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Gratitude (2018.02.18 Sermon)

February 19th, 2018

John Chandler

Chris Morton begins our Lent series on Patterns: Five Habits for Weaving a Life Like Jesus.

To share in the learning of these habits with each other, we have created this reflection guide. This offers all of us space to reflect on each of these habits, as well as guide our Community Group discussions during the season of Lent. Printed versions are also available in liturgy.

Join a Community Group to continue the discussion.

Subscribe to the podcast via iTunes


How to Practice Lent With Kids

February 13th, 2018

April Karli

“We walk through a vale of tears on this earth and the only way through it is through it. It is a lesson we learn and live. I believe it’s OK to be sad; in other words, there ought to be space in our lives to learn the texture of sadness.” John Blase, Know When to Hold ‘Em

Lent is not often associated with children. It’s a season of the church lasting forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday (February 14 this year) and ends on Holy Saturday (March 31). The forty days of Lent represent the time Jesus spent in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. During Lent we intentionally enter into darkness and Christ’s sacrifice.

There are aspects of Lent that are abstract and even difficult. But, Lent is a season that children can be invited into, and it can be experienced by all ages in meaningful ways.

Lent is about grief, lament, repentance, suffering, and loss. All of these things are part of our world and things we will encounter as we follow Jesus. As parents and those teaching kids to follow Jesus, Lent is a tool to help us talk about hard things with our kids. If we give our children a faith that is always about joy and light, they won’t know what to do when darkness comes. Lent teaches them, and us, how to lean into suffering and darkness.

As we choose to step into suffering during Lent and acknowledge God’s presence with us in it, we do so knowing that Jesus did the same thing. We teach our kids the truth that God will always be present with us even in pain and suffering. And after the forty days of Lent are over, the life and celebration of Easter will stand in even more meaningful contrast.

Here are a few ideas to make Lent meaningful as a family:

Ash Wednesday: Ash Wednesday is a solemn and quiet service which may be difficult for especially young children. However, there are aspects of the service that can be grasped, especially for older kids. Seeing everyone in their church family marked with ashes helps kids know they belong. The ashes are a powerful visual symbol that we are God’s family and connected to each other. In addition, Ash Wednesday carries the powerful reminder for kids that we all mess up, even adults, and we all are forgiven.

Kids are welcome at this week’s Ash Wednesday Lament Night Liturgy.

Holy Week: Holy Week provides several opportunities. On Maundy Thursday (March 29) invite friends over and share a meal like Jesus did with his disciples at Passover. Read the story of the Last Supper and break bread together. Kids really get excited about the idea of washing feet, too, if you’re up for it. On Good Friday (March 30) you can attend a service as a family and remember Jesus’ death on the cross. Sensitive kids might have a hard time processing this story. It is good for them to hear it with their parents where they can seek comfort and ask questions.

Lenten Pretzels: Legend has it that pretzels were first made by monks in Europe during the Middle Ages as a Lenten bread. They’re shaped to look like two arms crossed in prayer. Bake some pretzels with your family (or buy some from the store!) As you enjoy eating them together, pray for family, friends, your neighborhood, our church. Here’s a recipe you can try.

From our friend Christine Sine, here are Five Ways To Foster Creativity In your Kids During Lent. Christine presents some simple but thoughtful ways to stir our kids’ imaginations throughout Lent.

As always, Illustrated Children’s Ministry has another beautiful devotional for families to download and color. The devotionals are based on the lectionary gospel readings during Lent and include a reflection, discussion questions, an activity, and a prayer for each week during Lent.

Here are some “take home” ideas for disciplines you can practice as a family. Many people take on a new spiritual discipline during Lent. This blog offers several ideas for ways to incorporate that practice into your family’s routine during the season.

May the season of Lent be full of surprises for you and your family!

Ash Wednesday Lament Night

February 7th, 2018

Chris Morton

Grief is a normal and natural response to a loss of any kind.

As we enter into the season of Lent, we embrace that grief is an unavoidable and valuable part of our mortal lives.

Ash Wednesday Lament Night is an opportunity to pause and acknowledge that we all carry grief from pain, loss and sin and that we long for God to make things right.

Children are welcome to attend and participate. Childcare will be provided for kids under five.

Click HERE to RSVP and invite you friends on Facebook

Family Meeting + Sundae Bar

February 6th, 2018

Chris Morton

It’s time to celebrate our story and dream about the future!

To close our discussion of Mission and Methods, we’ll gather for a family meeting celebration. At this Family Meeting you will:

  • Share your stories of how Austin Mustard Seed has helped shape you and your family
  • Hear from Leadership Team Members about why the Mission and Methods matter
  • Plan ways, you, your family and your Community Group can join in the mission

Here’s the best part:

The entire meeting will take place over an ICE CREAM SUNDAE.

Bring your favorite topping to share.

Child care is available.

Click HERE to RSVP on Facebook

Stay Inside! Five Ways Connect with God & Your Church When it’s Freezing

January 16th, 2018

Chris Morton

It’s cold outside! Ice is falling from the sky!

We’re always saying “see you throughout the week.” So how can you love God and serve your church community when you’re stuck inside?

Enjoy Some Screen-free “Practice” Time

Stuck at home and ready to veg out? Great! There’s nothing wrong the occasional Netflix or X-Box binge.

But how often do we bemoan how busyness keeps us from developing spiritual practices? Block out some time today to pray, read scripture, practice gratitude or practice a spiritual meditation.

A simple prayer practice that you can start using today is ACTS.

You might also tip your toe into Christian Meditation with this Lectio Divina inspired podcast.

Show Some Appreciation

As a part of Austin Mustard Seed you have likely benefitted from the hard volunteer work of other people. There are teachers who educate and love our kids, musicians who lead us in worship, hosts who create space for Community Groups and parties and many, many others!

Take a moment to write someone a text message letting them know you appreciate their love and service. Even better, write them an actual card (but walk to the mailbox until your sidewalks thaw.)

Check on Your Neighbors

Storms provide a tangible opportunity to love our neighbors. Take a moment to call, or if it’s safe enough, walk over and make sure your neighbor is doing well. This is especially important if your neighbors are elderly or have young children.

Gather Around some Bible Stories (all ages)

Some parts of scripture are best read as whole. If you have some unexpected freetime, you might consider opening up Philemon or the Gospel of Mark and reading them from beginning to end.

A “Snow Day” is also opportunity for exploring Bible Stories with your kids. Hopefully, you have a copy of the fantastic The Jesus Storybook Bible. If not, you can also use the app.

Dig Into this Week’s Reflection and Discussion Guide

Every Sunday we provide a Reflection and Discussion Guide for individuals and Community Groups. Your group may or may not meet, depending on weather. But you can dig into this week’s lesson. While you’re keeping warm, take a moment to listen back to John’s sermon and spend a few moments with this week’s reflection and discussion guide.

Sunday Lunch is a Family Meeting

January 12th, 2018

Chris Morton

Are you curious where you or your family fit into Austin Mustard Seed? Do you want your voice to be heard as we chart a course for the future?

During Sunday Lunch on January 14 we will hold a Family Meeting.

In this Family Meeting, you will discover:

  • The real life stories that shaped our Mission and Methods
  • Why the Leadership Team chose these specific Mission and Methods
  • New ways to participate in life together, grow as a follower of Jesus and serve our neighborhoods

Lunch and childcare will be available. Donations are encouraged.

When you RSVP on Facebook, it helps with planning!

Our Mission & Methods // Winter 2018 Discussion Series

January 3rd, 2018

John Chandler

In the last four years, Austin Mustard Seed has established a core community striving to live a meaningful expression of Christianity in our time and place. Our Leadership Team has spent much time reflecting on the good that has happened so that we might imagine how our grow into the fullness of who we might be as a church community.

This has led to a fresh articulation of our Mission, and the Methods by which we pursue that mission. These weren’t formed out of ideas that sounded important or good, but out of our own story as a church, and what the best version of that story can be as we move into the future.

Two family meetings will offer extended conversation about how and why this all came about:

  • January 14 // lunch meeting after liturgy in the Orange Chapel
    A time to talk about how our Mission and Methods came about, why they matter for this next season of aMS, and to offer space for Q&A.
  • February 11 // 6pm meeting in a home
    A time to revisit the our conversations from the series, talk more about how our community shares in the ownership of our methods, and to offer additional space for Q&A.

And, of course, we will devote time in Liturgy and Community Groups to these topics:

Week of January 7 || Our Mission

To form communities of Jesus who experience and expand God’s work of renewal together.
In the history related through the Bible, we see an invitation to humanity to partner in God’s purpose of setting things right in this world. As a church, we join that ongoing story too. We believe that the best thing we can offer one another is a sense of purpose in this world. We form communities, from smaller groups to new churches and everything in-between, so that we can walk alongside others as we partner with God.

Our Methods

Week of January 14 || Learn Practices
We learn practices of Jesus so that we can know, love and follow him.
We aim to experience and expand God’s work of renewal together, and we recognize that comes through following Jesus. We see Jesus as the fullest expression of who God created us to be. We learn from one another, and encourage one another, to take on the patterns of the Jesus way of living.

Week of January 21 || Cultivate Relationships
We cultivate relationships that lead to both friendship and formation.
God exists as a relationship, and so we too recognize that we are created to be in genuine connection with others. We long to have friendships that are both safe and stretching, so we prioritize embodied and committed relationships with one another.

Week of January 28 || Develop Connections
We develop connections that teach us to how to love those who are not a part of a community of Jesus.
God’s work of renewal isn’t limited to what happens in a church community, but is intended for all humanity and all of creation. We pay attention to how God is at work in neighborhoods and nations so that we can acknowledge and join in that restorative work through justice, evangelism, and care.

Week of February 4 || Seek Opportunities
We seek opportunities to expand beyond a fellowship of sameness to reflect the breadth of God’s kingdom.
Jesus recognized that all humans are created in the image of God, so he continually directed attention to those who were on the margin, those overlooked and unseen by others. We look for and celebrate voices that are not like our own because we recognize that every human offers a fuller way of seeing and understanding who God is and how God acts.

Week of February 11 || Raise Leaders
We raise leaders who have the capacity to form communities of Jesus.
With a focus on forming new communities large and small, we recognize that there will always be needs and spaces for leaders. We train, equip and empower leaders who can enable our mission as Austin Mustard Seed to expand and multiply new communities.

This Sunday: New Year’s Brunch!

December 28th, 2017

Chris Morton

Taste and See

This Sunday, we’ll celebrate all that God has done among us in 2017 and seek the Spirit’s guidance for 2018.

And eat brunch!

When and Where

Sunday Liturgy on New Year’s Day will take place at the home of Morgan & Rob Garza, 1008 Rebecca Dr.

Liturgy begins at 10:30, potluck brunch to follow.

Bring things that are good cold, or can be kept in a crockpot or the oven. Please bring a chair if you can, too.

What to Bring

Due to severe food allergies in our community, please sign up for a specific item.

Click HERE to sign up to bring a specific item

Click HERE to invite your Facebook friends

Six People Who Need to be at Tonight’s Lament Night

December 18th, 2017

Chris Morton

Lament Night is tonight at the Orange Chapel at 7 pm.

Grief is normal and natural. It’s often most difficult during the holidays.

“Sure…” you say. “But is Lament Night really for me?”

Lament Night is for (at least) six types of people.

  • Anyone who has experienced the death of loved one.
  • Anyone who has experienced a major loss, change or disappointment, such as a divorce or break up, job loss or the loss of a pet.
  • Anyone who is processing a major disappointment, sense of failure or a setback.
  • Anyone who struggles with family tension, especial during the holidays.
  • Anyone who feels hurt, scared or disappointed by recent tragedies happening throughout America.
  • Anyone who can lend support to someone who is hurting.

That sounds like everyone!

If you have any questions, contact Kate or Daniel.

Childcare is available, but please let Kate know.

Click HERE to Invite Your Facebook Friends

We Need to Talk About Grief

December 4th, 2017

Chris Morton

Grief is the natural and normal response to change or loss.

Everyone deals with grief, but the holidays have a way of bringing our loss to the forefront.

Here are a few things you or someone you know might be grieving:

  • The loss of a loved one
  • The end of a relationship
  • The loss of a job
  • The failure of an exciting opportunity
  • The loss of a pet

There are also have many reasons to grieve in our broader culture, including:

  • The wide-spread pain from sexual assault brought to light by #MeToo.
  • Multiple mass shootings and a lack of political will to address them.
  • How a political and social divide has invaded daily and family life.

How We Address Grief as a Church Community

At Austin Mustard Seed, we know that grief is normal, unavoidable and significantly impacts our daily lives. We believe that God meets us in our grief and even shares our grief.

One way we address this reality is at “Lament Night.”

Lament Night is an opportunity express our grief or stand in solidarity with others who are experiencing it. Lament Night usually takes place in the privacy of homes.

However, due to the more obvious needs of the holidays, we are hosting a special Lament Night Liturgy this Advent.

How to Invite Someone to Lament Night

Talking about grief is awkward and so talking about Lament Night might be awkward to do. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you invite your friends and neighbors:

  • Don’t forget our definition of grief: a normal response to change or loss.
  • Be specific! Tell people “We are hosting a one-night event focused on grief.”
  • Remember who it is for: anyone experiencing grief and those of us who want to support others in grief.
  • Talk about the season. It’s common knowledge that the holidays can be painful, so don’t be afraid to talk about it!

We hope you’ll participate in Lament Night and invite a friend.

Lament Night: An Advent Liturgy of Longing is December 18 at 7pm.