civil War, Memorial Day was made a federal holiday in 1971 to honor all the men and women who died while serving their country in the armed services. To borrow the old words, it is “meet, right, and salutary” that we offer our thanksgiving for those who made the ultimate sacrifice to defend the freedoms of this country. As Jesus reminds us, there is no greater love than to offer your life on behalf of another. And so Memorial Day reminds us that freedom has never been free, but achieved through the labor, bravery, and sacrifices of many. That is the purpose of this remembrance.

We are also called to recommit. For if we only remember, we fail the legacy of courage and sacrifice that we’ve inherited. We recommit ourselves to establishing a peace born of equity, living into the prophetic dream of a time when wars cease and such sacrifices are no longer required. No one understands the importance of this dream more than those who have served and sacrificed. And so on this Memorial Day, I invite you to give thanks for those who have laid down their lives for this country, to ask God’s protection for those who currently serve in our armed forces, and to pray for the strength to make the necessary sacrifices both to preserve freedom and work for peace, the peace that God desires for all God’s people.

-Pastor Lose

May 26 - Musical Devo

Kyrie Eleison from Messe Solennelle by Louis Vierne
Performed by the Senior Choir with Dr. Richard Owen, organ, on Sunday, April 7, 2019

Kyrie Eleison (Lord, have mercy) is the opening movement from Messe Solennelle (Solemn Mass) composed in 1899 for two organs and choir by the French composer Louis Vierne (1870 –1937).

The work was published in 1900 and was dedicated to Theodore Dubois, the composer of The Seven Last Words of Christ. It was first performed in the prestigious Cathedral of Notre-Dame where Viere served as organist. Interestingly, the second organ part was performed with Vierne by his teacher, Charles Marie Widor, the composer of the well known Toccata from the 5th Organ Symphony.

Louis Vierne was born on October 8, 1870, and suffered from near blindness caused by congenital cataracts. Because of the disability he was sent to school with limited educational training until his uncle realized Vierne’s extraordinary musical talent and helped direct him to a special school for blind students. From age 11 Vierne knew he wanted to compose for the organ and did so his entire life with oversized manuscript paper, large pencils, and eventually by learning Braille.

Vierne held one of the most prestigious organ posts at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris for nearly 37 years. His music has been described as emotional, tragic and triumphant, reflecting much of his personal life. He struggled with failed relationships, the loss of his son and brother to World War I, an accident that severely damaged his leg that required painful years of relearning pedal technique, and four years of unsuccessful eye treatment. Through it all, he wrote masterful organ works and composed six organ symphonies, which helped take the musical form to new heights.

Unfortunately, his death followed the same tragic pattern as his life. With nearly 3,000 in attendance for a concert in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, he suffered a heart attack and died on the bench and at the keyboard he loved.

God’s ways continue to confound yet comfort. From a fragile broken man came music of immense power and emotion. From a life that appeared to be nearly unbearable came beauty and tremendous musical gifts. Vierne’s story serves as a reminder to hold fast to the promise of God’s presence through all things, knowing that in this life we cannot fully comprehend God’s use of us for the future.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

May 25 - Called to Witness

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. – Galatians 3:28

The death of George Floyd one year ago today has changed the world. But it likely would have been largely overlooked had there not been a witness. Darnella Frazier, 17 at this time last year, captured the horrific scene of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Think about that: the pain of not looking away from something so awful, the risk of posting it, the courage to testify at the subsequent trial – all of this and more was a part of Darnella’s witness.

As Christians, we are also called to give witness. To give witness to God’s intention and desire that all people are treated with dignity and respect. To give witness to God’s steadfast declaration that God shows no partiality and that all people are equally loved by their Creator. To give witness when we and others fall short of God’s dreams. And to give witness to the steps, small and large, taken to advance the cause of racial equity and a peace born of justice. A witness is a powerful thing. What is it that we can witness to today?

Dear God, give us the vision to see all people as your children, the strength to work for equality and justice, the humility to admit when we fall short, the faith to keep moving forward, and the courage to be witnesses to the truth. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

May 24 - Devotion

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” – Galatians 5:22

Jesus Christ died and rose for our salvation so that we would be free, apart from any works of our own. Luther Seminary professor, Gerhard Forde, famously and poignantly asked the question, “What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?”

Christ’s death and resurrection frees us. And that freedom propels us to love one another. God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbors sure do!

The apostle Paul found the early church asking the question, “Is love just a new law?” His letter to the Galatian community helps us to understand this complex relationship between freedom and love for one another. Freedom is the basis for love, and love is God’s hope for our freedom.

As we live into this season after Pentecost, may we be aware of the ways the Holy Spirit leads us to give and receive love. Paul lists the fruit of the Spirit as a grounding for a community who is searching for the Spirit’s work in their lives. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are the fruits of the Spirit, he says. Against these outpourings of love, there is no law. If our activity ends in the opposite of these fruits (things like jealousy, anger, strife, dissentions, factions, envy), it is pretty safe to say that the Spirit really has nothing to do with it.

Law and gospel. Freedom and love. There is no easy dividing line. The bottom line is this: Jesus died, rose, ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit so that God’s message and presence of love would be known by all.

Do we have to do anything to receive this freedom and love in Christ? No, but Gerhard Forde’s question is a good one. What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything?

-Pastor Freeman

May 19 - Musical Devo

In honor of the graduating High School Senior Class of 2021
Psalm 139 by Allen Pote
Performed by the Cathedral Choir

Allen Pote is a prolific, nationally known composer, who over the past 46 years has published more than 500 works that have been performed throughout the United States and abroad.

But it is Pote’s version of Psalm 139 that has become a favorite for Cathedral Choir. Perhaps it is the singable lyric melody or the straight-forward and comforting nature of the text that draws us back to the anthem.

The psalmist speaks of a loving God who knows us even in the basics of everyday life: “When I rise up, when I lie down, you are with me through and through.” It is comforting to realize that God knows us so intimately that His presence can, and hopefully should, guide our thoughts and our words. “Before a word is on my tongue, You know what I will say, Your presence follows me day by day.”

In the middle section of the anthem, the psalmist exclaims that wherever we find ourselves – “if I go to heaven, or live in hell” – God is there. I love knowing that these young adults have sung this promise many times throughout their high school years. The promise that there is no escaping the constant and expansive love of God. What a beautiful promise for us all!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

May 17 - Devotion

“Therefore, the promise comes by faith.” – Romans 4:16

What is the source of your hope? Whenever I consider this question, I grow more and more convinced that our world is in need of one of the crown jewels of the Lutheran theological tradition: the distinction between the Law and the Gospel (two ways Scripture speaks to us).

The Law is anything that tells you what you should do (but can’t), or how you should live (but won’t). It accuses you. It shows you how you’ve fallen short, and confirms that you are indeed a sinner in need of grace. As Paul confessed about himself, “The good that I would do, I can’t. The evil that I don’t want, that is what I do.” The law tells us what we owe, and it is merciless. It counts every penny. It forgives nothing, remembers everything. The Law reveals to us that we are in deep debt and cannot pay our way out.

The Gospel, on the other hand, is the voice in Scripture that tells us what God does, and who God is. When (not if) the Law finds us guilty, the Gospel reminds us that God declares us righteous. When the Law makes us fearful or anxious, the Gospel comforts. When the Law counts the cost and informs us we cannot earn our way into the kingdom, the Gospel tears up the receipt and proclaims the unearned grace of God.

So, where is your hope? In the Law, which is to say in yourself? In what you can do and how you can live? Or is it in the Gospel? In what God has done for you and how God regards you?

A lot of voices in this world pretend to be the Gospel, but they’re really just Law Lite. That’s not just a bland, flavorless alternative. It’s poison. And it’ll kill you. The Law cannot give life nor peace, because the Law can only demand. And it demands what we cannot give: perfection. Law Lite demands that same thing, and worse pretends it’s attainable! You are the master of your own fate! Embrace the power of positive thinking! Just try harder! And that feels good. And it works. Until it doesn’t.

So by all means continue to do good. Love and serve your neighbor. Grow in your discipleship. But put your hope and trust in the Lord. Only the Gospel can give you life and peace, and the Gospel is simply this: God loves you and will never lose you. That’s a promise.

-Pastor Dixon

May 12 - Musical Devo

Be Still, My Soul music by Jean Sibelius/arr. Dan Bird, and lyrics by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel/Jane Borthwick
Performed by the Senior Choir with soloist, Dana Donnay, oboe, on March 31, 2019

Be Still, My Soul is based on the music of Jean Sibelius (1865-1957). The Finnish composer wrote the tone poem, Finlandia, Op. 26, as a patriotic offering in resistance to the increased Russian influence on Finland. The work soon became a symbol of Finnish nationalism. The tumultuous opening of the large work symbolizes the struggles of the Finnish people, yet ends with the calm and serene hymn-like hopeful melody known to us as FINLANDIA.

The original author of the hymn, Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel was born October 22, 1697 in Köthen, Germany. This text appears at the time of German pietism, which was a movement that emphasized personal faith over the Lutheran state-church’s perceived stress on doctrine and theology over Christian living. The period led to a revival in German hymnody characterized by faithfulness to Scripture, personal experience, and deep emotional expression. Katharina von Schlegel is thought to be the leading female hymn writer of this time. The poem was translated from German to English by Jane Borthwick, a Scottish hymn writer and translator of German hymns.

At the opening of the anthem, Dan Bird sets the beautiful words and music in a free meter accompanied by the soft, chant-like vocal line. The ethereal feel of the music is magnified by the accompanying oboe which adds its unique color to the fairly plaintive text. As the anthem progresses and changes key, the tune reverts to a steady meter with large chordal piano accompaniment providing the unchanging and constant sense of security which reflects the faithfulness of God’s presence through all things and at all times.

The final verse changes mood with the addition of moving eighth notes found in both the accompaniment and oboe line. This compositional choice beautifully reflects the lyrics’ reference to “the hour is hast’ning on when we shall be forever with the Lord.” The anthem ends musically as it began, soft, free of meter, yet this time with text that reflects the calm and encouraging thoughts of an eternal home, “All safe and blessed, we shall meet at last. Be still, be still.”

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

May 10 - Devotion

Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. -Luke 24:36b-40

We all have our scars, don’t we? Each of our scars tells a story. Scars are physical and visible reminders of who we are and what has happened to us.

But we also have other scars – scars that aren’t so visible. Scars on our hearts and in our souls. Wounds from the past – some of them healed, some of them perhaps still hurting.  Scars that remind us of blows we have received in life, tears we have shed, mistakes we have made, pain and heartache we have endured. Each of our wounds of heart and soul tells a story.

On that first Easter evening long ago, Jesus’ disciples were huddled together in fear behind locked doors. According to Luke’s Gospel, Jesus suddenly stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Then Jesus said to his frightened disciples, ‘Look at my hands and my feet.” Not “listen to my voice” or “look at my face and into my eyes.” But “Look at my hands and my feet.” It was his wounds that he wanted them to see. Like our wounds, Jesus’ wounds tell a story. They tell the story of Easter.

The good news of Easter is that in the risen Christ, God offers us new life and healing for our wounds. Wherever there is pain, suffering, and death, the risen Christ still shows up to bring comfort, peace, and assurance.  Peace be with you!

-Pastor MacLean

May 5 - Musical Devo

The Lord is My Light and My Salvation from Requiem by John Leavitt
Performed by the Senior Choir, on January 21, 2018

The Lord is My Light and My Salvation is the fourth movement of Requiem by composer John Leavitt. Unlike many Requiems which utilize traditional Latin texts from the Mass, Leavitt uses scripture drawn primarily from the Psalms. Psalm 27 serves as the text for this movement. It has been set musically by many different composers but Leavitt’s unique take on the text is interesting to hear.

The piece opens with a portion of the Psalm exclaimed in a chant-like manner, perhaps harkening back to a historical thought that some of the Psalms were chanted by the priests or Levites who were connected with the temple setting.

It is after the second chant-like section where Leavitt writes a simple, yet stunningly beautiful melody, which for most listeners, causes a visceral response of emotion. The melody tenderly sets up the text, “The Lord is my light and my salvation,” in a manner that is quite different from other composers. Often these words are set as a cry of confidence, but Leavitt’s compositional choice is filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, love and devotion for the Lord who is “the stronghold of my life.” The result of these powerful active words set in such a tender fashion is what makes this anthem so special and unique, and perhaps helps us to remember how, in turn, God’s power and light is always filled with immense and sacrificial love for us.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

May 3 - Devotion

Ah, Sunday mornings. Is there anything that fills your soul more than sitting in our beloved sanctuaries, surrounded by familiar faces, and worshipping our Lord? These last few weeks have been like a warm, spring rain nourishing our faith and bringing us back into the community God so intends for us. A fresh start, a new beginning, a time of faith and hope and promise.

These words from the apostle Paul ring true: “Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal; but I press on to make it my own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

We are called, beloved, forgiven children of God! What could give us more hope than that? Breathe in the Holy Spirit, breathe out fear and anxiety. God’s got this, God’s got us. Amen.

-Pastor Hammersten

April 28 - Musical Devo

Arise, my Soul, Arise! by Dan Forrest
Performed by the Senior Choir Women with soloist, Heidi Amundson, violin, on February 25, 2018.

The text of Arise, my Soul, Arise! was written by Charles Wesley (1707-1788), brother of the famous Methodist evangelist John Wesley. Charles was a leader in the Methodist movement and wrote over 6,500 hymns.

Composer Dan Forrest takes the Wesley text and sets it to a new hymn tune, CHODAN. The musical outcome is a tender, heartfelt statement of faith and commitment. The new hymn tune enhances the older style text and creates a feeling of immense gratitude that comes from the realization of what has been given on our behalf. The beautiful writing for the violin throughout the anthem adds to the emotional expression of thankfulness.

The anthem uses three of the five original Wesley verses and speaks to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Because of this gift, we are offered forgiveness and redemption through Christ our intercessor, advocate, and redeemer.

Arise, my soul, arise! Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding Sacrifice In my behalf appears.
Before the throne my Surety stands; My name is written on His hands.

Five bleeding wounds He bears, Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers; They strongly plead for me.
Forgive him, O forgive, they cry, Nor let that ransomed sinner die!

My God is reconciled His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child, I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh, And Father, Abba, Father, cry.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

April 26 - Devotion

Dear God, there is so much we just don’t understand, so much. Please help us in the midst of things we cannot comprehend to trust and to believe in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. Amen.

In the great love chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:12 it says, “For now (in this time of imperfection) we see in a mirror dimly (a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma), but then (when the time of perfection comes we will see reality) face to face. Now I know in part (just in fragments), but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known (by God).”   

We do not understand everything and we never will. We don’t understand our own actions let alone the actions of others.

While reading the book of Exodus again with my wife Dawn the other day, we came across the story of Moses on the mountain with God. Moses wants to see the glory of God. The Lord responds to Moses with a no, but gives Moses the option of seeing God’s back as God walks by. A comforting image.

We may not see the presence of God while we are going through the day to day of life. But if we look back on our life, take a backward glance, we may see God’s hand throughout our journey.

We seem to have this quest for knowledge, to have all the answers. We are not comfortable living in the mystery that we don’t have all the answers and we never will.

In the meantime, as the song goes, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

-Pastor Kalland

April 21 - Musical Devo

My Song in the Night, arranged by Paul Christiansen
Performed by the Senior Choir with soloist, Luke Randall, baritone, on April 7, 2019.

Paul J. Christiansen, arranger of this anthem, was the son of the well known F. Melius Christiansen who is often referred to as the creator of the a cappella style of choral music sung throughout the world today. Similarities can be heard in the father and son’s compositions as Paul J. began his studies with his father at a very early age and was immersed in the St. Olaf choral tradition before attending Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, N.Y.

For most listeners and singers of choral music, the Christiansen style is easily recognizable. The detailed sensitivity to the syllabic setting of the text and the fullness and warmth of the full chordal harmonies are examples. It is apparent in the writing that the voice was a beloved instrument and was used in a manner which would bring out the color and warmth of the human voice.

It is the text, taken from a Southern folk-hymn, which draws me to this anthem. Music has a way of bringing the spirit of Christ to us in a tangible manner. In the times when we are in the darkest of nights, when our fears and doubts consume us, when we wander and lose our way, it is Jesus who offers the comfort and presence that we long for. Christ’s music of love, grace, and comfort seeps into our souls and becomes our song in the night.

O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night,
Come to us with Thy tender love, my soul’s delight.
Unto Thee, O Lord, in affliction I call,
My comfort by day, and my song in the night.

O why should I wander, an alien from Thee,
Or cry in the desert Thy face to see?
My comfort and joy, my soul’s delight,
O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

April 19 - Devotion

Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off for ever! Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression? For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground. Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love. -Psalm 44:23-26

Prayers of lament in the Bible are included as faithful witnesses of life in relationship to God and neighbor.  It may seem strange to assert this truth, since the prayers seem to convey huge anger, grief, frustration, and harsh accusation toward God. Any who grew up learning to avoid voicing direct conflict with others may find it especially offensive reading ill feelings directed so pointedly at God. Yet, the lament Psalms are included in the scriptural witness as faithful expressions.

This past week, there was much cause for lament. Yet another unarmed Black man, Daunte Wright, age 20, was shot and killed by police in our metro community. Brooklyn Center rails, wails, and weeps. Black and Brown bodies across the nation overflow with grief from trauma upon trauma upon trauma. Alongside that, the school district of my rural Minnesota hometown was back to distanced-learning due to Covid outbreaks.  An NPR radio program revealed nearly 45% of American White Evangelical Christians, who represent upward of 40 million people in our nation, remain against receiving the vaccines.1

It all warrants lament. “Wake up, God!” the Psalmist shouts. We might also plea, “Wake us up, God!”

The promise of lament is that God can take it, and God listens. How about us? Will we listen? Will we individually and collectively embody the lament and work toward redemption in steadfast love. Lament with the grief. Rest as moments are available. Confess what needs changing. Rise again to work for love.

Redeem us, O God, for the sake of your steadfast love. Amen.

-Pastor Ruud


1″ Lacking Faith: White Evangelicals And The COVID-19 Vaccine”, https://the1a.org/segments/white-evangelicals-covid-vaccine/

April 14 - Musical Devo

Be Still by composer Mary McDonald

Performed by the Senior Choir on March 11, 2018

This anthem by Mary McDonald is based on Psalm 46:10. The verse is perhaps familiar to many and is often used as a prayer or a devotional mantra, “Be still and know that I am God.” And while the eight words of the scripture in itself are comforting, it is the additional words of the lyricist, Herb Frombach, which heightens and enhances the description of a loving and caring God.

Be still and know that I will comfort you 
when you come to Me in your hour of need.

Be still and know that I am here for you; 
and I will wipe your tears; you will be renewed. 

I am present in your pain 
and I always will remain your Comforter and Friend. 

Mary McDonald sets these lyrics to beautiful melodic vocal lines with lush harmonies in the choral writing and the accompaniment. An interesting compositional choice McDonald uses is the strong sustained low bass octave that is played on the piano on the first beat of nearly every measure. The repetition of that solid foundation of pitch throughout the piece can serve as a reminder of the constant presence and love of God. May the low sonorities and the comforting text remind us of the promise of a God who never leaves, and who remains beside us through all things. Listen, remember, and live with hope!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

April 12 - Devotion

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. -Hebrews 12:1-2

A few weeks ago in worship, Pastor Lose compared the pandemic to sports and used all sorts of sports analogies to remind us that we are nearing the end and that we can finish strong. I love sports, and one of the things I love best about sports is the enthusiasm of the crowd. As a former runner, I know that the spirit of a crowd can usher athletes down the home stretch right when they feel they might “hit the wall.”

It helps to have cheerleaders in life! Cheerleaders pick you up when you’re down, they believe in you when you feel unworthy, they remind you that God loves you more than you can even imagine and never lets you go.

Exactly three years ago today, my dad died. He was one of my greatest cheerleaders and I wondered how I’d manage when I didn’t get to see him in the flesh anymore. Well, wouldn’t you know, God’s great cloud of witnesses showed up. They showed up with messages, notes, phone calls, and the like and became tangible reminders of God’s grace.

We all need cheerleaders! We all need a cloud of witnesses. We all need each other, and this past year, we’ve realized that more than ever.  As we come down the home stretch of the pandemic, I hope that you, people of Mount Olivet, know how encouraging you have been to me. Thanks for being lights and messengers of God’s grace. In the face of disappointment, change and loss, you continue to bring reminders of God’s love wherever you go.

Dear God, thank you for surrounding us with such a great cloud of witnesses. Help us to keep encouraging one another by sharing your redeeming, healing, and life-giving love with the world. Amen. 

-Pastor Freeman

April 5 - Devotion

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” -John 20:21-22

I have a friend who describes Easter as the Church’s Super Bowl. That makes a certain sense to me, as it is the culmination of our journey through the forty-day season of Lent, the climax of the awe and drama of Holy Week, and celebrated with all the joy and hoopla of a major sporting event. But that analogy soon falls short. For while Easter is the culmination and climax of the Christian year, it is not its conclusion. In fact, it is just the beginning. Because once Jesus has been raised from the dead, everything is different. Easter reminds us that God’s love is more powerful than hate, that God’s light is more powerful than the darkness, and that God’s life is more powerful than even death itself. In short, there is nothing that can stop God’s love, light, and life. And knowing that – believing that – makes a difference.

Which is why Easter is just the beginning. Just the beginning of all kinds of ways of serving others. Just the beginning of allowing the love of Christ to infuse our everyday lives so that it spills out in our words and deed. Just the beginning of experiencing the power and promise of Christ’s resurrection spur us on in our efforts to work for a world where all of God’s children are treated with dignity. Just the beginning of dreaming what God would like to accomplish in and through Mount Olivet church.

At the close of St. John’s story of the first Easter, Jesus gathers the disciples together, not to congratulate them or to receive their congratulations, but to commission them as his witnesses and empower them with his Spirit. Jesus is still doing that, gathering his disciples at Mount Olivet to commission us to bear witness to the grace, power, and love of the resurrection in our worship, outreach, fellowship and more, and equipping us for another century of faithful ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because Easter is just the beginning!

-Pastor Lose

Good Friday Tenebrae Service - April 2, 2021

This Good Friday Tenebrae Service features a reading of the Passion Story by our Mount Olivet pastors. After each portion of this moving story is read, a pastor will extinguish another candle on the Tenebrae table symbolizing the great sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf on the cross. The beautiful music is offer by Mount Olivet’s Dr. Richard Owen, organist, and Dr. Luke Randall, baritone.

Maundy Thursday Holy Communion Service - April 1, 2021

Maundy Thursday commemorates the day on which Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper with his disciples on the evening before his crucifixion. The term “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum (“command”) and refers to Jesus’ commandment to his disciples: “Love one another as I have loved you.” This worship service is a service of Holy Communion with a sermon from Senior Pastor David Lose.

Seven Last Words of Christ - March 31, 2021

This audio recording of the 2019 performance of The Seven Last Words of Christ includes images of various artwork, and new meditations from our Mount Olivet pastors. This recording features the Cathedral Choir with Alumni, soloists Amanda Jenkins, Brian Ohnsorg, and Justin Staebell. The presentation of this oratorio is a Holy Week tradition that has been part of Mount Olivet for over 70 years. Please enjoy!

Lenten Midweek Service - March 31, 2021

Faith Practices

Each Wednesday our Lenten Midweek services will include a brief message from one of our Mount Olivet Pastors sharing information of some common faith practices all of which are marks of our discipleship.

Today’s message is from Pastor Kalland talking about Care, Comfort, & Consolation. Please enjoy!

Lenten Midweek Service - March 24, 2021

Faith Practices

Each Wednesday our Lenten Midweek services will include a brief message from one of our Mount Olivet Pastors sharing information of some common faith practices all of which are marks of our discipleship.

Today’s message is from Pastor MacLean talking about Service. Please enjoy!

Lenten Midweek Service - March 17, 2021

Faith Practices

Each Wednesday our Lenten Midweek services will include a brief message from one of our Mount Olivet Pastors sharing information of some common faith practices all of which are marks of our discipleship.

Today’s message is from Pastor Hammersten talking about Bible Study. Please enjoy!

Lenten Midweek Service - March 10, 2021

Faith Practices

Each Wednesday our Lenten Midweek services will include a brief message from one of our Mount Olivet Pastors sharing information of some common faith practices all of which are marks of our discipleship.

Today’s message is from Pastor Ruud talking about Almsgiving. Please enjoy!

Lenten Midweek Service - March 3, 2021

Faith Practices

Each Wednesday our Lenten Midweek services will include a brief message from one of our Mount Olivet Pastors sharing information of some common faith practices all of which are marks of our discipleship.

Today’s message is from Pastor Freeman talking about Prayer. Please enjoy!

Lenten Midweek Service - February 24, 2021

Faith Practices

Each Wednesday our Lenten Midweek services will include a brief message from one of our Mount Olivet Pastors sharing information of some common faith practices all of which are marks of our discipleship.

Today’s message is from Pastor Dixon talking about Confession. Please enjoy!

Ash Wednesday Worship Service - February 17, 2021

Welcome – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Liturgist – Pastor Rebecca Freeman

Preaching Pastor – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Permission to reprint, podcast, and live stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-723604. All rights reserved.

Download the Ash Wednesday Bulletin

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Ash Wednesday Youth Worship Service - February 17, 2021

Welcome – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Liturgist – Pastor Charlie Ruud & Pastor Rebecca Freeman

Permission to reprint, podcast, and live stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-723604. All rights reserved.

Download the Ash Wednesday Youth Bulletin

February 15 - Devotion

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. -Psalm 139:7-8

Lent is different this year. Everything has been different for so long. One of my fiercest prayers is that different does not become “new normal.” I take comfort, though, that Lent is always new and always old. That is the beauty of our church seasons, the cycle that repeats over and over as time goes on and the world changes. No matter the historical particularities of the moment, Lent is always a time for repentance, a time to humble ourselves and confess the ways we fail each other and fall short of God’s intended glory. It is also a time to give thanks for our God who is merciful year in and year out, who receives us with grace despite our perennial sinfulness.

This year, this Lent, I confess that I have grown weary and in my weariness I have failed to love my neighbors as myself. Have you experienced that yourselves? Missing the regular refreshments we enjoyed (took for granted?) for so long, our spirits are more easily depleted. I have also witnessed incredible outpourings of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, in and around Mount Olivet, and so this Lent I give thanks that God does not abandon us even in the darkest valleys full of shadows. I give thanks that God’s Spirit can sustain us beyond what we think we can endure. I give thanks that God’s Spirit can enliven us in the face of death and bless us so abundantly that life can spill over into the world around us. As Mount Olivet feeds the hungry this Lent, I give thanks. As we as a congregation continue to share the Word of God (and with a wider audience than ever before!), I give thanks. And I remember that this is God’s work, and we stand always in need of God’s help.

God, we ask that you would remain faithful as you have always been. Remind us of our need for you and each other. See us through to a better morning in this world and the next. Amen.

-Pastor Dixon

February 10 - Musical Devo

The King of Love My Shepherd Is by Dan Forrest
Performed by Luke Randall, baritone

The King of Love My Shepherd Is, arranged by Dan Forrest, is one of numerous choral and vocal arrangements of this beloved and well known hymn text. The text was written by Sir Henry Williams Baker, 3rd Baronet (1821 – 1877), and set to an ancient Irish tune. Baker was an English hymn writer and the editor-in-chief of the Anglican Hymns Ancient and Modern in which he contributed hymns, tunes, and translations.

As a poet, his style was found in the simplicity of language and the evenness of the rhythm. Most of his writing had a tender undertone of sadness, yet a calm peace about them. It is said that his last audible words, which he spoke from his deathbed, were the third stanza of his rendering of the 23rd Psalm, The King of Love My Shepherd Is:
Perverse and foolish, oft I strayed, but yet in love He sought me,
And on His Shoulder gently laid, and home, rejoicing, brought me.

Dan Forrest seems to match the tone of Baker’s writing by introducing the first two verses in a simple manner with likewise accompaniment. It is in the transition to the final verse where Forrest creates a beautiful harmonic transposition that builds and culminates in the confident singing of the hopeful and assuring promise of everlasting life:
And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd may I sing Thy praise within Thy house forever.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

February 8 - Devotion

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness-on them a light has shined.”  -Isaiah 9:2

The past few weeks – actually months – have been a time like no other in my life.  With political divisions and a pandemic raging we may feel like people who live in darkness. If darkness means a sense of uncertainty, of being lost, vulnerable, afraid; if darkness means conflict between people, races, nations, then we are people who sit in darkness. “If we are people who pray,” Frederick Buechner says, “darkness is apt to be a lot of what our prayers are about.”

In these seemingly dark times, how do I affirm God’s goodness, God’s love, and God’s presence in this kind of world? Well, first of all, I serve others. It gives me peace. Jesus says, “You shall love the Lord… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” These go together. It’s one commandment. Mount Olivet is currently serving almost 2,000 meals per week to our neighbors whose lives have been altered by the pandemic. I’ll never forget the mother who told me in December, through her tears, that we are light to her family’s darkness right now. Love God and love (serve) your neighbor. Pretty simple.


But then I turn to the news and social media. Darkness fills that, too. It seems easy for many to label a person by their perceived political leaning, which makes it easy to remove their humanity. They then become a position, which is then easier to discount. A pastor friend said to me that when he hears or reads something he disagrees with, he whispers a silent prayer to the author and then moves on. I thought, “What a novel idea!”  Would that help all of us to see more clearly all who are pronounced blessed and loved by God? Because lashing out hasn’t been fulfilling for me.

And then I turn to the great promise from the Gospel of Luke 1:78-79. By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, (on you and on me, on all of us) to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

In other words, darkness doesn’t have the last word. It never will. Thanks be to God! Amen.

-Pastor MacLean

February 3 - Musical Devotion

Praise His Holy Name! by Keith Hampton
Performed by the Cathedral and Chancel Choirs on May 14, 2017

Praise His Holy Name is one of the many pieces published by earthsongs, a catalog of multicultural choral music. Written by Keith Hampton, the work is an original gospel composition filled with all the joy and energy we come to expect when listening to gospel praise music.

Musically, the piece is filled with syncopation, accented text, numerous repeated choruses, and a fun layering of voices for the Coda (translated from Italian as “tail” and in musical terms referring to the concluding musical section of the piece). As with most gospel music, the male voice generally sings in a high tenor range and often in a falsetto (another Italian term translated as “false” and is defined as singing notes beyond the normal vocal range). This vocal requirement makes Praise His Holy Name a perfect piece in which to join vocal forces with the younger and often higher voiced Chancel Choir tenors and baritones. By the end of the recording it’s hard not to be clapping along – Enjoy!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

February 1 - Devotion

Election years always seem to foment division.  Most years it simmers just below the surface, but this year it all boiled over into a sticky-rice mess. Blue and Red. Us and Them. Truth or Lies. Good Guys and Bad Guys. The tragedy, of course, is that this year, more than any before, we all crave connection, community, and LOVE.

Last week we hopped in the car and headed south to spend a few days with my mom. I’m quite sure we saw more people on the road than we’ve seen since last March! I loooove people watching! Nothing makes my heart happier! Every single one of them created in God’s image! We each hold different thoughts and values, likes and dislikes, priorities and fears and beliefs. No two people are exactly the same and that is what makes it so exciting! Each and every one of us God’s beloved children.

In Iowa, a big man in camo sweatpants and a MAGA hat held the door for us at a gas station. In Kentucky, a petite man who spoke no English tugged at my arm and pointed first to the door frame and then to my tall son, worried that he’d hit his head. And in Georgia, just before midnight, a gal with a thick southern accent greeted us with a welcoming smile ‘Hello sweetheart, I’ll bet you’re tired from traveling, come on in, your room’s all clean and ready for your family.’

Shortly after the election, whether our dreams were dashed or realized, all of us longing for healing.

1,723 miles of faces. Balm to my soul. Individually wrapped presents from God. Each one a reminder of our common humanity, goodness, and love.

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith? And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, ‘Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him? -Mark 4:39-41

-Pastor Hammersten

January 27 - Musical Devotion

Many Gifts, One Spirit  text and music by Allen Pote
Performed by the Cathedral Choir on September 29, 2019

Many Gifts, One Spirit has been a part of the standard repertoire for Cathedral Choir for many years. From a musical perspective, it is appreciated because it is written for 2-part mixed chorus, it is melodic, it has some repeated parts, and the tessitura – an Italian word in music that refers to the general range of pitches found in a melody or vocal part – is good for young voices.

All that being said, it is the text that seems to speak to the choir the most. Young people seem to understand the importance of accepting people’s differences whether it be race, gender identity, sexual orientation, or religion. They do not appear to be afraid of these differences, as more than likely they have friends and acquaintances who belong to a wide variety of all of the above. May their open hearts and acceptance of differences lead us all to a better world of unity.

Many gifts, many gifts one spirit, many songs, one voice.
Many reasons, one promise, many questions, one choice.
O God, we pray for unity, give guidance from above.
In our differences unite us in the circle of your love.
O God, remind us we are not alone.
Though we move on diff’rent pathways, we are walking to your throne.
Help us learn to love each other, show us ways to understand.
We are members of one family, growing strong by joining hands.
Take our many ways of working, blend the colors of each soul
into the beauty of a rainbow, give us life, Lord, make us whole.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

January 25 - Devotion

Wishing you are marvelous Monday. My lovely bride shared the following; it was from a collection of sayings from Richard and Linda Eyre’s book Daily Thanks.

“Not only can gratitude make us happy, it can make us good. It can give us the courage to hold out our hand, for there is no darkness in gratitude and no light in its absence.

How can we comprehend this more clearly? Try wadding up all bads into one wrap, labeled “self”: selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed, self-congratulating…And notice that someone all wrapped up in themselves makes a very small package.

Then on the opposite sided of the box: empathy, humility, love, honesty…all flowing from gratitude. Can you think of an evil person who was grateful? Or of a proud, unappreciative one who was good? Could it be that the mere practice of thanks-giving, the deliberate effort to see through a gratitude lens, makes bad folks good and good folks better? And gives us the honesty to be exactly who we are?

It is intuitive to know that loving more and thanking more lifts the receiver even as it builds the giver. But just thinking about it won’t do it. It is the application that brings the accumulation. Overflowing love and thanks creates the inflow of character.”

We’ve been given the gift of faith. The Holy Spirit empowers us to do for others, not because we have to, because we get to. My friend, Lenny, entered the joy of heaven at the end of last year. He had been through a great deal in his life. He would be the first one to tell you he was “selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed, self-congratulating.” By God’s grace he experienced new life. He became a man full of gratitude, constantly doing for others. Hours before he died I asked him why he was so generous…so full of gratitude. His response was, “I’ve come to realize God put us here to bring joy to others.”

What a way to live a life, being filled with the Holy Spirit living a life of gratitude. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine…”

-Pastor Kalland


January 20 - Musical Devotion

He Never Failed Me Yet by Ray Roberts
Performed by the Senior Choir with Robert Robinson, soloist, and Sam Reeves, pianist

This musical devotion recording is from the CD “Robert Robinson: A Celebration of Praise.” In 2010 the Senior Choir of Mount Olivet Church and the adult choir from St. Joan of Arc participated in this LIVE concert recording.

Composer Robert Ray is a conductor, pianist, teacher, and lecturer. He graduated from Northwestern University in 1968 with a degree in piano performance and spent much of his musical career as a pianist and accompanist. He is perhaps best known for the part he played in bringing African American gospel music to the mainstream concert stage. Two of his most well known compositions are the Gospel Mass and this anthem, He Never Failed Me Yet. 

Mount Olivet choirs have sung this anthem with Robert Robinson for many years and it continues to be a favorite of the choirs as well as the congregation. The anthem’s musical form is typical for many Gospel songs and consists of a repeated chorus between verses. The text exclaims the positive and hopeful message of God’s faithfulness, especially in times of trouble. Throughout the second verse, the composer uses examples of Old Testament individuals who endured many “dangers, toils and snares,” and encourages us to believe that God will do the same for us.

Considering the composer’s own pianistic proficiency, it is easy to understand and hear how the accompaniment plays a significant role in the joyful and energetic mood of the piece. In this recording, Sam Reeves demonstrates with his exceptional ability in improvisation not only his immense talents, but testifies to the musical significance of the accompaniment as an equal partner with the singers.

During times of challenge and trial, the simple yet truthful directive to “trust and never doubt” is an uncomplicated and comforting thought. Listen today to hear the joy and praise for the very real promise of God’s protection and faithfulness.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

January 18 - Devotion

Today our nation honors the life and witness of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a Baptist preacher who heard and followed God’s call to advocate for greater justice for all God’s children. On this day, I wonder what he would say and do in response recent events. Less than two weeks ago, US citizens stormed the Capitol building to disrupt our democratic processes, erected a gallows outside the seat of our government, waved a Confederate flag in the rotunda, displayed racist symbols openly, and called for violence against our Vice President and other elected officials. It’s probably fair to assume that Rev. Dr. King would feel we still have a long way to go before realizing his dream – God’s dream – of a world where we judge one another not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character.

As I survey and grieve recent events, words from Psalm 46 come to mind:
“The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge” (v6-7).

This Psalm, a favorite of faithful people for thousands of years, proclaims the Emmanuel, the God who is with us, in every age. It recalls that God is the ruler of all things, over everyone and everything, no matter what we may do to each other through the darkness of our hearts. It proclaims hope in, through, and beyond the tottering. It says God is still near. And it exhorts us to take refuge in the overwhelming love of who God is for all people. Verse 10 says it well: “Be still and know that I am God.”

As Dr. King put it in 1967, “When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.

May it be so for all of us. Let us pray the light and love of Christ grants us courage when the world seems to totter and confidence that God is still our refuge, a very present help in trouble.

-Pastor Ruud


January 14 - Musical Devotion

Hope and Quietly Wait, by Paul John Rudoi and Thad Fiscella
Performed by the Senior Choir on October 16, 2016

Tim Schmidt, a member of the National Lutheran Choir, commissioned the anthem, Hope and Quietly Wait, for the Choir in 2014 in memory of his father. The work began as a piano piece written by Thad Fiscella and served as the inspiration for the choral anthem by Paul John Rudoi.

Tim’s father had been a pastor and had suffered from years of dementia before his passing. Through the commission, he wanted to honor both his father and the promise of the inescapable love of God which was a part of his father’s long-held beliefs. The majority of the lyrics come from Romans 8:38-39 which Tim lovingly summarizes as, “memory may fade, the body may dissolve, but there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God.”

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons, 
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God.

As we were rehearsing this piece it became obvious that most, if not all of us, had experienced or witnessed this kind of loss in an acquaintance or a loved one. With the wide variety of dynamics, the unison chant-like lines that often grow into long sweeping lines and emotive harmonies, the music perfectly reflects what Tim states as, “the act of watching a loved one come in and out of consciousness – moving over the horizon in a hazy passage from life to death.” While the text is hopeful and strong, the music carries the emotional pain of the loss, and at times it became difficult to sing as the human voice reflects emotion in a manner which cannot always be concealed. But with time, the choir was able to share the work with the congregation on Mental Health Sunday in 2016.

The opening and final statement of the anthem beautifully and appropriately utilizes text from Lamentations 3:26. It is good that one should hope, should both hope, and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord. During these times before us, may we too begin and end our days with this gentle reminder.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

January 11 - Devotion

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray.” -Luke 11:1

Every week in worship, we are reminded that God has given us the gift of prayer. When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them how to best pray, he offered what we now call “The Lord’s Prayer.”

German theologian, Helmut Theielicke, called the Lord’s Prayer “the prayer that spans the world” and “the prayer that spans all time.” It reaches forward in hope to the future God has promised, but it also reaches into our daily existence as we live lives marked with the cross of Christ. Theielicke offered several sermons on the Lord’s Prayer in Stuttgart, Germany, during the last days of World War II as the horrors of the air raids of Nazi Germany continued. He reminded the congregations of the promise that is beyond what meets the eye. His preaching passionately shared the truth that our faith is in Christ, not in human beings or human power. The suffering and horrors of World War II proved our desperate need for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Last week, we witnessed a similarly unsettling day at the United States Capitol, a day that illustrates that our faith is in Christ alone, not in human structures or beings.

Jesus knows that there will be circumstances in our lives when we will not know what to do or how to pray, so Jesus clearly shows us the way.

If you find yourself overwhelmed or discouraged lately, I urge you to simply turn to Jesus and pray the words that He has given us:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those
who trespass against us. 

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

-Pastor Freeman

January 6 - Musical Devotion

The Lord Is My Light, by Frances Allitsen
Performed by soloist Justin Staebell, Baritone

With today being the actual day of Epiphany, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to feature the vocal solo, The Lord is My Light by Frances Allitsen and sung by Mount Olivet soloist, Justin Staebell, baritone. The composer, Mary Bumpus, who published under the pseudonym of Frances Allitsen (1848-1912), was born in London and raised in a small village by a family who did not support her interest in music. After a failed time as a singer, she turned her energies to teaching and composition and became known for over 50 published songs, large orchestral works, and numerous pieces for solo piano.

One of her most well-known solos, The Lord is My Light, is based on Psalm 27 where the first opening lines speak not only to the protection that God provides, but claims God as the light to our path and the source of our salvation.

The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom, then shall I fear?
The Lord is the strength of my life. Of whom then shall I be afraid?

Further in the song, there is a beautiful musical passage which claims the protection that is provided to us in times of trouble. The text speaks to the promise that God will protect us during times of struggle or darkness and is certainly a message that is comforting to us today. The music and the voice not only portray the beauty of God’s protection, but then builds and sweeps us up to the promise of being set high above all that concerns or threatens us.

For in the time of trouble, He shall hide me in His tabernacle.
Yea, in the secret places of His dwelling shall He hide me,
And set me up upon a rock of stone.

May listening to this song bring you the hope and courage needed for today, believing that God’s light and love is with us always.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

January 4 - Devotion

Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. – Isaiah 40:30-3

Nothing in the Christian faith says that life will not be difficult. There are many times I wish it did. I wish, that is, that faith in Christ and trust in God meant that life would be easy, or at least easier than it often is. But that’s not the promise. The promise is that God is with us during times of challenge, will not abandon us when we fall short or lose confidence, and will accompany us through all things, eventually and ultimately bringing us even through death to new life.

Isaiah admits as much, reminding us that even the strongest among us – the youth who normally would have the most energy – will at times be exhausted and will feel like they can’t go on. But that exhaustion – along with our struggles, challenges, and griefs – do not have the last word. Those who trust in God may not be exempt from strife, but they will overcome it, have their strength renewed, their confidence restored, and will experience God’s presence once again.

As eager as I am to leave this past year behind us and lean into the new year with hope and expectation, I am reminded that even as 2020 had its share of blessings amid so many challenges, so 2021 will have moments of hardship even as we move through and out of the pandemic that has so dominated our lives to a better and easier time. Through it all – hardship and hope, struggle and blessing – God is with us. God is with us and for us, renewing our strength, enlivening our faith, and granting us courage, compassion, and vision sufficient to all that may come.

Blessed New Year!

Pastor Lose

November 25 - A Musical Devotion


Yes, My Jesus Loves Me arr. Mary MacDonald
Performed by Carah Hart, soprano, on September 15, 2019

Since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, today seems like a good opportunity to feature a song that takes us back to the basics of our faith. In John 15:9, Jesus states, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.”

The lyrics for Jesus Loves Me were written in 1860 by Anna Bartlett Warner. It was later set to music by William Bradbury where he added the repeated text, “Yes, Jesus loves me,” in order to create a musical refrain or chorus.

For many of us, this holiday is going to look and feel different than any we have had in the past. It seems the pandemic has required all of us to examine what we truly consider the basics of life. Perhaps that thought has translated into more time with our kids or additional time to cook or read. Hopefully, it has also allowed us convenient moments to watch or rewatch the online worship services, or listen to one of the Bible Studies, or simply pause, give thanks, and pray more regularly.

May this musical devotion today provide you with a message that serves as an anchor to our faith. We are loved unconditionally, and for that simple message, we are restored and thankful.  Happy Thanksgiving!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

November 23 - A Devotion

“So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.” – John 16:22

I take it this may be a different kind of Thanksgiving for many people this week. It may be particularly difficult for those who look forward annually to the presence of family from different places, celebrating a time of reconnection, hugging and squeezing beloved faces so rarely gathered under one roof.

At the same time, for others it may be more routine. Holidays like this are frequently a reminder of grief. Feelings of loneliness and unfulfilled hopes in the holidays are more common than we often acknowledge.

For this reason, I appreciate the “real talk” Jesus gives his disciples in the Gospel of John before he dies. He doesn’t make light of the grief and loss the disciples will encounter. Instead, he names it. “You have pain now.” So maybe a word of grace for this year at least is to name these truths. This year’s celebrations will likely be different. Our collective gatherings may not be as robust. Many will not be around tables, and others will try to gather in the chilly outdoors in hopes of keeping everyone healthy. Surely, it may be sad and frustrating.

And, yet, it is what we have been given for this time.

I find the words of Jesus guide us to allow the difficulty to be what it is. After all, any railing against it will likely only cause more distress.

And yet, Jesus also points to the joy which is still at hand. The truth is, the grief exists because of deep love, and that’s still worth celebrating. This year, many of us will need to celebrate differently, perhaps via technological mediums or with less time spent and people present. We have pain in it, yes, and yet it does not negate the love we hold and wish to share.

My prayer for this week is that we do what is best to show love in the ways which are possible, and to soak it up, even in more minimal amounts. And thank God for the love of what has been, and so too, which is yet to come.

Blessed Thanksgiving, you beloved people of God
-Pastor Ruud

November 18 - A Musical Devotion


This Little Light of Mine
Performed by the Senior Choir with vocalist Robert Robinson and pianist, Sam Reeves on February 11, 2018

This Little Light of Mine is often considered a Gospel song, but the precursor to black Gospel music was the African American spiritual which this anthem represents. When enslaved Africans were introduced to the Christian religion the emergence of spirituals and then gospel music was born in this country.

There is some thought that the theme of the text may have come from Jesus’s remarks in Matthew 5:14-16. “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

The song has been applied throughout the years to many struggles since its beginnings, but most importantly it was an anthem of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and recently was sung by protestors before a crowd of white supremacists gathered for the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA in 2018.

Through listening may we all feel the desire to join in and become people of light, people who strive to bring hope and equality to all throughout the world.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

November 16 - A Devotion

“Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight.” -Psalm 119:143

Psalm 119 is the longest of the Psalms and the longest chapter in the Bible. Its opening verse is probably familiar to you: “Happy are those…who walk in the way of the Lord.” This sentiment is echoed 142 verses later when the psalmist sings, “Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight.” Trouble and anguish have certainly been upon us, haven’t they? It might feel like a curse to live through such interesting times, but we must remember that it is a blessing beyond imagining simply to live at all. So what will we do with this life? Follow our own instincts and drag one another into pain and struggle and suffering? Or will we, like the psalmist, trust that God’s commandments are given not to control or enslave us, but to guide us into a better, happier, freer life in this world? We have been commanded—no, we have been called!—to love God with all that we have and to love our neighbors as ourselves. That way lies joy and peace and justice.

God, keep waiting patiently and mercifully for us to listen to your commandments, and in the meantime keep your Holy Spirit among us. Amen.

-Pastor Dixon

November 11 - A Musical Devotion


Without Love by Allan Robert Petker
Performed by Cathedral Choir with Julie Johnson on February 24, 2019

The anthem Without Love is based on I Corinthians, Chapter 13. The Apostle Paul was writing to a community of people who were not getting along. There was discord and rivalry among members of the congregation in Corinth, and he offered this “ode to love” to help bridge the differences and diversity in the group. Paul’s words didn’t just describe love; they were also a call to action. In short, he states that our gifts are useless if not conducted in love, our actions mean nothing if our motivation is not founded in love, and there is no fruit to our ministry if love is not leading us. As Petker writes,

Without love, every voice is but noise. Without love, every good is but gone.
Without love, every faith is but folly. Without love, Hope can’t go on.
Without Love, we are nothing, without love.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music



To echo Pastor Freeman’s devotion from this past Monday, there are three words for “love” in Greek. Philia describes the love of good friends or siblings and is the root of “Philadelphia,” the “city of brotherly love.” Eros names the intense and romantic feelings of lovers. Agape, the word Paul employs, is little used beyond the writings of the New Testament. It describes the unconditional and sacrificial love of a parent for a child, and Paul uses it to describe both the love God has for us and the love we are called to share with each other. It is the kind of love, as Paul writes, “that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (v7.)

As you listen to the musical devotion today, you might take a moment to think of those who have sacrificed in love to make it possible for you to be who you are today – perhaps a parent, grandparent, colleague, or friend – and take a moment to give God thanks for that person. On this Veterans Day, we might also remember – and give God thanks for – those who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in the cause of democracy and pledge ourselves to protecting it today. Finally, we might remember that Paul’s premiere example for this kind of agape-love was Jesus, the one who gave his life that we might live with hope. Truly, as Paul writes, that kind of love never ends.

-Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

November 9 - A Devotion

“And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

It seems like everything in this world is longing for a bit of love these days. Because the English language only has one word for love, we’re not too specific about the kind of love we’re looking for. In Greek, you see, there are several words for love.  “Eros” is the romantic kind of love, “philia” is the brotherly, sisterly, or friendly kind of love.  But it is “agape” love that the apostle Paul talks about in this passage to the Corinthian church.

It’s interesting that this passage is so often used at weddings, because Paul is actually addressing the Corinthian community when they are in quite a bit of conflict. The passage reminds us that when everything seems overwhelming, three things do abide – faith, hope and love – and he says, the greatest of these is love.

So how does love abide when we’re depleted, in conflict, or told that we’re doormats if we choose this countercultural way?

It’s only possible with God….but it is possible. God is the source. We are the vessels. God gave God’s only Son as a gift of love so that we would know just what unconditional, agape love, would look like. Agape love changes things, for it knows no bounds, no rationality, no limits, no divides. And when we experience it, we want to share it with the world. So, to close, I will share one of my absolute favorite pieces on love by Jesuit priest, Pedro Arrupe, called, “Falling in Love.” May it bless you as it blesses me when I long for a bit of tangible God-inspired love.

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

God loves you, Mount Olivet! May you share that love with the world!

-Pastor Freeman

November 4 - A Musical Devotion


The Lord is My Light by Craig Courtney
Performed by Cathedral Choir on February 24, 2019

The anthem The Lord is My Light is based on Psalm 27:1-6 and, interestingly, is set almost verbatim to the scripture, which is uncommon in musical compositions. The anthem opens with a repeated eighth note pattern in the piano introduction and sets the mood for the excited proclamation of the Lord as our strength and protector. In the vivid description of being attacked and pursued by “evildoers” and “adversaries,” the piano keeps the dramatic energy high with the ascending running sixteenth notes, so much so that you can almost feel the arrows whizzing by: “Though an army besiege me, though war break out against me, my heart will not fear!”

At the center of the anthem is a beautiful change of mood and text reflecting the humble request of the singer: “One thing I ask, one thing I seek of the Lord: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.” It is as if suddenly, given a respite from the battle, the singer has an opportunity to give thanks for the protection and seeks to live as a follower of the Lord forever.

From this point on, the music continues to build and one can feel the confidence and commitment of the author as the text proclaims, “He will set me high upon a rock. Then shall my head be exalted above my enemies around about me; I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” With renewed conviction, the music leads us back to the opening text and rounds off with the loud declaration of, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, the Lord is my light!”

This anthem has always been well received by the Cathedral Choir. I believe some of that immediate response is due to the quick engagement that is required to sing it, but also, I suspect, because it is easy for them to relate to the text. The author is searching for a protector and is often feeling attacked and in need of support and courage. Who of us doesn’t yearn for that? Through this anthem, we not only proclaim the promise of God’s protection but ask to dwell with Him all the days of our lives. I cannot think of a more perfect text for us to sing together as a family of faith.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

November 2 - A Devotion

“Always be ready to share the reasons for the hope that lives within you, and do so with gentleness and respect.” – 1 Peter 3:15-16

There are a lot of ways to share our hope. Sometimes it’s by telling others you’ve been praying for them, or by inviting them to watch an online service or participate in a Bible study. And at other times, it may simply be a willingness to stay positive when there is so much that is negative, to offer an encouraging word when others are discouraged, and to name the hopeful signs of God’s activity you see in the people and world around you.

Just now, on the eve of a bitterly partisan election and in the deepening grip of the pandemic, those around us need us to share our hope. Sometimes I’ve heard verse 15 from the passage above – “always be ready to share the reasons for the hope that lives within you” – used as an excuse to bully people into believing. But verse 16 reminds us that we are called to share our hope in a way that is positive, respectful, and caring. And when we share hope, amazing things happen. Hope, faith and love, you see, multiply as they are shared and, together, create a new reality.

I’ve heard that during the Napoleonic wars of the early 1800s, one of Napoleon’s generals suddenly appeared with eighteen thousand soldiers at the gates of an Austrian town which had no means of defense. The town council had nearly decided to surrender when the local priest reminded them that it was Easter and begged them to hold services as usual and to leave the trouble in God’s hands. They did. Upon hearing the church bells ringing joyfully, the French commanders concluded that an Austrian army had come to save the town and so departed before the bells had ceased ringing.

Tomorrow, on election day, Mount Olivet will be ringing “bells of hope” at 9am, 12noon, 3pm, 6pm, and 9pm as a reminder to pray for our election process, for our elected leaders, and for peace and understanding in the days to come. We do so because we hope and believe that, no matter how this particular election turns out, God is at work through our democratic structures and government to care for the people and world God loves.

-Pastor Lose

October 28 - A Musical Devotion


Beside a Stream of Living Water arr. Thomas Keesecker
Performed by Cathedral Choir on February 16, 2020

Beside a Stream of Living Water uses a melody that most will recognize. The tune, Shenandoah, is a simple yet beautiful American Folksong that has been set to many different texts. This particular anthem, with lyrics by Nancy Kraft, draws a direct correlation between the church and, interestingly, to a tree – a tree of God’s blest people that grows by grace through the abounding love of God. One of my favorite verses speaks to the history of the tree and relates the rings of growth found on a tree to the church and its people.

So many rings, a living history, some are thin from years of struggle. 
Some circle wide from times of plenty. By grace, it grows by grace, 
The love of God abounding.

The verse causes me to wonder what the rings of our tree/congregation will look like after this year. Perhaps the ring will be thin because so many of our regular church activities have had to change. But it is possible that the ring will actually show a wide grain of growth from activities that we had never even considered before.

Perhaps you are one of the 550 who have signed up for a Bible class, or maybe you are regularly watching online worship and going back throughout the week to listen or watch parts for a second time. Is it possible the pandemic has caused our minds and our hearts to turn more towards others as we actively feed over 1500 people each week through the community meals and share abundantly in our Greet-and-Give donation drives? While there are things we simply cannot do as a community of faith, there are still ways in which we can nourish and strengthen our faith as well as exercise it by putting it into action to serve others. May we continue to work together so that those who follow us will look back and see our witness of faithfulness, trust, strength, and perseverance in times of struggle.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

October 26 - A Devotion

“I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” -Ephesians 3:18-19

We are about to celebrate All Saints Sunday. It’s a day we pause to remember the saints who have gone before us. The people in our lives who have made a difference, the people who have helped us in our walk with Christ.

It’s a day to spend a little time with God in solitude and prayer and gratitude. Perhaps it can be a time for us to try to comprehend with all the saints the great love God has for us in Christ Jesus.

Perhaps it can also be a time to express gratitude to the living saints in our lives who help us in our walk with Christ today. Thanks for your partnership the Gospel of Jesus Christ and for making a difference in the lives of others.

Have a blessed All Saints Day.

-Pastor Kalland

October 21 - A Musical Devotion


In the Shadow of Your Wings by John Leavitt
Performed by the Cathedral Choir with Dana Donnay, oboe on March 31, 2019

The anthem, In the Shadow of Your Wings, by John Leavitt, is one of many from this composer’s considerable list of sacred choral writing. The work begins with a plaintive oboe line which sets the stage for the emotional journey that comes from listening to or singing the anthem. In addition to the hauntingly beautiful melody, which perfectly enhances the lyrics, it is the text that draws us into the work. Written by Phil Speary, a theater professor and actor, the lyrics are based on Psalm 57 and speak to the plea for help, as well as the refuge offered through God during times of considerable struggle and distress.

In the early years of my time as the director of Cathedral Choir, a situation happened with this anthem that has remained with me for years as an example of God’s presence in unexpected ways. One of the young men in the choir suffered from a mental illness diagnosis. It was difficult to watch him struggling and sometimes challenging to have him in rehearsal. It eventually came to the point where he had to be hospitalized in order to keep him safe. After many weeks of hospitalization, I received a phone call from the young man’s mother late on a Saturday evening. She was calling to let me know that he would be allowed to leave the hospital for a short time and that he wanted to attend church on Sunday morning and sing with the choir. She wanted to make sure that he would be welcomed since he had been absent for so long. Hearing how important it was to him to attend church and sing with the choir was touching, but it was only when I looked in my folder to confirm the anthem title for the morning that I realized the unexpected gift of God’s grace and love. It was In the Shadow of Your Wings and could not have been more fitting. I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to watch and hear this young man sing these words of God’s promise that morning. May this anthem bring to you today the comfort and assurance of God’s love and protection as I believe it did for that young singer years ago.

Gracious God be merciful,
O my God be merciful.
My soul is crying out to you.
My only refuge Lord is you, God most high. 

In the shadow of your wings, neath the shadow of your wings.
My soul finds rest from my deep distress.
My heart hides there till this darkness passes by.
I cry to God on high whose purpose is fulfilled for me.
He reaches down to save and reproaches him who threatens me.

Gracious God be merciful. My soul finds love and truth in you.
No other place of safety Lord but you.
In the shadow of your wings I hide.
O my God most high

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

October 19 - A Devotion

At the beginning of the story of Ruth, on the border of Moab, Naomi was empty, bitter, grieving. Ruth clung to Naomi, would not let go, and said to her, “Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die – there I will be buried” -Ruth 1:16-17

Ruth began picking up the pieces of a shattered life. She said to Naomi, “All I have to give you is myself. Where you go, I will go.”

Have you ever wondered why for years many banks, investment firms, and insurance companies have gone by the name “Fidelity?” They want us to believe, by their very name, that we can count on them to be reliable, trustworthy, and faithful in the goods and services they offer. Ruth lived a life of fidelity to Naomi. And because of that Naomi’s grief and bitterness turned to joy and hope.

Faithfulness can show up in unexpected people in unexpected ways. After all, Ruth herself was a non-Israelite foreigner, and immigrant from the land of Moab. Over the centuries Israel and the people of Moab were frequently enemies. Yet, Ruth, an immigrant from Moab, crosses prejudicial ethnic and religious boundaries to become a model of love and fidelity in ancient Israel.

The Book of Ruth proclaims that God is quietly and mysteriously at work through the everyday actions of faithful people. Who are the people who have been faithful in your life? How has God worked in and through them to sustain and restore your life? And who are the people to whom God calls you to be faithful, to live so that your life is a means of God’s blessing to them?  Faithful: That is what God calls each of us to be. Then God does the rest.

-Pastor MacLean

October 14 - A Musical Devotion


Seek Ye First by Karen Lafferty
Arranged by Douglas Wagner
Performed by the Cathedral Choir on September 22, 2019

The anthem, Seek Ye First, based on Matthew 6:33 and 7:7 is generally one of the first anthems of the season that Cathedral Choir learns and sings. The musical reasons are obvious: it is written for a two-part mixed choir, it has a familiar tune, especially for those who participated in Cathedral of the Pines Camp and, because of the vocal range for the tenor and bass sections, it allows the opportunity to discover and strengthen their upper register head voice, which is an important yet new skill for many. All in all, it is an anthem that can be quickly learned and polished in a few rehearsals and starts us on the path of good vocal learning and singing.

But, in addition to the musical reasons, the scriptural text is worth talking about, especially for young people, but also for all of us who may experience anxiety about the future or for those of us who are looking for reassurance through our faith. Matthew 6:33 states, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” This is followed in Matthew 7:7 by Jesus’ promise, “Ask and it shall be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.” 

Notice, in the particular, the verbs in these verses: seek, ask, search, knock. As Christians, we know that Christ has promised to love us, to be with us, and to support and care for us regardless of our circumstances. However, we are still invited to participate in building a relationship with God and in yearning to understand God’s ways. These gestures are also important in giving us the peace and reassurance that we are so desperately needing. So how does one find this peace? Perhaps it is in living out the verbs that are in the scripture – we seek, we ask, we search, and we knock… and we do all of those things by continuing to sing, to pray, to serve, and to study God’s Word believing that through those actions God’s presence appears more fully to us. Once we immerse ourselves into the ways of the kingdom of God, all things are added to us, just as promised. Alleluia!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

October 12 - A Devotion

“By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control…If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.” -Galatians 5:22-26

The saintly Mr. Rogers used to tell kids, “When the world seems too scary, look for the helpers.” Helpers were trusted adults—maybe teachers, neighbors, or nurses. Well the world seems pretty scary right now. So I’m looking for the helpers. The only problem is, it’s so hard to know whom to trust!

We’re bombarded from every angle with contradictory spin and obfuscation these days. One loud voice tells us one thing. Another louder voice tells us the exact opposite. You see something, and then are told you didn’t see what you just saw. You hear something, and then are told it really means something else. Chaos and misinformation are purposefully churned out in our world, and a lot of us end up feeling like we don’t know what to believe.

Put your trust in the Lord! Now more than ever, I have to remind myself that I can depend on the Lord, and the Holy Spirit he has sent to live among us. This Spirit maintains our communities, and makes possible the true proclamation of the Gospel in a world so addicted to mistruth. This Spirit also preserves people in faith, and manifests in them the fruit of that transformative trust in God.

Many will claim this Spirit, claim this faith, and use that claim to put on a mantle of authority. How can we know whom to trust? For me, I look to see where the Spirit is at work. And how do we recognize the Spirit’s activity in this world? By the fruits. Where you see love—the kind of love that is patient and kind, that does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude or self-seeking—there is the Spirit. Where you see joy—not joy in other’s pain or weakness, but true joy that celebrates the holiness of this life we share together—there is the Spirit. Those who live peacefully, generously, faithfully, and gently, they have been guided by the Spirit.

I will look to them for help, and I will pray that the Spirit might bring forth the same fruit in you and me. Lord, let us be a congregation of trustworthy helpers. Amen.

-Pastor Dixon

October 7 - Musical Devotion


What God Ordains is Always Good by Dan Forrest
Performed by the Senior Choir on May 12, 2019

The anthem by Dan Forrest is based on a hymn written by the German teacher and hymn writer Samuel Rodigast (1649-1708). The text is thematically drawn from Deuteronomy 32:4,  “He [God] is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is he.” The melody may be familiar to some, as Johann Sebastian Bach used the tune in several of his cantatas, however, most will recognize the song from a worship service as it is found in numerous hymnals.

It took some time for us as a choir to decipher the meaning of these words and to feel comfortable sharing the text. At first blush, the text seems to dismiss the difficult situations in our lives that involve hurt and pain by simply stating that all things come from God and are ordained by Him. After working on it musically and having many shared conversations, we determined that perhaps what is truly being said is that God is with us, loves us, and does not forsake us regardless of the situation. God cannot be held accountable for the failings of others that have hurt us, or the difficult situations in life that happen to us. What we are promised is that God’s character is of truth, goodness, and love, and with that knowledge, we sing knowing, “Now I may know both joy and woe; Someday I shall see clearly that he has loved me dearly.”

What God ordains is always good: His will is just and holy.
As he directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed In every need knows well how he will shield me;
To him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good: He is my friend and father;
He suffers naught to do me harm though many storms may gather.
Now I may know both joy and woe; Someday I shall see clearly
that he has loved me dearly.

What God ordains is always good: This truth remains unshaken.
Though sorrow, need, or death be mine, I shall not be forsaken.
I fear no harm, For with his arm He shall embrace and shield me;
So to my God, I yield me.
Samuel Rodigast

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

October 5 - A Devotion

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its water roar and foam…The Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge…Be still, and know that I am God.” -Psalm 46

This is my favorite time of the year. Homecomings are everywhere! Rally Sunday, Stewardship Dinners, Confirmation Services, Thanksgiving! It all looks a little different this year, of course (confirmands in convertibles! drive-thru meatballs!) but none-the-less, we gather. Coming together as God’s children buoys us up and gives us the hope we need to navigate the world.

I don’t know about you, but some days sadness over missing my ‘normal’ life and hugs(!), loneliness, and fear over what the future will bring, gets the best of me and my anxiety spills out onto whomever is nearest: the slow driver ahead of me, the neighbor with opposing political views, my loved ones. Even the poor guy who took the last Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream is suspect!

When the sadness sets in, I take in a deep breath saying to myself ‘Breathe in the Holy Spirit’ and slowly exhale ‘Breathe out anxiety and fear’ and then call a friend. Because coming together as God’s children buoys us up and gives us the hope we need to navigate the world.

-Pastor Hammersten

September 30 - Musical Devotion


Micah 6:8 by Lisa Fugile
Performed by Monroe Crossing Bluegrass Band and the Senior Choir on May 19, 2019

For many years, Mount Olivet has had a wonderful partnership with the bluegrass band, Monroe Crossing. It is always gratifying to learn the music of a different genre and especially satisfying to work with exceptional musicians and wonderful people. Performing with Monroe Crossing certainly offers both!

The anthem titled Micah 6:8 is based on the text, “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” It is written by Lisa Fuglie, the group’s female singer and fiddle player. She shared the story of seeing the scripture on a banner at a church where they were playing and felt moved to write a piece for the group.

The book of Micah is one of the writings from The Book of Twelve Prophets or sometimes referred to as the Book of the minor Prophets, minor referring to short rather than less. From the study notes of the Lutheran Study Bible – “justice” (mishpat in Hebrew) is about fairness and equality. “Kindness” (chesed in Hebrew) describes merciful actions such as loyalty and integrity. “Walking humbly” is “set in contrast with the rapid strides of the powerful.”

This passage of scripture is as appropriate to us today as it was to the community to which Micah was speaking in the eighth century B.C.E. May God give us the strength and courage to live these words, and may Monroe Crossing’s music set the text in our minds.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

September 28 - A Devotion

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; 
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
-Ecclesiastes 3:15

We seem to be living in – how shall I put it – intense times.

It is a time when it can be extremely difficult to know the best way to go about life given the realities and circumstances of ourselves, our neighbors, our society, and the world.  At the same time, the decisions and choices seem extremely consequential. What do we do?

As I reflect on the verses from Ecclesiastes, I’m reminded that I really don’t like some of the truths it mentions.  For instance, weeping, mourning, killing, and death are not often pleasant times. Yet, the wisdom of the passage is that these realities are true and are a part of this world. How stark is it, also, to have scripture name there is a time to refrain from embracing? Think about that. Scripture says there’s a time to social distance.

Though it may be unpleasant, I try to remember this from day to day. And at the same time, faith in Jesus and the promise of God present even in the worst times, reminds us that God is faithful in every time.

As you go about your week, pray for all those who are making decisions to best care for all the ones they serve. It is a difficult time. Pray also that God continues to work in and through you and all of us for love for each other and this good world.

God in Christ, lead us and help us to follow your path of love in this time.  Amen.

-Pastor Ruud

September 23 - A Musical Devotion


City Called Heaven by Josephine Poelinitz
Performed by Cathedral Choir with Soloist Luke Randall, baritone, on April 7, 2018

The anthem, performed by the Cathedral Choir, is a slow, soulful spiritual arrangement that utilizes the text from an old Gospel song of the same name. City Called Heaven, made famous by Mahalia Jackson, represents the struggles that were faced by African slaves during the horrendous time in our country’s history when people were bought and sold as property. The anthem is a song of sorrow and speaks to the hopelessness of facing this “old wide world alone” with “no hope for tomorrow, trying to make it to heaven, my home.” Unfortunately, this same feeling of despair is still felt by many African-Americans today as we have so clearly witnessed these past four months.

The anthem begins with the choir singing detached notes with a word or syllable for every pitch. The compositional choice helps the listeners hear the weight and burden of the struggle of each step of life. The steady repetition of the text is reflective of remaining in step with those to which you are bound by chains. The anthem features a soloist who layers on a moanful melody which often sounds like a wail or a groan stating, “Sometimes I just don’t know which way to turn.”

Gospel music has been used throughout the years as an expression of one’s faith and during the civil rights movement, as a vehicle for social protest and expression of the struggle faced by many people of color. May this anthem touch us in a way that opens our eyes to the hurt and sorrow that so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ live with daily. May we be shown a way to move into action and into a future that provides respect and love for all of God’s children.

I am a pilgrim, a pilgrim of sorrow
I’m left in this wide world, this wide world alone
Ain’t got no hope, got no hope for tomorrow
Trying to make it, make heaven my home

Sometimes I’m tossed and I’m driven, Lord
Sometime I just don’t know which way to turn.

Oh I heard of a city, a city called heaven
I’m trying to make it, make heaven my home

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

September 21 - A Devotion

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” -Colossians 3:16

One of the benefits of the pandemic is that I get to spend a lot more time with my kids.  That means there is a lot of laughter and activity around the house, but what I appreciate most is the singing.  They may not even realize it, but they usually hum or sing songs while they play.  Though the tunes are often stuck in my head, it is delightful.  Music is powerful!

Legendary St. Olaf baseball coach, Jim Dimick, was a member of the last congregation I served.  On my first day in the office, he walked in to welcome me, told me about his family, and handed me a piece of paper with this poem on it:

He came singing love.
He lived singing love.
He died singing love.
He rose in silence.
If the song is to continue, we must do the singing.

Jim’s daughter, Frankie, shared these words in a devotion with the St. Olaf Choir years ago, he told me.  They were a reminder to the choir, as they are to me, that God depends on us to carry Christ’s gospel message of hope and love to the world.  All that we do is for the glory of God.  We have a role to play, especially during this unsettling time.  Christ came, lived, died and rose again to give us hope.  If the song is to continue, we must do the singing.

-Pastor Freeman

September 16 - Musical Devotion


Kyrie from Memorial by René Clausen
Performed by the Senior Choir on March 4, 2018

Kyrie, from the larger work Memorial by Rene Clausen, was written in response to the events of September 11, 2001. Kyrie is the final movement of the work and is a quiet emotional plea for God’s mercy using the Latin text, “Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison,” translated, “Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy,”

Through the exceptional choral writing we are led in a powerful prayer for peace demonstrated with layers of sound, color, and texture of the human voice. The melodic lines are written in a manner which at times resembles crying or wailing. The voices continue to repeat the Latin text as a plea for forgiveness.

A very poignant moment takes place at the key change where through the harmonic change a sense of hope is offered. As the new key is established we hear for the first time the word “Adonai” which is Hebrew for “My God.” Not only are we asking for mercy and hope, but we pray to God that our faith will again take hold of us, forgive us and offer us peace. It is a prayer that is needed today just as it was in September of 2001. 

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

September 14 - A Devotion

There seems to be something about us. We humans want answers. We want to know “the why” and the “how come.” We want to have all the questions answered to eliminate all the mystery from life, to eliminate all ambiguity and all contingency. We want or think we need to have control, and to have the answers to all of life’s questions.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be that way! However, that is an illusion. Paul says in 1 Corinthians, “We see through a mirror dimly.” I feel this means we don’t see very well at all.   We don’t have all the answers.   We may never know the “why” of something, but we have something else. We have “faith, hope and love, these three. And the greatest of these is love.”

We don’t have all the answers but we know who does. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me all you that are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and I will give you rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

The Lord is with you.

-Pastor Kalland

September 9 - Musical Devotion


I Have Chosen the Way of Truth by Craig Courtney
Performed by Justin Staebell, baritone on June 21, 2020

I discovered this solo years ago and fell in love with it immediately. There are a few reasons why this: First, the beautiful melody, which once heard is immediately remembered and seems to return to the mind easily. Upon hearing the continuous lines of the expressive connected melody in both the voice and the piano, my guess is it will return to you later in the day in some form. It is a melody that instantly touches us emotionally, which is a mystery of music which I will never fully comprehend but give thanks for daily!

The melody provides the pathway for the text and opens the door for interpretation. The song is based on Psalm 119. Many singers love singing the psalms, and Justin’s sensitive performance is certainly reflective of that fact. These scriptures are appreciated not only for the beauty of the language but for the humanness of the message. The Psalms are filled with the thoughts of real people who turn directly to God in order to express dismay and fear, plead for help, and offer thanks. It has been stated that “The book of Psalms is the Bible’s book of the soul.”

Interestingly this particular Psalm is titled, “A Psalm of Law.” Had I not heard the song first, I am fairly certain I would have read this Psalm differently. But herein lies the miracle of music and the mysterious art of combining lyrics and musical elements to expand our interpretation of a text. The composer offers multiple musical elements that represent a softening, a feeling of devotion, that I had not felt upon simply reading the Psalm. Through music, the understanding of the text was transformed. Rather than rules and laws, the Psalm becomes a promise made out of devotion, a vow, if you will. The steady chordal accompaniment emphasizes this constant and unwavering faithfulness. I have chosen the way of truth, not out of duty, but out of love and gratefulness for the gifts shown me daily by a gracious and loving God. May you feel that same sense of love and gratitude as you listen to this beautiful song.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

September 7 - Monday Devotion

“Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for the One who has promised is faithful.”  —Hebrews 10:23

The start of fall is one of my favorite times of the year. The chill in the air – perfect for my favorite attire of shorts and a sweatshirt – signals a season brimming over with hopefulness: kids getting ready to go back to school, hoping for a good year; the fall sports season and the hope that this year will be the year; another program year at church with the hope of good attendance and strong participation.

But this September – as with so much of the last six months – is markedly different. Delayed starts, hybrid classes, and anxious teachers and parents have made back-to-school traditions chaotic at best. Few fall sports, with no guarantee of complete seasons, let alone championship ones. Many programs and vibrant worship, yes, but largely virtual, accompanied by thanksgiving for the technology that makes that possible but also an ache deep in my heart that I won’t see you in person. The words that capture this fall are not anticipation and hopefulness but rather uncertainty and anxiety.

All of which has pushed me to ask where the source of my hope is… and should be. One of the things this pandemic has taught me is that if I lodge my hope in the weather, or my favorite traditions, or great church programs, or the chance of glory for my teams (yes, as a Minnesota fan I should know better, but still…), I will ultimately be disappointed. It’s not that these things aren’t wonderful, just that they are not, ultimately, reliable.

Hope, the author of The Letter of the Hebrews says, doesn’t rest in events or occasions or traditions, but rather is rooted in the character of the One who has promised to be with us and for us. That One – Jesus – went to the cross to show us just how far God will go to save us, and was raised from death to show that God’s love and life are more powerful than hate, hardship, disease, or even death. Even when everything seems in disarray, and things that usually offer hope fall short, yet God in Jesus has promised to hold on to us, and this creates lasting hope, because the One who promises is faithful.

-Pastor Lose

September 2 - Musical Devotion


His Eye Is on the Sparrow arr. Ruth Elaine Schram
Performed by Amanda Jenkins, soprano on March 22, 2020

The original tune for His Eye Is on the Sparrow was written by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel (1856 – 1932). Gabriel was a prolific writer of gospel songs and a composer of gospel tunes, many of which are still available in current hymnals. With virtually no formal musical training throughout his life, he was a successful composer and was posthumously inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in 1982.

The lyrics for the song were written in 1905 by Civilla D. Martin. As the wife of the evangelist Walter Stillman Martin, Civilla and her husband worked on many of the musical arrangements for the Church of Christ revivals that they led through the United States.

In her own words, Civilla Martin describes how the lyrics for “His Eye Is on the Sparrow” came about: “Early in the spring of 1905, my husband and I were sojourning in Elmira, New York. We contracted a deep friendship for a couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Doolittle—true saints of God. Mrs. Doolittle had been bedridden for nigh twenty years. Her husband was an incurable cripple who had to propel himself to and from his business in a wheelchair. Despite their afflictions, they lived happy Christian lives, bringing inspiration and comfort to all who knew them. One day while we were visiting with the Doolittles, my husband commented on their bright hopefulness and asked them for the secret of it. Mrs. Doolittle’s response was simple: ‘His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.’ The beauty of this simple expression of boundless faith gripped the hearts and fired the imagination of Dr. Martin and me. The hymn ‘His Eye Is on the Sparrow’ was the outcome of that experience.” The next day, she mailed the poem to the composer Charles Gabriel and the song was born.

The song has been a standard solo for many singers, some of which are Ethel Waters, who used the title for her autobiography, Mahalia Jackson, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Jessye Norman, Whitney Houston (as her last original single), and Lauryn Hill. This recording is of one of our own soprano soloists, Amanda Jenkins, who has made this title one of her signature solos for worship.

The song is based on the scripture found in Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” and Matthew 10:29–31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” The text is expresses faith that God who cares for all, even the smallest and most plain of us. When discouraged, we are reminded that God is watching over us, caring for us, and loving us even in the worst of times or when we feel the least loved.

This message is one we yearn to hear and need to share with a world where our songs can often give way to sighing. Faithfully the refrain returns with a message of hope, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.”

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home,
When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me;

I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow, And I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,” His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness, I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; Refrain

Whenever I am tempted, whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing, when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him, from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me; Refrain

August 31 - A Devotion

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? -Psalm 31:1-2

How long, O Lord? How long will you forget me? Have you felt that? Have you experienced it? Most of us have, some of us often, and we will experience it again. For people of faith it’s a cry in the darkness of the night. St. John of the Cross called it the “dark night of the soul.” It’s when we feel a sense of loneliness or desolation, face the unknown, and sometimes feel that God has abandoned us. It’s difficult to pray, we need help, but it feels like there’s no one who can really help. God is silent, hidden from us, or absent.

Biblical faith speaks often of this experience. The psalms of lament give voice to those long dark nights of the soul. That’s why Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann calls them “Psalms of Disorientation.” They give voice to those times when we’re in pain, trouble, or suffering, when life is falling apart and doesn’t make sense anymore. Life and faith become disoriented. The cause may be the failure of a relationship or a marriage, the loss of a job or foreclosure, a financial setback, current circumstances, an illness or serious health concern, or the death of someone we love.

When we pray them honestly, these psalms of lament have the capacity to deepen and transform our faith. Because ancient Israel understood this, most of the lament psalms include expressions of trust and praise even in the midst of the darkness. Despite the difficulties of the situation, the writer of Psalm 13 still affirms trust in God. The psalm ends: But here, even in the darkness, I trust in your steadfast love, O God. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. I believe that I will again see the goodness of the Lord, and I will sing to the God who has been good to me (vv. 5-6).

-Pastor MacLean

August 26 - Musical Devotion


Let Thy Holy Presence by Pavel Tschesnokoff (1877-1944)
Performed by the Senior Choir on January 22, 2017

Composer Pavel Tschesnokoff was a renowned Russian composer of sacred choral music. While attending the Moscow Conservatory, he received extensive training in both instrumental and vocal music. Throughout his schooling, he studied with numerous prominent Russian composers who influenced his style of liturgical choral compositions, all of which are rooted in the musical tradition of the Russian Orthodox Church.

By the age of 30, Tschesnokoff had completed nearly four hundred sacred choral works, but his prolific output of sacred music came to a sudden stop at the time of the 1917 Russian Revolution which led to the creation of the Soviet Union. Under communist rule, all forms of religious art were forbidden in the Soviet Union.

The performance of this genre of music requires careful attention to intonation and the use of staggered breathing. In Russian music of this time period, breathing between bar lines of notation was not encouraged. Singers staggered their breathing, thus creating greater fluency and intensity to the vocal line. The beauty and mystical nature of the music is expressed in part by the slow, measured beat, which enhances the solemn and devotional nature of the sacred text.

The text, which serves as a prayer for the presence of God’s spirit, is as important to us today as it was over a century ago.

Let Thy Holy Presence come upon us O Lord, Alleluia. 

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music

August 24 - A Devotion

“For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” – Isaiah 52:12

We pastors of Mount Olivet have a meeting each week to check in, share highs and lows, and catch up with each other on the work of the congregation and planning for what’s ahead. Some meetings are longer than others. Sometimes we’re not all present (these days, a number of us call in on conference call due to the pandemic). Sometimes it’s tough slogging through the nitty-gritty of all that’s happening. Sometimes – and I stress sometimes – it seems as if we almost have our ducks in a row! Always, it brings fruitfulness to our collective work. At the end of each meeting, we pray for each other and for all of you members and all who encounter Jesus in and through Mount Olivet.

This past week, Pastor Lose had the privilege of praying, and a line of his prayer stood out to me. He prayed, “We give thanks for the assurance of your Holy Spirit out ahead of us promising to be gracious and loving.”

In a time when it is extremely difficult to anticipate the future, the prayer reminded me this is the way it has been since the beginning. God’s Holy Spirit is always out ahead of us.

In so many stories in scripture, people enter into circumstances of which they find God has already been at work out ahead, or to which the Spirit of Christ was leading them into new lands, awareness, and ever-expanding insight or understanding for how the love of Christ kept compelling them to live and serve.

In times like this, I find it a comfort to remember this. We go forward in life amid new challenges, via new mediums, with new discernments to consider, in a new era of life, and in uncertainty of what will be the full outcomes. Yet, we do so in the hope and truth of God’s Spirit being ahead of us in whatever we will encounter. This does not mean it will be easy, but it means God is sticking with us. God is faithful. And we may press on, striving toward the ways we see God leading us to be a witness of reconciliation and grace.

Gracious God, we give thanks that you are always ahead of us.  Amen to that.

-Pastor Ruud

August 19 - Musical Devotion


Ascribe to the Lord by Rosephanye Powell
Performed by the Cathedral Choir on October 27, 2019

One of the qualities I appreciate about musicians is their collaborative nature. It doesn’t take very long for a performing musician to learn that creating music is the ultimate team sport! Every singer knows they are only as good as the collaborative pianist who is creating the music with them. The same can be said for an instrumentalist in a section who relies on the other players of the ensemble to work together to create the sound that is necessary for the piece. Musicians’ brains are wired in a manner that helps them adjust quickly and often requires them to change how they play, what they play, and even when they play. I suspect this quality of flexibility comes from the creative nature that is a large part of a musician’s makeup. And this is where the story below begins…

Ascribe to the Lord, one of Rosephanye Powell’s most popular compositions, has been a standard for Cathedral Choir for many years. It is fun to sing because of the rhythmic energy and drive. Based on Psalm 29:1-4, the anthem has the voices repeat the text: “The voice of the Lord is over the waters, the God of glory thunders.” Underneath in the accompaniment is the quick repetition of Middle C which creates a wonderful musical tension right before the voices explode in unison with “The voice of the Lord is powerful – the voice of the Lord is majestic!”

After hearing the choir sing the anthem on a Sunday morning, Bob Adney, the percussionist with the brass quartet that morning, mentioned how the piece seems to lend itself to a marimba accompaniment, and the rest is history. Bob, who is a music educator, percussionist, timpanist, and artist at MacPhail Center for Music has been a familiar face for Mount Olivet members for many years. Mr. Adney has played with virtually every musical organization in the area and is a favorite musician of Mount Olivet’s music staff.

Sit back and enjoy this unique and creative collaboration between Mr. Adney and the Cathedral Choir!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music

August 17 - A Devotion

If you’re anything like me, your inner beings aren’t feeling too strong these days. Life is just plain tough right now. I am missing the little (and big) customs and rituals that gave me joy, that gave me momentary relief from the daily chores. I miss trips to the gym, lunch with a friend at our regular spot, and chats with you in the narthex before and after worship. Without those pleasurable interruptions to the ordinary, it can feel like life just moves with plodding steps through one more sink full of dishes, one more trip around the house with the vacuum, one more hour spent trying to keep the kids occupied at home. (How many times am I going to have to answer in character when one of my kids calls me Hagrid or Darth Vader?)

For years, this prayer for power from Ephesians has been an important reminder to me that the Holy Spirit remains among us, and generously shares God’s blessings with us. This Spirit gives us life. It sustains us when the world drains us. It reminds us that the very breath in our lungs is a divine gift, and teaches our hearts to be grateful even when we grow weary.

Even better the Spirit of God maintains and increases faith. But what good is faith when my will to play make-believe has been utterly depleted and I can’t bear to attempt Hagrid’s West Country British accent for even one more syllable? Faith reminds me that I am God’s beloved child even when I’m having a Bad Dad moment for one thing. Faith teaches me to lift my eyes up, to look beyond myself, beyond the burdens of the day or even a season like the one we’re living through, and keep in my sights the hope and promise of God’s kingdom. And faith encourages me and empowers me to do what I can to make that kingdom real for those around me.

So, I utter the Ephesians prayer for you now, trusting that the Spirit will strengthen you and keep you in faith. May these blessings sustain you from day to day and empower you to be a blessing to others.

-Pastor Dixon

August 12 - Musical Devotion


This is My Father’s World by Mary MacDonald
Performed by the Senior Choir on October 7, 2018, featuring Claire Loudon, violin.

Maltbie Davenport Babcock (1858 -1901), a well-known minister and writer of the 19th century, is the author of the lyrics for this beloved hymn. The story behind the text is that Babcock took frequent walks along the Niagara bluffs overlooking the sights of upstate New York and Lake Ontario and would tell his wife that he was, “going out to see the Father’s world.” Upon his premature death in 1901, Babcock’s wife published a collection of his poems entitled Thoughts for Every-Day Living and included the poem “My Father’s World.”

Franklin L. Sheppard (1852-1930), a friend of Babcock, arranged the text by adapting music from a traditional English melody. The new tune, TERRA BEATA/PATRIS, translates to “blessed earth” in Latin. The original poem was written as sixteen stanzas of four lines each. When sung as a hymn, Babcock’s poem usually is condensed to three to six verses, each with eight lines.

The anthem arrangement by Mary MacDonald is a fresh setting of the hymn that enhances the beauty of the tune and the text with a rich piano accompaniment performed by Ric Owen, and a lovely violin obbligato, played here by MOSOM instructor, Claire Loudon, violin.

Many Mount Olivet members who are familiar with Cathedral of the Pines will recognize this hymn tune as it is sung every day at morning chapel.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music

August 10 - A Devotion

“For surely I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11

My heart aches driving past all our local stores and restaurants these days. Shuttered or limping along, trying with every ounce of their courage and strength, they continue moving forward despite overwhelming odds. Just when they were counting on spring shoppers and summer diners to get them back into the black, the unimaginable happens and boom! All these small business owners’ blood, sweat, and tears seem for naught.

I feel their pain because I’ve been there. My sister-in-law Mari and I signed the lease to open our bakery “a la mode!” desserts in the Mall of America on Sept 10, 2001, the day before the twin towers fell.

Our lease required us to stay open all day, every day, even though the mall was empty. So every single day I’d go in at 6 am and spend hours pouring key lime mousse cheesecake batter into graham cracker crusts, rolling out raspberry white chocolate scones, folding pecans into cinnamon streusel coffee cake, and tossing fresh berries with sugar for strawberry rhubarb crisp. I’d brew big batches of hot coffee, turn on the music, open the gates, and then wait.

And wait. And wait some more.

16 hours later I’d drag myself home knowing we were yet further in debt. It was soul-draining.

There wasn’t a single thing I could do about the attacks on the Twin Towers, nor a single thing I could do to get folks to come to a place they feared wasn’t safe. Nor a single thing these owners can do about a pandemic.

I wish we had known then about the Jeremiah text. You see, God did have plans for both Mari and me. We finally threw in the towel a year and half later, defeated. Little did we know then, that God had a future with hope planned just for us, waiting just around the corner!

Dear Lord, please be with all the small business owners. Shine your light into their hearts, give them strength to hold on tight. And if it’s time to let go, help them see that letting go isn’t defeat, but rather choosing to open the door to a future so bright they have yet to even imagine. A future filled with hope. Amen.

-Pastor Hammersten

August 7 - Musical Devotion


Praise to the Lord the Almighty arranged by Howard Helvey
Performed by Dr. Richard Owen and Miriam Jensen on May 12, 2019

With Sunday serving as a Centennial Sunday celebrating and featuring the Mount Olivet School of Music, it seems only appropriate to feature the work of two Mount Olivet musicians who have spent their entire careers teaching and performing inspirational music for the church – Miriam Jensen, organist, pianist, accompanist, MOSOM teacher and Dr. Richard Owen, Principal organist, pianist, accompanist, and composer/arranger.

The hymn, Praise to the Lord the Almighty, is one of the most familiar hymns of praise in the majority of church hymnals. The text is loosely based on Psalm 103:1-6 and Psalm 150. Psalm 150, ends with, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” The German composer Joachim Neander with translations by Catherine Winkworth provides us with the words to do just that.

Psalm 103
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

This arrangement of Praise to the Lord the Almighty, tune name LOBE DEN HERREN, is written by Howard Helvey as a duet for one piano, four-hands. Mr. Helvey is widely published as a composer and has hundreds of compositions and arrangements held by numerous publishing houses. As a pianist, Mr. Helvey collaborated 1997-2012 with distinguished artist Richard Steinbach in concerts and recordings of four-hand and two-piano literature and toured throughout the United States and Europe. As in this arrangement, his well-crafted compositions are often rhythmic, energized, and exciting!

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

August 5 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor MacLean is below. Please enjoy.

PDF of Bulletin

Nature Talk – August 5

Learn all about the garden at the retreat center and what fruits and vegetables you will enjoy during your next visit. Dan the Nature Man (and gardener extraordinaire) shares some gardening tips too!

August 3 - A Devotion

Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.– Galatians 6:2

The early Christian church lived in a time with many competing values, voices, and questions about the way forward, much like the time we are in. Despite the anxieties and uncertainties surrounding them, Paul’s message was consistent and clear – love God and love neighbor.

Six years ago, my family and I participated in a bike ride across Iowa called the RAGBRAI. We rode a bike train consisting of a tandem bike, a tag-along, and a bike trailer. My husband and I, along with our kids (aged 5 and 2), each had a seat on this train. The temperature was over 90 degrees, and the humidity was off the charts. It was challenging, especially the long, gradual hills. There were times you just wanted to give up. I remember one hill in particular when a fellow cyclist rode up right next to me and put his arm around my waist. He told me his name, where he lived, what he did for a living, and finally, answered my biggest unvoiced question, “Why was he biking so close?”

He said, “These hills are hard, and I’ve been helped along hills many times in my years of cycling. I’ll get you to the top of this hill, and then I’ll let you go.”

Despite my initial trepidation, he turned my concerns on end and showed me what bearing another’s burden looks like. He noticed our need and gave us the lift we needed to power us to top of the hill.

There is no doubt that these days have been challenging. And when things get tough, it’s easy to lose heart and focus on our discomforts. Paul continually reminds us that Christ’s spirit is different. When things seem too hard to handle, God draws us out of ourselves and turns us to our neighbor, so that God’s kingdom is known “on earth as it is in heaven.”

Loving God, you accompany us on life’s journey. Help us to accompany one another in the same way, bearing burdens and sharing hope. Amen.  

-Pastor Freeman


July 31 - A Musical Devotion


The Ground from Sunrise Mass by Ola Gjeilo
Sung by the Senior Choir on November 24, 2018

Ola Gjeilo, composer and pianist, was born in Norway in 1978, and moved to the United States in 2001. Gjeilo’s writing style is often described as cinematic with lush harmonies and beautiful melodic lines. As an improvisatory pianist, his writing often features the piano as a distinctive voice in his choral works.

The Ground is the final movement of a larger work, Sunrise Mass, set for strings and choir. The entire mass is sung in Latin yet each movement is titled in English: The Spheres (Kyrie); II. Sunrise (Gloria); III. The City (Credo); IV. Identity & The Ground (Sanctus). As a descriptor for the compositional style used in this work, the composer states, “I wanted the musical development of the work to evolve from the most transparent and spacey, to something completely earthy and grounded; from nebulous and pristine to more emotional and dramatic, and eventually warm and solid – as a metaphor for human development from child to adult, or as a spiritual journey.” 

This anthem is an example of how simply listening and experiencing the work will be far more meaningful than any written analysis.
I invite you to take a moment, read the translation of the text, listen to the music, and allow it to speak to you.

Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Grant us peace.

“Music… will help dissolve your perplexities and purify your character and sensibilities, and in time of care and sorrow, will keep a fountain of joy alive in you.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

July 29 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor Hammersten is below. Please enjoy.

PDF of Bulletin

Nature Talk – July 29

Did you know the retreat center is home to more than 25 species of mammals? In this video, Dan the Nature Man shares facts about animals you might spot during your next visit.

July 27 - A Devotion

One of the scribes came near… and asked Jesus, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” –Mark 12:28-31

It seems odd that when Jesus is asked which is the first, or greatest, commandment (singular), he responds by offering two. The first is that we are to love God. The second is that we are to love our neighbor. Then Jesus says “there is no other commandment (again, singular!) than these.” Which maybe means that Jesus doesn’t imagine these are two separate commandments after all, but that they belong together. That is, I think Jesus is saying you actually can’t love God apart from loving your neighbor.

John puts it this way, “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20). The Apostle Paul says much the same, “All the commandments” – that is, everything God wants us to do – “is summed up in one word: ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Romans 13:9).

We’ve had to make some difficult decisions this spring and summer at Mount Olivet: suspending worship, not inviting campers to COP, cancelling some of our favorite programs and activities, and more. While I grieve these losses, I do not regret making these decisions, because in each case it was our attempt to love our neighbor as best we can. When it comes to these decisions and other precautionary measures – whether in regard to suspending in-person worship or wearing face masks – some folks have protested they are being denied their rights. But for the followers of Jesus, claiming one’s own rights has always taken a back seat to love of neighbor and self-sacrifice. This is the ethic that has guided us thus far and will continue to be our standard, for while more hard decisions are surely ahead, our Lord’s call and commandment remains the same.

-Pastor Lose

July 24 - A Musical Devotion


Make Me An Instrument of Thy Peace Mary MacDonald
Sung by the Senior Choir on November 25, 2018

The anthem, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace, was first introduced to Mount Olivet Church by Weston Noble. Noble, the conductor of the Nordic Choir of Luther College from 1948 to 2005, had been invited to Mount Olivet as a guest clinician in the late 90’s and it was then that he introduced the Senior choir to this beautiful anthem by Mary McDonald. Since that time, it has been a favorite selection for both the choir and the congregation.

Although the text is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, the work cannot be found in his writings and is only traced back as far as 1912 to a religious magazine published in France. The Peace Prayer, as it is widely known, is a petition to God to help us put the needs of others first and to live in the peace and joy that comes from that choice.

Watching Weston Noble work with the choir musically and sharing his insight into the text was an unforgettable experience. His manner, his voice, his kindness, even his conducting gesture was a reflection of the core message of love and peace that is found in the text. Whether singing or listening, may we strive to be people of faith who continue to pray this prayer and live this text.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

July 22 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Rev. Dr. Theresa Latini is below. Please enjoy.

PDF of Bulletin

Nature Talk – July 22

Dan the Nature Man is back to show some of his favorite varieties of Hydrangeas and shares why they would make the perfect addition to your at-home garden beds.


July 20 - A Devotion

God will cover you with his wings, and under those wings you will find refuge. –Psalm 91:4

We’re now in what’s often called “the dog days of summer.” While we associate that term with the unrelenting heat and humidity of late July and August, the ancient world associated it with draught, plague, and ill fortune. Given the kind of summer we’re having – with pandemic, economic woes, and social injustice and unrest – that ancient description suddenly doesn’t seem exaggerated at all!

Perhaps it’s for this very reason that so many of us head north for a respite. If you are able to do that, blessings for a time away that leaves you refreshed and renewed. Others have recognized that doing something – almost anything – to address the challenges of the day can also be restorative in that it reminds us we are not victims but can exercise a degree of agency. In this case, taking time to collect and bring items to donate to one of our Greet and Give Donation Drives (held each Monday at both campuses, 3-6pm) or some other activity might help.

In addition to retreating and working, a third means by which we may not simply weather the dog days but flourish amid them is to be immersed in God’s promises. Psalm 91, the inspiration for a variety of Christian hymns and imagery, was addressed to Israelites feeling oppressed by circumstances and opponents and therefore greatly in need of a word of encouragement. In this beloved Psalm, God promises presence, protection, refuge and renewal. As you read the words below, imagine them addressed personally to you so that you, in turn, can reach out in love to someone else in need of encouragement.

You who abide in the shadow of the Almighty will say to the Lord, “You are my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.” God will deliver you from the snare of the hunter and from deadly pestilence. God will cover you with his wings and under those wings you will find refuge. God’s faithfulness will be your shield, so that you will not fear the terror of the night or the arrow that flies by day, or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday (Psalm 91:3-6).

Blessings to you for renewed energy, commitment, and hope during these summer days!

-Pastor Lose

July 17 - A Musical Devotion


O Love    Elaine Hagenberg
Senior Choir – October 14, 2018

The anthem O Love by composer Elaine Hagenberg is a new musical setting of one of the most loved hymns of the late nineteenth century. The hymn O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go was written by Albert Peace (1844-1912), a gifted composer and organist who began his professional musical career at the age of nine as the organist for his local parish.

While the tune, St. Margaret, may be familiar to many, the story of the text is worth mentioning. The author, George Matheson (1842-1906), was born in Glasgow, Scotland. As a child, he was visually impaired and became completely blind as a young man. When it was determined that his sight would never return, his fiancee canceled their wedding as she did not want to be responsible for a blind husband. With the help of his sister, Matheson moved on past his heartbreak and graduated from Seminary with high honors. He eventually became one of Scotland’s renowned preachers drawing large crowds to his events. His sister, who helped him throughout his entire adult life, learned Greek, Latin, and Hebrew in order to assist with his study of theology. In addition, she became his co-worker in helping him in his pastoral duties. O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go was written on the evening of Matheson’s sister’s wedding. He was now 40, and his sister’s marriage brought a heartbreaking reminder of his earlier lost relationship as well as the upcoming loss of his sister’s companionship. It was in the midst of this circumstance and sadness that Matheson wrote the text.

“My hymn was composed in the manse of Innellan on the evening of June 6th, 1882. I was at the time alone. It was the day of my sister’s marriage, and the rest of the family were staying overnight in Glasgow. Something happened to me, which was known only to myself, and which caused me the most severe mental suffering. The hymn was the fruit of that suffering. It was the quickest bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the impression rather of having it dictated to me by some inward voice than of working it out myself. I am quite sure that the whole work was completed in five minutes and equally sure that it never received at my hands any retouching or correction. I have no natural gift of rhythm. All the other verses I have ever written are manufactured articles;  this one came like a day spring from on high. I have never been able to gain once more the same fervor in verse.”

Elaine Hagenberg chose two of the four stanzas of the text for her anthem setting.

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thy ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Joy that seeks me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

The composer states that her composition utilizes, “hopeful ascending lines” that “represent renewed faith” while the “lingering dissonances remind us of past heartache.”  Through it all, “the beautiful promise remains: “morn shall tearless be.”

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. -Psalm 13:5

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

July 15 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor Ruud is below. Please enjoy.

View PDF Bulletin

Those who attend Midweeks always love learning nature tidbits during a Nature Talk with Site Naturalist Dan Kahl. This year, as we bring Midweek Worship to you each week, we also bring you a recorded Nature Talk.

Nature Talk – July 15

Dan the Nature Man is here to show you some changes in the landscape of Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center over the years. Learn about the growth of the marsh, the restoration of the prairie, and the evolution of some of the amenities enjoyed by guests.

July 13 - A Devotion

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. –Philippians 4:11-13

In the office of one of my kids’ favorite teachers was the following quotation:

Take care with your thoughts, because they become your words.
Take care with your words, because they become your actions.
Take care with your actions, because they become your habits.
Take care with your habits, because they become your character.
Take care with your character, because it becomes your destiny.

I think the Apostle Paul would agree. Which is why he is urging his beloved congregation to focus on what is positive and best in the world rather than what is negative and worst. That’s still good advice, as what we focus on and think about influences our words, actions, habits, character and, eventually, shapes our whole life.

That can be hard these days, as the headlines – and for that reason many of our conversations – seem to gravitate to the negative. And, make no mistake, there is much that is challenging, even corrosive, in the world today, and much that needs attention. But, at the same time, the very presence of so much adversity and injustice creates countless opportunities to practice something different, to chart an alternate course, to put to positive work the ability to shape our destiny along the lines God would have it by taking care with our thoughts.

So over and over again today – at least a thousand times, I would wager – you will have a chance to focus on the positive or negative, that which is honorable or offensive, something that is praiseworthy or lamentable, an example of beauty or ugliness. And each choice you make, like an incoming wave lapping on the beach, will slowly but surely shape the shoreline of your life.

Yes, this can feel like a tall order. But you can begin today, even now, by focusing on something true, honorable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy. It’s there, waiting for your attention, and you will feel God’s presence more strongly each time you try.

-Pastor Lose

July 10 - A Musical Devotion


God Be in My Head    John Rutter

Senior Choir – January 19, 2020

The words from the anthem God Be in My Head are from the Sarum Primer, a collection of prayers and worship resources originally dating back to the 13th century. Developed and established in Salisbury, England, “Sarum” is the abbreviation for “Sarisburium”, the Latin word for Salisbury. The collection, published in 1514, became prevalent throughout most of England, Wales, and Ireland, and was used until the Reformation. The Sarum Primer had a great influence on the current Anglican forms of worship as found in the Book of Common Prayer.

This particular setting by John Rutter is an example of the composer’s beautiful and effective writing style. His sensitive attention to the nuances of speech and the text create a beautiful setting of these ancient words. The text is reflected both harmonically and through the musical sculpting of the words and phrases. The prayer is a call to God for God’s presence, and as a result of God’s presence, to be changed. It is a prayer that is still as urgent and comforting now as it was five-hundred years ago.

God be in my head and in my understanding.
God be in my mine eyes and in my looking.
God be in my mouth and in my speaking.
God be in my heart and in my thinking,
God be at mine end and at my departing.
PRIMER, 1527

Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

July 8 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor Freeman is below. Please enjoy.

View PDF Bulletin

Those who attend Midweeks always love learning nature tidbits during a Nature Talk with Site Naturalist Dan Kahl. This year, as we bring Midweek Worship to you each week, we also bring you a recorded Nature Talk.

Nature Talk – July 8

Take a tour of the perennial garden beds at Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center. ‘Dan the Nature Man’ is here to tell you about low-maintenance perennials that are great options for your next at-home gardening project.

July 6 - A Devotion

Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus. –Philippians 3:12-14

This is one of my favorite passages from the Apostle Paul because it expresses both a realistic assessment of how challenging the Christian life can be as well as a hopeful, even gritty resolve that we will not simply persevere, but eventually flourish when we attempt to respond to God’s call. Paul knows he has not yet “arrived” (and likely won’t in this life), but he does not give up, trusting that the One who called him to service will bring all his efforts to a good end.

Right now, our communities are facing enormous challenges contending with a global pandemic, tremendous economic stress, and significant social unrest amid a quest for greater racial equity. In each of these areas, we are trying to respond. For several months, we have moved our worship and programming to a digital format and have created new resources, and you can find them at our Together @ Mount Olivet webpage. Grateful for the faithful generosity of our members, we are also responding to the needs of our members and the larger community, particularly through our ongoing Community Meals and donation drives. And aware of our potential to work for greater racial equity, we are launching Mount Olivet Committed to Advancing Racial Equity (CAREs), a webpage where you can learn more about racial justice, ways to combat racism, and efforts to help Mount Olivet be a place of hope, help, and healing.

As with Paul, I have no illusion that this effort means we have “arrived,” let alone that our work is completed. It is just a beginning, but it is a beginning. The site will be updated regularly, as together we “strain forward to what lies ahead” to respond to God’s heavenly call, trusting the One who both articulates a vision of justice and equips us to respond.

-Pastor Lose

July 3 - A Musical Devotion


My Help Cometh from the Lord – Jackie Gouche Farris

Based on Psalm 121

Recording from February 16, 2020 – Cathedral and Senior Choir, West Campus

For many years, Mount Olivet has invited Robert Robinson as a vocal guest to sing for worship with both our Cathedral and Senior Choirs. The experience has always provided a wonderful morning of singing, clapping, learning about different vocal production, and expanding our comfort level as a choir as, generally, Robert likes us to put our music away and “just sing from your heart!”

This year, it was wonderful to learn My Help Cometh from the Lord, made famous by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and based on Psalm 121. Psalm 121 is one of the fifteen Psalms (Ps. 120-133) known as the Songs of Ascents. It is believed among scholars that these Psalms were sung by worshipers who were traveling to Jerusalem for festivals or ascending the steps of the temple. Psalm 121 is a request for God to be with them as they travel, to protect them “from all evil,” and to “neither slumber nor sleep.”

The text is known to many of our choir members as it serves as a favorite scripture for Cathedral of the Pines Camp. Because of that familiarity, many of the singers were able to memorize the piece quickly. It is a thrilling experience as a singer to perform from memory and to create music with artists like Robert Robinson and his incredible pianist, Sam Reeves. In listening and in singing we are reminded that our help does indeed come from the God who is our keeper.

I will lift up mine eyes to the hills
From whence cometh my help
My help cometh from the Lord,
The Lord which made heaven and earth

He said, He would not suffer thy foot,
Thy foot to be moved
The Lord that keepeth thee,
He will not slumber nor sleep

Oh the Lord is thy keeper the Lord is thy shade
Upon thy right hand, upon thy right hand
No the sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night
He shall preserve thy soul, even forevermore
My help, my help, my help,
All of my help cometh from the Lord

As you listen to this song, may the promise of God’s abiding care and providence lift your spirits and remind you that you are never alone.

Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

July 1 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor Kalland is below. Please enjoy.

View PDF Bulletin



Those who attend Midweeks always love learning nature tidbits during a Nature Talk with Site Naturalist Dan Kahl. This year, as we bring Midweek Worship to you each week, we also bring you a recorded Nature Talk.

Nature Talk – July 1

Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center joins in the effort to bring back bluebirds for future generations. In this nature talk, Site Naturalist Dan Kahl shares information about the Bluebird Recovery Program of Minnesota and the different types of bluebird boxes in use at the retreat center.

June 29 - A Devotion

“What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

These words from the prophet Micah are simultaneously inspiring and daunting. They offer a beautiful vision of God’s desire for us: that we would treat each other fairly and with kindness and not think too highly of ourselves. But although stated simply, living into this vision can be quite difficult.

But that’s what makes it a vision of the life God wants for us, not merely a description. The prophet is calling God’s people – then and now – to something more than they are currently are. The prophet’s words will always be just beyond our reach, but for this very reason they call us forward, guiding us to be more than we would otherwise. We will not live into them perfectly, but we can never cease striving to reach that goal.

As we celebrate the independence of our country this coming weekend, I am mindful that we similarly speak of the “American dream” rather than the “American reality.” Our cultural heritage also offers a vision toward which we strive. In a letter written to a Jewish Synagogue in 1790, George Washington shares his hope that the new nation would offer the world an enlarged moral vision:

It is now no more that toleration is spoken of as if it were the indulgence of one class of people that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent natural rights, for, happily, the Government of the United States, which gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance, requires only that they who live under its protection should demean themselves as good citizens in giving it on all occasions their effectual support.

It’s important to remember that Washington, a slave owner to his death, failed to live into his own dream. Yet he nevertheless managed to offer eloquent testimony to a country where bigotry and persecution would find no refuge and tolerance would not be the exception but the norm. Far from perfect, he never stopped striving.

As Christians and Americans, this remains our call: to hear God’s word and strive to meet it, not deterred by failings minor or major, but straining forward to be the people God has already called us to be.

-Pastor Lose, Senior Pastor

June 26 - A Musical Devotion


Dan Forrest is one of the most prolific composers and arrangers of sacred choral music today and a favorite of the choirs of Mount Olivet Church. Forrest composes for a wide variety of ensembles, from professional choirs and orchestra to smaller church choirs. He attributes his skill in writing beautiful melodic lines for voices and instruments to Alice Parker and James Barnes, two American composers with whom he studied and who greatly influenced his writing. His works are known not only for the beauty of the melody but for sensitivity to speech rhythms, both of which assist in giving a deeper meaning of the text.


The Music of Living is a joyful choral anthem that incorporates a spirited piano accompaniment and a text that overflows with an optimism for life:

Giver of life Creator of all that is lovely,

Teach me to sing the words to your song.

I want to feel the music of living;

And not fear the sad songs But from them make new songs

Composed of both laughter and tears.

Giver of life, Creator of all that is lovely, Teach me to dance to the sounds of your world.

I want to move in rhythm with your plan.

Help me to follow your leading

To risk even falling To rise and keep trying, For you are leading the dance.

Giver of life, Creator of all that is lovely,

Teach me to sing the words to your song.


In 2018 Forrest was commissioned by Mount Olivet to write a choral and brass anthem based on Psalm 121. The manuscript had just been received this spring and the choirs had only begun to work on the piece before rehearsals were canceled due to the pandemic.

Forrest views his musical work as an outgrowth of his Christian faith and just recently he published the statement below which speaks with great conviction and hope to choir musicians and directors who are feeling the great loss of music and singing. May it serve as a creed of action and hope for all of us.

First, what can we say about the racial injustices, violence, and unrest in the U.S. right now? So many voices are saying so many things; but at the very least, we lament racial injustice with you, we long for justice to roll down like waters, and for Christians to lead the way in listening, repenting, doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly. We encourage you, as church musicians, to look for ways to be the hands and feet of Jesus in your community and spheres of influence, and to shine the light of Christ’s peace, love, and hope.

Second, we all feel the difficulties and pain of the pandemic, sickness and death, social distancing, and, in particular for us, a lack of choral-music making right now. The very thing that most encourages and comforts us through the unrest of all sorts is silent right now. But take heart, and know that choirs will sing again. Choral singing has endured for thousands of years, and the treasure of singing together is too valuable to let slip away. This is a fermata – a pause — but not a final barline on choral music-making. When choirs start singing again, it will be from a deeper place, musically, personally, emotionally, and spiritually.

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Music and Worship

June 24 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor Dixon is below. Please enjoy.

View PDF Bulletin

Those who attend Midweeks always love learning nature tidbits during a Nature Talk with Site Naturalist Dan Kahl. This year, as we bring Midweek Worship to you each week, we also bring you a recorded Nature Talk.

Nature Talk – June 24

The Retreat Center is proud to be a registered Monarch Waystation – a place that provides milkweeds and nectar sources to help assure the preservation of monarchs and the continuation of the spectacular monarch migration phenomenon. Learn about the monarch’s life cycle and how you can make your own Monarch Waystation. Join us in the effort to create, conserve and protect monarch habitats!

June 22 - A Devotion

“I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built.” –Luke 6:47-48

From the beloved hymn “How Firm a Foundation” to the Sunday School Song, “The Wise Man Builds His House Upon a Rock,” these words of Jesus are among the better known of his sayings. One of our members recently shared with me a devotion on this passage from Pastor Reuben Youngdahl, published in 1951. His words struck me as insightful, inspiring, and still so deeply relevant, and I wanted to share them with you to remind us of the inheritance and opportunity we have as the Mount Olivet family of faith.

Of what shall we build the walls in our house of life? The one toward the north should be of love – warm and strong against the cold, sharp winds of hate. On the opposite side, let us build a wall of understanding that may include all people regardless of color, or faith, or social station. To the east, let us erect a wall of faith which looks toward the sunrise and believes that the new day holds possibilities the like of which were never known before. On the west, we shall want a wall of hope that will spring eternal even though facing the setting sun.

We want windows to give us vision of the needs about us so that we may be of service to [all]. We would do well to have a window toward the sea to remind us of friends and children of God throughout the whole world. We would want a window in which we might set a lamp to show the way to someone who may be groping in darkness…. Let us never forget that in the house we build today we shall live tomorrow.

These are words which still guide the ministry, witness, and outreach of Mount Olivet, words that remind us both of the firm foundation we have in Christ and of the mission entrusted to us to work for the equality and dignity of all. As Martin Luther would say, this is most certainly true!

-Pastor Lose

June 19 - A Musical Devotion

Set Me As A Seal  Rene Clausen – performed by the Senior Choir on February 1, 2020

The text of this anthem comes from Song of Solomon 8:6. The entire book of Song of Solomon is a poetic story of love, love between a shepherd hero and a Shulammite maiden. Most interpreters agree that the book is a story of love and marriage in the ancient world, but later Church leaders also saw in it a metaphor for the love that Christ has for the church, and how in both life and death Christ will forever hold us.

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm.
For love is strong as death,

Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can the floods drown it.

Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm.
For love is strong as death.

The composer, Rene Clausen, has publicly shared his very personal story about the writing of this composition. His wife, who had endured three consecutive miscarriages was happily 6 1/2 months pregnant. Because she was nearing the age of 40, the doctor ordered an amniocentesis to make sure the baby was still thriving. Tragically the needle was placed incorrectly and the baby died instantly during the procedure. In his grief, he went home from the hospital and wrote Set Me as a Seal. He shares, “It was all done in just about 20 minutes. I just sat down and wrote it. And that is about the only time I have ever had that cleansing. I think for me this music became cleansing. In the last line, for love is strong as death, I really meant, for love to seek to overflow the boundary between life and death.”

May listening to this anthem remind all of us that during times of grief and struggle nothing will overwhelm love, especially the love that Christ has for each one of us.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” – Deuteronomy 31:8

-Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

June 17 - Midweek Worship Service


Our beloved Summer Midweek worship services return this week! Each Wednesday one of our pastors will share a brief message that includes a scripture passage centered on hope. How do we find hope these days? Understand hope? Share hope? Today’s message from Pastor Lose is below. Please enjoy.

View PDF bulletin


Those who attend Midweeks always love learning nature tidbits during a Nature Talk with Site Naturalist Dan Kahl. This year, as we bring Midweek Worship to you each week, we also bring you a recorded Nature Talk.

This week, learn about the natural landscape of the retreat center – the forests, the marsh, and the prairie – and view beautiful footage of this place of peace and tranquility. It truly is a “Geography of Grace.”


June 15 - A Devotion

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. – 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Early in his ministry, the Apostle Paul founded a church in the city of Corinth, an important trading city in the ancient world. After living with them and preaching the Gospel for about two years, Paul moved on, as was his pattern, to other cities to share the good news of Jesus.

In his absence, the churches he planted continued to grow, sometimes thriving and sometimes having difficulties. The letters we have from Paul in our New Testament were his way of offering leadership, guidance, and encouragement from a distance. Of all the churches Paul founded, the one in Corinth needed the most attention. In particular, this church struggled with the problem of factions – groups that aligned themselves with one particular group, cultural movement, or charismatic leader to the expense of all others.

In response, Paul stresses unity. Describing the church as “the body of Christ,” Paul argues that just as the body is made up of many diverse parts and needs them all to function well, so also congregations have all different kinds of gifts and passions and commitments and needs them all to flourish. The key, according to Paul, was to recognize that all these gifts a) come from God and b) were given to strengthen the common good.

In that respect, little has changed over 2000 years. While we may not have the same struggles Paul’s congregation in Corinth did, we certainly have our own. We also have a variety of gifts and possibilities, and we may also at times be tempted to say one dimension of our ministry is more important than others. If we are to face the challenges in front of us, however, we also need to heed Paul’s call to unity, recognizing that God has blessed us with all kinds of people, experiences, and gifts so that, guided by the Spirit, we may use them for the common good – the common good of Mount Olivet and the common good of the communities we serve.

Pastor Lose

June 12 - A Musical Devotion

Après un rêve, by Gabriel Fauré performed during the Time of Reflection on All Saints Day worship, November 3, 2019 by Jesse Nummelin, cello and Rie Tanaka, piano

Gabriel Fauré, (1845–1924) one of the most influential French composers of his generation, is also regarded as one of the masters of the French art song or mélodie. Après un rêve was originally written for the voice, but for the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markel in 2018, the young cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason demonstrated his talent and the beauty of the piece by playing it as a cello solo. Some find the cello to be the stringed instrument that most accurately reflects the timbre of the human voice, which makes the transposition between the two instruments work so beautifully.

Jesse Nummelin and Rie Tanaka are both instructors for the Mount Olivet School of Music. Their individual and collaborative artistry, as well as their sensitivity to the refined and beautiful melody of Fauré’s work, help to take the listener to a place of peace and rest. For many, music not only expresses our feelings but often serves as a balm for the weary, a respite for the downtrodden and, perhaps especially today, offers a glimmer of a tomorrow filled with hope and love for all.

Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

June 10 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Pastor MacLean talks about relationships. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!

June 8 - A Devotion

Breath. It’s one of the central terms in the biblical stories of creation. At the beginning of Genesis, it says that “the breath and spirit of God hovered over the waters” (1:2). Similarly, God brings Adam into being by breathing into him the very “breath of life” (2:7).

Breath. It’s one of those things that is both crucial and easy to take for granted. But in recent days, that’s been harder to do. One of the major symptoms and outcomes of COVID-19 is shortness of breath. And among George Floyd’s dying words were, “I can’t breathe!”

Breath. In both the biblical accounts and our own lives, it is synonymous with life. To breathe is to live, to run out of breath is death. So what do we do when we realize that many in our community have been short of breath, short of life, for far too long?

Another story in Genesis voices what is all too often my response. Shortly after God breathes life into humanity, Cain murders his brother Abel, literally taking away his breath. When God asks Cain where Abel is, he replies, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (4:9). I am tempted to ask the same thing when I see problems that don’t directly affect me and for which I don’t feel responsible. Or when I worry that the solution to such problems may impinge upon things I’ve taken for granted or believe I’ve earned. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” It is an understandable, but also seductive, answer because it assumes distance, rather than closeness, between me and others.

According to the Bible, however, we are each other’s keepers because we share the same breath. Because we are all beloved children of the same God. Because Jesus came for all, died for all, and was raised for all. Yes, I am called to be the keeper and caretaker of my brother and sister. I bear responsibility for their breath.

In the coming days, weeks, and months, we have an opportunity to ask how we at Mount Olivet can be caretakers for those in our community who are short of breath. Our answers may differ, but our commitment must be the same, unified by the same Spirit, wind, and breath that hovered over creation and, later, gave birth to the Church at Pentecost. Together, we can help everyone breathe a little easier.

-Pastor Lose

Community Resources

Below you will find updated lists of ways you can get involved in helping with the healing and restoration of our communities. Some are sponsored by Mount Olivet; others come from partner churches; still others stem from other institutions of good will. Each invites us to consider how we can live into the discomfort with equal measures of faith and confidence so that we might be a part of the new life that God is bringing.

All Congregation Greet-and-Give Donation Drive, with Youth Grades 7-8 and their families volunteering – Mondays at both campuses, 3-6pm. 7-8th graders and their families interested in volunteering, please email Kate Belschner, Jr. High Coordinator.

*Now weekly at both campuses!

*New time! 3-6pm

Additional donations must be NEW and are limited to these critically needed supplies:

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Travel-size personal hygiene items
  • Adult underwear – all sizes
  • Children’s diapers – all sizes
  • 2-4 person tents
  • Tarps (8ft x 10ft)

Grab and Go Community Meal – now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:15pm, Mpls Campus.

Congregational Partners

Several of our local Lutheran congregational partners are in the heart of the city and continue to provide essential items and care to all residents in need. Click below to access up-to-date information on their requests and events:

Other Local Institutions

The following are resource pages that are regularly updated with information on volunteer and donation needs, as well as locations to receive assistance, through other civic partners:

June 5 - A Musical Devotion

I Choose Love, by Mark Miller. Sung by the Cathedral Choir on Sunday, November 10, 2019, featuring soloist Charlie Graff.

I had discovered this piece earlier in the year and was eager to schedule it as I knew the message would resonate with this choir of young minds.

The anthem was written in response to the Charleston Church Massacre, which took place at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 17, 2015. On that evening, a white supremacist joined the prayer group for a bible study, and then proceeded to shoot and kill nine members. The victims of that tragedy are now known as the Charleston Nine. And while most of us don’t know it, Lutherans have a painful connection to this tragedy. The shooter was a member of an ELCA congregation, and the Senior Pastor (and State Senator) of “Mother Emanuel,” the Rev. Clementa C. Pinckney, who was slain on that evening, received some of his training at an ELCA seminary.

Unfortunately, the list of African Americans and other persons of color who have been murdered since then continues to grow, with the latest example being George Floyd in our own city of Minneapolis. I share this anthem today in honor and memory of George Floyd, Sean Monterrosa, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and the countless others who have died needlessly.

The song below, sung by an emerging generation of Mount Olivet members committed to making this world a better place, is both a lament and a call to action. May the words they sing, printed below, become ours as we continue to work and stand up for racial equality and peace.


-Dr. Beverly Claflin


In the midst of pain, I choose love.
In the midst of pain, sorrow falling down like rain,
I await the sun again, I choose love.

In the midst of war, I choose peace.
In the midst of war, hate and anger keeping score,
I will seek the good once more, I choose peace.

When my world falls down, I will rise.
When my world falls down, explanations can’t be found,
I will climb to holy ground, I will rise.

In the midst of pain, I choose love.
In the midst of pain, sorrow falling down like rain,
I await the sun again, I choose love.

June 3 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

What Can I Do?

“Few of us can do great things. But all of us can do small things with great love.” – Mother Theresa.

In this week’s Unplugged, Pastor Lose shares an update of Mount Olivet’s efforts to be a place of help, hope, and change and tries to answer the question he’s heard from members who want to help, but wonder if their efforts are too small to make a difference.

Below the video is a list of ways to get involved at Mount Olivet and beyond. This is just a beginning, and we are committed to providing updated opportunities and information as we rise to the challenges ahead of us with equal measures of faith, courage, and compassion.

All Congregation Greet-and-Give Donation Drive, with Youth Grades 7-8 and their Families volunteering – Mondays, 3-6pm, both campuses

Drop off canned goods and other non-perishable items that are in great need. This drive is supporting our ministry partners who need donations: Community Emergency Services (CES), Bountiful Baskets, Love, INC, Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People (VEAP), St. Stephen’s Human Services and Simpson Housing.

Additional donations must be NEW and are limited to these critically needed supplies:
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Travel-size personal hygiene items
  • Adult underwear – all sizes
  • Children’s diapers – all sizes
  • 2-4 person tents
  • Tarps (8ft x 10ft)

Grab and Go Community Meal – now on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:15pm, Mpls Campus

We have been providing more than 500 meals a week on Thursdays. Recognizing the need this indicates, and in light of the increased stress on households in recent weeks, we are expanding to Tuesdays! We have limited volunteer opportunities and also accept cash donations to support this vital effort.

Congregational Partners

Several of our local Lutheran congregational partners are in the heart of the city and continue to provide essential items and care to all residents in need. Click below to access up-to-date information on their requests and events:

Other Local Institutions

The following are resource pages that are regularly updated with information on volunteer and donation needs, as well as locations to receive assistance, through other civic partners:

June 1 - A Devotion

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– 1 Corinthians 15:57

Paul is writing to Christians in the city of Corinth. They’ve been experiencing doubts, questions, and crises of different kinds, and Paul is trying to offer them leadership, comfort, and courage from a distance. He concludes his words of counsel and encouragement with the promise that in Jesus’ resurrection God has promised victory and redemption to all of God’s people and, indeed, the whole world.

But in light of the multiple crises we’re facing simultaneously – global pandemic, grief and anger over unjust killings, tremendous job loss, and a deeply polarized culture – I know that any talk about resurrection and victory can ring hollow. Concepts like “resurrection” and “heaven” have too often been held out as a future reward and can feel like oh so much “pie in the sky by and by.”

But that’s not what Paul is talking about. Rather, Paul believes that Christ’s resurrection demonstrates that God’s love is stronger than hate, violence, injustice and even death itself and therefore impacts all of our life, labor, and action now. Because God raised Jesus from the dead and promises resurrection to all, that is, we can risk our time and even our lives on things that matter today. Because God promises to redeem all things, we can focus on the immediate needs around us. Because God promises to bring all things to a good end, we don’t need to be daunted by setbacks or failures. Because of the resurrection, we do not lose hope, because setback, failure, and disappointment, as with hate, injustice, and death, do not have the last word.

The promise of resurrection is not a future reward, but a present-tense call to action. A call to speak, act, try, risk, labor, and love right now, knowing that we may fall short, we may make mistakes, we may not live up to our ideals. Yet God will still bless and use all of our efforts and, in the end, bring all things to redemption. In light of these promises, I will close as Paul does: “Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that, in the Lord, your labor is not in vain!” (15:58).

Pastor Lose

Mount Olivet June Messenger

The Mount Olivet Messenger is a monthly publication that includes worship information, devotions from a Mount Olivet Pastor, information about Mount Olivet Ministries and more

Click here to download the Mount Olivet Messenger

May 30 - Pastoral Message from Pastor Lose, Senior Pastor

Part of our life and responsibility as Christians involves, as we say during every baptism, “to proclaim Christ though word and deed, care for others and the world God made, and work for justice and peace.” Because we take these promises seriously, Pastor Lose has recorded a pastoral message for the congregation of Mount Olivet in response to the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing unrest.

May 29 - A Musical Devotion

Abide with Me, by John Cornish. Sung by the Senior Choir on All Saints Sunday, November 3, 2019.



The anthem Abide with Me by the composer John Cornish uses the well-known text of Henry Francis Lyte (1793 – 1847), an Anglican priest, hymn writer, and poet. According to tradition, Lyte wrote the text while at the bedside of a dying friend, offering a fervent prayer requesting God’s presence at one of the darkest times of life. The work became one of Lyte’s most famous poems.

The hymn was originally set in eight verses, yet in most hymnals, and in this anthem, only five are used. The singers are praying for God’s presence throughout all of life, through hardships, and through death. In this anthem, the composer sets the familiar text to an original melody. John Cornish’s use of long, arching choral lines and sweeping pianistic writing in the accompaniment moves the listener to a vision of the promised eternal home. As the music gathers momentum, the composer adds a soaring descant as the singers echo the bold assertion of faith the Apostle Paul frames as an audacious, even mocking question to death itself in 1 Corinthians: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (15:55).

The anthem requires an exceptional pianist with sensitive playing and accompanying skills. Dr. Richard Owen without a doubt meets that requirement! In many ways, the voices and the piano are equal partners in this anthem, both covering a wide range of emotions and offering careful interpretation of a powerful theme.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

In these days, when so much seems uncertain, and when the specter of death seems at times omnipresent, this anthem helps us give voice to our prayer and petition that God would, indeed, abide with us through all things. I hope as you listen you experience God’s eagerness to answer our prayers.

Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Music and Worship

May 27 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Pastor Kalland talks about his favorite Bible story. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!

May 25 - A Devotion

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” –1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Apostle Paul packs a lot into these very short verses. So slow down with me for a moment, and take note of the Apostle’s words.

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in all circumstances. The moment you slow down, you realize that this can feel like a tall order. How do we, for instance, rejoice in the middle of a pandemic, when so many lives have been turned upside down? Who has time to pray constantly? And for what shall we give thanks when so many are suffering?

But perhaps the key is to avoid the temptation to turn the Apostle’s message into a set of instructions or recipe for faithfulness. What if, instead, these three activities are interwoven, various notes in the same melody, three parts of one whole?

If that is the case, then perhaps the invitation Paul offers is simply to be attentive to God’s presence and work among us. When we notice God at work in our lives – whether in the kind act we received or were permitted to do, or the unexpected text or call that made our day – we can indeed rejoice. When we feel the absence of God keenly, that is a time we might pray… for God’s help, for hope, for a sense of God’s abiding presence. When we are renewed in faith and able to encourage others, we can again give thanks.

Not three commands, it turns out, but rather a dynamic movement between rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks once more. Try it. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes in your life!

A few weeks ago, I encouraged us to pause at noon each day and offer a prayer for those who are suffering because of the pandemic, for those who are caring for them, and for all who struggle to keep hopeful in an uncertain time. Since then, we have begun having the bells at Mount Olivet ring at noon as both a call to prayer and a reminder that many, many people are praying. So whether or not you live near enough to hear them, know that today and every day at noon we will sound the bells inviting us to rejoice, pray, and give thanks!

Pastor Lose

May 22 - A Musical Devotion

No Other Plea, arranged Robert Berglund, text written by Eliza Edmunds Hewitt under the pseudonym of Lidie H. Edmunds (1851-1920).

The hymn “No Other Plea” sets a very simple and clear confession of faith to an equally simple and beautiful Norwegian folk tune, sometimes called a Norse air. Its straightforward and lilting melody offers the ideal vehicle for the concise statement of belief that is meant to stir the heart and quicken the faith of those who sing it:

I need no other argument,
I need no other plea;
It is enough that Jesus died,
And that He died for me.

The piece is a four-verse, strophic hymn with a recurring refrain. The refrain, in particular, is perhaps familiar to some long-time members, as it was a favorite anthem of Pastor Paul Youngdahl and was sung frequently during worship services over the years. Fittingly, it was also sung for Pastor Youngdahl’s funeral services in 2011.

This particular recording is sung by the Mount Olivet Senior Choir, and recorded on the album God’s Son Has Set Me Free (1977), under the direction of Dr. Robert Berglund. Dr. Berglund was the Minister of Music for Mount Olivet from 1969 – 1995.

As you listen to his hymn, take a moment to give thanks for all those in the faith who have come before us and witnessed to the Gospel of Christ, as we believe today because of these past witnesses.

Dr. Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship and Music

May 20 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Pastor Ruud talks about why he loves scripture. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!

May 18 - A Devotion

“I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you.” Philippians 1:3-4

I love how the Apostle Paul begins his letter to the congregation he started in the city of Philippi. Significantly, Paul wrote this letter from prison, and there is little doubt he was greatly encouraged in his struggles by remembering and voicing his gratitude for all the blessings he had received in and through this church.

Recent research has testified to the power of gratitude. From strengthening our immune systems and helping us sleep better to creating more energy and providing a greater sense of connection, gratitude has been linked to an incredible number of positive outcomes. Research suggests two reasons for this. First, during periods of hardship, it’s easy to think there is no other reality than the difficult one we are experiencing in the moment. Articulating our gratitude helps us put present challenges in a broader context and avoid a negative “tunnel vision.” Second, voicing our gratitude connects us powerfully with others, reminding us that we are not alone but joined deeply and meaningfully to others.

We are at a fragile time in our struggle against the coronavirus, as we move from the crisis-response of the first few weeks to recognizing that we are in this for the long-haul. Even as we move to returning to more normal life, we are also realizing that the new normal will be quite different from what we experienced even a few short months ago. It is at just this point that we may lose confidence or be tempted to despair. One way to bolster our spirits and renew our sense of hope is by naming our gratitude, counting our blessings, and remembering all that is good in life.

So what can you give thanks for today? And whom can you thank? Whether by text, phone call, email, or letter, you have an opportunity to name your blessings, be renewed in confidence, and bolster the spirits of another. As you do so, know that I, like Paul, “thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you!”

Pastor Lose

May 15 - A Musical Devotion

Be Thou My Vision, adapted and arranged by Dan Forrest, and sung by the Mount Olivet Senior Choir, recorded on September 22, 2019.

“Be Thou My Vision” is a beloved hymn with Irish origins for both its texts and tune. At Mount Olivet, this hymn has been a standard in the music library for both the Cathedral Choir (version by Alice Parker) and Senior Choir (versions by John Leavitt and Dan Forrest, to name a few). The simple beauty of the tune and the richness and relatability to the text makes this anthem one that we like to program and sing at least once each year.

In a time when our focus is pulled in so many different ways, this text serves as a prayer asking God to center us back to focusing on the love and grace embodied by our Lord and to lead us forward through the challenges of the day by setting our vision on our Lord, both day and night, asleep and awake.

Be Thou My Vision of Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me save that thou art
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping thy presence my light

When discussing the text as we rehearse as a choir, I always find the third verse particularly meaningful. Living in a culture that often seems to strive for material wealth and the approval of others for affirmation and self-worth, this prayer helps us keep our focus not on worldly things, but rather on the riches of a committed relationship with God.

Riches I heed not nor vain empty Praise.
Thou my inheritance now and always.
Thou and thou only, first in my heart
High King of heaven my treasure thou art.

Wherever you may be and whatever you may be facing on this particular day, as you listen to this beautiful hymn and prayer, may you find yourself more deeply rooted in the confidence of God’s love and re-oriented to God’s presence in your life.

Beverly Claflin, Director of Worship & Music

May 13 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Pastor Freeman talks about why church is so important. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!

May 11 - A Devotion

“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

The Apostle Paul was writing to a church that was afraid. People in their community were dying. They didn’t think that would happen. They thought Jesus would return and rescue them from death. When that didn’t happen, they grew frightened. In his letter to this early Christian community, Paul reminds them that it is not always easy to detect God at work in the world and that we do not know when and how Jesus will return. He then says that in the midst of this kind of uncertainty, their job is to encourage one another and, in this way, to build each other up.

The word “encourage,” means, quite literally, to share, give, and instill courage in another. When we are young, we may have thought that courage means not being afraid. As we grew older, we realized that’s impossible, and that a better definition of courage is the ability to do your duty – or, even better, to do what’s right – when you are afraid.

But it goes even deeper. At the root of “courage” is the Latin word cor, which means “heart.” One of the earliest definitions of courage was to live out of, and speak from, the heart. Which means that Paul’s advice to encourage one another is an invitation to share your heart. To speak truly and freely. To listen carefully and be present. To approach those around you with an open heart and to live whole-heartedly.

Paul’s counsel has never been more important. We, too, are living in a time of fear, a time when people are dying that we did not expect to lose. Consequently, we are finding it hard to detect God’s presence. And our job is to share our hearts with each other. To open ourselves to the fear and hope, the sorrows and joys, of those around us.

That is something we can do. That is something you can do. Now, even. Take a moment and text someone a word of encouragement. Or pick up the phone to call someone who is struggling. Or write an email. Or go “old-school” and send a note. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes. In their lives. In yours. We were made for this: to open our hearts, to share our courage, to build each other up in the faith.

Pastor Lose

May 8 - A Musical Devotion

I Believe by Mark A. Miller
Sung by the Cathedral Choir, soloist Megan Richards, (graduating Senior at Henry Sibley High School)


I first heard Mark Miller’s “I believe” when my mother-in-law sent a recording of it to me. It was performed by the choir at the first church I served, St. John’s Lutheran in Summit, NJ, and the soloists were two my nieces. So I was eager to listen, but then blown away by how haunting the music was and how poignant the words. I mentioned it in passing to Dr. Beverly Claflin. She, with characteristic enthusiasm for new works of music, went out and found it, invited our Cathedral Choir to rehearse it, and they eventually sang it as a Sunday anthem. Since then, it has become a favorite among our choir.

I think its great appeal – for me, for our Director of Worship and Music, for our Cathedral Choir members… and I hope for you – is that it feels real. It acknowledges the real challenges of life, challenges that can shake your faith. Challenges that can make it feel like the sun won’t shine, that the promises we hear at Church are just words, and that the God we confess is at the very least absent and perhaps not there at all. Yes, it is real.

But also resilient. The song testifies that faith finds a way. Finds a way to continue despite an absence of “evidence” we might wish to see. Finds a way to encourage us to keep going even when the path is dark. Finds a way to bolster our courage and confidence just when those things are most necessary. And from that resilience comes hope.

The lyrics are simple, in some ways stark, and altogether beautiful:
I believe in the sun even when it’s not shining.
I believe in love even when I don’t feel it.
I believe in God even when God is silent.

There were written by Jews hiding from the Nazis in the basement of a building in Cologne, Germany, during World War II. As the composer Mark Miller has said, referring to those who scrawled these words of resilient, even defiant faith, on the walls of the cellar: “These words of faith in the midst of incredible sorrow were sustaining for them as they were being persecuted, surrounded by hate, and with their own lives at stake. And they really spoke to me, because I also wanted to believe in love, even when hate is all around. I think it’s a real creed for our day. We might not agree on a whole lot of things, but I want us to believe in love, even when hate seems to be all around.”

Wherever you may be this day – confident or fearful, feeling supported or isolated, optimistic or anxious – may the words and music of this song remind you that faith always finds a way, for the One in whom we believe endured fear, loneliness, persecution, and even death… and prevailed.

Pastor Lose

May 6 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Pastor Hammersten talks about how important it is to remember that you are loved, and are a beloved, forgiven, child of God. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!

May 4 - A Devotion "Hope @ Mount Olivet"

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

There is a memorable scene from the film The Shawshank Redemption that has been coming to my mind of late. It involves two convicts, two men forced into a level of isolation beyond what most of us can imagine. Andy, played by Tim Robbins, is explaining to some of the other inmates why he was willing to spend a week in solitary confinement for breaking into the warden’s office to listen to a recording of Mozart. Music, he said, reminds you of life beyond the walls of the prison. Music reminds you of who you are. And music, most especially, gives you hope. At this point, Red, played by Morgan Freeman, tells Andy to be wary of hope. “Hope,” he says, “is a dangerous thing.” Dangerous because it can disappoint. Dangerous because it can set you up for heartache. But Andy won’t be deterred, insisting that, without hope, there is no life.

Most of us have experienced both of these truths: Hope can feel dangerous, yet hope is also essential. The Bible verse we chose for Mount Olivet’s Centennial celebration is rooted in God’s promise to give us a future with hope. It was written to Israelites experiencing exile and isolation 2500 years ago, and it speaks just as clearly to those who are feeling isolated and exiled today. When we chose this verse, we had no idea of the coming pandemic; no idea that we would not be able to gather together in-person for worship and fellowship; no idea the toll this virus would take on our nation and world physically, emotionally, and economically. Yet is has become one of my “go-to” verses these past months, reminding me of God’s promise of hope.

Yes, hope is dangerous. Yes, it is also essential. I’ve also learned of late that hope is always shared. It is difficult, that is, to remain hopeful alone, yet when we share it, it quickly grows. For this reason, a few weeks ago I asked our staff to name places where they find hope, and the following video shares their responses. I hope that, as you watch it, you are reminded of the hope we share in Christ, a hope that does not disappoint.

Pastor Lose

May 1 - A Musical Devotion

Robert Robinson and Mount Olivet Senior Choir singing Jehovah Jireh

Mount Olivet has had a long relationship with singer, Robert Robinson. Robert has worked with our choirs and shared his faith story for many years. This week’s musical devotion is a recording of Robert singing the Gospel song Jehovah Jireh with our Senior Choir this past February.

“Jehovah” is one of the primary names for God in the Old Testament and in Jewish tradition. “Jireh” is a verb in Hebrew that means “to provide.” When combined, this phrase means “God will provide” and is the name Abraham gave to the place where God intervened to save Isaac from sacrifice and provided a ram in his place. Interestingly, this same verb can be translated as “to see,” and so the phrase can also be used, as Hagar does in Genesis 16, “The God who sees me.”

As you listen to this recording, we pray that you may realize that God sees you and promises to provide for you and all of us, a promise that is good to hear any day, but perhaps especially during these challenging days.

Blessings for confidence, patience, and peace to you in the name of Jesus, the one who reminds us most powerfully that God sees us, loves us, and provides for us.

April 29 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. Pastor Dixon talks about faith as a deep trust, something he illustrates through the relationship he has with his children. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!


April 27 - A Devotion

I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 8:38-39

We’re at a tough point in our struggle with the coronavirus. In Minnesota, our efforts to social distance and stay-at-home have pushed the peak of the COVID-19 back to mid-summer. That, in turn, has given our health care professionals additional time to prepare for that peak as well as spread the curve out.

That’s all to the good. The downside, however, is that it means we’ll be living with restrictions longer and it will take a lot more time than we probably imagined to regain even a semblance of our previous lives back. Moreover, the economic and psychological toll is mounting. Which means that our patience is wearing thin. Most of us, truth be told, had no idea we’d be in it for this long to begin with, and now we’re realizing we may be at it for so, so much longer.

Which is why I thought of Paul’s words of encouragement to the Christians living in Rome. He begins this section of his letter by making a rather bold assertion: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” Then he goes on to list a variety of things that might separate us from God’s love – hardship, famine, peril, violence. He then concludes with the powerful affirmation in verses 38 and 39 printed above. What I love about Paul’s list is that it’s so expansive. Height, depth, present, past, angels, rulers, even death and life. Absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love. It’s not that some of these things aren’t hard, even really hard. Just that they can’t separate us from God.

Paul’s expansive list invites us to add some of our own challenges in order to be reminded of God’s promise to be both with us and for us forever. So as you adjust to this “new normal,” perhaps read with me, “For I am convinced that neither pandemic, nor illness, nor loss of employment, nor isolation, nor loneliness, nor lacking a sanctuary, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Amen.

Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

April 24 - A Musical Devotion

Mount Olivet Senior Choir singing How Great Thou Art

Today’s musical selection is a hymn beloved by many at Mount Olivet and, indeed, around the world. Composed by Swedish Pastor, member of Parliament, and poet Carl Boberg, “How Great Thou Art” is one of the better-known hymns of the Church. Boberg’s inspiration came from the experience of being caught in a thunderstorm while traveling the southeastern coast of Sweden. Immediately after the tempest and violence of the storm subsided, Boberg was struck by just how beautiful were the rays of sunshine bursting through the clouds and the songs of birds in the air. Indeed, Boberg fell to his knees in awe and knew he had to compose a poem to give voice to the wonder and gratitude he felt. Not long afterward, his poem was set to a Swedish folk song and was subsequently translated into numerous languages. Billy Graham, counted as a friend by Pastor Reuben Youngdahl, picked up this hymn as one of the theme songs of his crusades, and it is still today sung in congregations around the world, though I suspect it is loved most by those congregation with a Swedish heritage like Mount Olivet.

This particular recording is from the Mount Olivet Senior Choir of 1968 with Edith Norberg as conductor. Enjoy this morning’s musical devotion and allow it to root you once again in confidence that the God who created heaven and earth, the God who still sustains and rules the vast cosmos, and the God who raised Jesus from death will continue to guide us, comfort us, and sustain us through this present crisis.

April 22 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

We continue our series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged.” This is a time to be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk! Growing up Pastor Freeman learned to pray aloud with her family. Prayer has always been Pastor Freeman’s “go to” and a way to feel God’s complete love and grace. Enjoy the video and know that Mount Olivet is praying with you and for you!


April 20 - A Devotion

Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord!” –John 20:18

Nothing had changed. Yet everything had changed. For the disciples after the resurrection, I mean.

Think about it. After Jesus appears to them, they are still in Jerusalem, still surrounded by those hostile to them, still living in fear for their very lives. At the same time, their Lord, whom they had seen crucified, was alive. Which meant that death was no longer so fearful, that anything was possible, that light and life and love were stronger than darkness and death and hate.

Nothing had changed, yet everything had changed. I think that captures the life of faith as well. Faith doesn’t take away disappointment, disease, fear, or loss. Yet knowing we are loved by God, and trusting that God’s love is stronger than all things – even the disappointment, disease, fear and loss with which we are contending – changes everything. Faith doesn’t take away the challenges and hardships of this life, but it does transform them, puts them in a larger context, and reminds us that even the most significant challenges are only moments in time, only single episodes in the larger story of God’s triumphant love.

Think of it this way: After D-Day, when the Allied forces successfully landed on the beaches at Normandy, there were still eleven months of warfare, sacrifice, and loss before victory. Nothing about the situation of the soldiers had changed. Yet because of the success of D-Day, the eventual victory of the Allies over Nazism was all but assured. Which meant that those soldiers still fighting, still sacrificing, and still dying did so knowing it was part of a larger and victorious cause. Nothing had changed; yet everything had changed.

We have difficult days ahead of us. This virus has not been contained and hospitalizations and deaths have not yet peaked. We continue to suspend in-person worship and gatherings and practice social distancing out of concern for our neighbor. Yet we know God’s love is powerful enough to redeem all things and that, in the end, all will be well. Nothing has changed. Yet everything has changed. And so, dear Mount Olivet family, we go forward… in faith!

Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

April 19 - Sunday Worship

Welcome – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Liturgist – Pastor Rebecca Freeman

Preaching Pastor – Pastor Mark Dixon



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Listen to the April 19, 2020, Faith Alive program featuring Pastor Terry Morehouse


April 17 - A Musical Devotion

Senior Choir Singing “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord”

Our musical devotion this Friday is a recording of our Senior Choir singing a choral arrangement of the African American Spiritual “My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord.” It was arranged by Moses Hogan, one of the foremost choral composers of the second-half of the twentieth century who was particularly well known for his arrangement of Spirituals. His major life work, “The Oxford Book of Spirituals,” is one of the definitive guides to this important genre of Christian music.

While the words of the song may call to mind the Gospel stories of Jesus walking on the water to meet the disciples and his stilling of the storm that threatened to overwhelm their boat, the major biblical reference of this spiritual comes from the Letter to the Hebrews: “We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” (Hebrews 6:19). While we don’t know a lot about the background of this letter, it seems apparent that it was addressed to a first-century Christian community that was experiencing divisions internally and persecution externally. In the midst of these trials, the author reminds this early community of believers that God did not promise to remove their challenges, but that their hope and faith were as strong and reliable as anchor and would be sufficient to see them through their difficulties.

Through the centuries, a ship’s anchor has proved to be an important metaphor for our life in the church and for the power of faith. As you listen to this beautiful arrangement, remember God’s promise to hold onto you always, to anchor you in faith and hope, and to not let you be overwhelmed by the tempests and challenges of the day.

April 15 - Mount Olivet Unplugged

Welcome to the first of a series of videos with Mount Olivet leaders called “Mount Olivet Unplugged”! We’re hoping to use this space and time to, well, just be ourselves, share our thoughts about the life of faith we share, and encourage you in your spiritual walk. These videos are not meant to be polished, perfect, or overly profound. But then again, we believe in a God who doesn’t demand we are polished, perfect, or overly profound either! Enjoy, let us know what you think, and know that we are praying with you and for you.

April 13 - A Devotion

This story was written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:30-31

Now what?

That’s more or less the Easter question.


Each of the four Gospels ends with the story of Jesus’ resurrection. Except that while the story may close, they don’t really end, as each one invites the reader to further action.

Mark invites readers to take up where the women at the empty tomb left off and share the news that Jesus is not there. Luke shares Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit and his charge to his disciples to be his witnesses. Matthew records Jesus’ commission to proclaim the gospel to the whole world and his promise to be with them to the ends of the earth. And John reminds his readers that the whole point of this story is to help them believe in Jesus so they might find hope and life in and through him. So while the Gospels end, the story they tell continues.

Which is why the quintessential Easter question is: “Now what?” How will we live now that we know death cannot defeat us? How will we treat others now that we’ve seen God’s great love for us and all the world? What will we now try, attempt, dare knowing that the Risen Christ is with us?

I think this is our question as a congregation in light of the pandemic as well. While we don’t know how long we will live with restrictions, until there is a vaccine we may not be able to get back to our normal routines, including gathering in large numbers. So… now what?

We will, at the very least, continue our Sunday online services. We will continue offering additional faith resources three times a week. We will continue caring for our neighbors through our community meal. We will continue reaching out via phone calls, text, Zoom and other means. And we will, I know, come up with other creative ways to stay connected with each other, share our faith, and love our neighbor.

Now what? This can be a frightening question in light of the unknowns ahead of us. But rooted in the Easter promise of resurrection, it can also be an exciting question. For Christ is Risen! He is Risen indeed!

Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

April 12 - Easter Sunday Worship

Welcome & Sermon – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Associate Pastors
Kurt P. Kalland
Monica M. Hammersten
William B. MacLean
Charlie R. Ruud
Mark J. Dixon
Rebecca C. Freeman


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April 11 - Holy Saturday Devotion

Holy Saturday: Time of Waiting, Time of Longing

Most of us are familiar with the rhythm of Holy Week. Starting with the triumphal entry of Palm Sunday, continuing to the intimacy of the Lord’s Supper and the agony of Good Friday, and concluding with the triumph of Easter morning, we know the pattern of this week well. But amid all our services and reflections, we often forget Saturday, the day in between Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. Indeed, in my experience, we give it next to no thought whatsoever, and yet I think it is an important day in its own right.

Yes, we can imagine, even if insufficiently, the horror Jesus’ disciples experienced as they witnessed the torture and execution of their Lord. We can ponder their own self-doubt and personal despair as they find themselves not rushing to his defense but keeping a safe distance, abandoning him along with all their convictions. Similarly, the brass and orchestra and brave singing of our favorite Easter hymns attempt to create for us a sense of the surprise, wonder, and joy upon hearing the good news that death could not hold Jesus.

Yes, we can try to attempt to imagine the ultimate low of Good Friday and the commensurately glorious high of Easter. But it’s Saturday that speaks to me just now, the day in between, the day of dull numbness after the events of the previous twenty-four hours, the day when there is no hint that the pain and fear of the moment will ever abate. What did the disciples do? How did they comfort each other? Did they even try? Or might they have stumbled through that Sabbath completely oblivious to what was going on around them, fearful of a suddenly and frighteningly unknown future, and as yet unable to even imagine putting the pieces of their lives back together?

I think this day is important because the dull ache of pain and the stubborn wrench of deep longing that will likely never be satisfied is perhaps a more regular experience than the agony of Good Friday or the joy of Easter. When you lose a loved one, when your marriage implodes, when you fail to conceive, when your dream job evaporates, when you receive a devastating diagnosis, when your livelihood disappears, when…. Each of us has likely gone through moments of tremendous disappointment and so we know firsthand that, often, the true low point of those experiences is likely not the actual and concrete event, when the sheer shock of the catastrophe effectively mutes our feelings and offers odd shelter. No, the hardest days are usually the ones that come afterward. Days after the funeral, when the calls and visits stop. Weeks after the divorce, miscarriage, or loss of employment, when sympathetic friends no longer check in. The time in between the diagnosis and treatment, when there is absolutely nothing you can do.

These are the experiences that Holy Saturday speaks to, for they are the experiences of Jesus’ disciples ahead of Easter, struggling through the absolute uncertainty of what their future might possibly hold that is worth living for.

This Holy Saturday, that seems particularly to be the case, not simply in our community but across our nation and globe. We have adjusted to the immediate changes and restrictions required by the global pandemic, but live in the uncertainty of having no idea when life will return to normal, wondering what “normal” may even look like. We do not know how long we will shelter-in-place, how long we will suspend gathering in large numbers, but I suspect it will be longer than most of us imagined. And that leaves a dreadful and cold pit in my stomach. Until there is a vaccine, we cannot assure our safety and are at constant risk and cannot even imagine a future absent our current and constant anxiety. We, too, live in a time of waiting and longing.

Which is why it’s important, I think, to remember this day. Because while the disciples stumbled through their routines – and while we try to carry on with our lives – God is neither absent nor inactive. Indeed, God was preparing to raise Jesus from the dead and provide the turning point of all history, fashioning a new and open future that none on that Saturday could imagine. Perhaps at this time, when so many of us will likely encounter what feels like an ominous virus-induced quiet, we might remember the promise of Holy Saturday that, contrary to our experience of expectation, God is not finished yet. We might recall that, indeed, God’s favorite thing to do is to show up where we least expect God to be and to surprise those who have given up on God and so can no longer imagine what redemption and blessing and grace feel like.

Blessed Holy Saturday, then, as we take heart and encourage one another on this in-between day that simultaneously captures the painful rhythm of our lives just now as well as promises that God is still at work, eager to surprise and redeem us and the whole creation.

Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

April 10 - Good Friday Worship

All four Gospels contain short statements that Jesus utters while hanging on the cross, combined these statements are known as the Seven Last Words of Christ. This Good Friday we will hear those words in succession followed by a reflection from our Mount Olivet Pastors.

April 10 - A Musical Devotion

Cathedral Choir Singing My Song In The Night

My Song in the Night is a hauntingly beautiful melody which speaks to Jesus as the comfort – the song – that is provided to us in the darkness and loneliness of the night.

It is a favorite anthem of the Cathedral Choir not only because of the beautifully written vocal lines, which make it wonderful to sing, but also because it speaks so poignantly to the feeling of separation from God, wandering “an alien from Thee” and “crying in the desert” searching for God. Who of us have not felt that sadness and anguish, particularly in these challenging times?

But the final phrases return to the opening lines professing the promise of Jesus being our “song in the night” and the true one that provides “comfort and joy to our souls’ delight” even in the darkest of times.

—Dr. Beverly Claflin

Here are the words, so you can follow along if you’d like, and let them encourage you at this time:

O Jesus, my Savior, my song in the night

Come to us with Thy tender love, my souls’ delight,

Unto Thee O Lord in affliction I call,

My comfort by day and my song In the night.

O why should I wander an alien from Thee,

Or cry in the desert Thy face to see,

My comfort and joy, my souls’ delight,

O Jesus my Savior, my song in the night.

April 9 - Maundy Thursday

Love One Another Video

In the video below Mount Olivet Pastors share how we can, even amid a pandemic, obey Jesus’ command to “love one another.”

Living Lord’s Supper Video

In recent years, members of Mount Olivet have gathered on Maundy Thursday for the Living Lord’s Supper Service. Based on the famous daVinci painting of The Last Supper, the service begins with hearing the stories of each of the disciples and their relationship to Jesus, recreates the scene of the Last Supper, and concludes by sharing the often unknown stories of what happened to and through these disciples after Jesus’ resurrection. If you have participated in this worship service, you may enjoy watching a recording of last year’s service; if this tradition is new to you, you are invited to experience it for the first time.

April 8 - Seven Last Words of Christ Concert

Over the years, the seven last words of Jesus, as depicted in the gospels, have been set to music numerous times, giving poetic and dramatic expression to the agony and the glory captured in these scenes. The piece that is best known to the Mount Olivet community was written in 1867 by French composer, organist, and music teacher, François-Clément Théodore Dubois (1837 – 1924). It has been sung at Mount Olivet by current members and alumni of the Cathedral Choir for more than 60 years – which means that at any given performance there are three generations of Mount Olivet families singing! It has become an important part of our Holy Week services, as we pause to consider Jesus’ last words on the cross, what they meant to his earliest disciples, and what they still mean to us.

The story of the cross can be interpreted in many ways, but at this particular time, as we face staggering heartache and loss inflicted by the current pandemic, I find that what is most meaningful to me is the confession that God neither disdains nor avoids human suffering. Rather, in Jesus, God is joined to it – joined to us! – most fully. The cross reminds us that God stands in absolute solidarity with all of the human experience, including even suffering, loss, and death. Which in turn prepares us to hear in the Easter story the promise that suffering, loss, and death do not have the last word, and that God’s love and life are more powerful than violence, disease, and death. While I regret that we are not able to gather together to hear this familiar and haunting performance, I am grateful that we can share this rendition, recorded on April 17, 2019, and I pray that it reminds you of God’s great love for us and roots you in God’s promise to be with us always, even to the close of the age.

Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

Click Here for Seven Last Words of Christ Online Bulletin

April 6 - A Devotion

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!” –John 12:12-13.

Now it was the day of Preparation for the Passover, and it was about noon. Pilate said to the crowd of Jews gathered there, “Here is your King!” They cried out, “Away with him! Away with him! Crucify him.” –John 19:14-15a.

Crowds figure quite significantly in the story of Holy Week. The week starts out with Palm Sunday and Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. All four Gospels describe crowds of people thronging to see Jesus as he enters the city and receives the adulation of those who long for a Messiah. By the time we reach Good Friday, however, the Gospels are again united in their depiction of other crowds, likely made up of many of the same people, now calling for Jesus’ death.

There is a tremendous and poignant irony in reading about crowds while we are social distancing (a phrase which, just months ago, was unknown to us but now is part and parcel of our daily lives). The story of these crowds that unfolds this week reminds me of two important truths.

First, we are made for each other. From the first chapters of Genesis and God’s observation and edict that “it is not good for the human to be alone” (2:18) to St. Paul’s emphasis on the church as “the body of Christ” made up of a magnificently diverse set of members (1 Cor. 12:12ff.), Scripture testifies to the corporate, social nature of our lives. While we as a culture tend to idealize self-reliance and individualism, the stories of faith remind us that we find our identity, meaning, and purpose less through individual accomplishment and far more in and through our relationships with others.

That is part of our cultural story as well. It is, after all, “We the people,” not “I by myself” who “form a more perfect union.” Yet the coronavirus and our need to keep distance from each other has reminded us powerfully of how vitally interconnected we are. Similarly, while we have learned to continue connecting with each other as a congregation via the internet, social media, and digital worship, we still long for the day when we can actually see each other at church, hear our voices raised together in praise and thanksgiving, and gather together as the body of Christ in this place.

But the virus hasn’t simply taught us the importance of gathering together, it has also reminded us that we are united as much by our vulnerability as by our strength. This virus knows no bounds and strikes irrespective of age, race, economic status, faith, or nationality. While it may take an unfair toll on particular demographics, its specter looms over all of us, and if we are to flourish amid, and not merely survive, this pandemic, it will take a concerted and unified effort. For this reason, we keep apart for a time that we may gather again sooner. And it’s why I believe it’s not enough to affirm that “we will get through this,” but also and always add, “and we will get through it together.”

The second truth Holy Week calls to mind is the simultaneously glorious and tragic character of our life together. Crowds receive Jesus’ as God’s anointed Savior, and crowds call for his death when the salvation he offers isn’t what they imagined. In the story of Holy Week and its alternately faithful and fickle crowds, we find a picture of our own lives, at times marked by courage, fidelity, triumph and at others marred by betrayal, faithlessness, and disappointment.

Yet amid this hauntingly realistic portrayal of humanity, we find reason for hope. Because Jesus came for all – faithful and faithless, courageous and fearful, steadfast and fickle, admirable and disappointing. Jesus came for all. All of us. Every part of us. Each and every one of us. There are days when we might see ourselves among those who recognize and celebrate God’s Messiah and others when we identify with those who abandon him to an unjust fate. Yet wherever we are among the crowds, Jesus came for us.

I am not, as I’ve confessed before, one who believes God causes evil and suffering “for some greater good,” far less “to teach us a lesson.” But I do believe that the cross testifies powerfully that God is constantly at work, even amid calamity, heartache, and loss, for the good of those God loves (Rom. 8:28). And perhaps one of the painful “goods” that will emerge from this pandemic is the powerful and poignant reminder that we are interconnected and interdependent, that we were made for each other, that we cannot thrive by ourselves, that we each have a role to play in helping build the kind of community God desires, and that God in Jesus came for all of us because God in Jesus loves all of us.

May you be reminded, this Holy Week and always, that God has fashioned us for life together, equipped us with gifts to share that we might thrive together, and has promised to be with us and for us, now and always, together. Blessings to you, dear members of Mount Olivet Church and the Body of Christ, for we will get through this, and we will get through it together!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Lose

April 5 - Sunday Worship Palm Sunday

Welcome – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Liturgist – Pastor William MacLean

Preaching Pastor – Pastor Rebecca Freeman

Following the worship service is our Faith Alive program featuring Pastor Terry Morehouse.
Recorded in Serley Chapel. Currently, we have begun work on the windows over the altar at the main Mpls sanctuary ahead of schedule with the hope of having that work completed by the time we can come together to worship in person once again. The scaffolding for this project makes it difficult to record in the main sanctuary.

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April 3 - A Musical Devotion

Mount Olivet Cathedral Choir singing My Hiding Place

Today’s musical devotion is a favorite anthem of our Cathedral Choir. Composed by Tom Fettke, My Hiding Place combines the central elements of two Psalms. The Book of Psalms has often been called “the hymnbook of ancient Israel,” as many of the Psalms were regularly used in congregational worship. In this piece, the composer was inspired by Psalm 32:7, which reads “You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance,” and Psalm 91, which begins, “You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, will say to the Lord, ‘My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust’” (v.1-2).

The anthem revolves around the promise of God’s presence and protection, and so it’s not hard to understand why it might be a favorite of our high school choir, when so much in their lives – from friend groups to future plans – can feel like it’s changing every day. Given our present circumstances, this song may speak powerfully to all of us, and I hope that as you listen you find yourself anchored once again in God’s promise to be with us and for us forever.

One last note: our Cathedral Choir, composed of Mount Olivet youth in 9th through 12th grades, rehearses two and a half hours a week throughout the academic year and sings at two services at our Minneapolis Campus and one service at our West Campus each Sunday. Often involved in other fellowship and service projects at Mount Olivet, our Cathedral Choir members lift all of our spirits as they process into worship in their blue robes, and it’s a pleasure to hear them once again today offering this song of hope and promise.

April 1 - Midweek Lenten Service

Abide with me in relationships – Pastor Hammersten

The Gospel of John was written “so that we may come to believe.” (John 20:31) On this final Wednesday in Lent, we continue to more specifically and personally explore how Christ abides with us, based on the previous Sunday’s gospel readings. When in pain, when lost, when grieving, when serving, in our relationships, where does Christ abide? How do we abide in Him?

March 30 - A Devotion From Your Senior Pastor

We also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. – Romans 5:3-5

I’ll be honest, the idea of “boasting in our sufferings” does not come easily to me. Like most of us, I tend not simply to avoid suffering but, when I am suffering or even struggling, for that matter, I prefer to hide it. I suspect there are a number of reasons for that – not wanting to burden others (a good Midwestern value!), not wanting to admit even to myself that I’m struggling, not wanting to appear weak in a culture that defines strength in terms of power rather than vulnerability or suffering. Yes, lots of reasons.

But the Apostle Paul doesn’t seem to share any of them! Rather, he believes that suffering is part and parcel of our life in this world and that, when approached from the point of view of faith, can actually lead to growth in faith and confidence.

But – and this is super-important to notice – that does not mean Paul is advocating suffering for suffering’s sake or that he believes God intends for us to suffer. Far from it! Rather, Paul asserts that we worship a God who surprises us by showing up to meet us right in the midst of our vulnerability, pain, and suffering. This was a surprise to his first-century audience – and is likely surprising to his twenty-first century audience as well – because we tend to think about God in terms of strength and power and might, and so we assume that’s what God looks for in return.

Truth be told, that’s likely what Paul believed for much of his life also. That the best way to meet God was through spiritual discipline, or strict obedience to God’s laws, or by displaying the kind of faith that can move mountains. But when Paul – who began his career by persecuting the early Church! – is confronted by the crucified and risen Christ, all of his ideas about who God is and where we can expect to meet God are turned on their head. God’s messiah showing up as a convicted criminal? Put to death in the most awful of ways? Surrounded by two-thieves? Suffering as weak and pitiful a death as one can imagine? That thought simply astounded Paul and forced him to think about God differently.

God, it turns out, is not waiting until we become good enough, or strong enough, or righteous enough, to come to us. Rather, God comes to meet us in our weakness, struggles, and vulnerability in order to comfort us, strengthen us, and equip us to comfort and strengthen others.

Two brief “take-aways” related to Paul’s conviction in light of our circumstances.

First, if you are feeling anxious or stressed or frightened, not only are you not alone – this is a pretty normal set of responses to a pandemic! – but you are also not somehow falling short or failing others. Rather, you are being honest, facing what is difficult and being truthful about the dramatic and challenging nature of our circumstances. Brené Brown, one of my favorite researchers and authors, regularly confronts us with the fact that courage is not the absence of fear or vulnerability, but rather is the ability to persevere in the midst of fear and vulnerability. She has challenged more than 10,000 people in the various presentations she’s given to come up with a single example of courage that did not entail vulnerability… and to date, no one has been able to offer one. Similarly, Admiral James Stockdale, a Medal of Honor winner for valor during the Vietnam War – during which he was tortured more than twenty times while being held prisoner for seven years – once said, “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end – which you can never afford to lose – with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever that may be.” So, dear people of Mount Olivet, we will confront the challenges and hardships of this pandemic together, welcoming the fears, concerns, tears, and more as honest expressions of both the vulnerability and solidarity we share.

Second, we’ll remind each other that God chooses to meet us precisely in our weakness and vulnerability so that we know that God always loves and accepts every part of us – even the parts we have a hard time accepting and loving. This, I think, is what Paul means by saying that suffering can lead to endurance, and endurance to character, and character to hope. Because when you realize God is with you and for you – that God is always on your side – then you find a way not simply to survive challenges but even persevere and flourish. Sometimes, in fact, it’s only when things are most difficult that we recognize God’s presence most powerfully. And so we, dear people of Mount Olivet, will continue to gather digitally in worship, continue to reach out to each other in the variety of ways possible, and continue to support each other in the confidence that, indeed, “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

We will get through this. And we will get through it together. And when we do, we may be surprised that we have grown in our faith, confidence, and awareness of God’s abiding grace!

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

March 29 - Sunday Worship

Welcome – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Liturgist – Pastor Monica Hammersten

Preaching Pastor – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Following the worship service is our Faith Alive program featuring Pastor Terry Morehouse.

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Please consider making an online gift to support Mount Olivet Ministries. Thank you!

March 27 - A Musical Devotion

Senior Choir Section Leader & Choir Sunday School Teacher, Carah Hart, singing He’s Always Been Faithful

You may not know the name of Thomas Obadiah Chisholm (1866-1960), a Methodist pastor, insurance salesman, and hymn writer, but you are likely familiar with his most famous hymn, “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” For this Friday’s musical reflection, we will listen to a less known but equally beautiful hymn by Chisholm, “He’s Always Been Faithful.” It is sung by Carah Hart, one of Mount Olivet’s Senior Choir section leaders and Choir Sunday School teachers.

As you listen, you’ll notice that this hymn is in many ways a “first cousin” to “Great is Thy Faithfulness” as it has similar themes. But the lyrics of this hymn make the promise of God’s faithfulness less a declaration and more of a personal confession. As you listen, you might take comfort that in midst of the chaos of this time, and even while sustaining the whole world and cosmos, yet God also has regard for each one of us. May it be a blessing to you this day and grant a measure of peace.

March 25 - Midweek Lenten Service

Abide with me in service – Pastor Dixon

The Gospel of John was written “so that we may come to believe.” (John 20:31) On Wednesdays in Lent, we continue to more specifically and personally explore how Christ abides with us, based on the previous Sunday’s gospel readings. When in pain, when lost, when grieving, when serving, in our relationships, where does Christ abide? How do we abide in Him?

March 23 - A Devotion From Your Senior Pastor

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” –John 14:27

Dear Family and Friends of Mount Olivet Lutheran Church,

I’ve always found this passage comforting but, truth be told, also a little challenging. The comfort is straightforward: Jesus is promising his disciples a measure of peace that transcends all the challenges they will face, peace that cannot be taken away from them, peace that will help them overcome the challenges and obstacles they face. Jesus says these words on the eve of his betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. He knows that his disciples are about to face fearful challenges they cannot yet imagine, and so he promises them peace.

It was an important word then, and it’s an important word now. Because we, too, are suddenly facing fearful challenges that we had not imagined even a few short weeks ago. And so Jesus’ promise of peace and presence is timely, important, and comforting.

But it’s also challenging. What does Jesus mean, for instance, by saying, “I do not give as the world gives?” There are some in the Christian community that have suggested that civic leaders are overreacting to the coronavirus, that the measures advocated are too extreme, and that this threat has been overblown. In short, they advocate not trusting in worldly wisdom or promises of worldly peace.

Let me be very clear on this point: I do not think this is what Jesus is advocating or promising. We have been blessed by our Creator with reason and intellect and creativity to investigate and understand the creation and, to the best of our abilities, to be good stewards of it to the benefit of all God’s people. Right now, that means maintaining strict hygiene routines, practicing social distancing, suspending our usual gatherings and activities, and pulling together to support each other during a difficult time.

Notice that Jesus promises his disciples peace. Peace… not ease of life, not escape from hardship, not protection against all harm. Rather, Jesus promises them peace, a confidence in God’s presence that grants them courage amid difficulty. Perhaps that’s what Jesus means. While we trust and are grateful for the measures our health professionals advocate and while we throw ourselves whole-heartedly into caring for our neighbor by taking these recommendations seriously, yet we also have a source of confidence beyond even the best science.

Note, again, that Jesus promises his disciples peace on the eve of his crucifixion. He was not immune to suffering, harm, or death, and so knows our fears first hand. And yet death did not have the last word, as Jesus was raised again. The witness of the cross, therefore, is that God understands our fears and stays with us during them, and the witness of the resurrection is that God’s love is stronger than hate, that God’s light is stronger than darkness, and that the abundant life God grants is stronger than death itself.

Taken together, Jesus’ cross and resurrection promise that God understands and loves us, will never abandon us, and will in time bring us through all things, even death. And this promise creates in us peace – the ability to maintain our courage amid difficult times, the strength to encourage others when they are fearful, and the capacity to help others. This peace, we are reminded, is given to us by the One whom even death could not contain. It is the gift Jesus gave his disciples of long ago and the gift he still gives us today, a gift that is, indeed, timely, important, and comforting.

Know that I hold you in prayer each day, praying that you experience a measure of peace, courage, and confidence suitable to the challenges of the day. We will get through this, and we will get through it together, for we have been blessed with the peace of Christ, a peace that passes all human understanding.

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Lose
Senior Pastor

March 22 - Sunday Worship

Welcome – Pastor David Lose, Senior Pastor

Liturgist – Pastor Mark Dixon

Preaching Pastor – Pastor Charlie Ruud

Following the worship service is our Faith Alive program featuring Pastor Terry Morehouse.

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Please consider making an online gift to support Mount Olivet Ministries. Thank you!

March 20 - A Musical Devotion

Senior Choir Section Leader, Audrey Johnson, singing Deep River

Deep River is one of the African American spirituals that gave hope to slaves enduring nearly unimaginable hardship. Spirituals often fall into two broad categories. The first were more up-tempo and were often sung while doing work on the plantations. Slave-owners actually encouraged these kinds of songs because they believed it helped the slaves work more quickly. The second genre was much slower and, while filled ultimately with hope, also gave voice to the deep sorrow of the slaves’ condition. These songs were discouraged, perhaps because slave owners feared the deep emotions they might stir.

Deep River falls into this second category, expressing the pain and sorrow of slavery and a deep longing for release and freedom, both in this world and the next. Today, there is no doubt that there are many who are feeling their own measure of anxiety, sorrow, and even despair when so many aspects of our lives have been turned upside down. As you listen to this spiritual – sung by Mount Olivet Senior Choir Section Leader, Audrey Johnson – give yourself the permission to name your own fears so that you may also trust once again that God is with us and for us and will bring us through this present hardship.

March 18 - Truth Talk #2

We continue our practice of letting Lent be a time to be honest about the challenges of our life in this world and learning together how our faith equips us to not just get by, but actually flourish. In our Truth Talks this year, we explore how God’s promises can help us find a measure of calm, peace, and confidence in ourselves amid all the distractions of life. This Truth Talk is featuring Pastor Ruud and special guest Annika Henry, a student at Augsburg University. They will be discussing anxiety.

March 18 - Midweek Lenten Service

Abide with me in grief – Pastor MacLean

The Gospel of John was written “so that we may come to believe.” (John 20:31) On Wednesdays in Lent, we will be more specifically and personally exploring how Christ abides with us, based on the previous Sunday’s gospel readings. When in pain, when lost, when grieving, when serving, in our relationships, where does Christ abide? How do we abide in Him?

March 15 - Sunday Worship

Pastor Lose preaches on “Jesus the Healer” and the scripture story of the raising of Lazarus.

The liturgist is Pastor Kalland.

Principal Organist Richard Owen and soloist Luke Randall.


Pastoral Care Resources

Below are a list of resources that our Pastoral Care Team is offering to support you.

If you or a loved one are hospitalized, please contact Andrea Brown 612.767.2209, Julie Goodman 612.767.2208, or Ann LaBree 612.767.2288.

If you need to reach a Pastor for emergencies including eminent deaths, hospitalizations, support after office hours please call the on-call phone at 612.916.9016.

The Mount Olivet Counseling Service is offering counseling sessions by phone. Please call 612.927.7335 ext. 10 or email Anne Lied.

If you are in need of a meal, prescription pick-up, or just a friendly phone call, please reach out to one of the members of our pastoral care department and they can help Andrea Brown 612.767.2209, Julie Goodman 612.767.2208, or Ann LaBree 612.767.2288.

Here are some friendly reminders:

  • Please call the church before coming
  • All of the Mount Olivet staff is checking their emails and voicemails, so leave a message and we will get back to you.

Community Meals

Weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dinner Served from 4-5:30pm

Mount Olivet Church hosts a community meal of in-house scratch-made healthy meals, including entree, soup, vegetable, salad, fruit, dessert and beverages. DURING THE PERIOD OF COVID19, WE WILL BE MOVING OUR MEALS TO GRAB AND GO CURBSIDE.

These meals, free of charge, are our opportunity to support anyone who needs a meal or time spent with others.  All are welcome every Tuesday and Thursday.

Mount Olivet Community Greet and Give - Donation Drive

Mount Olivet Greet and Give Drives continue in ongoing support of our ministry partners:  CES, Bountiful Baskets, Love, INC, VEAP, St. Stephen’s Human Services and Simpson Housing. 

Staff will be on hand from 4-6pm to greet and accept your food and essential items donations on the following days:
1st Monday of the month – Minneapolis Campus
3rd Monday of the month – West Campus

Thank you for your continued generosity at our monthly drives! Due to limited storage space and staff to sort items, our Community Partners have streamlined their “urgent needs” lists for the summer months. Along with food items, please concentrate your donations to these specific needs:

Minneapolis Campus:

  • * NEW sheet sets, folded and labeled for size
  • * NEW travel size personal care items
  • * Diapers/Pull-Ups
  • * NEW plain colored t-shirts – all sizes
  • * NEW underwear – all sizes

West Campus:

  • Full-size personal care products
  • Household cleaning supplies
  • Laundry and dish soap
  • Diapers, Pull-Ups and baby wipes

If you cannot visit us in person, you may directly donate using the following websites:
St. Stephen’s Amazon
Simpson Housing Amazon
Love INC.

Thank you for your generosity in helping our community neighbors face the current challenges.

Prayer Line

Mount Olivet’s Prayer Ministry team provides prayer support to those in need of prayer. In order to submit a prayer request, please call 612.767.2300 or complete our Prayer Request Form.

Support Our Mount Olivet Partners in Community Outreach

VEAP – Volunteers Enlisted to Assist People
CES – Community Emergency Services
Bountiful Baskets Food Shelf – Carver County
Simpson Housing
St. Stephen’s Human Resources
Our Saviors Lutheran Church

Retreat Where You Are: Mount Olivet Conference & Retreat Center

Life may look and feel different right now. You may be anxious about your new daily routine and the uncertainty of the future. Or maybe you are leaning into the stillness of these times. No matter how you are feeling, now is the perfect time to retreat. Pause. Take a breath. Center yourself. We are bringing retreat to you. Explore the resources here and start your own retreat at home. We have cultivated a toolkit for you and your family – prayers, meditations, and activities – to explore and help you through this time of change.

Visit Retreat Where You Are