Weekly Update: February 13, 2018

Ash Wednesday @ FELC: Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes:

February 14 at Noon and 7:00 pm

The season of Lent begins with this solemn day of repentance and receiving ashes as a sign of mortality and humility. We are invited to begin the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, almsgiving – works of love.  Returning to God’s mercy and grace, we make our way through Lent toward the joy of Easter. The noon liturgy is an abbreviated service. This year the noon liturgy is also in conjunction with the quarterly Gathering of Senior Saints.  The 7:00 pm liturgy is preceded by Companion Café at 6:00 pm.  Both liturgies will include imposition of ashes and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. All are welcome as we begin a holy Lent together.

Companion Café – Breaking Bread, Making Friends:

Wednesday, February 14, 6:00 pm

Companion Café serves on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00 pm in the fellowship hall. We offer a chef-prepared meal for a suggested donation of $5 ($3 for children). It’s great to meet friends and new people.

The menu for February 14 is Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, Tomato Soup, and Chopped Salad.

Sunday, February 18

First Sunday in Lent

Word & Eucharist with Healing Prayer – 8:30 am

Faith formation for all ages – 9:45 am

Word & Eucharist with Healing Prayer – 11:00 am

 

Scriptures for Sunday, February 18 (Lent 1,Year B)

First Reading: Genesis 9:8-17

Today’s reading is the conclusion to the flood story. Because of human sin, the Lord destroys the earth by flood, saving only Noah, his family, and the animals on the ark. Yet divine destruction gives way to divine commitment. As in the first creation, God blesses humanity and establishes a covenant with all creatures.

God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Gospel: Mark 1:9-15

The Spirit that comes upon Jesus at his baptism sustains him when he is tested by Satan so that he might proclaim the good news of God’s reign.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

The Season of Lent

Lent is an old English term for “spring.” It’s a time for preparation for new life at Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, 40 days before Easter, excluding Sundays, connecting it to Jesus’ 40 days and the Israelites 40 years in the wilderness, both times of preparation. Sundays are not counted because they are always celebrations of the resurrection. The themes of Lent are wilderness time, repentance (meaning a turning around of one’s life), following Jesus in the way of the cross, and preparation for baptism and renewal at the Easter Vigil. The primary color purple reminds us of  penitence. While Lent is a more solemn season than Christmas or Easter, it is a time of growing trust in God’s power to renew our lives. The traditional ancient spiritual practices for Lent are prayer, fasting – forgoing certain foods for a time of refocus, and almsgiving –  giving to the poor.

Directions to First English on Sunday, February 18

Over 17,000 runners are scheduled to participate in the Austin Marathon/Half Marathon/5K on Sunday morning, February 18 beginning at 7:00 am. The Austin Marathon has been running since 1992 and has grown to be the 25th largest marathon in the USA.  This year is the course is different and will have a greater impact on us, making attending First English this Sunday morning challenging.

According to marathon leaders, the best driving directions to FELC on Sunday morning are:

Take IH 35 to MLK Blvd.
West on MLK Blvd.
North through UT campus on San Jacinto Blvd.
West on Dean Keaton St.

(Runners will be coming South and turning East at the San Jacinto/Dean Keaton intersection)
North on Speedway
West on 30th St.

https://youraustinmarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Austin-Marathon-Course-Map-2018_Digital-1.pdf

Formation with Adults in Lent: Marks of the Christian: beginning February 18

Last fall when we conducted a survey on preferences for adult formation, the top categories were Faith and Politics, Social Justice, Faith and Film, and Spirituality. Our recent offerings have addressed the top two. (Pastor Coffey plans to offer a new Faith and Film series this spring.) For the adult forum during Sundays in Lent at 9:45 am, we will focus on Spirituality. Lent is a time to focus on spiritual growth and discipleship in the way of Jesus. Our adult forum will focus on Marks of the Christian, using a Lenten devotional with the same theme, based on Romans 12. Copies of the book are $10. To order a copy, email pastor@felcaustin.org

Sundays in Lent Focus on Food Justice: Beginning Sunday, February 18

This Lent we practice alms-giving with a particular focus on our ministry partner Micah 6. Please bring canned foods, money, and pantry items, helping to promote food justice in our community. Since Micah 6 can buy food from the USDA at $.12/lb, both monetary and food offerings are welcome. Canned meats are particularly helpful, as are specialty pantry items such as dessert and stuffing mixes. These offerings will be received as part of the worship offering on Sundays in Lent.

Midweek Lent Evening Prayer: Journey to the Vigil

Wednesdays from February 21 to March 21 at 6:45 pm

The season of Lent developed from the period of preparation for baptism at the Easter Vigil. It then developed into a season of renewal of the baptized at Easter. The readings for the Easter Vigil are filled with images of baptism, renewal, and the paschal mystery of Christ. Our evening prayer services during Lent at 6:45 pm will use some of the readings from the Easter Vigil to help us dive deeper into these great texts as we prepare for our own renewal in Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter.

Capital South Conference Meeting: Sunday, February 25

The annual meeting of the Capital South Conference of the Southwestern Texas Synod will be held on Sunday, February 25 at Abiding Love Lutheran Church (7210 Brush Country Dr. Austin, 78749) beginning at 3:00 pm. The agenda will include the Potential Nominees for Bishop process as requested from the synod.  A new bishop will be elected at the 2018 Synod Assembly May 5-6. This Potential Nominees process is a chance to bring forward names to potentially be nominated at the synod assembly. Once votes for nomination are collected from all eight conferences in the synod, the synod will contact potential nominees to see if they would like to provide a profile to be shared publicly prior to the synod assembly. Anyone who is a voting member of a congregation in the conference may attend the conference meeting as voting members. The agenda will also include a presentation from the synod’s Strategic Planning Task Force and the new vision statement developed for the synod.

Austin Crop Hunger Walk: Sunday, February 25

First English Lutheran Church is Going to the Austin CROP Hunger Walk!

When: 

February 25 (registration at 2:00, “grand step-off” at 2:30 on a 2.4 mile route).

What:

A walk to raise funds to end hunger.  In Austin, the CROP Hunger Walk supports several organizations including the Central Texas Food Bank, Refugee Services of Texas, and (of special interest to FELC) the Micah 6 Food Pantry.

Where: 

Camp Mabry (there will be carpooling to help make it easier to get there).

Who:

YOU! YOU can help by walking:  To register as part of the FELC team, go to https://www.crophungerwalk.org/austintx/.

After registering as an individual you can connect to the FELC team.

After registering as an individual you can connect to the FELC team. YOU can help by pledging funds to support FELC walkers, either online or in-person on Sundays. YOU can pray for the success of the walk, and for an end to hunger in Austin and around the world. We can commit to pledge, to walk, donate, and pray.  Let’s see how much of a difference we can make in the world!  For more information, contact Chris Paton at  chrispaton@bellsouth.net or 678.642.3055.

Friendship and Dialogue Dinner: Thursday, March 1 at 6:00 pm

The Dialogue Institute of Austin invites everyone to a Friendship Dinner on Thursday, March 1 at 6:00 pm at the Asian American Resource Center (8401 Cameron Road, Austin, 78754). In the current world of strident rhetoric, it is vital we work together as people of various faith traditions and of goodwill, in the spirit of earnest compassion, cooperation, and community service. For tickets and more information: http://www.thedialoginstitute.org/event/dialogue-and-friendship-dinner-18/?event_date=2018-03-01

Weekly Update: February 6, 2018

Companion Café – Breaking Bread, Making Friends:

Wednesday, February 7, 6:00 pm

Companion Café serves on Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00 pm in the fellowship hall. We offer a chef-prepared meal for a suggested donation of $5 ($3 for children). It’s great to meet friends and new people.

The menu for February 7 is Pork Loin with Pear Chutney, Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash, Steamed Rice, and Spinach Salad with White Wine Vinaigrette.

Café Conversations: Wednesday, February 7, 6:30 pm

Our next speaker for Café Conversations is Barry Smith, Executive Director of Micah 6, our food ministry with area faith communities. Barry will be in conversation about motivation for food ministry, current statistics and opportunities for service and more. Presentations are followed by questions and conversations. Café Conversations are part of our Companion Café dinners which begin at 6:00 pm.

Sunday, February 12

The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Word & Eucharist with Healing Prayer – 8:30 am

Faith formation for all ages – 9:45 am

Word & Eucharist with Healing Prayer – 11:00 am

The Time after Epiphany

Epiphany is the celebration of the star that revealed the Christ child to the magi from the east, and all the ways that God shines light revealing God’s love and mercy among us.

Epiphany (meaning “showing forth”) is a season of four to nine weeks, from the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6 – the end of the Christmas season) through the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (this year February 14). The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is devoted to the Transfiguration. Jesus’ identity as the Holy One of God is dramatically revealed in the Transfiguration gospel, as well as the gospel of the baptism of Christ. We are called to respond in faith in lives of love of God and neighbor.

Scriptures for Sunday, February 12 (Transfiguration, Year B)

2 Kings 2:9-12

Today’s reading centers on the transfer of power and authority from the prophet Elijah to Elisha. Their travels, which retrace the path of Joshua back to Moab (the place where Moses died) and the parting of the waters, demonstrate that Elisha and Elijah are legitimate successors of the great prophet Moses.
When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.” He responded, “You have asked a hard thing; yet, if you see me as I am being taken from you, it will be granted you; if not, it will not.” As they continued walking and talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven. Elisha kept watching and crying out, “Father, father! The chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” But when he could no longer see him, he grasped his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.

Gospel: Mark 9:2-9

Mark’s gospel presents the transfiguration as a preview of what would become apparent to Jesus’ followers after he rose from the dead. Confused disciples are given a vision of God’s glory manifest in the Holy One of God.

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say, for they were terrified. Then a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, “This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!” Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, he ordered them to tell no one about what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Healing Prayer

On the second Sunday of each month we offer Healing Prayer, an ancient and powerful ritual of the church.  It is a deeply personal encounter with our need for healing in body, mind, and spirit, and our turning to God for all healing, grace, and mercy. Adults and children who desire healing prayer with laying on of hands and anointing with oil are invited to come to the Chapel of the Saints during the communion distribution.

Burning Palm Branches for Ash Wednesday:

Sunday, following 11:00 am liturgy

On Transfiguration Sunday, February 11, we will prepare for Ash Wednesday by burning palm branches from last year’s Palm Sunday liturgy. This ancient practice makes use of the old branches, which were blessed for the Palm Sunday liturgy, so they are not merely discarded. During the hospitality time after the 11:00 liturgy we will be burning the palm branches. Participants may join in stripping the leaves, cutting them into small pieces, and lighting them to burn. During this time, we will also sing our last “Alleluias” and hide the Alleluia banner before the beginning of Lent. During the season of Lent, the word “Alleluia” is not used during worship, as we enter a more solemn and penitential season, and await the celebration of Easter with many “Alleluias.”

Formation with adults: Sunday, February 11

This Sunday concludes our conversations in this series of Christians in the public sphere using Walter Wink’s book Jesus and Nonviolence. Wink points to Jesus’ example of nonviolent resistance as an appropriate response to injustice for Christians today. Sunday at 9:45 am in the parlor.

Companions in Christ: Thursday, February 8

Companions in Christ reconvenes Thursday, February 8 from 7:00-8:30 pm at Barbara Wiederaenders’ home.  They’ll be using the book, Present Over Perfect:  Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist.  Meetings will be held the second and fourth Thursdays of each month.  NEWCOMERS ARE WELCOME!  Please call Barbara Wiederaenders at 512.451.0684 for more information.

Lutheran Legislative Event: February 11, 12, 13

Texas Impact and the Poverty and Justice Task Force of the Southwestern Texas Synod are hosting the annual Lutheran Legislative Event at Gethsemane Lutheran Church on February 11, 12, 13. If you are interested in learning how you can publicly give voice to your faith, this is an excellent opportunity. Our society benefits from consistent participation by citizens, both during and in-between elections; such participation can be a form of prayer and service as we practice our Christian vocation to love God and neighbor. For more information and to register visit: http://www.swtsynod.org/article450789.htm or speak with Vicar Travis.

Fastnacht: Tuesday, February 13 at 6:00 pm

What is a “Fastnacht?” It’s a German word meaning “fast night.” It’s a Shrove Tuesday celebration when you eat up lots of rich foods before beginning Lenten fasting disciplines. Traditionally, it’s a day to eat things like pancakes and donuts. It’s the same day as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). That begs the question: What’s “Shrove Tuesday?” The word “shrive” means to absolved. In some Lenten observances, there is no absolution for sin given from Ash Wednesday until Maundy Thursday, so Tuesday is your last chance for receiving the

absolution. We invite anyone who wants to do something funny or talented to share it. The pancake supper begins at 6:00 pm and goes until 7:00 pm, when the talent show starts. Enjoy this fun community event and bring someone with you.  Connect with Vicar Travis at vicar@felcaustin.org for the talent show.

Ash Wednesday @ FELC: Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes:

February 14 at Noon and 7:00 pm

The season of Lent begins with this solemn day of repentance and receiving ashes as a sign of mortality and humility. We are invited to begin the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting, almsgiving – works of love.  Returning to God’s mercy and grace, we make our way through Lent toward the joy of Easter. The noon liturgy is an abbreviated service. This year the noon liturgy is also in conjunction with the quarterly Gathering of Senior Saints.  The 7:00 pm liturgy is preceded by Companion Café at 6:00 pm.  Both liturgies will include imposition of ashes and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. All are welcome as we begin a holy Lent together.

Formation with Adults in Lent: Marks of the Christian: beginning February 18

Last fall when we conducted a survey on preferences for adult formation, the top categories were Faith and Politics, Social Justice, Faith and Film, and Spirituality. Our recent offerings have addressed the top two. (Pastor Coffey plans to offer a new Faith and Film series this spring.) For the adult forum during Sundays in Lent at 9:45 am, we will focus on spirituality. Lent is a time to focus on spiritual growth and discipleship in the way of Jesus. Our adult forum will focus on Marks of the Christian, using a Lenten devotional with the same theme, based on Romans 12. Copies of the book are available for $10. The book is also a good resource for use each day of the Lenten season. Reserve your copy by February 7 by emailing pastor@felcaustin.org.

Offering in Lent: Sunday mornings, beginning February 18

This Lent we practice alms-giving with a particular focus on our ministry partner Micah 6. You are invited to bring canned foods, money, and pantry items to help promote food justice in our community. Since Micah 6 can buy food from the USDA at $.12/lb, both monetary and food offerings are welcome. Canned meats are particularly helpful, as are specialty pantry items such as dessert and stuffing mixes. These offerings will be collected as part of the offering time on Sundays in Lent. May the prayer of Jesus live through us this Lent.

Midweek Lent Evening Prayer: Journey to the Vigil

Wednesdays from February 21 to March 21 at 6:45 pm

The season of Lent developed from the period of preparation for baptism at the Easter Vigil. It then developed into a season of renewal of the baptized at Easter. The readings for the Easter Vigil are filled with images of baptism, renewal, and the paschal mystery of Christ. Our evening prayer services during Lent at 6:45 pm will use some of the readings from the Easter Vigil to help us dive deeper into these great texts as we prepare for our own renewal in Christ’s death and resurrection at Easter.

Capital South Conference Meeting: Sunday, February 25

The annual meeting of the Capital South Conference of the Southwestern Texas Synod will be held on Sunday, February 25 at Abiding Love Lutheran Church, beginning at 3:00 pm.

The agenda will include the Potential Nominees for Bishop process as requested from the synod. A new bishop will be elected at the 2018 Synod Assembly May 5-6. This Potential Nominees process is a chance to bring forward names to potentially be nominated at the synod assembly. Once votes for nomination are collected from all eight conferences in the synod, the synod will contact potential nominees to see if they would like to provide a profile to be shared publicly prior to the synod assembly. Each congregation in the conference may have up to six lay persons attend the conference meeting as voting members.

The agenda will also include a presentation from the synod’s Strategic Planning Task Force and the new vision statement developed for the synod. Anyone from First English that is interested in attending the conference meeting as a voting member should contact Pastor Coffey.

Austin Crop Hunger Walk: Sunday, February 25

First English Lutheran Church is Going to the Austin CROP Hunger Walk!

When: 

February 25 (registration at 2:00, “grand step-off” at 2:30 on a 2.4 mile route).

What:

A walk to raise funds to end hunger.  In Austin, the CROP Hunger Walk supports several organizations including the Central Texas Food Bank, Refugee Services of Texas, and (of special interest to FELC) the Micah 6 Food Pantry.

Where: 

Camp Mabry (there will be carpooling to help make it easier to get there).

Who:

YOU! YOU can help by walking:  To register as part of the FELC team, go to https://www.crophungerwalk.org/austintx/.

After registering as an individual you can connect to the FELC team.

After registering as an individual you can connect to the FELC team. YOU can help by pledging funds to support FELC walkers, either online or in-person on Sundays. YOU can pray for the success of the walk, and for an end to hunger in Austin and around the world. We can commit to pledge, to walk, donate, and pray.  Let’s see how much of a difference we can make in the world!  For more information, contact Chris Paton at  chrispaton@bellsouth.net or 678.642.3055.

Friendship and Dialogue Dinner: Thursday, March 1 at 6:00 pm

The Dialogue Institute of Austin invites everyone to a Friendship Dinner on Thursday, March 1 at 6:00 pm at the Asian American Resource Center (8401 Cameron Road, Austin, 78754). In the current world of strident rhetoric, it is vital we work together as people of various faith traditions and of goodwill, in the spirit of earnest compassion, cooperation, and community service. For tickets and more information: http://www.thedialoginstitute.org/event/dialogue-and-friendship-dinner-18/?event_date=2018-03-01

Annual Meeting Highlights

The annual meeting of the congregation of First English Evangelical Lutheran Church was held on Sunday, January 28. Ministry reports, financial information, and congregational statistics are included in the 2017 Annual Report. If you’d like a copy of the annual report, please contact the church office. The following are highlights from the annual meeting:

2017 finances ended with a positive balance.

Parish records were updated in 2017, following an extensive outreach to inactive members.

Pastor Michael Coffey highlighted events and capital projects completed in 2017, expressed appreciation for the First English staff and council, and encouraged the continuation of collaborative and intentional ministries at First English.

The 2018 Proposed Budget was approved, following three amendments.

A line item was added for the education and care of seniors.

Funds budgeted for the custodial staff was increased.

Surplus funds from 2017, as well as currently projected surplus funds for 2018, were designated for the Emergency Borrowing Fund.

Thanks to the outgoing congregation council members for their service: Betsy Appleton, Tim Atkinson, Randy Baden, Barbara Wiederaenders, and Treasurer, Monica Lund.

The following individuals were elected to serve on the First English congregation council: Jill Essbaum, Heidi Goebel, Marilynn Olson, Dave Shanks, and Fred Woody.

Voting members to the 2018 Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly are: Nancy and Randy Baden and Ben Jensen.