Weekly Update: May 9, 2017

Preparing for Sunday, May 14 – The Fifth Sunday of Easter

with Healing Prayer

The Season of Easter: 50 days!

Why is Eastertime fifty days? The ancient cultures that gave us the Bible had great respect for numbers. They believed that numbers contained hints about God and the meaning of life. The number seven was thought to contain fullness: There are seven days in the week, according to God’s original way of ordering time, creating all that there is and resting. So if you multiply 7 times 7, you have “fullness times fullness.” But wait! 7 times 7 is 49! With God, there is always more—more than we can ever imagine. So our holy season of Easter is even more than “fullness times fullness.” It’s “fullness times fullness” and then some: 7 times 7 plus 1. That’s what love is like: more than we can ever imagine.

The fifty days are days for looking for the risen Lord among us, for hearing in each other’s stories of rising from the big and small deaths, days when we experience something of Christ’s triumphs. That’s why we look to the newly baptized, robed in bright new clothes and oily with gladness: At Easter, they died and rose with Christ! Now they take their places with us. Together, like the apostles who were so full of the Spirit that people thought they were drunk, we rush about with good and giddy news: Death is not the last word! Life and love are forever! And slowly, painstakingly, we work together, together with Christ, to change this world into the world to come. Shout, sing, whisper, live Alleluia!

1 Peter 2:9-10

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.

John 14:1-7

[Jesus said to the disciples:] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

Reflection

The words of gospel for this Sunday are most often heard during a funeral service. It is a popular choice of scripture for that occasion because the words provide wonderful assurance that the one who has died in Christ has now taken up residence in their heavenly home. The gospel begins by Jesus saying that he will prepare a place for each one of us. But as the text continues, we can see that our place is not an isolated room of our own in a giant heavenly mansion. Jesus’ words are less about a place than a relationship: our relationship with Jesus and God. They tell us that in Jesus we know all we need to know about God, and just as we can have a relationship with another human person, we can also have a relationship with God that will one day be as real and obvious as are our relationships with one another. The hope of one day being with Christ fully and forever is as real as the works we are called to do in Christ’s name today.

Healing Prayer

On the second Sunday of each month we offer Healing Prayer, an ancient and powerful ritual of the church.  It is a deeply personal encounter with our need for healing in body, mind, and spirit, and our turning to God for all healing, grace, and mercy. Those who desire healing prayer with laying on of hands and anointing with oil are invited to come to the Chapel of the Saints during the communion distribution.

Children and Youth Faith Formation-Godly Play: Sundays at 9:45

Sunday, May 14 (Mother’s Day) we offer Godly Play for all children through the 6th grade meeting at 9:45 am at the threshold to the library in the Chapel of the Saints.  This week we will be experiencing The Synagogue and the Upper Room. For more information, contact Jackie Chuter at chuter.jackie@gmail.com.

The last gathering of faith formation will be Sunday, May 21 at 9:45 am.  In the worship services, we will bless graduates and send them with our love and give God thanks for our faith formation leaders.

Adult Faith Formation: Sundays at 9:45 am

Formation, Reformation, and Transformation

The Adult Forum at 9:45 am this Easter season focuses on the Lutheran way of being Christian. We explore some of the basic historical trends of 16th C Europe and the theological confessions that shaped–and continue to shape–Lutheran Christian people. We consider also how today’s struggles might be informed by the principles of reformation that still move in and through the Spirit. How does our global economy reflect our relationship with Christ? How does our congregation practice discernment through Scripture? Come gather in the parlor and explore these questions and others, together with fellow travelers along the faith journey of formation, reformation, and transformation. For more information, contact vicar@felcaustin.org.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, May 10 at 6:00 pm

This Wednesday will be our last Companion Café of the season.

Companion Café offers a chef-prepared meal for a suggested donation of $5 ($3 for children). We serve beginning at 6:00 pm. Invite someone.  Meet new friends.

The menu for May 10 is:

Bruschetta Appetizer

Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

Green Beans with Garlic

Roasted Red Potatoes

Caesar Salad

This special menu includes a complementary glass of wine.

Blessing of Graduates and Faith Formation Leaders: Sunday, May 21

On Sunday, May 21 we will ask God’s blessing on graduating students and their families as they transition to a new stage in life and service.  We will also give thanks for our children, youth, and adult faith formation leaders who have served among us.

“The Lord bless you and keep you.”

 

Vicar’s Internship Project: Sunday, May 21, with Lunch

Join Vicar Travis for an informational session on his internship project on Sunday, May 21 from 12:30—1:00 pm, with a light lunch provided. This summer, Vicar Travis leads a project focused on making and deepening connections in Christian community. Come and participate.  For more information, contact Travis Fitzgold at vicar@felcaustin.org.

Ginna and Merle Franke: 70th Wedding Anniversary Celebration: May 21

On Sunday, May 21 from 3:30 until 5:30 pm all are invited to join Franke kids Jim, Becky, Steve, Gwen, and Kris for a reception in the fellowship hall of FELC to celebrate Ginna and Merle Franke on the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary!  No gifts, please. Acknowledgements may be sent to: Ginna and Merle Franke, 4102 Avenue D, Austin, 78751.

Documentary Viewing: May 21

On Sunday, May 21, Triumphant Love Lutheran Church will be hosting a potluck lunch at 12:30 pm followed by a 1:00 pm showing and discussion of the documentary ‘Harvest of Empire: A History of Latinos in America’. This documentary explores political events, social conditions and U.S. government actions that led millions of Latinos to leave their homelands and move to America. For more information, contact (512) 346-5683; info@tllc.org.

Summer Schedule Begins: Sunday, May 28 at 9:45 am

On Sunday, May 28 we begin our Summer Sunday Schedule with one Word & Eucharist liturgy at 9:45 am.  Faith formation classes do not meet regularly on Sunday mornings in the summer.  Some summer Sunday highlights include:  Worship in the Park on Pentecost Sunday June 5, Celebration of World Refugees and Blessing of Summer Trip Travelers on June 18, FELC 81st Anniversary Sunday on July 16 (with potluck lunch and ice cream making following), and a Back-to-School Blessing on Sunday, August 20.  We continue with one liturgy at 9:45 am through Sunday, September 3.

Worship in the Park: Sunday, June 4

All are invited for a great Sunday on June 4 at 9:45 am as we gather across from the church in Hemphill park. We’ll celebrate the Feast of Pentecost with fire, water, languages, and an affirmation of our Spirit-empowered vocations in the world. Invite a friend or neighbor as we gather in the beauty of creation for worship and fellowship. Pets on leashes or in crates are welcome.

Ramadan Iftar Dinner: Wednesday, June 7

Join together as FELC welcomes friends from the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest for a meal and presentation. We gather at 8:00 pm in the fellowship hall.  All are welcome.

 

 

Congregation Council Highlights

The congregation council of FELC gathered on Monday, April 24.  Here are the highlights:

·         Dave Shanks was received as a new member

·         Learning Ministry Team is continuing to oversee the Godly Play ministry. They will be meeting May 11 to inventory the Godly Play materials and determine summer programming.

·         An assessment of First English staff job descriptions and establishment of a staff review process is ongoing.

·         Capital projects are continuing—hallway and restrooms are next.

·         The First English website is undergoing formatting and design changes.

·         Council will provide/ serve the meal at the Micah 6 Youth Drop-in Center on June 11.

·         Child Development Center is interviewing for a new director.

·         Council Retreat will be Saturday, May 13, 9:00 am -1:00 pm.

·         Radmadan Iftar meal is June 7, 8:00 pm. First English community is welcome.

The next meeting of the council is Monday, May 15 at 7:00 pm in the parlor.

Weekly Update: May 2, 2017

Preparing for Sunday, May 4 – The Fourth Sunday of Easter

Good Shepherd Sunday

The Season of Easter: 50 days!

The Easter season is the church’s fifty day celebration of the resurrection of Christ. It is the time of greatest joy as we gather and live in the good news of God’s victory over death and the power to renew our lives in Christ. It is the counter-balance to the forty day season of Lent that prepared us for such great celebration. In the tradition of the church, it was also the time for the newly baptized to deepen their connection to Christ through sharing in the resurrection meal of communion.  We are invited to experience the mystery of new life in Christ as a gift of grace. We are invited to live this good news in the world with justice, love, and joy. We proclaim the story of God’s love – love that never ends.  Alleluia! Christ is risen!

Acts 2:42-47

[The baptized] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not be in want.
The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures
and leads me beside still waters.
You restore my soul, O Lord,
and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil;
for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

An Abundant Life

Abundant life is promised to those who follow Jesus. But what is meant by abundant life? Some Christians, and much of contemporary American culture, interpret an abundant life to mean the “good life” of many fine things, an opulent lifestyle. Much of our economy and leisure time revolves around consumerism—shopping and buying things which we hope will make us happier and our lives better. But an abundance of things does not necessarily lead to an abundant life.
What does Jesus mean when he says that he came so that we may have an abundant life? Psalm 23 provides us with a good illustration of what Jesus is promising to his followers. The psalm imagines an abundant life not in material terms but in relational terms. An abundant life is one lived in the presence of God, in the company of the Lord. Whether one is in green pastures or the darkest valley, there is nothing to want, because God is present. We are in the gracious and generous care of our Lord through times of material abundance and in times of want and scarcity. This relationship between our Lord and us who are his followers is a relationship with one who knows us abundantly, who knows us by name, and who knows what we truly need to be fulfilled. The image of Jesus as our shepherd reminds us that he is with us at all times, and our relationship with him provides us all we need.

Guest Preacher

This Sunday we welcome the Rev. Herb Palmer as our guest presider and preacher.  Pastor Palmer, an ELCA rostered minister, is the former ELCA Region 4 Coordinator for Ministry Leadership.  Herb and Kathy Palmer are members of First English.

Children and Youth Faith Formation-Godly Play: Sundays at 9:45

This Sunday, May 7 we take a break from Godly Play and celebrate St. Florian Day, (May 4) the patron saint of firefighters.  We’ll gather in the FELC kitchen and make gifts for our firefighters and take them to the firehouse across from First English.

Saint Florian was born around 250 CE in the Roman city of Aelium Cetium, present day Austria.  Florian joined the Roman army and advanced in rank.  In addition to his military duties, he was responsible for organizing and leading firefighting brigades.  He trained an elite group of soldiers whose sole duty was to fight fires.

On Sunday, May 14 (Mother’s Day) we will resume Godly Play, which is offered for all children through the 6th grade meeting at 9:45 am at the threshold to the library in the Chapel of the Saints. For more information, contact Jackie Chuter at chuter.jackie@gmail.com.

Sunday faith formation continues, with the last gathering on Sunday, May 21.  On May 21, we will bless graduates in the worship service and send them with our love and prayers.

Adult Faith Formation: Sundays at 9:45 am

Formation, Reformation, and Transformation

The Adult Forum at 9:45 am this Easter season focuses on the Lutheran way of being Christian. We explore some of the basic historical trends of 16th C Europe and the theological confessions that shaped–and continue to shape–Lutheran Christian people. We consider also how today’s struggles might be informed by the principles of reformation that still move in and through the Spirit. How does our global economy reflect our relationship with Christ? How does our country’s budget reflect the liberation proclaimed in Jesus? How does our congregation practice discernment through Scripture? Come gather in the parlor and explore these questions and others, together with fellow travelers along the faith journey of formation, reformation, and transformation. For more information, contact vicar@felcaustin.org.

Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly and Assembly Offering

The Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly gathers in San Antonio Friday, May 5 through Sunday, May 7.  In attendance will be Pastor Michael Coffey and FELC voting members Travis Fitzgold, Natalie Archer, and Larry Archer. This year the Synod Assembly Offering will go to ELCA Global Church Sponsorship, which supports missionaries, young adults in global mission, international women leaders, and global ministries.  If you would like to contribute to the synod offering, please mark your check, use a pew envelope for cash, or contribute online and mark “Synod Assembly Offering”.  Offerings will be received over the next several weeks. For more information, visit www.swtsynod.org/programoffering.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, May 3 at 6:00 pm

Companion Café offers a chef-prepared meal for a suggested donation of $5 ($3 for children). We serve beginning at 6:00 pm. The menu for May 3 is:

Chickpea Curry with Roasted Cauliflower and Tomatoes, Jasmine Rice, Spinach Salad w Pear, Gorgonzola, and Raspberry Vinaigrette.

Wednesday, May 10 will be our last Companion Café of the season. A special menu is being planned for that evening.

by Gary Sironen

Join together with area Lutheran congregations in a story of Martin Luther’s cataclysmic attempt to reform the church of his time. 

Full-length musical production with orchestra.

Auditions open to upper elementary through adult.

auditions: Sunday, May 7, 2-5pm OR Thursday May 11, 7-9pm

NOTE: May 2 audition cancelled

No preparation needed.  Everyone will be taught a musical selection and sing together in groups.  Sit-down chorus, on-stage chorus, principals all audition together.  Choose one of the posted dates.  Rehearsal schedules and expectations available at auditions.  All cast parts are non-paid.  13 male principals, 3 female principals, up to 50 chorus members.

performances: October 20, 21, 22, 2017

All events at Triumphant Love Lutheran Church, Austin.

For more information: visit tllc.org/reformationinformation

Please spread the word!

Chrismon Group

Do you love Chrismons? What are Chrismons? Do you enjoy doing crafts? Chrismons are the white-and-gold Christian symbols used to decorate a Christmas tree. We have had some beautiful Chrismons for many years, but they are getting worn, and it’s time to make new ones! Let’s get together and look over our Chrismons, see which are salvageable, which need replacing, and talk about how to make beautiful, long-lasting, meaningful new ones. Chrismons can be beaded, carved, embroidered, sewn, cross-stitched, and crocheted. A Chrismon-crafting group can work over the summer to have lovely new Chrismons ready for Christmas 2017. Anyone interested should come to the parlor on Sunday, May 7, after the 11:00 am worship service, to plan our efforts! Contact Anne Wiebe (wiebeanne@hotmail.com) for any questions.

Ginna and Merle Franke: 70th Wedding Anniversary Celebration: May 21

On Sunday, May 21 from 3:30 until 5:30 pm all are invited to join Franke kids Jim, Becky, Steve, Gwen, and Kris for a reception in the fellowship hall of FELC to celebrate Merle and Ginna Franke on the occasion of their 70th wedding anniversary!  No gifts please.

Worship in The Park: Sunday, June 5

All are invited for a great Sunday on June 5 at 9:45 am as we gather across from the church in Hemphill park for worship. We’ll celebrate the Feast of Pentecost with fire, water, languages, and an affirmation of our Spirit-empowered vocations in the world. Invite a friend or neighbor as we gather in the beauty of creation for worship and fellowship. Pets on leashes or in crates are welcome.