Weekly Update: January 31, 2017

Preparing Worship on Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 8:30 & 11 am

See this block and blocks below about worship and formation on Sunday


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 58:3 – 9a

“Why do we fast, but you do not see?
Why humble ourselves, but you do not notice?”
Look, you serve your own interest on your fast day,
and oppress all your workers.
Look, you fast only to quarrel and to fight
and to strike with a wicked fist.
Such fasting as you do today
will not make your voice heard on high.
Is such the fast that I choose,
a day to humble oneself?
Is it to bow down the head like a bulrush,
and to lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

Is not this the fast that I choose:
to loose the bonds of injustice,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,
to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover them,
and not to hide yourself from your own kin?
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up quickly;
your vindicator shall go before you,
the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry for help, and he will say, Here I am.


Matthew 5:13-16

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

“For Jesus, salt and light came out of a long tradition of biblical teaching: salt and light were images for the law of God. Salt and light must take us back to the fullness of the law and the prophets, and the fullness of Jesus’ radical teaching in this Sermon on the Mount. The prophets plead for fullness of life: freedom from oppression, bread for the hungry, homes for those who have none, clothing for the naked. Is this not what it means to be the salt of the earth, to keep this prophetic word alive in the midst of our world? If we lose this vision, if we give in to other values, if we forget God’s longing for justice, our salt has lost its taste. If you think Jesus’ call is impossible, remember that the One who is our bread is with us and within us, empowering us to be salt and light in this world.”

—Barbara Lundblad

[Barbara Lundblad, in Homilies for the Christian People, ed. Gail Ramshaw (NY: Pueblo, 1989), 38.]

Scouts Sunday

This Sunday is our annual Scout Sunday. We welcome Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and their leaders to the 11:00 am worship service, and hear an update about the scouting programs that we sponsor. Come and welcome the Scouts this Sunday!


Lutheran Campus Ministry – LuMin at UT

This Sunday we welcome students from Lutheran Campus Ministry at UT in worship and worship leadership at 11:00 am.  Pastor Brad Fuerst, campus pastor, will serve as presiding minister at the 11:00 am worship service.  Welcome!



This Sunday: adult forum: Spiritual Disciplines of Lent


Each year, the season of Lent is a time to focus on spiritual disciplines that help us prepare for the renewal of baptismal life at Easter. Many years, the season sneaks up on us before we are ready to engage in a meaningful Lenten practice.

This year, Pastor Coffey will lead the adult forum on the traditional spiritual disciplines of Lent prior to the start of Lent as a way to get ready. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are the common practices for Lent. We will explore how to engage with these practices and others, including spiritual retreats and labyrinths. Join together each Sunday in February at 9:45 am to prepare for the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, March 1.


This Sunday: Godly Play for children

The Parable of the Great Pearl

In the canonical gospels, this parable is found only in Mathew 13:45. Another version is found in the Gospel of Thomas. “The kingdom of heaven is like when a person who buys and sells fine pearls, a merchant, goes to search for the great pearl.”  Check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-b3T7HfXYY

We begin at 9:45 am at the threshold to the library in the Chapel of the Saints.

This Sunday: middle school youth


Jesus Calls the First Disciples

This week, Mr. Any Petras will lead a session called, Jesus Calls the First Disciples. This story comes from the gospels of Mark 1:14-20, and Luke 5:1-11. With the miraculous catch of fish, Jesus called ordinary people, just like us, to be disciples. I’m just a kid—what can I do that’s important enough to be a disciple? We’ll explore this and focus on key words such as, miracle, disciple, ordinary, and faith.

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

This Sunday: 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:

2/8/17, 3/8/17, 4/12/17, 5/10/17

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

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, February 1

breaking bread, making friends

Serving from 6:00-7:00 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: Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles, Green Beans with Rosemary,

Kale Salad with Poppy Seed Dressing.

2017 Lutheran Legislative Event: February 12-14, 2017

Sponsored by Poverty & Justice Task Force of ELCA Southwestern Texas Synod and Texas Impact

Gethsemane Lutheran Church – Austin, Texas

Do you wonder why our Texas legislators sometimes don’t understand important issues to Lutherans?

Would you like to help them understand those issues? Now’s your opportunity to impact the legislative process!

The schedule will be:

Sunday, 2:45 pm-8:00 pm Workshop, Worship, and Biblical Advocacy Training

Monday, 8:00 am-8:30 pm Issues, Caucus, and Issues Training

Tuesday, 8:30 am-1:00 pm Legislative Visits at the Capitol


Online Registration: http://www.swtsynod.org/synodevents

$75 – Registration through February 1, 2017;  $90 – Registration from February 2, 2017

(Includes Sunday dinner and Monday meals; Tuesday breakfast is on your own.)

Note: A limited number of scholarships are available to cover registration fee for participants under 25, seminarians, or financial need.


If interested, contact PJTF Chair, Mary Lou Newman at ralls-newman@sbcglobal.net

Volunteer Chefs needed for Micah 6 Street Youth Drop-In Center

The Micah 6 Street Youth Drop-In Center is about to celebrate its 6th anniversary! You can be a part of this rewarding ministry by preparing a main dish, salad, side vegetable, bread, or dessert on one of the six dates that First English will be serving this year. Food need not be home-cooked. Meals are served on Sunday afternoons at 4:30 pm. Our first date will be February 12. We will also serve on April 2, June 11, August 6, October 1, and December 3. If you can provide a dish in advance but cannot be present to serve, that is also welcome. Thank you for supporting youth in a time of need. Please contact Jackie Chuter at chuter.jackie@gmail.com or 512-657-3584 if you can serve on February 12 or any other date.

Companions Groups

The First English Companions group invites you to a new study for 2017 based on Parker Palmer’s HEALING THE HEART OF DEMOCRACY, The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.  This is a topic worthy of prayerful sharing at this time in our life together.  Palmer, a Quaker, is a world-renowned writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality, and social change.  The weekly study begins Thursday, February 16, 7:00-8:30 pm, in the home of Barbara Wiederaenders.  Companions in Christ groups were begun by Barbara Schutz in 2007.  The groups have continued to provide opportunities for us to share how our faith impacts our daily lives.  Come nurture your spirit with us.  To register or ask for more information, please call Barbara at 512-451-0684.

Refugee Welcome and Advocacy

On Monday, January 30, FELC hosted and partcipated in an interfaith vigil for refugees.  This event was co-sponsored with the Refugee Council USA.  The church was full and standing room only, inside and outside the building.

We continue to pray for and advocate with refugees throughout the world in this difficult time, especially Syrian refugees who are facing terrible struggles at home and increased rejection in the United States. Red and green candles (colors of the Syrian flag) continue to burn at the altar as a reminder to be in a constant prayer vigil for them.

We are invited to join with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services (http://lirs.org) and their excellent work with welcoming and settling refugees in this critical moment. They are the 2nd largest agency the State Department works with to settle refugees. Their website has specific and helpful ways to learn, act, and donate.

Here are some links to stories and photos about our witness on Monday night:

Austin American Statesman: http://www.statesman.com/news/local/central-austin-church-hosts-refugees-welcome-vigil/OhEgTWkQODawWlYtD6kI5H/

Texas Tribune: https://www.texastribune.org/2017/01/30/refugee-vigil/

More to come.  Continue to pray.  Continue to act.

Weekly Update: December 20, 2016

Preparing for Christmas Worship

Scripture texts

Here are some biblical verses and writings as a way to prepare and begin hearing and pondering the scripture texts for worship:

Isaiah 9:2

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined.

Luke 2:8-14

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will

find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying,

“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!”

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

There are many of you in this congregation who think to yourselves: “If only I had been there! How quick I would have been to help the Baby! I would have washed his linen.” But if you had been there at that time, you would have done no better than the people of Bethlehem. Childish and silly thoughts are these! Why don’t you do it now? You have Christ in your neighbor: you ought to serve him, for what you do to your neighbor in need, you do
to the Lord Christ himself.

Martin Luther

[Martin Luther, The Martin Luther Christmas Book, trans. Roland H. Bainton (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1948), 38.]

Upcoming Worship for Christmas and the New Year

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. All in the community are invited to this Christmas service of hope.

Saturday, December 24:

Christmas Eve Eucharist with Candlelight

5:30 pm               Child–friendly with children 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

Christian formation, children’s gathering and nursery care will not be offered on this day.

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

Christian formation, children’s gathering and nursery care will not be offered on this day.

Sunday, January 8, 2017: two services

Baptism of Our Lord

8:30 am               Eucharist with affirmation of baptism

9:45 am               Christian formation for all ages

11:00 am             Eucharist with baptism and affirmation.

Flooring Project: CDC and Church Office Closed

One of our capital campaign projects we have been planning for is replacing the flooring in the entire Child Development Center, including classrooms, hallway, and office. The existing tile is in bad shape, and has asbestos in the tile and adhesive. The abatement and installation project is scheduled to run from December 21 through January 3. During the first part of the project, the CDC wing will be sealed off for the abatement. Throughout the project, all items and furniture from the CDC will be stored in the fellowship hall, making only the kitchen end of the fellowship hall usable. We look forward to seeing the new beautiful flooring in the new year.  The Church Office and CDC will close December 21 and is scheduled to reopen January 4.

Welcome to Holden Village

Over the course of 50 years, Holden Village has been transformed from a copper mining town to a vibrant place of education, programming, and worship. It has been a rich journey of faith. Holden welcomes all who seek contemplation and community in the wilderness of the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Rooted in Lutheran traditions, Holden invites people of all ages to come and experience the various rhythms which inspire and equip travelers for a sustainable life of faith. Holden still affords guests the comforts of three nourishing meals a day, a warm bed, hot shower and caring community. The web site is www.holdenvillage.org. Many of us at First English have waited a long time for the camp to re-open.  All are welcome!  The suggested time of our visit is June 2017. Please contact Teresa Ringness at ttbhip@gmail.com or 512-831-8806 byDecember 27, 2016 to indicate your interest!  Group registration is due on January 1, 2017.