As we prepare for Sunday morning…
Sunday, December 10
Word & Eucharist Liturgy – 8:30 & 11 am
with Healing Prayer
Faith formation for all – 9:45 am
We began observing the themes of Advent in our Sunday liturgy on November 12. In some early church traditions, Advent was a longer season of preparation much like Lent, giving more time to emphasize the themes of preparation, repentance, and hopefulness. Since the traditional four weeks of Advent usually begins Thanksgiving weekend when many are traveling, and the fourth Sunday of Advent is Christmastime, we have little time to share a season with a more quiet, contemplative listening for how God is speaking to us in our waiting. We hope our longer Advent season gives us space to appreciate the Advent season together more fully.
Sunday, December 10 (Year B, Second Sunday of Advent)
In grand, poetic lines, the prophet announces that the exile of God’s people in Babylon is over. The Lord will deliver Israel and will care for her as a shepherd cares for sheep. This word can be trusted, because the only enduring reality in life is the word of the Lord.
Comfort, O comfort my people,
A voice cries out:
A voice says, “Cry out!”
The Gospel of Mark does not begin with a story of Jesus’ birth but with the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Prepare.
The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses
The way to freedom runs through the wilderness. Hence the first message is that the people must prepare a way, more accurately a street, straight through the wilderness. From Babylonian hymns and from archaeological evidence we know that the high street in Babylon was rather like the Champs Elysees in Paris, leading to the Arc de Triumph. Isaiah wants such a highway for the Lord, running through the wilderness and leading to the temple in Jerusalem, which was to be rebuilt. However, God’s glory is not revealed in splendid cavalcades on great streets or in processions with imposing effigies, but only in everyday history, and above all in the event of the liberation of his people from slavery, through the difficult journey through the wilderness, back to the freedom of Zion. That, Isaiah says, is the way in which God’s glory is made manifest and revealed to all. That is where God’s jealous honor is to be found: in the exaltation of the insignificant, the poor and the lowly, those who are oppressed.
[Edward Schillebeeckx, in Homilies for the Christian People, ed. Gail Ramshaw (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1989), 78-79.]
Sunday Advent Prayer: Hurts, Healings, and Hopes
In all years, Advent reflections bring awareness of the brokenness of our world; illness, economic issues, war, conflict, and disasters are perennially present. The past year in this country has been unusually challenging on many levels; for many among us it has been deeply distressing.
Yet God also 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.
We come before God who welcomes us to name our hurts, our need for healing, and our hopes for what is to come. Our assembly will take time to reflect on both the past year and our visions for the coming church year with a different question to contemplate each week. We are invited each week to write or draw our responses on prayer ornaments that will be provided for that purpose. The prayer ornaments will placed on the communion table and then added to our tree beginning this Sunday. Responses will be collected and shared, and will help in discerning where God is calling us to minister in the coming year.
The prayer questions for each week are:
Week two: During the past year, what did you find healing, or where did you see a need for healing (on a personal, community, church, or society level)?
Week three: During the past year, what has given you hope or brought beauty (on a personal, community, church, or society level)?
Week four: During the past year, what practices or actions did you take in response to the things you found hurtful, healing, or hopeful?
Week five: In the year to come, what change do you hope to see in God’s world?
Week six: What ministries or activities of our church community were helpful or healing (for you or the world) during the past year?
Week seven: 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?
Companion Café: Wednesday, December 6
Companion Cafe is our ministry of cooking delicious, high quality, fresh dinners and sharing them in community with all who are hungry. We serve beginning at 6:00 PM on Wednesdays, until 7:00 PM. Suggested donation of $5 per plate, $3 for children. To go orders are welcome.
The menu for December 6 is:
Asiago Spinach Quiche, Orange Slices,
Thai Crunch Salad w Peanut Dressing,
St. Nicholas Shortbread Cookies.
Advent Evening Prayer at First English
Conversations with Zen: Sit, Chew, Move
Wednesdays, December 6 & December 13, 6:45-7:30 pm
This Advent on Wednesday evenings, we gather together in the Chapel of the Saints to pray with full attention. As we pause together and create space for Jesus in our hearts, we consider some lessons from Zen. What does sitting meditation have to do with waiting for the birth of Christ? What is a Zen koan anyway? What does letting go of preconceptions teach us about the conception of Jesus in our world? Come participate in quiet evenings of prayer in the midst of an often-busy season.
Sunday Morning Adult Forum: Faith and Politics
Join together on Sunday mornings (December 10 & 17) at 9:45 am in the parlor as we reflect on a number of issues happening in our nation and how people of faith and the church community could respond. All opinions will be welcomed, and we will practice attentive and respectful listening to each other, rather than crosstalk and reacting. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has adopted twelve social statements since its formation. The first one was adopted in 1991 and is called “Church in Society” available online at: http://elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Church-in-Society
Texas Early Music Project Concert: An Early Christmas at First English
Join Texas Early Music Project for a multilicious feast of Christmas music through the ages. People in different cultures across the centuries have celebrated this season of expectation and rebirth with sweet Dutch lullabies and joyous English carols, rousing Spanish villancicos and dulcet French noëls, Celtic cradle-songs and exuberant folk-tunes. We’ve chosen pieces ranging from Medieval Spain and England to Baroque France and Germany and beyond, encompassing more than 500 years of humanity’s hope, love, and joy. Brett Barnes, Cayla Cardiff, Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, Stephanie Prewitt, Meredith Ruduski, and Jenifer Thyssen are featured soloists, and nationally acclaimed historical harpist Therese Honey joins TEMP’s troupe of solo voices, small chorus, violin, flute, mandolin, viols, and lute.
Friday, December 8, at 7:00 pm,
Saturday, December 9, at 7:00 pm
at First English Lutheran Church
Sunday, December 10, at 3:00 pm
at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive, Austin
$30 general; $25 seniors (60+); $5 students (at the door only).
Tickets available by cash, check, or credit card at the door or online at https://temp.ticketbud.com/an-early-christmas-2016.
For more information, call 512-377-6961 and leave a message, or email
Micah 6 Sunday: December 10
Sunday, December 10, First English will gather financial offerings for Micah 6 as a part of their year-end appeal. Please make checks payable directly to Micah 6 or use a special offering envelope for cash offerings.
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.
They answer the biblical call of Micah 6:8 to do justice through education, dialogue, and advocacy, love kindness by compassionately serving those who come for assistance, and walk humbly with God by providing opportunities for the spiritual growth of those they serve. First English is a founding member congregation of Micah 6. For more information, visit http://www.micah6austin.org/
Men’s Clothing Drive for Micah 6: ends Sunday, December 10
It’s time to go through your closets—or pick up unopened packages of socks and underwear—for Micah 6’s affiliate clothing pantry, Fig Leaf. Boxes for receiving items are located in narthex, in the hallway outside the parlor and restrooms, and the CDC hall. The men’s clothing drive ends this Sunday, December 10. For more information contact Renee Carlson at 512-657-5540.
Christmas Caroling with FELC: Sunday, December 10
Fa-la-la-la-lah—la-la-la-lah!! YES! Get your Santa hats and Rudolf noses ready, it’s time for our traditional caroling afternoon. Our homebound seniors look forward to welcoming the happy voices of First English friends bringing Christmas cheer.
Sunday, December 10, 2:00 – 5:00 pm
Back at church, you’ll be rewarded with seasonal beverages.
No better way to catch the Christmas spirit!
Meet at First English at 2 pm to carpool and get your maps. Parking is limited in some places so carpooling is advised. All of us will follow a circular route from and back to First English.
Texas Lutheran University Christmas Vespers
Sunday, December 10 at 4:00 pm
at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church
606 West 15th Street, Austin (no tickets required)
In preparation for the Christmas season, this celebration of music and word honors the integral role music has played in Texas Lutheran’s curriculum and religious and cultural history. Audiences take advantage of the opportunity to hear the ethereal voices of the TLU choirs each year. Titled “Season of Light,” this year’s Vespers service of word and music will feature the TLU Choir, TLU Women’s Choir, Kantorei Chamber Choir, and the TLU Symphonic Winds and Percussion. The music for this service will focus on Advent as the season of hope; honoring the strength of the human spirit, even in the most difficult of times. San Antonio actress, Sam Carter Gilliam, will perform short monologues between the musical numbers which lend context to the music being performed.
Vivaldi’s Gloria – Christmas with Ensemble VIII
Join Ensemble VIII in celebrating the joy of Christmastime with one of the most well-known and beloved Baroque works, Vivaldi’s infectious Gloria. With voices and chamber orchestra, this concert will include other sparkling works of the Baroque that will thrill and inspire.
Poinsettias Available for Order: Deadline Friday, December 15
Poinsettias will enhance the sanctuary at Christmas. 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 at bulletin tables at the entrances to the sanctuary. Each plant costs $10.00 and will be available to take on Christmas Eve and the Sunday after Christmas on a first-come, first-served basis. To have an honor, memorial, or thanksgiving listed in the Christmas Eve bulletin, payment must be received by Friday, December 15. 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. The plants are purchased from and support Down Home Ranch (http://www.downhomeranch.org) a 10 acre working farm and ranch east of Austin, where men and women with Down syndrome and other disabilities live with friends who work beside them.
Celebrate Christmas at First English
All are welcome
Wednesday, December 20
Blue Christmas Evening Prayer
Silence, Candlelight, Christmas Music, Prayer, Grief and Joy, Healing, Hope
A reception follows the service in the Chapel of the Saints.
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.
The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve
4:00 pm (nursery offered)
Child-friendly, Christmas Story, Sermon, Eucharist, Candlelight
Festive Christmas Vocal and Instrumental Music
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
Christmas Lessons and Carols with Eucharist