Weekly Update: May 5, 2017

Preparing for Sunday, May 28 – The Seventh Sunday of Easter

Summer Sunday schedule begins: One worship service at 9:45 am

The Season of Easter: 50 days!

The fifty days are about looking for the risen Lord among us, hearing stories of rising from the big and small deaths, and days when we experience something of Christ’s triumphs. Death is not the last word. Life and love are forever!

This Thursday, the church celebrates one of the principal feasts: the Ascension of our Lord. Ascension Day could be explained as the cynical “I’m outta here” of a God weary of us self-centered, broken humans, but that explanation would be short-sighted because it leaves out the important stop on the cross. Instead, Jesus’ departure is accompanied with the promise of the Spirit’s presence remaining among us. We look up to the skies for help, then return our gaze to those among us in need of our care, to the body of Christ and the wind of the Spirit among God’s people, preparing for the time when Jesus comes again to gather everyone in.

Acts 1:6-8

When [the apostles] had come together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

John 17:10-11

Jesus prayed: “All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.”

In the days between Ascension (this Thursday) and Pentecost (celebrated June 4), we gather with the disciples in the upper room, waiting for the Spirit to transform the church around the world. In this Sunday’s gospel story, we hear that Jesus prays for his followers and for their mission in his name. Amid religious, social, and economic divisions, we seek the unity that Jesus had with God. We go forth to live our faith in the world, eager for the unity that God intends for the whole human family.

Remodeling of Hallway continues this week

The hallway outside the sanctuary is being remodeled. The first steps include redoing the ceiling and lighting. After that, the hallway and restrooms will be painted and new flooring will be installed. If you are in the building this week, the hallway and restrooms may be inaccessible at times.

Summer Schedule Begins: this 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, and a Back-to-School Blessing on Sunday, August 20.  We continue with one liturgy at 9:45 am through Sunday, September 3.

Calling all Egg Cartons for Micah 6 Food Pantry

Please bring your empty egg cartons to First English for re-use at the Micah 6 Food Pantry. Micah 6 purchases eggs in large cases from the Capital Area Food Bank, and partcipants repackage them into dozen cartons for individual shoppers. You can deposit your empty egg cartons in the Micah 6 baskets located at the entrances to the sanctuary. Thank you for helping Austin families take home nutritious eggs this week! For more information, and to be more connected to our ministry with Micah 6, contact Jackie Chuter at chuter.jackie@gmail.com

Vicar Internship Project

If you were not able to attend the informational session about the Vicar Internship Project, Making Connections, please know that you can still participate! Learn more about the project by clicking this link, or by talking with Travis (vicar@felcaustin.org or 830-328-3068).

Companions Action Invitation

As most have noticed, the alienation between different groups of people in our country has grown more strident in the past few years.  In that context, the Companions in Christ group recently finished its study of HEALING THE HEART OF DEMOCRACY The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit by Parker J. Palmer.  The book was a timely, well-reasoned call to get involved in bridging that gap.  The challenge is to get out of our silos and dare to be in civil conversation with those with whom we disagree.

We didn’t want to sit on our hands and do nothing in response.  To help with that, we are exploring local opportunities already in place.  We will be visiting various “conversation” groups to listen, participate as possible, and evaluate.  Our quest, finding avenues that support our responsibility for exercising our faith in the public square.

We encourage you to read the book!  Whether you do or not, we welcome you to come along with us as we explore.  No one has to do this alone.  Dates and info will be announced through the Echoes Bimonthly and Email Weekly.

Our first outing will be to attend a monthly meeting of “The Red Bench—Interfaith Conversations that Matter” sponsored by Interfaith Action of Central Texas (IACT).  The topic will be courage.  The meeting is Tuesday, May 30, 6:30-8:30 pm held at Unity Church in northwest Austin.  If you wish to attend, please RSVP and get more information at this link:  http://interfaithtexas.org/events/the-red-bench-courage-2/.

It would be helpful, also, to check in with us about meeting up:  Renee Carlson, Charlotte Gilman, Chris Paton, Anne Wiebe, Andy MacLaren, or Barbara Wiederaenders.  Watch for other outings in the future.  Contact: Barbara Wiederaenders at

bwiederaenders@att.net.

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 will 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. If you plan to attend, please let Pastor Coffey know by June 4 so we can give an estimate to those preparing the meal.

 

A Word from the Congregation Council

First Quarter Financial Report

Dear FELC Community,

The congregation council wishes to keep the FELC Community regularly informed of our church finances to facilitate continued stewardship awareness and generosity. We will be providing a quarterly statement about church finances to the congregation, as well as the personal statements to those households whose giving is recorded.

Our new bookkeeper, Mary Lou Turnbull, has been diligently working to learn our processes, and the council prioritized accuracy over timeliness for the first quarter report. The council is now in a position to review financial reports for the prior month at every council meeting.

The first quarter report indicates the following:

·         Expenses were over budget for January by $3000, as expected (several quarterly payments are due in January).

·         The overall expenses were under budget for February and March by about $500 each month.

·         As of March 31, we are about $4,500 under budgeted giving.

If you have not revised your giving to reflect a revised pledge, please take a moment to do so at www.felcaustin.org/information/giving

We are also continuing with important projects funded by the 2015-2016 Capital Campaign:

·         The new sound system has been installed and is enabling us to provide worship online via YouTube.

·         New furniture in the parlor is facilitating more comfortable and flexible use of that space.

·         Renovation of the foyer and restrooms between the sanctuary and fellowship hall has begun.

We have been able to continue and deepen our relationships with other faith communities this year. All of this is due to your generous pledges and continued giving.

We are heading into what is typically a low-income quarter for church finances.  It is critical for the ministries and daily operations of First English that everyone be diligent in their giving—especially during the summer months.

The people of First English are truly generous! You share not only your financial resources, but your time, talents, energy, and strength. We are grateful for your continued stewardship.

Sincerely,

FELC Congregation Council

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.