Updates Regarding Worship

Dear Celebration Family,

March 15 marked the last time we gathered together for worship in person…7 weeks ago. Since then, we have fully shifted to online worship and virtual fellowship gatherings…from happy hour, to trivia, to the Netflix watch party happening this Wednesday).

From the outset, please know you are genuinely missed and I truly yearn for the day in which we can gather together again.

As I mentioned on Sunday, we talk a lot about how the church is more than a building, but I also have come to recognize there is something deeply life-giving about worshipping together in person.

However, for the continued future we will remain worshipping online only. Although Governor Abbott has granted churches the ability to gather together again, the reality for Harris county calls for us to pause in doing so.

Our synodical leaders have put together a helpful document to help guide us in when we can gather again. You can find that letter here.

This outline works alongside the document “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again” which was released on April 16th.

The ministry team continues to meet weekly to plan for our current reality while still dreaming for the future. We are working on the necessary plans for what worship will look like when we gather together again. This will happen in phases as outlined by the synod’s recommendations.

Our current reality has resulted in significant changes. Many have been furloughed or lost their jobs entirely. Some have lost loved ones and are forced to delay funerals and memorial services. Some are spending more time than they ever imagined with their loved ones.

Please know you are not alone in this journey. I genuinely believe we are at our best when we are the church together. Lean on your loved ones. Lean on your church family. Lean on your faith in a God who never abandons you and will always walk alongside you.

As Pastor Chris concluded in his sermon on Sunday, “The God of the universe has chosen to enter our humanity and accompany us through all the hills and valleys of life. And this God has overcome death and the grave. It’s what Easter is all about. And it’s what makes the shepherd good.”

God’s grace and peace be with you all,

Pastor Ryan Dockery

Worship Via Facebook Live

In a week of new norms, rhythms, and routines, tomorrow we will still gather for worship at 9:30 am.

We will worship via Facebook Live. A reminder you do not need a Facebook account to join in for worship. Simply click this link.

There are also opportunities to connect before and after worship tomorrow.

Around 9:00 am, we will have “coffee hour”. This is an opportunity for you to check-in, or test Facebook Live if you’ve never used it.

Following worship (roughly 10 am), we will open up zoom for learning curve. Again, this is an opportunity to reflect on the sermon, your week, or wherever else the spirit is guiding you.
The link for the post-worship zoom is HERE.

God’s blessing on you all,
Pastor Ryan

 

How We Gather Together

Below is a description of the several ways in which we will gather for the next few weeks. Included with the description, are dates, times and links for every gathering.

Please note, these links are only for this week. I will send out a weekly email on Monday with the links for that week. You can also find the links through the church calendar.

Simply click on the event and you will find the link for the zoom gathering in the description.

Wednesday Lenten Study – 6:30pm

We continue our mid-week lenten study, Animate Practices, exploring various ways in which we live out our faith through: Prayer, Food, Service, Money, & Worship.

Just click the Zoom link below and if you need the software it will help you download it. Once you’ve downloaded it, you will be taken directly to the meeting. This program uses the camera and microphone on your phone/tablet/computer and it truly is easy to use. (More instructions are below, but you probably will not need them, as it is that easy!)

Tonight’s topic: Money
Time: March 18, 2020 6:30pm
Click this link: https://zoom.us/j/726244582
Meeting ID: 726 244 582

Digital Office Hours

Pastor Ryan will host digital office hours a few times a week, typically from 11a-1p. There will also be a weekly happy hour for those still heading in to work. It is obviously BYOB for the weekly happy hour 😉 

With both of these gatherings, you can show up when you want, for as long as you want. There are no set parameters other than providing a space and place for us to connect.

You can swing by just to say hi, or see Emmett. Or if you are an extrovert and are missing being around people. The options are endless, but I would love to connect with you!

Wednesday:
March 18 from 11a-1p
https://zoom.us/j/317146201
Meeting ID: 317 146 201


Thursday:
March 19 from 10a-12p
https://zoom.us/j/876255717
Meeting ID: 876 255 717


Friday:
March 20 – DIGITAL HAPPY HOUR from 4p-6p
https://zoom.us/j/338685207
Meeting ID: 338 685 207

 

How to Install and Use Zoom

First, Zoom is a FREE program for you to use. It can be used on any smartphone, PC, Mac, or Tablet.

Instructions for computer users:

  1. Just click any of the Zoom links above. If you need the small software package, it will help you download it. Once you’ve downloaded it, you will be taken directly to the meeting. This program uses the camera and microphone on your computer and it is truly easy to use.
  2. You decide how much to share. You can share audio only, or you can share audio and video. Be sure your microphone volume is turned up!

Instructions for smart phone or tablet users:

  1. Go to your “store,” Google Play, App Store, etc. Download the free program, Zoom.
  2. After it downloads, click the new Zoom program to open it.
  3. Create an account and type in the meeting ID # provided.

Test Chat

If you would like to test out zoom before tonight’s gathering, feel free to hop on earlier than 6:30. Pastor Ryan will be on around 6 to hang out with while others gather.

You can also join any digital office hours to test out zoom and drop by to say hi.

A Letter From The Council Of Elders – 3.17.20

Dear Celebration Family,

Ministry Update.jpg

Thank you for being flexible as we continue to adapt and rethink what it means to be church together.

The Council of Elders met last night to discuss the ways in which we will act and respond going forward. This conversation included guidance from our local synod office as well as the CDC and other health officials.

Here is what to expect:

  1. All in-person worship, meetings, and activities will be suspended through the end of March.
  2. We will utilize Facebook Live to stream worship at 9:30am on Sunday mornings.
  3. We will utilize Zoom (a video conference software) for a variety of purposes:
    • To meet for Wednesday’s Lenten Service.
    • To gather for Small Groups and Learning Curve.
      – Small Groups will occur at their scheduled dates and times.
      – Learning Curve will take place immediately following worship. It will be an intentional time to check-in with one another.
    • Pastor Ryan will host open digital “Office Hours” several times throughout the week.
  4. The Council of Elders will routinely check in on members of Celebration as a form of caring for others.
  5. We will experiment with a variety of opportunities to stay connected beyond the walls of the church building.

 

Our greatest hope is staying connected.

In a follow up letter, you will receive instructions on how to access Facebook Live and Zoom, as well as additional dates, times, and links for everything Zoom related.

(An important note: You do not need a Facebook account to stream the service).

We will continue to provide updates and opportunities to connect through email, Facebook, and the website. In the meantime, we leave you with this prayer:

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

God’s Peace and Blessing,

Pastor Ryan Dockery

New Year – New Giving Platform

Thank you for your regular giving to Celebration Church each month. Your generosity allows us to Celebrate Christ, Care For Others, and Serve The World. Thank you so much!

We are excited to announce that we have a new giving platform. The new giving platform is called Tithely. It will be replacing our current online giving method Vanco.Slide03

You may be wondering why we made this change.

For the last year, we’ve been looking for an alternate solution to our former platform. We wanted a tool that enhanced the process for our current givers and was comfortable for first-time users. We know your time is valuable, and we want to honor that.

We also know that there are many worthy organizations and causes people can support financially. We are grateful for every single one of you, and we want to ensure we are good stewards of your money and resources. Tithely offers low licensing and processing fees, allowing us to stretch each gift as far as possible.

Many of you have already set up repeat giving with Vanco, and have an active user profile on the platform, which will be discontinued soon. We want to ensure that the transition to our new platform is smooth. Please help us out by taking the two steps below before Saturday, February 29, 2020.

1) Click this link, or go to our website: click2celebrate.com/donate/, and set up your repeat giving.

2) If you are set up for automatic gifts, go to Vanco here and cancel your old repeat giving (If you have an active profile, but you only use the one-time gift feature, no further action is required).

Slide16

 

Lastly, I encourage you to download the Tithe.ly App. It is available on both Apple and Android phones. You can set up reoccurring giving right from your fingertips or look at your latest giving statement.

 

If you need help, contact Pastor Ryan at (979)966-8484 or Pastor@click2celebrate.com and he will respond as soon as possible.

Thank you for your incredible generosity and your contribution to the work of the church! 

Pastor Ryan Dockery

Just a thought…

On the last Saturday of January, the Council of Elders gathered together to dream, assess our values as a congregation, ask big questions, grow deeper in relationship with one another, and answer the question of what we hope to accomplish as a congregation this year.

This dedicated group consists of Rob Shank, Mary Gutierrez, Eric Draper, Amber Harbolt, Cindy Scanland, and Carolyn Draper.

To guide our work, we spent a good amount of time identifying our values personally, as a Council of Elders, and as a congregation. From a list of 52, we narrowed down to 6 Core Values (although some were merged together). This does not say we ONLY value these 6, but at the core these are the driving forces for the congregation.

 

6 Core Values:

  1. Inclusivity/Diversity: Embracing a wide variety of individuals; for example, people of different nationalities, ethnicities, languages, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations and sexuality, and religious backgrounds.
  2. Hospitality/Serving/Community: Living together with mutual support, interdependence, and fellowship. Helping other and caring for those in need. Being intentionally welcoming, especially of guests and strangers.
  3. Joyful/Playful: Being lighthearted, spirited and good humored; unlikely to take oneself too seriously.
  4. Creativity/Innovation: Being willing to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things. Valuing out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving.
  5. Justice/Activism: Working to reduce human suffering and need; recognizing and responding to inequality, unfairness and partiality.
  6. Simplicity: Believing less is more; avoiding luxury, pretentiousness or complication.

 

Using these 6 core values, we then asked the question what do we hope to accomplish in the year 2019. Several big ideas brew out of this:

  1. A continued and deepened partnership with local ministries/organizations (Cypress Assistance Ministries, Bethesda, Teen Life Center, Holmsley Elementary)
  2. To identify and partner with a local LGBTQIA+ organization at Lone Star College and local high schools.
  3. Launch small groups after Easter.
  4. Launch Pub Theology: This event will occur on the 1st Thursday of every month beginning in April. Pub Theology is a low-key gathering of faith-based conversation while enjoying a pint of beer, wine of glass, or a cup of coffee. We will rotate between various local pubs each month.
  5. Host Financial Peace University for the community in the Fall.

 

There are several other exciting things to come out of this retreat. You will continue to hear more about it in the coming weeks.

I am excited about the work that was done last weekend, but even more so about witnessing us come together to live it out as we continue to grow passionate followers of Jesus by:
CELEBRATING CHRIST
CARING FOR OTHERS
SERVING THE WORLD

 

God’s Peace,

Pastor Ryan Dockery

Just a thought…

This month we will celebrate the 501st anniversary of the Reformation. One of the thrilling aspects of the reformation is to engage the changing church. For so long the church was focused on being a place to gather. A time when success was driven by butts and bucks (how many people were in worship and how much money was in the offering plate each week).

I think we are past the time of the church simply being a place to gather. No longer can we simply judge the “success” of a congregation by these measurements. The idea of “if you build it, they will come” is no longer a reality.

Phyllis Tickle wrote in her book, The Great Emergence that “every 500 years, the church goes through a rummage sale, and cleans out the old forms of spirituality and replaces it with the new ones.” In essence, the church goes through a massive reformation.

This happens to be that time. While the church can still exist within the walls of a building, it has the capacity for so much more. We can be a church that both gathers and scatters. We can bring the Good News of Christ wherever we go…the places we work, eat, and drink.

That is one of the exciting things about having my ordination take place in a brewery. It continues to live into the changing church and our capacity to reach out to people in all kinds of unique places.

It is also why our offering will go to the Live On Endowment Fund. This fund continues to support seminary students, campus ministries, new missions, and redevelopments (like Celebration). They are empowering leaders to think about doing church differently.

We are continuing to be made new through a God that is alive and active in the world and in us. While being made new we will continue to celebrate Christ, Care for Others, and Serve the World. It is an exciting time friends!
 
God’s Peace,
Ryan Dockery

From the Pastor

Now that was holy! What a meaningful, delight-filled Holy Week. It was a pleasure to travel with you all through the wilderness of Lent into the sacred Triduum – the three day Passion of Christ.

*Maundy Thursday Sacred Meal

 

On Maundy Thursday, we gathered around beautiful tables of grace. We shared bread and scripture, wine and laughter. It was truly a delight to remember our sacred story, the story of our salvation, told by all the people gathered around the table. Thank you to all who were present, all who prepared food, and helped to bring this Sacred Meal to life

 

 

 

*Good Friday

Good Friday took a solemn turn. We gathered around the barren altar to pray, sing, read and linger in the hollowness of grief. We joined the ancient church in Solemn Reproach – hearing Jesus cry out, “O my people, O my church, what have I done to you? How have I offended you?” The same story of Salvation that we celebrated on MaundyThursday, became a reminder of our separation from God.

 

 

 

*Easter Sunday

 

Death does not have the final word! Sunday morning brought Good News of Resurrection and new life. We celebrate that we are an Easter people! In her book, The Three Day Feast, Gail Ramshaw expresses it like this, “Christians keep Easter in a big way because the death and resurrection of Christ keeps us.” Yes indeed! We celebrated this Good News with doughnuts and candy-filled eggs and each-other.

 

 

Thank you for this holy week. Experiences like this make me even more grateful for the time we have shared. Our family is grateful for all the ways you have shared the love of Christ with us. As my call with Celebration comes to a close, I look forward to sharing even more meaningful moments with you all. And I am sure, in the month to come, we will continue to join Mary Magdalene’s proclamation, “I have seen the Lord!”

Easter Blessings!

Pastor Jen

 

 

From the Pastor

Wafer and Wine

The story of our salvation is shared one sacred meal at a time. Gathered around tables of grace, we are fed and nourished by Jesus. Gathered around tables, the faith is passed from one generation to the next. Gathered around tables, strangers become neighbors. We eat simple food that becomes sacred. We hear simple stories that contain the divine.

Sacred meals are sprinkled throughout the Bible. Far from a feast, Adam and Eve’s relationship with God is transformed as they eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil. The Israelites eat manna in the wilderness as they dream of milk and honey in the Promise Land. Exodus 12 outlines the feast of unleavened bread – the meal honoring the time the angel of death passed-over the homes of the Israelites. This Passover feast is the same meal Jesus asked his disciples to prepare in an upper room. There the Passover feast is transformed into a new covenant – a sacred meal of wine and bread, blood and flesh.

We remember Jesus’ Last Supper and the institution of Holy Communion each Maundy Thursday. This year, instead of Beer & Hymns, we’ll gather around common tables to feast on the story of our salvation. We’ll learn how our Jewish brothers and sisters mark the Passover with a Seder Meal.* Inspired by their faithful tradition, we’ll read scripture, share a common meal and expect Christ to be revealed in our midst.

So I invite you to enter the story of our salvation. I invite you to gather around tables of grace, to eat simple food that becomes sacred and to hear simple stories that contain the divine. In this, Christ will certainly be revealed.

Peace.

Pastor Jen

*Christian Theologians caution the faithful about reenacting Seder Meals. They worry at will not honor our Jewish brothers and sisters. Check out this article from Christianity Today or this article from the ELCA for more information.

From the Pastor

Just + Love Series

God certainly has a sense of humor. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day and we celebrate Easter on April Fool’s Day! Nothing says romance like being smeared with ask; and I can’t help but imagine Jesus plotting the most epic April Fool’s prank with the empty tomb. All heresy aside, while it might not set the most contrite tone for Lent, it does put a fresh bent on our ancient rituals.  If you’re curious how this happened, take a look at these articles from USA Today  and Snopes.

No matter what holidays bookend the season of Lent, our invitation is still the same: Return to the Lord our God. The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are tangible ways in which we return to God. When the world clutters our priority list, Lent invites us to declutter and simplify so that God might rise to the top of our priorities, again.

Throughout this season of Lent, we will explore God’s invitation for simple living:

The Prophet Micah declares, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

Jesus offers the same invitation in another way, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly.
 Love God, Love Neighbor.
 Just + Love.

God’s invitation for simple, wholehearted living is Just + Love.

Just + Love is lived out in relationship, community and social justice. Throughout the season of Lent, we will delve into several social justice issues that are close to home and especially relevant in our world today: Criminal Justice, Peace, Race, Ethnicity and Culture and Human Sexuality. Our parent denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has published several Social Statements that connect biblical teachings with Christian practice. With these statements as our guide, we will learn from community leaders and partner organization.

I invite you into this season of Lent, to the holy practices and holy rhythms of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. A season of discovery, meaningful conversation and Just + Love.
Come, let us return to the Lord.

Pastor Jen