First English Lutheran Church

3001 Whitis Avenue, Austin, TX, 78705

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Welcome

Welcome to First English Lutheran Church.  You’re invited to join a real community of faith and friendship that gathers for worship, relationship building, personal growth, and service to the community and the world.

We welcome people from all walks of life and in all places in the journey of faith and life.  Whether you’re a lifelong Lutheran, a former something else, or a seeker and questioner looking for more to life and a place to explore , we’re glad to have you.  Since 1989, FELC has openly welcomed persons of all sexual orientation to full participation in the church.

Weekly Update: December 20, 2016

Preparing for Christmas Worship

Scripture texts

Here are some biblical verses and writings as a way to prepare and begin hearing and pondering the scripture texts for worship:

Isaiah 9:2

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.

Luke 2:8-14

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will

find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

There are many of you in this congregation who think to yourselves: “If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby! I would have washed his linen.” But if you had been there at that time, you would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. Childish and silly thoughts are these! Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbor: you ought to serve him, for what you do to your neighbor in need, you do
to the Lord Christ himself.

Martin Luther

[Martin Luther, The Martin Luther Christmas Book, trans. Roland H. Bainton (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1948), 38.]

Upcoming Worship for Christmas and the New Year

Wednesday, December 21:

Blue Christmas Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm

While Advent is a season of hope and Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels hopeful or like celebrating. Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, underemployment, and loss can be magnified. We gather on the darkest night of the year, the winter solstice. All in the community are invited to this Christmas service of hope.

Saturday, December 24:

Christmas Eve Eucharist with Candlelight

5:30 pm               Child–friendly with children sharing the Christmas story

11:00 pm             Choral and instrumental music,

with prelude music at 10:45 pm 

Sunday, December 25: one service at 11:00 am

Christmas Day Eucharist with Lessons and Carols

11:00 am             Experience the Christmas story in word and song

Christian formation, children’s gathering and nursery care will not be offered on this day.

Sunday, January 1, 2017: one service at 11:00 am

New Year’s Day Eucharist

11:00 am             Begin the New Year in prayer and praise

Christian formation, children’s gathering and nursery care will not be offered on this day.

Sunday, January 8, 2017: two services

Baptism of Our Lord

8:30 am               Eucharist with affirmation of baptism

9:45 am               Christian formation for all ages

11:00 am             Eucharist with baptism and affirmation.

Flooring Project: CDC and Church Office Closed

One of our capital campaign projects we have been planning for is replacing the flooring in the entire Child Development Center, including classrooms, hallway, and office. The existing tile is in bad shape, and has asbestos in the tile and adhesive. The abatement and installation project is scheduled to run from December 21 through January 3. During the first part of the project, the CDC wing will be sealed off for the abatement. Throughout the project, all items and furniture from the CDC will be stored in the fellowship hall, making only the kitchen end of the fellowship hall usable. We look forward to seeing the new beautiful flooring in the new year.  The Church Office and CDC will close December 21 and is scheduled to reopen January 4.

Welcome to Holden Village

Over the course of 50 years, Holden Village has been transformed from a copper mining town to a vibrant place of education, programming, and worship. It has been a rich journey of faith. Holden welcomes all who seek contemplation and community in the wilderness of the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Rooted in Lutheran traditions, Holden invites people of all ages to come and experience the various rhythms which inspire and equip travelers for a sustainable life of faith. Holden still affords guests the comforts of three nourishing meals a day, a warm bed, hot shower and caring community. The web site is www.holdenvillage.org. Many of us at First English have waited a long time for the camp to re-open.  All are welcome!  The suggested time of our visit is June 2017. Please contact Teresa Ringness at ttbhip@gmail.com or 512-831-8806 byDecember 27, 2016 to indicate your interest!  Group registration is due on January 1, 2017.

Weekly Update: December 13, 2016

Preparing for Worship on Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 8:30 & 11 am

Scripture texts

Here are some biblical verses and writings as a way to prepare and begin hearing and pondering the scripture texts for worship this Sunday:

Psalm 80: 7,17-19

Restore us, O God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.
Let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
the one you have made so strong for yourself.
And so will we never turn away from you;
give us life, that we may call upon your name.
Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved.

Matthew 1:18-25

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.

A Meaning-Making Name
Names are powerful makers of meaning both in the scriptures and in our lives. Consider how much we associate people with their names. A name is merely a word, a sound, yet it can completely represent a person. And our names can be powerful. Think about the resurrection account in John 20 when a distraught Mary Magdalene does not recognize Jesus in the garden. She does not recognize him until when? He speaks her name.

The texts for the fourth Sunday of Advent invite us to explore the name “Emmanuel.” “Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). And he shall be called “Emmanuel,” God with us. This reality changes everything. Never is God so with us as in Jesus of Nazareth. Here is God-made-flesh, and in his very name, the Son of God proclaims just how with us and for us God really is. This fulfillment of prophetic promise offers us a delicate and dramatic reality: God has slipped into skin and walks among us in a totally new way, offering us life and salvation.

This Sunday: adult forum

This Sunday is the last adult forum in the series Conversations on Racism at 9:45 am in the parlor. Facilitated by Intern Pastor Travis Fitzgold, this series of conversations looks at major Christian theological themes in light of the persistent reality of racism in the United States.  Come explore these questions and others.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, December 14 

breaking bread, making friends

Serving from 6:00-7:00 pm

FELC Fellowship Hall

Enjoy a great, chef-prepared, freshly cooked meal.

Dine together and enjoy the community dinner, or take it to go.

Suggested donation: $5 for adults, $3 for children

Menu for 12/14:

Spinach Quiche, Honey Roasted Carrots, Salad w Cranberry Vinaigrette and Cardamom Star Cookies

The Companion Cafe will resume again on Wednesday, January 18, 2017.

Advent Evening Prayer: Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Wednesday, December 14

7:00 pm – Chapel of the Saints

The holiday season can stir deep emotions within us. God meets us wherever we are, both physically and emotionally. This service gives voice to the complex situations and emotions with which we greet the coming Messiah and uses the reactions of those who first received the news of Jesus’ birth (Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary) to do so. This service acknowledge responses of fear, confusion, and doubt, while the coming of Jesus promises comfort and joy for all of us. Come and pray together.  Invite someone to join you.

Poinsettias for Christmas: deadline this Friday, December 16

Beautiful poinsettias will enhance the sanctuary at Christmas and are available for order: Red and (a limited amount of) White Plants.If you would like to contribute to the cost of the flowers, please complete the online form at: http://www.felcaustin.org/forms/poinsettias. Paper forms are available in the church office. Each plant costs $15.00. Plants will be available to take on the Sunday after Christmas on a first-come, first-served basis. Prepayment is required by Friday, December 16.Please send a check made out to “First English Lutheran Church” with “Christmas Poinsettias” in the memo. Or, you may use our online donations option: http://www.felcaustin.org/giving.

Rehearsal for Christmas Eve: Sunday, December 18 at 9:30 am

On Sunday, December 18 we’ll gather at 9:30 am to rehearse for the 5:30 pm, December 24, Christmas Eve Candlelight Eucharist. The 5:30 pm Christmas Eve service is child friendly with children and youth leading and telling the Christmas story.

Parents, please have your children at the church ready to go at 9:30 am in the Fellowship Hall.

Contact Jimmy Wright, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at formation@felcaustin.org.

Christmas Caroling: Sunday, December 18

Bring the joy of Christmas to our homebound by singing Christmas carols with them. We’ll meet at the First English fellowship hall and leave at 2:00 pmto travel around the city. Bring your Santa hats and jingle bells! This is a great all-ages activity that is sure to put you in a spirit of love and joy.

Thank you!

We had about 30 persons who helped with our work day this past Sunday. We were able to do many cleaning and repair projects around the sanctuary and other areas. Our building is looking great and ready for Christmas celebrations. Many thanks to all who helped.

Upcoming Worship for Christmas and the New Year

Wednesday, December 21:

Blue Christmas Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm

While Advent is a season of hope and Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels hopeful or like celebrating. Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, underemployment, and loss can be magnified. We gather on the darkest night of the year, the winter solstice. All in the community are invited to this Christmas service of hope.

Saturday, December 24:

Christmas Eve Eucharist with Candlelight

5:30 pm               Child–friendly with children sharing the Christmas story

11:00 pm             Choral and instrumental music,

with prelude music at 10:45 pm 

Sunday, December 25: one service at 11:00 am

Christmas Day Eucharist with Lessons and Carols

11:00 am             Experience the Christmas story in word and song

Christian formation, children’s gathering and nursery care will not be offered on this day.

Sunday, January 1, 2017: one service at 11:00 am

New Year’s Day Eucharist

11:00 am             Begin the New Year in prayer and praise

Christian formation, children’s gathering and nursery care will not be offered on this day.

Sunday, January 8, 2017: two services

Baptism of Our Lord

8:30 am               Eucharist with affirmation of baptism

9:45 am               Christian formation for all ages

11:00 am             Eucharist with baptism and affirmation.

Weekly Update: December 6, 2016

Preparing for Worship on Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 8:30 & 11 am

See blocks below about worship and formation on Sunday

Scripture texts

Here are some biblical verses and writings as a way to prepare and begin hearing and pondering the scripture texts for worship this Sunday:

Isaiah 35:3-4

Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”

Matthew 11:2-6
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Advent Sundays

On Sunday, November 13 we began observing the ancient tradition of celebrating a longer season of Advent. This is giving us six Sunday worship observances of the time of hopeful waiting for the coming of Christ future, present, and past. Lighting candles on the Advent wreath helps us mark time and contemplate patience even as we trust in God to act.

Come and worship and let us prepare together.

On Sunday, December 11 we offer healing prayer and anointing during communion distribution at both services.

This Sunday: adult forum

Conversations on Racism, led by Intern Pastor Travis Fitzgold, continues this week at 9:45 am in the parlor. Sundays, December 11 and 18 are the last two conversations in this series. We ponder major Christian theological themes in light of the persistent reality of racism in the United States. Come explore these questions and others in a thought-provoking, supportive environment.

The Co-Teachers of Godly Play

In Godly Play there are two adult roles: the doorperson and storyteller. We call these co-teachers because it’s not the typical arrangement of a lead teacher and helper found in most Sunday school classrooms. Godly Play isn’t designed in a hierarchal manner where a teacher is seen as the authority figure. Godly Play is more akin to guiding children in Christian liturgy and language. It’s a form of Montessori religious education where children choose their work and adults gently guide and assist the children only if needed. Otherwise, the adults get out of the way and listen. We allow room for silence as a way of entering into the mystery of God.

On the third Sunday in Advent, December 11, Joe Cain and Jackie Chuter will be our co-teachers. Jimmy Wright will be on hand for some instructional pieces and to answer questions. We are in need of finding a couple of more teachers to join our Godly Play team. Please contact Jimmy Wright if you’d like to observe this session, formation@felcaustin.org. We begin at 9:45 am at the threshold to the library in the Chapel of the Saints.

This Sunday: youth formation

6th-8th grade youth

This week Ms. Heidi Goebel will be leading the youth in a session on The Annunciation.

Bible Text: Luke 1:26–56

Lesson Focus: With God, anything is possible.

Big Question: Am I too young to make a difference?

Key Words: MAGNIFICAT, ANNUNCIATION

We meet Sunday at 9:45 am in the Alcove of the Saints (west side classroom of the Chapel of the Saints).
For more information contact Jimmy Wright, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at formation@felcaustin.org.

Prime Timers Potluck Lunch: Wednesday, December 7

Prime Timers is a gathering of devoted participants ministering to one another and serving in the church and community. All are welcome – those in the prime of life and those young at heart!  On Wednesday, December 7 at 12:30 pm we’ll start with a potluck in the fellowship hall and continue with conversation.
For more information, contact the church office or Merle Franke.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, December 7 

breaking bread, making friends

Serving from 6-7 pm

FELC Fellowship Hall

Enjoy a great, chef-prepared, freshly cooked meal.

Dine together and enjoy the community dinner, or take it to go.

Suggested donation: $5 for adults, $3 for children

Menu for 12/07:

Tortilla Crusted Chicken w Sriracha Cream Sauce, Green Goddess Salad, Spanish Rice

Menu for 12/14:

Spinach Quiche, Honey Roasted Carrots, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Salad w Cranberry Vinaigrette

The Companion Cafe will resume again on Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Advent Evening Prayer: Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Wednesdays, December 7 and December 14

7:00 pm – Chapel of the Saints

The holiday season can stir deep emotions within us. God meets us wherever we are, both physically and emotionally. This Advent series gives voice to the complex situations and emotions with which we greet the coming Messiah and uses the reactions of those who first received the news of Jesus’ birth (Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary) to do so. These services acknowledge responses of fear, confusion, and doubt, while the coming of Jesus promises comfort and joy for all of us. Come and pray together.  Invite someone to join you.

Concert: An Early Christmas

at First English

Friday, December 9 at 8:00 pm
Saturday December 10 at 8:00 pm
Texas Early Music Project explores the intangible essence of Christmas with beautiful and joyful carols, motets, dances, and traditional songs with innovative arrangements for solo voices, small chorus, harp, violin, flute, mandolin, viols, and lutes.
For tickets or more information: https://www.early-music.org.

Property Work and Cleaning Day

Sunday, December 11
12:30 pm

It’s time to get our sanctuary and other areas in great shape for Christmas and beyond. We’ll have a ready-to-go list of cleaning, organizing, and repair projects so we can get to work right after the 11:00 am worship service. Come to church in your work clothes (it’s OK, really!). We’ll have a light lunch for those who are working. If you can help, please email Pastor Coffey at pastor@felcaustin.org so we can plan accordingly.

Book Club: Sunday, December 11 – 6:30 pm

The next FELC Book Club meeting is Sunday, December 11, 6:30–8:30 pm. Barbara Wiederaenders has graciously offered her home for the meeting. As always, we will have a potluck dinner followed by discussion of the book. The book this month is The Quiet American, by Graham Greene. For the meeting location address or more information, contact Anne Wiebe at wiebeanne@hotmail.com.

Poinsettias for Christmas: deadline Friday, December 16

Beautiful poinsettias will enhance the sanctuary at Christmas and are available for order: Red and (a limited amount of) White Plants.If you would like to contribute to the cost of the flowers, please complete the online form at: http://www.felcaustin.org/forms/poinsettias. Paper forms are available on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings at bulletin tables in the narthex and south transept. Each plant costs $15.00. Plants will be available to take on the Sunday after Christmas on a first-come, first-served basis. Prepayment is required by Friday, December 16. Please send a check made out to “First English Lutheran Church” with “Christmas Poinsettias” in the memo. Or, you may use our online donations option: http://www.felcaustin.org/giving.

Rehearsal for Christmas Eve: Sunday, December 18 at 9:30 am

On Sunday, December 18 we’ll gather at 9:30 am in the sanctuary to rehearse for the 5:30 pm, December 24, Christmas Eve Candlelight Eucharist. The 5:30 pm Christmas Eve service is child friendly with children and youth leading and telling the Christmas story.

New this year…adults encouraged to dress-up and take part in the nativity story. We have several adult size costumes!

Please let Jimmy Wright know if your child or you want a specific role in the nativity story.

These are all non-speaking roles but we do need a specific number of each:
Mary (1), Joseph (1), Donkey (1), Shepherds (several), Sheep (several), Angels (several), Stars (several), Magi (3)

Contact Jimmy Wright, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at formation@felcaustin.org.

Christmas Caroling: Sunday, December 18

Bring the joy of Christmas to our homebound by singing Christmas carols with them. We’ll meet at the First English fellowship hall at 2:00 pm to travel around the city. Bring your Santa hats and jingle bells! This is a great all-ages activity that is sure to put you in a spirit of love and joy.

Upcoming Worship for Christmas and the New Year

Wednesday, December 21:

Blue Christmas Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm

While Advent is a season of hope and Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels hopeful or like celebrating. Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, underemployment, and loss can be magnified. We gather on the darkest night of the year, the winter solstice. All in the community are invited to this Christmas service of hope.

Saturday, December 24:

Christmas Eve Eucharist with Candlelight

5:30 pm               Child–friendly with children/youth leading and sharing the Christmas story

11:00 pm             Choral and instrumental music, with prelude music at 10:45 pm

Sunday, December 25: one service at 11:00 am

Christmas Day Eucharist with Lessons and Carols

11:00 am             Experience the Christmas story in word and song

Sunday, January 1, 2017: one service at 11:00 am

New Year’s Day Eucharist

11:00 am             Begin the New Year in prayer and praise

Sunday, January 8, 2017: two services

Baptism of Our Lord

8:30 and 11:00 am      Baptism and renewal of baptismal vows

Weekly Update: November 29, 2016

Preparing for Worship on Sunday, December 4, 2016 at 8:30 & 11 am

Scripture texts 

Here are some biblical verses and writings as a way to prepare and begin hearing and pondering the scripture texts for worship this Sunday:

Isaiah 11:1-2

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said,
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’ ”
Now John wore clothing of camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then the people of Jerusalem and all Judea were going out to him, and all the region along the Jordan, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

Themes for this Sunday
At the heart of our Advent preparation stands John the Baptist, who calls us to repent and make a new beginning. As the darkness increases we turn toward the light of Christ’s coming. For Christians he is the root of Jesse, the righteous judge who welcomes all, especially the poor and meek of the earth. We wait with hope for that day when the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and there will be no more hurt or destruction. From the Lord’s table we are sent in the spirit of John the Baptist to proclaim that in Christ the kingdom of God has come near.

Advent Sundays

On Sunday, November 13 we began observing the ancient tradition of celebrating a longer season of Advent. This gives us six Sunday worship observances of the time of hopeful waiting for the coming of Christ future, present, and past. We will have six Sundays of a change in liturgy with a more peaceful, quiet mood, including silence, confession and forgiveness, contemplative prayer, and songs and texts that stir up our faith and hope in Christ.  Lighting candles on the Advent wreath helps us mark time and contemplate patience even as we trust in God to act. Come and worship and let us prepare together.

On Sunday, December 11 we will offer healing prayer and annointing during communion distribution at both services.

This Sunday: adult forum

Conversations on Racism, led by Intern Pastor Travis Fitzgold, continues this week at 9:45 am in the parlor. This series of conversations looks at major Christian theological themes in light of the persistent reality of racism in the United States. Come explore these questions and others in a thought-provoking, supportive environment.

Instructional Godly Play: Adult Storytellers and Doorpersons Are Needed

On Sunday, Jimmy Wright will present the Godly Play story of Advent I and II.  We’ll use this time as an instructional way to prepare our children and adult leaders for our official Godly Play launch in January.

If you’re interested in becoming a Godly Play storyteller or doorperson, or just want to learn more about the program, please make plans to observe one of these sessions. Space is limited each week, so please contact Jimmy Wright to reserve your spot: formation@felcaustin.org

·         When? December 4th, December 11th, December 18th

·         Time? 9:45—10:45 am

·         Location? Library. We begin at the door to the library off the Chapel of the Saints.

This Sunday: youth formation

6th-8th grade youth

This week Mr. Andy Petras will be leading the youth in a session on The Ten Commandments.

·         Bible Text: Exodus 20

·         Lesson Focus: The Ten Commandments are a gift from God to help us live with one another.

·         Big Question: Are the Ten Commandments around just to trip us up and make us feel bad?

·         Key Words: GUIDELINES, GIFT, THRESHOLD

For more information contact Jimmy Wright, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries at formation@felcaustin.org.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, November 30 

breaking bread, making friends

Serving from 6-7 pm

FELC Fellowship Hall

Enjoy a great, chef-prepared, freshly cooked meal.

Dine together and enjoy the community dinner, or take it to go.

Suggested donation: $5 for adults, $3 for children

Menu for 11/30: Beef Barley Soup, Dinner Rolls,
Spinach Salad with Gruyere, Cranberry, Toasted Pecans, and Red Wine Vinaigrette

Advent Evening Prayer: Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Wednesdays November 30, December 7, December 14

7:00 pm – Chapel of the Saints

The holiday season can stir deep emotions within us. Many children greet the advent of Christmas with joy and excitement, whereas those who have lost loved ones during the past year may find sadness in the very same event. Thankfully, God meets us wherever we are, both physically and emotionally. This Advent series gives voice to the complex situations and emotions with which we greet the coming Messiah and uses the reactions of those who first received the news of Jesus’ birth (Zechariah, Joseph, and Mary) to do so. These services acknowledge responses of fear, confusion, and doubt, while the coming of Jesus promises comfort and joy for all of us. Come and pray together.  Invite someone to join you.

From the Vicar

Blessed Advent, FELC!

Advent is a time for slowing down, reflecting, and anticipating. What do the darkening days and the expected light bring up for you? Is preparing for Christmas filled with fond associations? Or is it rather unwelcome, like a house-guest whose company isn’t all that pleasant? What does this season evoke for you?

For me, Advent has usually been a time of grace-ful contemplation. I’m grateful for the aura of silence and stillness that Advent evokes in me. I imagine it as much like the center of a hurricane, with commercial Christmas blowing fiendishly all around while the eye of the storm is calm and still. I am just hitting my stride on internship, and I’m very grateful to be sharing this season with a loving community of faith.

In the midst of political processes that shortcircuit dialogue and ignore human beings, Advent may seem like a dark time in a variety of ways. It is in dark times, however, that we seek to find the light of Christ, sometimes through gritted teeth and a firm persuasion of faith.

In addition to Advent contemplation, faithful resolve, and the series of conversations on racism, I am preparing to launch into my internship project. If you can take a moment to fill out this survey, it will help me discern which project to pursue. If you have feedback on how I can learn and grow during my internship, please share it with a member of the Vicar Support Committee (Nancy N., Dave S., Erin M., Dave K., Anne W., and Allen J.), or with myself directly. I welcome various perspectives so I can learn to see the Christ who is born in unlikely places, such as stables, hurricanes, and dark, dark nights.

Peace and blessings,

Travis Fitzgold, intern pastor

vicar@felcaustin.org

Serve with Micah 6 this Sunday

First English will be providing the meal at the Micah 6 Street Youth Drop-in Center this coming Sunday, December 4. You can help our neighbors in need by preparing a side dish or salad or helping to serve. The meal is served at 4:30 PM at University Baptist Church on San Antonio Street. Food may be home-cooked or store-bought. If you can cook and/or serve, please email Jackie Chuter at chuter.jackie@gmail.com. Thank you!

The mission of Micah 6 of Austin is to work together to identify and meet the needs of the homeless and the impoverished in the University of Texas campus area. The Micah 6 Coalition is a network of faith communities in the UT campus area that answer the call of Micah 6:8 to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.” First English participates in this mission by collecting food items, stocking canned goods, assisting shoppers in the food pantry, serving as hosts, providing hot meals at the Street Youth Drop-In Center, and serving meals in the freeze night shelter.

Concert: An Early Christmas

at First English

Friday, December 9 at 8:00 pm
Saturday December 10 at 8:00 pm
Texas Early Music Project explores the intangible essence of Christmas with beautiful and joyful carols, motets, dances, and traditional songs with innovative arrangements for solo voices, small chorus, harp, violin, flute, mandolin, viols, and lutes. For tickets or more information: https://www.early-music.org.

Property Work and Cleaning Day

Sunday, December 11
12:30 to 2:30 pm

It’s time to get our sanctuary and other areas in great shape for Christmas and beyond. We’ll have a ready-to-go list of cleaning, organizing, and repair projects so we can get to work right after the 11:00 am worship service. Come to church in your work clothes (it’s OK, really!). We’ll have a light lunch for those who are working. If you can help, please email Pastor Coffey at pastor@felcaustin.org so we can plan accordingly.

Poinsettias for Christmas

Beautiful poinsettias will enhance the sanctuary at Christmas and are available for order: Red and (a Limited amount of) White Plants.If you would like to contribute to the cost of the flowers, please complete the online form at: http://www.felcaustin.org/forms/poinsettias. Paper forms are available on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings at bulletin tables in the narthex and south transept. Each plant costs $15.00. Plants will be available to take on the Sunday after Christmas on a first-come, first-served basis. Prepayment is required by Friday, December 16. Please send a check made out to “First English Lutheran Church” with “Christmas Poinsettias” in the memo. Or, you may use our online donations option: http://www.felcaustin.org/giving.

Upcoming Event  for Advent, Christmas and the New Year

Mark your calendar & invite someone to join you.

Sunday, December 18:

Christmas Caroling at 2:00 pm

Join together as we bring Christmas carols of joy and comfort to those homebound. All ages are welcome.

Wednesday, December 21:

Blue Christmas Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm

While Advent is a season of hope and Christmas is a season of joy, not everyone feels hopeful or like celebrating. Grief, illness, aging, depression, loneliness, unemployment, underemployment, and loss can be magnified. We gather on the darkest night of the year, the winter solstice, and experience hope. All in the community are invited.

Saturday, December 24:

Christmas Eve Eucharist with Candlelight

5:30 pm               Child–friendly with children/youth leading and sharing the Christmas story

11:00 pm             Choral and instrumental music, with prelude music at 10:45 pm

Sunday, December 25: one service at 11:00 am

Christmas Day Eucharist with Lessons and Carols

11:00 am              Experience the Christmas story in word and song

Sunday, January 1, 2017: one service at 11:00 am

New Year’s Day Eucharist

11:00 am              Begin the New Year in prayer and praise