Weekly Update: February 14, 2017

Preparing Worship on Sunday, February 19, 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 pondering the scripture texts for worship this Sunday

Leviticus 19:1-2,9-10

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them:

You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the Lord your God.

Matthew 5:38-42

[Jesus said to the disciples:] “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.’’

A Holy Life
Both the Leviticus and Matthew readings give us directions for living a holy life, and the readings from Psalms and Corinthians echo this love of God’s righteousness and holiness. Leviticus sets forth the totality of the holiness God expects in our lives, and such detailed commandments can certainly be stifling and don’t always translate well to new times and cultures. But some of those details are startling in their relevance: don’t completely clean the fields but instead leave some for the poor and the alien, don’t profit from the blood of a neighbor, don’t hate any kin. Each law ends with “I am the Lord,” reminding us not only who God is, but also who we are and who we aren’t, and why it is we should follow these proscriptions.

Austin Marathon This Sunday

The 26th Annual Austin Marathon will take place this Sunday, February 19.  Please see the course map at: http://youraustinmarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Austin-Marathon-Course-Map-2017.pdf.

Access to First English on Sunday morning is best via the west by MoPac/Loop One, exiting at Westover/Northwood and coming over on 29th street.

This Sunday: adult forum: Spiritual Disciplines of Lent

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 on Sundays, February 19 and 26 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 Mustard Seed

What is the kingdom of heaven like? It is like the tiniest of all the seeds, a seed so small that if I had one in my hand you would not be able to see it. And when that seed is planted in the ground, it begins to grow.

The mustard in this parable is not the domestic mustard we use for flavoring. The mustard of the eastern world grew and spread quickly. Farmers did not like it because it could take over a field and ruin its useful production of grain. It is a shrub and not a tree. These facts are not interesting to children, but they are mentioned here to invite you to discover more about this parable as an adult. This week, Vicar Travis willl invite our children into the wonder, discovery, and play of this rich parable.

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.

This Sunday: Here We Stand middle schoolers

The Gerasene Demoniac
Bible Text: Luke 8:26–39; Matthew 8:28–34; Mark 5:1–20
Lesson Focus: Jesus’ power to end suffering in God’s name knows no boundaries.
Big Question: Can God use me to help a suffering world?

Leader: Mr. Joe Cain

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

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.

Anita Townsley Turns 102 on February 15

Anita Townsley (our most senior, venerable elder) celebrates her 102nd birthday on Wednesday, February 15! Birthday cards and notes to Anita can be sent to: Anita Townsley, c/o Brookdale at Spicewood Springs, Rm 231, 4401 Spicewood Springs Rd., Austin, 78759.  For information, contact Barbara Wiederaenders at 512-451-0684.

Companion Cafe: Wednesday, February 15

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: Veggie Cajun Gumbo, Jasmine Rice, Orange Slices, Garden Salad Bar

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 the months of February and 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.

Companions Group: Thursdsay, February 16

The First English Companions group invites you to a new study for 2017 based on Parker Palmer’sHEALING THE HEART OF DEMOCRACY, The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.  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. The groups  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.

FELC Holden Village Summer Trip

Information Meeting: Sunday, February 19 @ 12:15 pm in the parlor

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. Holden welcomes people of all ages who seek contemplation and community in the wilderness of the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Washington State with the comforts of three nourishing meals a day, a warm bed, hot shower and caring community. The web site is www.holdenvillage.org.

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

The FINAL date to commit is March 10, 2017.

Please contact Teresa Ringness at ttbhip@gmail.com or 512-831-8806 to indicate your interest!

Introduction to Welcoming Ministry: Sunday, February 26 @ 12:15 pm

Inviting, welcoming, and connecting people of all ages through the First English faith community is an important part of our ministry.  Join the Invitation Team for conversation on how everyone can participate in the FELC welcoming ministry.  All are welcome! Soup/salad lunch provided. To learn more or to RSVP, contact Andy Maclaren, andymaclaren@cs.com.

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.  Connect with Vicar Travis for the talent show.

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 carrying out 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 an abbreviated service, 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. Pastor Coffey has been invited to preach at Grant 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.

Update from Annual Meeting

Our annual meeting was held Sunday, January 29. We had a great turnout with 59 voting members. We elected congregation council members Penny Baker, Margaret Bruesch, Jackie Chuter, and Liz West, synod assembly voting members Natalie and Larry Archer, and adopted a budget. As you may know, the congregation council presented a proposed budget that included reduction in programming and staff compensation so we could avoid another deficit budget. The congregation was challenged prior to the annual meeting to increase giving to help restore items to the budget. At the annual meeting we received an increase in giving for 2017 of $30,640. This included two one-time gifts totaling $11,800. The rest were increases in regular giving. This was a fantastic response. It allowed us to restore the director of children, youth, and family to its current level, keep the pastor’s salary at its current level, and provide a planned increase to the director of music. It also allowed us to restore some line items of the budget for programming. We are grateful for the generosity. We can still do more. There are more areas of ministry to support, and a need to rebuild our emergency borrowing fund. If you haven’t had a chance, could you make an increase for 2017? $50 per month adds a lot when many people do the same. If you can make an increase, let our financial secretary, Terry Porter at finsec@felcaustin.org, know so he can report to the council the total increase as we plan for this year. Thank you!

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.