Weekly Update: November 21, 2017

Sunday, November 26

Word & Eucharist Liturgy – 8:30 & 11 am

Faith formation for all – 9:45 am

As we prepare for Sunday morning…

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 Sunday, November 26  (Year A, Christ the King Sunday)

Ephesians 1:15-23

In this passage, God is praised for revealing ultimate divine power in raising Jesus from the dead. The resurrected, exalted Christ is Lord both of the church and the entire universe, now and in the age to come.

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Matthew 25:31-46

Jesus compares himself to a king who moves among his subjects to see how he is treated: what is done for the least of those who belong to his family is truly done for him.

[Jesus said to the disciples:] “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

There lived a certain monk of very venerable life named Martyrius who on one occasion went to visit another monastery. On his way he met a certain leper, whose members were all afflicted with elephantiasis, who was trying to return to his dwelling, but could not through weakness. His house, he said, was on the road along which Martyrius was going. The man of God had compassion on the weakness of the poor leper, and so he spread his own cloak upon the ground, and, placing the leper upon it, wrapped him securely in the cloak, and lifting his upon his shoulders, brought him along with him. As soon as Martyrius reached the entrance of the monastery, the man he thought was a leper leaped down from his shoulders, and Jesus Christ, true God and true man, appearing in that form in which the Redeemer of humankind was known on earth, returned again to heaven. And when the holy man went into the monastery, the abbot said to him, “Brother Martyrius, where is he you were carrying?” Martyrius answered, “Had I known who it was, I would have held him by the feet.” And he told them that while he was carrying him, he had felt no weight. And it is not to be wondered at that he could not feel his weight who upheld him who was carrying him.

Gregory the Great

[Gregory the Great, Sunday Sermons of the Great Fathers, I, 68-69.]

Sunday Advent Prayer: Hurts, Healings, and Hopes
The season of Advent is traditionally a time of reflection, self-inspection, and preparation for God to be born again into our world.  It is a time to look both backward and forward, a sacred “interim time” as we pass from the old to the new Church year.

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 one:  During the past year, what did you find hurtful, troubling, or fearful (on a personal, community, church, or society level)?

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: CLOSED Wednesday, November 22

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.

Companion Café will be closed Wednesday, November 22 for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Church Office and Child Development Center Closed

First English Lutheran church office and child development center will be closed Wednesday, November 22 through Friday, November 24 as we observe the thanksgiving holiday.

Men’s Clothing Drive for Micah 6

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.  Boxes for receiving items are located in narthex, in the hallway outside the parlor and restrooms, the fellowship hall, and the CDC hall. The men’s clothing drive ends on December 10. For more information contact Renee Carlson at 512-657-5540.


Sunday Morning Adult Forum: Faith and Politics

Join together on Sunday mornings (November 26, December 3, 10, 17) at 9:45 am in the parlor as we reflect on a number of issues happening in our nation and how people of faith and the church community could respond. All opinions will be welcomed, and we will practice attentive and respectful listening to each other, rather than crosstalk and reacting.  The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) has adopted twelve social statements since its formation. The first one was adopted in 1991 and is called “Church in Society” available online at: http://elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Church-in-Society

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.

Advent Evening Prayer at First English

Conversations with Zen: Sit, Chew, Move

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.

Texas Lutheran University Christmas Vespers

In preparation for the Christmas season, Texas Lutheran University hosts its annual Christmas Vespers service. This celebration of music and word honors the integral role music has played in Texas Lutheran’s curriculum and religious and cultural history. Audiences take advantage of the opportunity to hear the ethereal voices of the TLU choirs each year. Titled “Season of Light,” this year’s Vespers service of word and music will feature the TLU Choir, TLU Women’s Choir, Kantorei Chamber Choir, and the TLU Symphonic Winds and Percussion. The music for this service will focus on Advent as the season of hope; honoring the strength of the human spirit, even in the most difficult of times. San Antonio actress, Sam Carter Gilliam, will perform short monologues between the musical numbers which lend context to the music being performed.


Friday, December 1, at 7:30 pm in Jackson Auditorium 

Saturday, December 2, at 7:30 pm in Jackson Auditorium 

Sunday, December 3, at 4 pm in Jackson Auditorium 

Sunday, December 10, at 4 pm at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church, Austin (no tickets required)


http://www.tlu.edu/events/christmas-vespers-2017, or vespers@tlu.edu; or 830-372-8063.

All Vespers services at TLU are free and open to the public, but tickets are required due to limited seating. You now have the opportunity to give a freewill offering which will provide financial support for TLU students.

Micah 6 Sunday: December 10

On Sunday, December 10, First English will gather a special financial offering for Micah 6 as a part of their year-end appeal. The mission of Micah 6 of Austin is to work together to identify and meet the needs of the homeless and the impoverished in the University of Texas campus area.

They answer the biblical call of Micah 6:8 to do justice through education, dialogue, and advocacy, love kindness by compassionately serving those who come for assistance, and walk humbly with God by providing opportunities for the spiritual growth of those they serve. First English is a founding member congregation of Micah 6. For more information, visit http://www.micah6austin.org/

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 some 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 vicar@felcaustin.org.

Texas Early Music Project Concert: An Early Christmas at First English

Join Texas Early Music Project for a multilicious feast of Christmas music through the ages. People in different cultures across the centuries have celebrated this season of expectation and rebirth with sweet Dutch lullabies and joyous English carols, rousing Spanish villancicos and dulcet French noëls, Celtic cradle-songs and exuberant folk-tunes.  We’ve chosen pieces ranging from Medieval Spain and England to Baroque France and Germany and beyond, encompassing more than 500 years of humanity’s hope, love, and joy.  Brett Barnes, Cayla Cardiff, Jeffrey Jones-Ragona, Stephanie Prewitt, Meredith Ruduski, and Jenifer Thyssen are featured soloists, and nationally acclaimed historical harpist Therese Honey joins TEMP’s troupe of solo voices, small chorus, violin, flute, mandolin, viols, and lute.


Friday, December 8, at 7:00 pm,

Saturday, December 9, at 7:00 pm

at First English Lutheran Church

Sunday, December 10, at 3:00 pm

at First Presbyterian Church, 8001 Mesa Drive, Austin


$30 general; $25 seniors (60+); $5 students (at the door only).

Tickets available by cash, check, or credit card at the door or online at https://temp.ticketbud.com/an-early-christmas-2016.

For more information, call 512-377-6961 and leave a message, or email


Blue Christmas Evening Prayer: Wednesday, December 20 at 7:00 pm

¨ Silence

¨ Candlelight

¨ Christmas Music

¨ Prayer

¨ Grief and Joy

¨ Healing

¨ Hope

A reception follows the service in the Chapel of the Saints