Weekly Update: February 28, 2017

Preparing for Sunday, March 5, 2017 at 8:30 & 11 am

On Sunday, February 26 we celebrated the Transfiguration of our Lord, a mountain top experience that concludes the season of Epiphany.  We “put away” the praise word “Alleluia” as we prepare for the journey of Lent.

Lent is an old English term for “spring.” In the annual cycle of the church’s liturgy and spiritual formation, it is the time of year for preparation for new life at Easter, the celebration of the resurrection —so the connection to the season of spring is appropriate. Lent is a more solemn season than Christmas or Easter, and it need not be a time of excessive negativity, but 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). 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 or renewal of baptism at the Easter Vigil. The Vigil is the Saturday night service before Easter Day, the most celebratory and poetic liturgy in church tradition, and the primary time for baptisms and confirmations. 

Sundays are Sundays in Lent and take on a different character than other days of Lent because, while reflective, Sunday is always a celebration of the resurrection of Christ.

Here are some biblical verses and writings as a way to prepare and begin pondering the scripture texts for this first Sunday in Lent.

Romans 5:18-19

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.

Matthew 4:1-4

Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
‘One does not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Theological Reflection
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word Lent comes from an Old English word meaning spring. Mention the season of Lent to Christians and most are not thinking first of budding flowers and chirping birds. Yet spring is a time for renewal and rebirth in the natural world, and Lent is a time for renewal and rebirth of the human spirit. In the northern hemisphere, when the nights remain long and dark it can be difficult to think of the warmth to come, but like God’s promises, pleasant spring days are drawing near. Even if it seems far off, God’s promised kingdom is even now breaking into our world.
Prayer Stations on Sundays in Lent
Our Sunday liturgy during the season of Lent typically brings a number of changes. This year, in addition to changing the liturgical setting, we will engage in a different form of intercessory prayer. There will be four different prayer stations to engage with as each person of any age chooses:

Silent Prayer: There will be silent prayer while seated in the pews, with suggestions for how to pray printed in the bulletin.

Prayer Walls: There will be two prayer walls for writing prayer concerns on, which will be added to throughout the season.

Spoken Prayer: There will be a spoken prayer station where anyone may come to the microphone and offer a spoken petition (a suggested format will be provided).

Healing Prayer: There will be a healing prayer station in the Chapel of the Saints for anyone who wishes to receive healing prayer with laying on of hands and anointing with oil.

We hope this time on the Sundays in Lent will provide a meaningful opportunity for everyone.

Radical Discipleship – The Sermon on the Mount: beginning Sunday, March 5

During the season of Lent on Sundays at 9:45 am, Pastor Coffey will lead an adult forum on the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7) and explore how we are called to live the radical discipleship Jesus teaches. We will look at how Dietrich Bonhoeffer had his Lutheran theology challenged and changed by listening to other traditions’ use of the Sermon on the Mount. We will discuss practical ways of being faithful followers of Jesus in our complex and challenging world today.

This Sunday: Godly Play for children

The Faces of Easter

On the first Sunday in Lent we begin to help children prepare for the Mystery of Easter. We move toward the Mystery by hearing the stories of Christ’s journey toward the cross and resurrection. Today we focus on the face of Christ as a newborn child and the face of Christ as the one who was lost and found.

Godly Play is offered each Sunday morning. We begin at 9:45 am at the threshold to the library in the Chapel of the Saints.

There will be no formation classes for children and youth on Sunday, March 12. Enjoy your spring break!

This Sunday: Here We Stand middle schoolers

The Transfiguration

Bible Texts: Matthew 17:1–8; Mark 9:2–8; Luke 9:28–36
Lesson Focus: Jesus is revealed as the Son of God and the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets.
Big Question: Why were Moses and Elijah there with Jesus?

We begin at 9:45 am in the west classroom of the Chapel of the Saints.

There will be no formation classes for children and youth on Sunday, March 12. Enjoy your spring break!

Fastnacht: Tuesday, February 28 @ 6:00pm

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 sins given from Ash Wednesday until Maundy Thursday, so Tuesday is your last chance for receiving the absolution. At FELC we have a long tradition of having a pancake supper followed by a talent show. We invite anyone who wants to do something funny, silly, or talented to share it with the community. The pancake supper begins at 6:00 pm and goes until 7:00 pm, when the talent show starts. Come on out and enjoy this fun community event and bring someone with you.

Ash Wednesday: March 1 @ Noon and 7:00 PM

Eucharist and Imposition of Ashes

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 abbreviated, and is followed by a potluck lunch with our Prime Timers.

The 7:00 pm liturgy is preceded by the Companion Café dinner at 6:00 pm.

The menu is Chicken Noodle Soup, Green Goddess Salad, Pumpernickel Bread

Pastor Coffey will be worshiping at Vision of Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church for Ash Wednesday. Our guest preacher at FELC for the 7:00 pm liturgy will be the Rev. Dr. Timothy Lincoln.

LIFEr’s: Living in Faith Enthusiastically

After a brief hiatus, LIFEr’s is restarting. All 20’s and 30’s adults (and anyone) who wants to live in faith enthusiastically is welcome to participate. Bring you, your children, spouses, partners, and friends! Let’s make this ministry inclusive of ANYONE who wants connect.  To make this vision a reality, we need the thoughts and dreams of everyone. Please join together at Companion Cafe during March to share a meal and enter into conversation about this ministry and how you’d like to engage each other, your faith, the church, and those God calls us to serve. There will be a sign that says “LIFERS” on it, so you know where we are meeting at Companion Cafe. Can’t make Companion Cafe? No problem! Send an email or text/call with your input: Andy Petras, email:petras.andrew@yahoo.com, phone: 972-215-8899.

Supporting our Muslim Neighbors: Thursday, March 2

Our neighbors at the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest (Turkish Muslim Raindrop House) are hosting their annual fundraising dinner on Thursday, March 2 at 6:00 pm. One way we can show solidarity and support amidst this time of anti-Muslim sentiment is to attend the dinner and/or sponsor it. Let’s live into our baptismal call to work for justice and peace among all people.

Information can be found at:


For details about the dinner, please contact Vicar Travis at 830–328–3068.

Continuing Conversations on Sexism and Faith

The conversations on Sexism and Faith that took place on Sundays in January are continuing due to popular demand! Three more conversation will take place on Saturdays, March 4, 11, and 18, from 6:00–8:00 pm, pot-luck style. The conversation on March 4 will be hosted at the Fitzgold home, 5307 Viewpoint Drive, ATX 78744. The conversation on March 11 will be hosted at the home of Lois Holck, 2450 Stratford Drive, ATX 78746. For information, contact Vicar Travis at 830–328–3068;vicar@felcaustin.org.

Accompanying One Another on the Journey–Lenten Evening Prayer and Labyrinth:

Wednesdays, 7:00 pm beginning March 8

Evening Prayer is a time of singing, silence, reflection, and engaging the Word. We’ll gather in the sanctuary and use the traditional form of Evening Prayer.

We often speak of life as a journey, and Lent is often thought of as a journey as well. On four Wednesday evenings in Lent, we will gather with the theme of accompanying one another on the journey, the journey of Lent and the journey of life. While we contemplate our own journeys in life, we will listen and learn how we accompany each other on the way, especially those whose experience may be different from our own.

The four weekly themes will be:

March 8: Accompanying Women (International Women’s Day)

March 15: Accompanying Men

March 22: Accompanying Refugees

March 29: Accompanying Transgender Persons

Each week, we will have a guest speaker. As part of the prayer service we will have a labyrinth in the Chapel of the Saints to use for prayer and contemplation of the journey we walk together. Join together as we learn to accompany one another and hear of the one who accompanies us all through the journey of life, Christ Jesus.

Companion Café precedes each Lenten Evening Prayer at 6:00 pm, with the exception of March 15.

High school youth

All are invited to participate in a monthly outreach called Bedtime Story Brigade from 6:00-8:00 pm. We serve milk and cookies and read stories children staying at the Salvation Army Shelter.

Upcoming Wednesday dates:  3/8/17, 4/12/17, 5/10/17

Contact Jimmy Wright for details at formation@felcaustin.org.

FELC Holden Village Summer Trip! The FINAL date to commit is March 10

The FELC group trip to Holden Village will be June 24-July 1, 2017. 

All ages welcome!

The web site is www.holdenvillage.org.

For information and to be a part of this adventure, contact Teresa Ringness atttbhip@gmail.com or 512-831-8806.

Prayer for Our Nation and All Nations Evening Prayer: Wednesday, April 5 at 7:00 pm

On Wednesday, April 5, we will gather to pray for our nation and pray for all the nations. With growing anxiety, division, and fear of governmental actions and increased acts of hate, we need to gather and pray for our nation, for healing, for peace, for justice, for safety for those facing persecution, for our leaders. We also need to pray for all nations. We will be joined by Vision of Hope AME church and other friends. Invite someone.  All are most welcome.

Companion Café precedes this Evening Prayer at 6:00 pm.

Election of Officers of First English

On Monday, February 27, the congregation council of First English Lutheran Church elected these officers of the congregation and council:  Betsy Appleton, president; Renee Carlson, vice president; Dawn Wetzel, secretary; Monica Lund, treasurer; and Terry Porter, financial secretary.

The council members are Tim Atkinson, Randy Baden, Penny Baker, Margaret Bruesch, Jackie Chuter, David Klumpp, Andy Petras, Barbara Wiederaenders, and Liz West.

We give thanks to God for all these leaders.

The next meeting of the congregation council is Monday, March 27 at 7:00 pm in the parlor.