Sunday, November 19
Word & Eucharist Liturgy – 8:30 & 11 am
Faith formation for all – 9:45 am
Early and Extended Advent
We began to observe 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. During the season of Advent we will gather around the Eucharistic table for the Great Thanksgiving. We invite all who are able to gather around the communion table at the front of the nave as we pray, praise, and celebrate Christ’s presence among us in the holy meal.
Bible readings for this Sunday (Year A, Lectionary 33)
Lord, you have been our refuge
1 Thessalonians 5:4-11
Awake to the Grace of God
One word for this is stewardship. Presented in light of God’s gift of faith and purpose, this “churchy” term can today be transformed to new understanding in the proclamation of the gospel text. Instead of the weight of obligation and duty we so often associate with religion, we are invited today to another way: What does it mean to be awake to the grace of God?
On the surface Jesus’ parable is a simple premise: the contrast of workers who please and workers who disappoint their master. Psalm 90 sings to us to carefully treasure our lifetimes, for there is something at stake. First Thessalonians is a letter reminding people they have exactly what they need to survive and thrive.
What does it mean to be awake to the grace of God?
In a time in history when so many people are discouraged with work, home, life, and church, a word from Jesus’ parables may be healing, enriching, and startlingly attractive. The gospel text today is an opportunity to remind the people of God that there is a depth to faith that is sustainable. In fact, beneath the parables of Jesus is a depth it will take a lifetime to unpack
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 December 10. 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, November 15
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 November 15: Tapas Night: Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraiche, Tomato Basil Bruschetta, Bacon Wrapped Dates, and Seafood Paella with a Spinach Salad and Raspberry Vinaigrette.
Companion Cafe will be closed for Wednesday, November 22 for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Advent Event For All AND Men’s Clothing Drive for Micah 6:
Sunday, November 19 at 9:45 am
We’ll host our annual Advent Event in the fellowship hall. Come experience this season of hope and expectation with opportunities to make the Advent wreath for the sanctuary, ice cookies, and more, and enjoy goodies and merriment. AND, 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. We’ll kick off the men’s clothing drive at the Advent Event on Sunday, November 19 and end it in time for Christmas on December 10. Questions? Call or text Renee Carlson, 512-657-5540.
FELC Responds to those in need in Sutherland Springs
We invite anyone, of any age, interested in writing or drawing a card for the people of God at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs,
to do so by Sunday, November 19. Please give any cards to Mary Lou Larson at church or contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We want to let these beloved know we care and won’t forget.
We will mail any cards on Monday, November 20.
We continue to pray for those in need, and may our prayers move us to concrete expressions of advocacy and action.
Poinsettias Available for Order
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 & Give Thanks as One Community
33rd Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving
Vision of Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church Anniversary Service:
Advent Evening Prayer: Conversations with Zen
Wednesdays, November 29, 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 three quiet evenings of prayer in the midst of an often-busy season.
First English at Austin NAACP Banquet: Saturday, December 2
First English will be represented at the Austin Chapter of the NAACP Annual DeWitty/Overton Banquet on Saturday, December 2 at 6:00 pm at the Hyatt Regency Town Lake. First English Lutheran Church has purchased a table of ten, with five seats remaining. Tickets are $75/plate. The 2017 DeWitty/Overton award recipient is The Rev. Dr. Mark Washington. Dr. Washington is an Assistant City Manager for the City of Austin and Pastor of Vision of Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church. Vicar Travis Fitzgold will be offering the benediction at the banquet. If you are interested in attending in support of FELC’s ongoing partnership and advocacy toward racial justice, please contact email@example.com.
A Word from Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy
From early faith leaders to modern-day congregations, people of faith have always been central to providing healing and wholeness in our communities. Make sure you are taking advantage of any Affordable Care Act subsidies available, which include more affordable prices this year. The Affordable Care Act exchanges at www.healthcare.gov are available now through December 15. The Marketplace will be closed Sundays from midnight to noon. Financial and in-person help to enroll is available.
Being in community
Imagine for a moment that you can no longer drive and have to depend on others to go places. Maybe you’re using a walker and can’t walk the distances you once could. Yet, you’re still YOU! You’re hesitant to ask people for favors. You have few friends or family still living. The TV is boring. If your eyesight has survived, you can enjoy reading, maybe even painting. Connecting with people is more challenging. What a joy to get a phone call or, even better, a visit. Thanks to a number of folks at First English, you are not forgotten! THANK YOU to the following angels who have made time to visit one or more of our homebound this year: Anne Wiebe, Barbara Schutz, Barbara Wiederaenders, Carl Brockman, Charlotte Gilman, David Klumpp, Judy Moltz, Lee Baker, Liz West, Lois Holck, Margaret Bruesch, Marian Klumpp, Pat Thomas, Penny Baker, Stefan, Kate, and Ada Wanstrom, Teresa Ringness, and Pastor Coffey and Vicar Travis. Are YOU a visitor that we’ve overlooked? Please let us know.
Would you like to do this but feel a bit awkward about it? Ask any one of these folks what it’s like. Some just chat, some bring a Bible reading to share, sometimes there’s prayer, communion. There are always hugs and the presence of God. Give it a try. You’ll receive more than you give. Congregational Care Chairperson Barbara Wiederaenders (firstname.lastname@example.org or 512-451-0684) will be glad to hear from you.
Stewardship is our spiritual discipline of using our whole lives to thank and serve God by loving God, our neighbors, and ourselves. Making stewardship commitments helps us be intentional. What new ways of using your time, your abilities, learning new skills, and sharing your wealth do you feel inspired to commit to for the coming year?
If you have not responded, forms are available online:
For planning purposes, it is helpful to receive the Stewardship of Finances form by December 1, and the Stewardship of Time and Abilities form by January 1.
May God continue to bless us as we live into God’s abundant life.