Weekly Update: October 30, 2017

All Saints Sunday: November 5

Word & Eucharist Liturgy – 8:30 & 11 am

Faith formation for all – 9:45 am

{Daylight Savings Time ends early Sunday morning, November 5. 

Set your clocks back one hour on Saturday evening.}


Sunday, November 5, we will celebrate the Feast of All Saints (November 1), a time to remember and give thanks for and remember saints near and far, famous and familiar only to us, those who died long ago, those we have lost recently, and those known to God alone. As part of the observance we will read the names of those from FELC who have died during the past year.  We invite you all to bring pictures and mementos to place on our sacred space of remembrance in the Chapel of the Saints, and to write the names of anyone who has died in the past year in the Book of the Dead. This liturgy can be a helpful part of grief.

Reflections for Sunday, November 5

As we prepare…

Revelation 7:9-17

The book of Revelation is written to seven churches in western Asia Minor during a time of great oppression. This scripture text is a response to the question asked in chapter 6, verse 17: “Who is able to stand?” The writer responds with the assurance of God’s protection and a vision of eventual victory.

After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple, and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them. They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

1 John 3:1-3

God, out of divine love, set us apart to be the children of God. Our holy hope is that we shall see God as God really is.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

Comments from the Cloud of Witnesses

Then John saw the river, and the multitude was there. And a sweetness filled John as he heard the sound of singing: the singing was for him. No power could hold this army back, no water disperse them, no fire consume them. They wandered in the valley forever; and they smote the rock, forever; and the waters sprang, perpetually, in the perpetual desert. They cried unto the Lord forever, they were cast down forever, and lifted up their eyes forever. No, the fire could not hurt them, and yes, the lions’ jaws were stopped; the serpent was not their master, the grave was not their resting-place, the earth was not their home. Job bore them witness, and Abraham was their father, Moses had elected to suffer with them rather than glory in sin for a season. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had gone before them into the fire, their grief had been sung by David, and Jeremiah had wept for them. Ezekiel had prophesied upon them, these scattered bones, these slain, and, in the fullness to time, the prophet, John, had come out of the wilderness, crying that the promise was for them. They were encompassed with a very cloud of witnesses: Judas, who had betrayed the Lord; Thomas, who had doubted Him; Peter, who had trembled at the crowing of a cock; Stephen, who had been stoned; Paul, who had been bound; the blind man crying in the dusty road, the dead man rising from the grave. And they looked unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of their faith, running with patience the race He had set before them; they endured the cross, and they despised the shame, and waited to join Him, one day, in glory, at the right hand of the Father.

James Baldwin

[James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain (New York: Dell, 1953), 204-05.]

Reformation Day: Tuesday, October 31

There have been many celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation throughout the past year, including last week.

Join ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton on Tuesday, October 31, as she co-hosts a commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. The event, which will include speakers and a service, will be at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Bishop Eaton will be joined by co-hosts Indiana-Kentucky Synod Bishop Bill Gafkjen, ELCA Vice President Bill Horne and Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod Bishop Richard Graham.

The event, which will meet under the theme “Looking Back and Called Forward,” will be available online via livestream for all to watch: http://www.elca.org/livestream.

a word from the presiding bishop

Dear friends in Christ,

“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32)

On Reformation Day, we gather as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America – in our congregations, across this church, and with our Lutheran family around the globe – to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. This centennial has provided a welcome occasion to learn more about Martin Luther and the Reformation, while strengthening our understanding and commitment to our ministries. It has given us an opportunity to look back on the history of our tradition and to discern how we are being called forward together in Christ. As the first centennial of the Reformation to take place in the context of our church’s deep ecumenical and inter-religious partnerships, this anniversary is unfolding in a spirit of reconciliation. Together with our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers, and other ecumenical companions, we have taken significant steps on the way to unity, justice and peace. With our inter-religious neighbors, we also have deepened mutual understanding across religious lines and collaborated for the common good. Over the course of this year, in initiatives and events across this church and The Lutheran World Federation, we have been inspired by the ways in which Lutherans continue to share boldly the gifts of our tradition. One of these is Martin Luther’s insistence that the unconditional promise of God’s love in Jesus Christ frees us to love and serve our neighbors. This counter-cultural message is as fit for us today as it was for Christians 500 years ago. On this day, and into God’s future, we are called to be a public witness to how God is continually at work, in and through us, re-forming the body of Christ in a world broken by sin. Thanks be to God.

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton Presiding Bishop

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Reforming Stewardship

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?

Forms are available at FELC to fill out and turn in.    

We also have stewardship forms available online:
Stewardship of Finances: http://www.felcaustin.org/forms/stewardship-of-finances-form
Stewardship of Time and Abilities: http://www.felcaustin.org/forms/stewardshipoftime

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.

Companion Café: Wednesday, November 1

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 1: Shepherd’s Pie, Creamed Spinach, Garden Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.

Café Conversations: Wednesday, 6:30 to 7:30

As a new part of our Wednesday evening ministries this fall, we are inviting local leaders of non-profits and other community organizations to present on what they are doing, and then have time for questions and conversation.

November 1: We welcome Jennifer Long, Director of Casa Marianella. Casa Marianella is a volunteer-driven emergency homeless shelter in east Austin, serving recently-arrived immigrants and asylum seekers from around the world – www.casamarianella.org

Come and enjoy a great Companion Café meal, and then stay for the presentation and conversation as we learn about many great organizations in our community and ways we can connect with and support one another.

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. Your help is needed to ensure that your community receives access to healthcare in 2018. Unfortunately, we are already seeing an increase in the number of uninsured for the first time since the ACA was implemented.  In Texas, we are working to get roughly 1.2 million people covered. (That’s the number of Texans who got their insurance through the ACA in 2017.) You can help inform your local communities by: talking to people in your congregation to make sure they are taking advantage of any Affordable Care Act subsidies available to them. Reminding families that the Affordable Care Act exchanges at www.healthcare.gov are still available beginning November 1. Reminding families that the enrollment period is shorter this year, running from November 1 through December 15. Spreading the word: The Marketplace will be closed Sundays from midnight to noon. Letting families know financial and in-person help to enroll is available.

Sunday Morning Adult Formation in November

In our adult formation at 9:45 am on Sundays in November, we will take time to 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 a lot of crosstalk and reacting. Throughout this forum, we will explore how it is we are called to live out our faith in the political realm. 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.” It provides a helpful framework for thinking about how the church engages in issues of public life and policy. We will use that as an introductory discussion topic. The social statement is available online here: http://elca.org/en/Faith/Faith-and-Society/Social-Statements/Church-in-Society

Vision of Hope African Methodist Episcopal Church Anniversary Service:
Sunday, November 19 at 3:00 PM

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

FELC participants are invited to attend the anniversary service for Vision of Hope AME church. Pastor Coffey and other church leaders will be in attendance. The service is being held at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, 1711 E. Oltorf St. Austin, 78741.

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. 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.

Pastor Coffey’s New Book Available

Pastor Coffey’s new book, “Renounce, Resist, Rejoice: Being Church in the Age of Trump,” has been published. It is available online from the publisher’s web site site (https://wipfandstock.com/renounce-resist-rejoice.html) and from Amazon.com.

Copies available for sale at a discount at the church. The cost is $10 (cash or check made out to “Michael Coffey”). If you are interested you can speak with Pastor Coffey during the week in the church office or on Sunday morning.

A description of the book from the back cover:
“The election of Donald Trump as the forty-fifth president of the United States was a watershed moment in American history. In this book, Michael Coffey reflects on major social and religious issues leading up to and following the election. Coffey addresses the political issues of the day, not from a partisan position but from the question of what it means to be faithful as church now. Rather than pit left against right or Republican against Democrat, Pastor Coffey seeks to explore fundamental issues of Christian commitments centered in love of God and neighbor. Coffey shares his personal responses to the events surrounding the election while exploring central biblical and theological themes that have shaped and challenged the church in every age. This book confronts conservative and liberal Christian assumptions and creates space for dialogue about what it means to prioritize the Gospel message of compassion and mercy over partisan politics, nationalism, and ideology. Church leaders will find resources for leading conversation. Church members will find a rich and challenging resource for dialogue. Those outside of religious communities who are politically engaged will find insight for understanding how people of faith live out their commitments in the public realm.”