Weekly Update: November 28, 2017

Sunday, December 3

Word & Eucharist Liturgy – 8:30 & 11 am

Faith formation for all – 9:45 am


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.

Sunday, December 3  (Year B, First Sunday of Advent)

Mark 13:24-37

Jesus encourages his followers to look forward to the day when he returns in power and glory to end all suffering.

[Jesus said:] “In those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from heaven,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.
Then they will see ‘the Son of Man coming in clouds’ with great power and glory. Then he will send out the angels, and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
“But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.”

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

Some people see the future Day of Judgment, whether by bomb or Bible, as a disastrous time. For them, that Day will be a time of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. For most of us the Day of Judgment, the End of Time, the Second Coming of Christ, whatever you want to call it, is something without any real meaning. We don’t look forward to it with dread, because we don’t look forward to it at all. Yet Advent calls us to hope for the coming of Christ. This positive hope comes from knowing that we already belong to Christ and already live in communion with him and each other. Through grace we are made ready meet Christ, both in our daily lives and at the Day of Judgment. Advent reminds us to take time to watch, to make space for that waiting which is so important to our spiritual journey, and to look to tomorrow in positive hope, living expectantly for the coming of the Christ.

Linda L. Grenz

[Linda L. Grenz, in Homilies for the Christian People, ed. Gail Ramshaw (New York: Pueblo Publishing Company, 1989), 181.]

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: Wednesday, November 29

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 29 is: Beef Barley Soup, Green Goddess Salad, Artisian Bread.

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.

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. Contact vicar@felcaustin.org.

Sunday Morning Adult Forum: Faith and Politics

Join together on Sunday mornings (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

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


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/

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, and the CDC hall. The men’s clothing drive ends on December 10. For more information contact Renee Carlson at 512-657-5540.

Christmas Caroling: Sunday, December 10

Fa-la-la-la-lah—la-la-la-lah!!  YES!  Get your Santa hats and Rudolf noses ready, it’s time for our traditional caroling afternoon.  Our homebound seniors look forward to welcoming the happy voices of First English friends bringing Christmas cheer.


Sunday, December 10, 2:00 – 5:00 pm

Back at church, you’ll be rewarded with seasonal beverages.

No better way to catch the Christmas spirit!

Meet at First English at 2 pm to carpool and get your maps. Parking is limited in some places so carpooling is advised.  All of us will follow a circular route from and back to First English.

Contact Barbara Wiederaenders (bwiederaenders@att.net) or Anne Wiebe (wiebeanne@hotmail.com) if you plan to partcipate.

Poinsettias Available for Order: Deadline Friday, December 15

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 Christmas at First English

All are welcome

Wednesday, December 20

Blue Christmas Evening Prayer

7:00 pm

Silence, Candlelight, Christmas Music, Prayer, Grief and Joy, Healing, Hope

A reception follows the service in the Chapel of the Saints.

Sunday, December 24

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

9:45 am

We conclude the advent season with Word and Eucharist

Note: only one liturgy this Sunday morning.  Godly Play and Adult formation will not be offered.

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Eve

4:00 pm

Child-friendly, Christmas Story, Sermon, Eucharist, Candlelight

9:45 pm

Festive Christmas Vocal and Instrumental Music

10:00 pm

Candlelight, Chanted Liturgy, Sermon, Eucharist, Special Music

Note: new worship times this year.

There will not be a liturgy on Christmas Day, Monday, December 25.

Sunday, December 31

The Sunday after Christmas: New Year’s Eve

9:45 am 

Christmas Lessons and Carols with Eucharist
Note: only one liturgy this Sunday morning.  Godly Play and Adult formation will not be offered.

Congregation Council Highlights

The following are highlights from the November 20, First English Council meeting:

Upcoming Advent and Christmas Worship:

– Advent Evening Prayer: Wednesdays, November 29, December 6, December 13, 6:45 pm

– Blue Christmas liturgy: December 20, 7:00 pm

– Christmas Eve liturgies: December 24: 945 am; 4:00 pm; 10:00 pm

– First Sunday of Christmas (lessons and carols): December 31, 9:45 am

787 Collective: After a successful introductory meeting with young adults (20-year olds), the next step is to meet with 787 Collective coordinators to discuss status. Looking to host continued conversations with this age group in restaurants or around meal and fellowship events.

Reviewed the proposed 2018 budget. The congregation council will vote on recommending the proposed budget at the December council meeting. A presentation to the congregation of the proposed budget will be held on Sunday, January 21, 9:45 am during the adult forum. The congregation potluck and annual meeting will be held Sunday, January 28 at 12:15 pm

Tim Atkinson, Nancy Baden, Randy Baden, Charlie Boas, Allen Jensen, and Barbara Wiederanders were approved to serve as the Nominating Committee. They will be seeking 5 people to serve on the congregation council starting in January and 2 people to serve as voting members from First English at the Southwestern Texas Synod Assembly meeting in May, 2018.

Congregational Care Team has been reviewing the membership and is preparing to reach out to inactive members.

Andy Petras, Godly Play coordinator, continues to welcome children to Godly Play, Sunday’s at 9:45 am. (Watch bulletins, weekly email, and website for holiday schedule changes.)

Invitation Team is planning to utilize nextdoor.com to publicize worship and other First English events and to help establish a neighborhood presence.