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