Weekly Update: January 2, 2018

Sunday, January 7

The Baptism of Our Lord

Word & Eucharist with affirmation of baptism – 8:30 am

Faith formation for all – 9:45 am

Word & Eucharist with affirmation of baptism – 11:00 am

The Season of 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 manifestation) 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 length of the season varies according to the date of Easter. The gospel stories of this season describe various events that show the divinity and humanity of Jesus. The coming of the Magi is celebrated on the Epiphany. The Baptism of our Lord is observed on the Sunday after Epiphany. The gospels for the other Sundays of the Epiphany season describe the wedding at Cana, the calling of the disciples, and various miracles and teachings of Jesus. 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.  Christ’s light shines through us.

Scripture for Sunday, January 7  (Year B)

Mark 1:4-11

Mark’s gospel reports the story of Jesus’ baptism with some irony: the one on whom the Spirit descends is himself the one who will baptize others with the Holy Spirit.

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 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.”

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

You were led to the holy pool of divine baptism. And each of you was asked, whether you believed in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. You made that saving confession, and descended three times into the water, and ascended again—here also, in a hidden and figurative way, pointing at the three-day burial of Christ. For as our Savior passed three days and three nights in the heart of the earth, so you also, in your first ascent out of the water, represented the first day of Christ in the earth, and by your descent, the night. For as they who are in the night see no more, but they who are in the day remain in the light, so in descending you saw nothing, as in the night, but in ascending again, we were as in the day. Let no one suppose that baptism is merely the grace of remission of sins, as was John’s baptism. No: baptism conveys to us the gift of the Holy Spirit, and God, who has presented you, as it were, alive from the dead, is able to grant you to walk in newness of life.

Cyril of Jerusalem

[Cyril of Jerusalem, Lectures on the Christian Sacraments, ed. F. L. Cross (Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1977), 60-63]

Dedication of new paraments: Sunday, January 7

On Sunday, January 7 at both liturgies we will dedicate a new set of white paraments and hangings for the sanctuary and nave.  These white paraments are used during the Christmas and Easter seasons and at other festive times. This set of altar, table, pulpit, and lectern hangings and ministers stole and chasuble were crafted by Jeff Wunrow Designs. They were purchased with funds from the Margaret Berg Altar Care Endowment Fund.

Formation for adults: beginning January 7

We continue the theme of Christians in the public sphere with discussion of Walter Wink’s book Jesus and Nonviolence. Wink points to Jesus’ example of nonviolent resistance as an appropriate response to injustice for Christians today. Learn what Jesus really meant by “turn the other cheek” and “walk the extra mile” in this thought-provoking series of conversations. As always, we build community by seeking God’s will together in faith; come join the conversation and participate in the faith journey together, Sundays at 9:45 am in the parlor.

Formation for Children: Godly Play beginning Sunday, January 7

Godly Play is what the Rev. Jerome Berryman calls his interpretation of Montessori religious education. It is an imaginative approach to working with children, an approach that supports, challenges, nourishes, and guides their spiritual quest. It is more akin to spiritual direction than to what we generally think of as religious education.  Godly Play assumes that children have some experience of the mystery of the presence of God in their lives, but that they lack the language, permission, and understanding to express and enjoy that in our culture. In Godly Play, we enter into parables, silence, sacred stories in order to discover God, ourselves, one another, and the world around us.  Children gather on Sunday mornings at 9:45 am in the Library, entering through the Chapel of the Saints.  For more information, contact Andy Petras at godlyplay@felcaustin.org.

Companion Café: Wednesday, January 17

Companion Café will begin again on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 at 6:00 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 January 17 will be:

Thai Curry Chicken, Steamed Rice, Sautéed Garlic Spinach, Cucumber Salad.

Annual Meeting: Sunday, January 28

The congregation council has set the annual meeting of First English Evangelical Lutheran Church for Sunday, January 28, 2018. We will begin with a potluck after the 11:00 am liturgy, and the meeting will follow. More information about the agenda, proposed ministry budget, and elections to council and synod assembly will be shared in mid-January.  The congregation council and finance team with host a forum discussing the proposed budget on Sunday, January 21 at 9:45 am.  Reports from ministry groups are due to the church office by Friday, January 12.

Austin Crop Hunger Walk: Sunday, February 25

The annual Austin Crop Hunger Walk is taking place on Sunday afternoon, February 25. The Crop Walk is sponsored by Interfaith Action of Central Texas (i-ACT), is the largest interfaith event in Austin, and works to end the sin of hunger in the midst of enough.

If you are interested in participating in the walk (or donating), register and donate here.

If you are interested in organizing a team on behalf of FELC, please contact Janis Coltin of Triumphant Love Lutheran Church, (512) 791-4838, jcoltin@yahoo.com, directly.

FELC has participated in this walk in years past and this is an excellent opportunity to live out our commitment to love God and neighbor, one step at a time.

First English Congregation Council

Highlights from the December 18, 2017 First English Congregation Council meeting:

– The Nominating Committee is continuing to recruit for next year’s council. They have one two-year term position still vacant.

– Council approved a recommended budget to be presented at the annual meeting on Sunday, January 28. An overview of the recommended budget will be offered Sunday, January 21 at 9:45 am.

– Learning Ministry: Godly Play will resume January 7. Andy Petras, along with other First English families, attended worship and a fellowship event at Faith Lutheran Church on December 17. This is part of an effort to build relationships, and explore the potential for shared children’s and youth ministry programming.

– Congregational Care: Currently recruiting people for the Care Corp—a ministry focused on regular visits with the homebound. Twelve carolers from First English visited eight seniors from the congregation and community. The next Senior Saints gathering will be February 14.

– $1,100 was collected for Micah 6 on December 10.

– Council approved the use of endowment funds for 2017.

– DATE CHANGE: The next meeting of the First English council will be Monday, January 22, 7:00 pm.

Weekly Update: December 23, 2017

Celebrate Christmas at First English

All are welcome

Sunday, December 24

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

9:45 am  (nursery offered)

We conclude the advent season with Word and Eucharist (nursery offered)

Note: only one liturgy this Sunday morning. 

Godly Play and Adult formation will not be offered.

God calls us during Advent to be aware of the world’s vibrant beauty and resilience, and to look and listen for ways to help bring healing to it and to all of God’s people.  The year 2017 has been no different in this respect; amid great distress we have also seen significant acts of caring and healing, hope and recovery. This last morning of Advent we reflect on the following question: In the year to come, what existing, different, or new activities or ministries might God be calling us to for the healing of the world and its people?

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve

4:00 pm  (nursery offered)

Child-friendly, Christmas Story, Sermon, Eucharist, Candlelight

9:45 pm

Christmas Vocal and Instrumental Music

10:00 pm

Candlelight, Chanted Liturgy, Sermon, Eucharist, Special Music

Note: new worship times this year.

There will not be a liturgy on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25.

Sunday, December 31

The Sunday after Christmas: New Year’s Eve

9:45 am 

Christmas Lessons and Carols with Eucharist
Note: only one liturgy this Sunday morning. 

Godly Play and Adult formation will not be offered.

On Sunday, December 31 at 9:45 am, we will bless the sanctuary and ask for God’s accompaniment in the coming year. We will also distribute small chalk-kits with which people can bless their own homes and dwellings. If you cannot attend the service of Christmas Lessons and Carols on December 31, chalk-kits will also be handed out on Sunday, January 7.