The Flowering of the Cross
On Easter Sunday morning, some Episcopal, Lutheran, and other Protestant churches incorporate a ceremony called “The Flowering of the Cross” into their worship service. I first witnessed this at a Protestant church while living in Belgium.
Members of the congregation bring flowers or greenery to church. A bare wooden cross, covered with chicken wire, stands in the church. Before the service, worshipers are invited to approach the barren cross and twine a flower around one of the wires. The congregation continues to decorate the cross until flowers cover it completely.
The ceremony transforms a barren cross, a reminder of Jesus’ death, into an Easter symbol. Covered with fresh, living flowers, the cross serves not only as an emblem of Jesus’ resurrection but also of the continuing presence of Christ among today’s Christians. The flowering of the cross represents the transition from Good Friday to Easter, from meditation on Jesus’ death to joyful celebration of His resurrection.
As you attend the Easter Sunday worship service this year, please pause by the cross and add flowers. You can bring flowers from your garden or take one provided by the Flower Committee.
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor……. The Mt. Olive volunteers bravely embraced the cold rain this past Wednesday to distribute Blessing Bags to the needy in South Dallas. Given our being shut down several service days due to the snow and ice in the Dallas area, the patrons were incredibly excited to see us serving again. The Winter clothing contributed by CLC was also especially welcome.
We serve Blessing Bags every Wednesday and Saturday between 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, 3100 MLK Boulevard, Dallas. Please join us any time to serve the neighbors and make new friends! If you have any questions, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
A special thanks to all those faithful donors this past year for your monetary, clothing, and food contributions. You are an essential part of this ministry!
Donations of any amount are always greatly appreciated and can be made online at clcdallas.org or by check/cash to CLC annotated with “Mt. Olive Food Pantry.”
February Music Ministry
Happy February! Music ministry has had a busy start in 2023: the choir was singing already in early January, bell-ringers joined us in liturgy leading, several new soloist videos were produced, and now we've started to make plans for Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Holy Week.
This year we sang several new hymns in January and will continue with that also in the first half of February. Time after an epiphany in the church calendar is short. The 15 hymns dedicated to that period are worth discovering with their unusual melodies and harmonies in combination with powerful words.
Wednesday worship and gospel of John bible study started on February 8 at 6:30 PM, led by Vicar Kristen. Please consider joining us for these special services as we start preparing our minds and hearts for Lent. Our annual meeting was on February 5, and annual reports are available online and at church. Please keep checking our weekly emails and bulletins for future events and announcements.
Have you thought about singing in the choir, ringing bells, or leading worship as a soloist or cantor? Join us, and let's glorify God in our music! We welcome all; no music-reading or other professional skills are required.
Many thanks to Sanctuary Choir, Betsy Lintel, Laura Haynie, Gwen Sliger, Romali Fernando, Don Roland, Greg and Julia Smith, David Kuhlmann, and Karen Morton for their beautiful musical offerings in January! And Sergio Pena for monitoring our live stream services, and Gary Haschke for sound engineering! God Gets the Glory!
Prayers to all in need: Our church and all other churches, all countries and nations, and people who struggle with conflict and division, people in poverty, those dealing with health issues, and those searching for truth and spirituality and love.
"Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us." (Martin Luther)
See you at church!
Dr. Hando Nahkur
Director of Music
Care Giving and Care Receiving
I am often asked, "Who will you give communion to?" My answer is; one of our members who cannot attend worship services.
Several times a month, you will see Pastor Ben bless caregivers as they are presented with communion kits.
Our congregation trained many people in the Stephen's Ministry program several years ago. Since then, we have had caregivers communicate with people who cannot attend worship. Although today most of our caregivers have not received Stephen’s Ministry training, Pastor Ben has shared training with our caregivers.
Caregivers are any of us who communicate with people who cannot attend worship, from members in the hospital or a rehab unit; to members who cannot leave their homes. Our congregation is blessed with many friendships. There was a time when this congregation had several women's circles. They were great at caring for each other.
We are blessed with some caregivers who faithfully contact and serve communion to those who cannot attend worship. The care receiver is often back worshiping with us within a few weeks or months. Pastor Ben, Vicar Kristen, and Virginia meet regularly to review the names of people in our congregation who desire contact.
Our caregivers faithfully serve communion to the care receivers each month and always ensure they are seen before the holidays. Many times they deliver the Sunday Altar flowers. We are making arrangements to see as many as possible for Ash Wednesday.
If you cannot attend worship or special services or know someone who cannot and desires personal contact, please contact Pastor Ben, Vicar Kristin, or Virginia Worley.
It is a blessing to share the love of Christ as a caregiver and to receive the love of Christ as a care receiver.
Virginia H. Worley
Walking the Spiritual Path
Music expresses the rhythm of our souls. Above are the basic essential elements of experiences beyond our wildest imagination. They are the consonants and vowels of amazing compositions that take our hearts on flights of passion and our minds into the farthest reaches of the universe.
Martin Luther is quoted as saying, "Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.
Maya Angelou, “Music as my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.
Plato: Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and everything.
Victor Hugo, “Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.
This Sunday is our last class exploring spiritual disciplines and exercises before the retreat. We will explore how music creates the space where we encounter God.
If you wish to be a participant in the retreat on Saturday, January 28, be sure to sign up either on the sign-up sheet in the Narthex or on-line. For more information, email Joan at email@example.com.
I'm getting ready to do something I almost never do, which is preach a sermon series. This month our cycle of readings gives us one of the most profound parts in all of Scripture (at least in my opinion), the opening chapters of Paul's first letter to the church in Corinth.
When I wrote Fidelia and the Pirates a few years ago, and then the Christmas Special last year, I made the main character a resident of Corinth largely because of this letter (also because it was a significant port city and the pirates had to be sailing somewhere--I'm a stickler for authenticity even when writing a goofy drama). During my year of internship, I wrote out a section of the first chapter on construction paper and posted it in my "office," an empty room with a desk that I rarely had any occasion to use, but that seemed to need a motto of some kind. And fresh out of three years at a big-headed divinity school at world-famous university, this was the passage I chose:
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling-block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:20-25)
That's still a couple weeks away, however. Before we get there, we'll be introduced to a community experiencing internal conflict and division over the meaning of the good news of Jesus Christ. Much of the details are obscure to us, twenty centuries later, but even so it feels familiar to me. The way Paul tells it, Christ has become secondary in this church to the different factions, practices, and schools of wisdom that are current in Corinth.
I've been thinking about this a lot, as I see Christianity in America becoming defined by issues and beliefs that I would consider at best secondary, more often irrelevant, and sometimes totally fraudulent. I've written about it in the Dallas Morning News. More than once! There is an enduring temptation to get beyond Jesus, to find our truth or our unity with each other in values or beliefs ("wisdom," in the language of Paul's day) that are not part of the essential proclamation of Christ crucified and risen.
So Paul has his work cut out for himself, writing then to Corinth and to us today. We'll hear about spiritual gifts and calling this week, about factions and leaders next week, and about the "foolishness of God" and the simple message of Christ crucified in the weeks that follow. I don't know how or where this will go, but I hope you'll join me for the journey.
Advent & Christmas at CLC
Walking the Spiritual Path
Reading artwork with spiritual eyes.
Recently, the world has been treated to a new way of engaging art, the Immersive Experience of Van Gogh, Monet, Frida Kahlo, and now Egyptian tomb art with King Tut. These involve not just the works themselves but technologies such as VR, holography, and digital projection to enable the viewer to enter the art and engage all the senses at once. I have not been to one of these exhibits, but "Beyond King Tut" may lure me. I have visited the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and the pyramids. How will the experiences differ? And how does it compare to viewing a painting in a frame?
Below is a watercolor painting I hung up in my office a few weeks ago. No one asked me about it. After all, its historical significance is not apparent like Anubis. The painter is a friend still taking lessons from a few years ago. And, perhaps, a church is not the usual subject matter for art in a legal office. So, I began to share the story of the picture. https://emmitsburg.net/sjlc/index.htm The congregation that worships there was my first after seminary, but its incorporation goes back to the year George Washington was born. The building pictured here is only one of many on this site over the years, but its location makes it so important. One of the nation's first crossroads converged here. It was a stagecoach stop with overnight taverns, stables, and blacksmiths. Early pioneers moving across the lands passed through, prayed, and bolstered their courage before heading out on the next leg of their journey.
A photo of me now hangs on the wall at the sanctuary's entrance as one of this congregation's many historic pastors. I am part of an ongoing ministry that will continue in time. The many people who have lived, worked and worshiped here have stories that moved across this country and the world. All of them are “present” here in this painting. If I ponder long enough, I can feel their energy, their spirit, glowing like the light in the windows on that dark snowy evening. In the gathering room, I hear the voices discussing and debating the many decisions made over the centuries. I can see the kids having snowball fights. Over there is the cemetery that is home to revolutionary, WWI, WWII war casualties, etc.
We need to take the time to allow the painting or other artwork to speak to us so that we can enter into the lives or events that it depicts. We may even look at Egyptian tomb art as tourists would. But it, too, represents the lives of people who attempted to understand the spiritual aspect of life, the stories that helped them make sense of their world, and what might be beyond. We will try to do this in our spiritual disciplines classes.
God's Work. Our hands.