From the Rector

Fr. Len Giacolone
 
The first Sunday of December is also the first Sunday of Advent. It is one of two times of “preparation” in the Church's calendar year, the other of course being Lent. Advent provides us with the opportunity to reflect upon our entrance into the mystery of salvation, beginning with the Incarnation, when God becomes one of us. These are often things we take too much for granted. Especially for those who are lifelong Christians, the magnitude of God's largesse is too easy to dismiss, even unintentionally. That's why the church gives us Advent to allow these weighty matters their appropriate due in our reflections, transferring them to the practical reality of our living.

On Saturday, December 8, beginning at 9:30 am, Julianne Stevenson will be at St. Francis to instruct us in the use of our newly purchased Automated External Defibrillator. Ms. Stevenson is an instructor at the College of the Mainland in Texas City, Texas. She teaches first responders life saving techniques as well as the use of life saving equipment. If you have never had any life saving or life-support instruction, this class could be very valuable. The approximately two and one half hour class is free, but it does require signing up. Sunday, December 2, will be the last opportunity to do so.

Christmas will be here shortly and we will celebrate it as we always do with Lessons and Carols followed by Holy Communion at 8:00 pm on Christmas Eve, and Holy Communion at 10:00 am on Christmas morning.  As has been the case for the past several years, there will be a pre-service musical program. This program has been primarily instrumental in the past. I am told that this year it will be primarily vocal. At any rate, it is always wonderful and an appropriate way to enter into the majesty of our celebration of the Lord's birth.

A Sacrament for Healing
Each week after our Holy Communion services we have prayers for healing for all those of our congregation who desire them. From time to time, some of our members tell me that this has been very helpful to them. It is an ancient tradition in the church about which St. James speaks in his epistle. In chapter 5 he says, “Are there any sick among you? Let them send for the priests of the church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save them and the Lord will raise them up; and if they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.” These words apply to those who are really ill and unable to get to church. But the sacrament is also appropriate for anyone who is ill in any way. The laying on of hands and the anointing with oil, usually oil blessed by the bishop, is a tradition that goes back to the apostles. Jesus laid hands on many people and made them well. Oil has been used in the church as a sign of strengthening since the beginning. One thing, however, is important to mention. St. James talks about the “prayer of faith”. Jesus asked some of those who were healed by him if they had faith. And others demonstrated great faith in their asking for healing. Of course, even asking to be healed demonstrates some faith. But the real question is not do I hope that I will be healed, but rather do I expect to be healed? That is the prayer of faith: an expectation of healing rather than merely a hope. It is always God who heals. But if you come for healing, or if you send for the priest for the sacrament, expect God to heal you because you have asked in true faith.
 

Sunday School News

Missy Bernard
 
Advent is here on December 2! The children will make Advent wreaths on the first Sunday in Advent, and we will be celebrating the Advent service each week in the classroom. They also will take home Advent calendars and devotional booklets for celebrating Advent in the home. We hope that home Advent celebrations will help families connect in prayer and focus on the true Advent message. We will continue our study and celebration of Advent throughout December, and will conclude the season with an Epiphany lesson in January.

Sunday School will pause on December 23 and December 30, resuming January 6.

Operation Christmas Child Boxes
The St. Francis youth packed 82 boxes for Operation Christmas Child on November 18! They really enjoyed it. Thank you to everyone who donated gifts and funds for the boxes. Your thoughtfulness and generosity in choosing items is so appreciated, and the monetary gifts are equally appreciated.

Please pray for the children who will be receiving these gifts. It is wonderful how much joy they bring.

Watch this video on the history of this project. https://video.samaritanspurse.org/25-years-of-operation-christmas-child/
 

Anglicans for Life

Submitted by Steve McCown
 
When people face the end of their lives, the stakes change. They worry less about what they look like or what people think of them. They don't have to consider career advancement or struggle to try and “have it all.” Aging does bring along its own fears, however—fears of dying, suffering, and the unknown. Still, there is something still worse that threatens the elderly and the ailing, and it can be found in every nursing home: loneliness. Busy families don't always make the time to visit aging loved ones, or they may not live nearby. Elderly people out-live friends and family members, leaving them isolated and companionless. It's a very lonely thing to grow old, to watch younger and healthier people living their busy lives, while increasingly feeling like you are just waiting for your life to end. We cannot take away their sickness or mortality. That belongs to God alone. But we can show Christ's love to people who need conversation and friendship. Is there a retirement community or nursing home in your area? Visiting residents is an excellent ministry opportunity and can bring such joy to those who most need encouragement. They don't need a lot—just some conversation and company, something to look forward to. Because if they feel that you value them, they will feel of value themselves. We can help elderly people not just endure their remaining years but find joy and pleasure in them.

Here at St. Francis, you can help by participating in our monthly visits to the Retirement and Nursing Center where we sing and pray with their residents. This activity is scheduled for the 2nd Sunday of each month from 3:30-4:30pm. The nursing home is located at 6909 Burnet Lane. The next time we visit will be Dec. 9.
 

Anglicans for Life's Christmas Project

 
The St. Francis chapter of Anglicans for Life is collecting funds for the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center's Christmas Project where they make the Holiday more meaningful and happy for the children of their clients. They take the donated funds, select the families and then purchase the presents that are most appropriate. These are wrapped and handed out to the families at the Center.

If you wish to contribute, you may give your check made out to the APRC and designated Christmas Fund to Rory Motl. Cash is also acceptable.

The deadline for our receiving your gift is Dec. 9 with the funds being delivered to the APRC the week after.
 

Hosts Needed

It is encouraging that several people stepped up to host a coffee hour these past few weeks. It is wonderful to see people linger and visit after church. Please consider volunteering to bring a bit to eat on a Sunday or two. The sign-up list is on the table with the coffee.

Diocesan News
Compiled by Amy Crandell
 
The Diocesan Convention was held on November 9 and 10 at St. Peter and St. Paul in Arlington. The attending clergy and delegates receive a packet of information containing reports, flyers and the like. The flyers I received are posted on the bulletin board and the other reports are in a binder on the table at the entry to the church. A couple items of note:
  • Hope and a Future 
    • The most important event this coming year is the election of a bishop coadjutor. The nomination committee completed a profile of the diocese and one hard copy is in the convention binder on the table in the entry hall. (Here is the electronic file).
    • From now until December 31, 2018, nominations are accepted. Each nominee is certified by two clergy and two lay members. (Here is the electronic version of the form. 
    • The final slate of nominees will be announced after Easter and delegates will have the opportunity to meet the final nominees in May.
    • A special convention for the Election of a Bishop Coadjutor will be June 1, 2019 at St. Vincent's Cathedral in Bedford.
    • Fr. Len will be our clergy delegate. The lay delegate will be selected at our annual meeting in January.
    • The Nominating Committee has called for a day of fasting and prayer on the 2nd Friday of each month, which will be Dec. 14 this coming month.
  • Bishop's Address to the Convention
  • Diocese of Fort Worth Men's Conference 
    • February 8 and 9, 2019 at St. Peter and St. Paul in Arlington.
    • Featured speaker is Christopher West and the title is Our Bodies Proclaim the Gospel.
    • The modern world has sought – with rapid success – to redefine human sexuality. The result has been not only a new sexual ethic, but a new definition of our humanity and a new social order. Founded by Christopher West and inspired by John Paul II's Theology of the Body, The Cor Project aims to reframe questions of human existence in such a way that the divine plan for man and woman can be perceived and embraced in all its beauty and splendor. This is a project of the heart (“cor” is Latin for heart), attracting men and women who are yearning for more than what our culture's approach to happiness and fulfillment has to offer. Join the project!
    • Mission: To equip men and women to learn, live, and share the beauty of the divine plan for human life, love, and sexuality in a new evangelization.
    • Vision: The Cor Project envisions a culture of true human flourishing flowing from hearts liberated to recognize the innate dignity of every human being and live the beautiful gift of sexuality as the call to divine love it was created to be..
    • Go to diocesan page to click the link to register. http://www.fwepiscopal.org/.
  • A Parish Leaders' Workshop is conducted each February. The 2019 workshop date is Saturday, Feb. 16 at St. Andrew's Church in downtown Ft. Worth All clergy, parish treasurers, and vestry members are encouraged to attend. To make a reservation, call Danyl Harrell at the Diocesan Center (817-244-2885).
  • The Diocesan web page can be found at http://www.fwepiscopal.org/.
 

December Anniversaries

4             Ed and Ruth Ann Stillman
12            John and Veronica Armstrong
30           Arthur and Audrey Woodgate
 

December Birthdays

3              Brian Glenn
18            Angie McCown
19            Dinah Arce
30           Genevieve Hatley, Ceecy Robinson


Christmas Poinsettias

If you wish to make a donation for the Christmas poinsettias as a remembrance, memorial or thank offering, please use an envelope from the table at the back of the worship space to enclose your donation. Fill the envelope front out as appropriate and place in the wooden box on the same table.


Pledges are Due

November was designated as pledge month at St. Francis. If you haven't already, fill out a pledge card for the operating budget and the capital campaign and return as soon as possible so the Vestry can create a budget. As of the time of this article was written (the last week of November), our treasurer has received 28 pledges for a total of $95,820 and 21 capital campaign pledges at $26,372.


Fifth Sunday Potluck

December is the final month of 2018 with five Sundays. Plan to bring something tasty to eat to share with other St. Francis members and friends after the 11:00 service on December 30.


Phones During a Service

There have been an unusual number of phones ringing, dinging and making other sorts of noise during recent worship services. Please be sure your phone's sound is turned OFF when you go into the service. Another suggestion is to not bring your phone into the service at all. Phone noise is most definitely distracting during our services.


Newsletter Delivery Options

  • Receive the newsletter via e-mail with a printable version attached
  • Pick up a printed copy on the table at the entrance to the church
  • Have a copy mailed to your physical mail box (cost to the church is 50 cents)
  • View newsletters on our website.
To change how you receive the newsletter, contact Amy Crandell in person or via e-mail at StFrancisAustin@gmail.com

 

Readings

12/2 1 Advent
  • Zechariah 14:4-9
  • Psalm 50: 1-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:9-13
  • Luke 21:25-31
12/9 2 Advent
  • Baruch 5:1-9
  • Psalm 126
  • Philippians 1:1-11
  • Luke 3:1-6
12/16 3 Advent
  • Zephaniah 3:14-20
  • Psalm 85
  • Philippians 4:4-9
  • Luke 3:7-18
12/23 4 Advent
  • Micah 5:2-4
  • Psalm 80:1-7
  • Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Luke 1:39-56
12/24 Christmas Eve
  • Genesis 3:8-19
  • Genesis 22:15-18
  • Isaiah 9:2-7
  • Luke 1:26-38
  • Luke 2:1-7
  • Luke 2:8-16
  • Matthew 2:1-12
  • John 1:1-14
12/25 Christmas Day
  • Isaiah 9:2-7
  • Psalm 96
  • Titus 2:11-14
  • Luke 2:1-20
12/30 1 after Christmas
  • Isaiah 61:10-62:3
  • Psalm 147:12-20
  • Galatians 3:23-25, 4:4-7
  • John 1:1-18
Notes on the Readings:
  • St. Francis follows the 1979 BCP Lectionary for the lessons (We are in Year C) with the text read from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
  • Each of the Sunday's readings are linked to the page on LectionaryPage.net.
  • The Sunday collects and text of the psalms are from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.
  • On the second and fourth Sundays, the psalm is chanted at the 11:00 service. The psalm markup is based on the Cathedral Psalter and is a part of the St. Francis Psalter posted on our webpage.
 

Calendar

Sundays
  • 9:30 a.m. Said Holy Communion
    Sunday School for Youth (Except Dec. 23 and 30)
  • 10:00 a.m. Choir Rehearsal
  • 11:00 a.m. Holy Communion with music. On the first Sunday of each month, the service is Morning Prayer with Holy Communion
Thursdays
  • 7:00 p.m. Evening Prayer
1st Saturday, Dec. 1
  • 9:00 a.m. Prayer Service for our Nation
1st Friday, Dec. 7
  • 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Games Night
2nd Sunday, Dec. 9
  • 3:30 -4:30 p.m. Hymn Sing at the Retirement and Nursing Home, 6909 Burnet Lane
2nd Monday, Dec. 10
  • 6:00 p.m. Vestry meeting
2nd Friday, Dec. 14
  • Noon Mothers' Prayer Group
3rd Monday, Dec. 17
  • 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. Readers of First Things group meeting
Monday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve
  • 7:50 - 8:00 p.m. Special Prelude Music
  • 8:00 p.m. Lessons and Carols and Holy Communion
  • ~9:30 Christmas Eve Reception
Tuesday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day
  • 10:00 a.m. Holy Communion Service with music
Sunday, Dec. 30
  • ~NOON 5th Sunday Potluck Luncheon
 

Mobile Loaves and Fishes

Amy Crandell
 
St. Francis is financially supporting Mobile Loaves and Fishes. Many may not know the history of this organization and what it does now for the homeless in Austin. This is the second of a few articles on what this ministry is and the volunteer opportunities the group provides.

There are three areas where Mobile Loaves and Fishes is active: (1) at the Community First Village, (2) a Community Works program and (3) the Truck Ministry.

Community First Village is a 51-acre master planned community that provides affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community for the chronically homeless in Central Texas. A development of Mobile Loaves & Fishes, this transformative residential program exists to love and serve our neighbors who have been living on the streets, while also empowering the surrounding community into a lifestyle of service with the homeless. There are 13 programs with a variety of opportunities, ranging from the property beautification to soap making.

Community Works provides micro-enterprise opportunities that enable our friends who have experienced homelessness to earn a dignified income. This program empowers Mobile Loaves & Fishes volunteers to serve alongside our friends as they develop new skills, while also building enduring relationships. Micro-enterprise opportunities available through Community Works include gardening, art, blacksmithing, woodworking and concessions. This seems to overlap with the Community First Village program.

The Truck Ministry was mentioned last month. Eight separate organizations operate food trucks from their locations.. I decided to volunteer with a food truck based out of St. Louis Catholic Church, as the church is near my house. To participate with this program at this particular church, I was required to fill out a volunteer application with the Catholic Diocese of Austin for them to run a background check on me and then required me to attend a two-hour sexual abuse workshop. Please note that not all the Truck Ministries are associated with a Catholic church and each has their own application process to be a volunteer.

Stay tuned as I report on my experience volunteering with a food truck. I start the last week of January.
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