Weekly Update: November 22, 2016

Preparing for Worship on Sunday, November 27, 2016 at 8:30 & 11 am

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 2:3-4

For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

Matthew 24:42-44
Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.”

Turn On. Tune In. Wake Up!

In the 1960’s people were urged to turn on, tune in, and drop out—to leave the material world behind in favor of an alternate reality. In today’s gospel, Jesus also urges us to tune into an alternative to the material world, one he called the coming of the Son of Man. In Jesus’ person, the dominion of God comes into the world, and the risen Christ continues to give us abundant signs of its presence. Jesus commands his followers not to drop out of the world, but to be on the lookout for him in it. Christians await the second coming of Christ, the parousia, when we believe we will experience God’s reign in its fullness. In the meantime, we live, in the words of some theologians, “already, but not yet.” We look for glimpses of the dominion in the here and now. The season of Advent, and today’s readings, are designed to help turn us on to the excitement and anticipation of God’s reign in our lives and tune in to the infinite opportunities we have to participate in it. In other words, they want to wake us up!

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.  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.

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.

This Sunday: children and youth formation

Children

Godly Play Storytellers and Doorpersons

On Sunday, November 27, Jimmy Wright will begin presenting the Godly Play stories of Advent. 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, please make plans to observe some of these sessions. Space is limited each week so please contact Jimmy Wright to reserve your spot: formation@felcaustin.org

  • When? November 27th, December 4th, December 11th, December 18th
  • Time? 9:45—10:45 am
  • Location? Church Library

6th-8th grade youth

This week Ms. Heidi Goebel will be leading the youth in a session on Wilderness to Land.

  • Bible Texts: Exodus 16:1–15; Joshua 24:14–18; Deuteronomy 6:4–9
  • Lesson Focus: We should focus our lives on God?
  • Big Question: I have so many important things in my life; why should I focus on God?
  • Key Words: PROVIDE, OBEDIENCE, FAITHFULNESS, PROMISE

Students meet each 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.

Companion Cafe: not meeting this Wednesday, November 23 

breaking bread, making friends

Companion Cafe will resume on Wednesday, November 30.

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

Thanksgiving Holiday

The church office and child development center will be closed Wednesday–Friday, November 23-25.

Give thanks to the Lord, for the Lord is good, for God’s mercy endures forever.  Psalm 107:1

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

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, Mary, and the shepherds) 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.

Serve with Micah 6 this December

First English will be providing the meal at the Micah 6 Street Youth Drop-in Center on 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.

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 Events: Connect, Grow, Serve

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

Weekly Update: November 15, 2016

Preparing for Worship on Sunday, November 20, 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:

Jeremiah 23:5-6

The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

Luke 23:33-34a
When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

Against all our images of stern authority and capricious power, we hear the Lord’s voice, the voice of the shepherd who tends the scattered sheep of the flock. In Jesus, this image of shepherd-king is turned upside down in that mysterious wisdom of God. The shepherd becomes the very lamb who is led to the slaughter, who is led to the cross, so that our sickness and our injury, our final enemy is at last put to death in his body on the cross. This Jesus whom this Sunday praises as king, is, in fact, like no other king that has ever reigned. For today, the gospel, and the holy meal proclaim him king where we least expect it: in the depth of our yearning for life, our suffering, and our need. And in this he is no ordinary king. Here in our struggle and desire to be witnesses to his life and his love for us, he reigns. And here in the world, hidden in the struggle for justice and peace, here he reigns.

Samuel Torvend

[Samuel Torvend, in Homilies for the Christian People, 177-178.]

The Season of Advent

Last Sunday 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. While we will still observe the traditional four Sundays of Advent prior to Christmas with the lighting of candles on a wreath, 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.  Come and worship and let us prepare together.

Advent Workshop 2016: This Sunday, November 20 at 9:45 am

Beginning at 9:45 am outdoors (weather permitting) in the front of the church!

·         Live animal nativity photos with costumes and props available!

·         Advent ornament making

·         Reverse advent calendar outreach for Micah 6 Food Pantry

·         Pastries, coffee and hot apple cider

·         Advent music

All ages are encouraged to participate. 

This Sunday: adult forum

Conversations on Racism, led by Intern Pastor Travis Fitzgold, takes a break this week for the Advent Workshop at 9:45 am. All ages are welcome to the Advent Workshop. The adult forum continues on Sunday, November 27.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, November 16 

breaking bread, making friends

Serving Wednesdays 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 11/16: Shepherd’s Pie, Creamed Spinach, Wedge Salad w Blue Cheese Dressing

Companion Cafe will not be serving on Wednesday, November 23 and will resume on Wednesday, November 30.

Reformation 500 Bookstore Last Day: Thursday, November 17 

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is fast approaching! Do you want to learn more about Martin Luther, his writings, and their impact on Christianity? Do you want to reflect on the ongoing impact of the Reformation today? Books will be on display through Thursday. Our Bookstore is sponsored by Augsburg Fortress, the publishing ministry of the ELCA. The books include bestselling biographies like Luther the Reformer as well as an atlas of the European Reformations, a novel for young readers, and primary sources from The Annotated Luther series.

Thanksgiving Celebration: Sunday, November 20

Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT) invites you to its 32nd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service and Celebration! The service and celebration will be held at St. James Missionary Baptist Church (3417 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd) on Sunday, November 20 at 3:00pm. This event is free and open to the public. All are wlecome. We have a seat waiting for you! In addition, if you would like to bring a dessert to share after the service, we would greatly appreciate it. For more information, please visit our website: www.interfaithtexas.org.

Godly Play at FELC: The Greatest Parable – $190

The Greatest Parable includes 13 triangle plaques, triangle gold box with Jerusalem cross on lid. As we continue to evaluate our needs for equipping our Godly Play room, we are looking for ways to save money on the resources. Still, there are some materials that will have to be purchased. The Greatest Parable is one of those. Could you offer this as a gift to the children of FELC? If you can help, please contact Jimmy Wright, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministries, formation@felcaustin.org

Upcoming Events: Connect, Grow, Serve

Mark your calendar & invite someone to join you at FELC.

Wednesday, November 30, December 7 & 14:

Advent Evening Prayer at 7:00 pm

Peaceful services of prayers, songs, readings, reflections, candle lighting, and contemplation.

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