From the Pastor

credo water

The gauntlet has been cast. Last month, I challenged all of you to write a personal creed, a statement of faith that proclaims your understanding of God and your modus operandi. Are you up for the challenge?

You – yes you, in the back row – you are invited to write and read a personal statement beginning with the words, “This I Believe.” September 18 we will start our new series, Credo. The series explores one of our communal statements of faith, The Apostles Creed. As Christians, we hold certain beliefs in common, and diverge on others based on our unique life experiences.

Your creed might take on a variety of forms. You might elect to write a topical creed focusing on a key characteristic of God. Maybe highlighting the welcoming nature of God, the radical welcome of Jesus – inviting all to the table – and your own personal calling to stand for welcome. Or, perhaps the format will give shape to your creed. Perhaps you are a list-maker or a poet or a storyteller. Let the medium be your guide in shaping the message.

I invite / welcome / challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone, to intentionally reflect on your beliefs, and to find the courage to share. Don’t know where to begin? Here are two examples of personal creeds. I hope they stir your imagination as you prepare to write your own. Still perplexed? Lets grab a coffee, or a glass of wine and figure it out together!

Peace.

Pastor Jen

 

This I Believe
By Jen Kindsvatter

I believe that God, my God, called life into being.
That God stooped down, felt the dirt under her fingernails, and stirred-up: new life.
Maybe it wasn’t in 6 days, or a year or a decade. But it was in time, in divine time.

And in this creation, God, my God, saw that it was very good.
The creepy crawly things, the slightly smelly things, the seemingly useless things.
The creator of all – saw it all – as good, as worthy, as purposeful.

This God, my God, did not see all that was made and say, “That will do.”
Instead, he said, “Be fruitful and multiply.” Fill the world with good things.
With green growing things, spiny spikey things, untamed wild things. Multiply!

In the midst of this creation saga, my God breathed deep
And exhaled her very own breath of life, into thin air, and fulfilled: new life.
Human life, in the image of God, the heartbeat of the Creator.

And this life-giving, fruit-bearing heart was set to work.
To till and to keep, for the sake of others.
To reign, not with dominion, but with creative passion and wonder.

Eden did not last long.
The shiny packaging of sin, of power, lured the life-giving keeper away from wonder, Temptation took root, life began to dwindle.

Creation groans. God, my God, looks on in despair. But not defeat.
The Creator of all, creates again.
This time, breathing her very own breath of life into divine lungs.

Hope is restored. New life breaks forth from the desolation.
From the wounded side of the divine, pores living water for all.
The life-giving, fruit-bearing keeper is restored and lives to restore.

This, I believe.

 

This, I believe.
By Jen Kindsvatter

I believe all people have intrinsic value. Not based on how they behave or what they have accomplished. Based on their humanity.

I believe that I have intrinsic value. That I am not defined by how busy I am or how much wealth I amass. That the labels that adorn my clothing, my car, my home – do not define me. That the only brand I adorn with integrity is ‘Child of God’. And this label is not of my earning. It is a gift. Abundant grace.

I believe that you have intrinsic value. Whether you agree with me, whether you are kind to me. Whether we know each other well or live worlds apart. Whether we share a similar system of belief or have nothing left in which to believe. You, neighbor, have value. Not because I have blessed you with my approval, or afforded such worth to you, but because you, too, were created Imago Dei, in the image of God.

I believe that I am not meant to be the dispenser of value; I am meant to be a conduit of honor. I honor others by knowing their name and relating from a place of shared humanity. I honor others by being genuine and kind, by acknowledging my faults and seeking reconciliation. I honor others by curbing my appetite for power, by living simply so others might simply live.

I believe that Jesus was and is the perfecter of honor. The quintessential example of valuing others based on shared humanity. In incarnate love, Jesus came to dwell among us, to be one of us. And in perfect love, the intrinsic value of all people – Jew and Gentile, slave and free, rich and poor, male and female, and anywhere in between – is affirmed. Jesus invites all of humanity to love one another.

I believe that my paramount responsibility in this life is to love people well. Starting with myself, extending to my family and friends, my community of faith, neighbors close to home and neighbors separated by space. When I live well, love radiates through me and my soul magnifies the Lord.

This I believe, with my whole heart.

From the Pastor

Credo graphic sept 2016

Warning, yet another nerdy confession follows. In college, I loved listening to an NPR radio show called, “This I Believe.” It was a revival of Edward Murrow’s program from the 1950s. Originally, Murrow launched the program to help people articulate individual beliefs rather than ascribing to religious dogma or patriotic platitudes. The show encouraged famous and everyday people to distill their beliefs into a simple essay, and then read the essay aloud over the air. The unveiled creeds diverged in countless ways, but all of them began with the same words, “This I believe.”

As Christians, we share a common set of beliefs confessed in the Apostle’s Creed. These shared beliefs form the foundation of our faith and our life together. Beyond this, we each hold individual beliefs about the world, the people and the experiences around us.  I believe it is essential to our faith and to the sharing of the gospel that each of us can clearly articulate what we believe.

In September, we will start a new series called Credo. As part of this series, I invite you to share your beliefs in a personal creed. More specifically, I am inviting you to write and read a personal statement beginning with the words, “This I believe.” It might take the shape of a top 10 list, a prayer, or a monologue. The point is not to be perfect or profound, though I imagine that will happen, the point is to articulate the beliefs that inform who you are and what you do.

We will share some of these creeds in written form via this electronic newsletter, eCelebrate. Some of the creeds may be read aloud in worship; others may be recorded to share in worship or on social media (of course with your permission).

So, what do you believe? Think about it. And get ready to share.

Pastor Jen

You can follow this link to explore the original and revived additions of This I Believe.

From the Pastor

Celebration’s Renovation Campaign has officially begun. And we are off to a great start! Thanks to the generosity and foresight of a couple key folks, we have $11,500 of our $60,000 goal in hand. Wow. Once again, I am in awe of the faithful giving in this community. With over 20% of our total campaign already raised, I am confident that we can reach this goal together.

Just over a year ago, Celebration moved into Bethesda’s Chapel as a ‘temporary tabernacle’. As we looked for a place of our own, we just so happened to find it a little closer to home than anticipated. God has certainly been at work in this venture. Now, we have the opportunity to deepen our mutual ministry with Bethesda, transform this space to reflect our community and grow together into the future.

Now, it’s time to get to work. In the month of July, look for work to begin on the audio-visual system, kitchenette, exterior signs, offices, band set-up and sanctuary. Renovations will continue as funds become available. Take a look at this Renovation Campaign Handout, for an outline of all renovations and the anticipated expense.

In order to transform this temporary tabernacle into our new Ministry Center, we need your help. I invite you to consider how you will contribute to Celebration’s Renovation Campaign. Perhaps you’re able to give a generous financial gift. Perchance you are a seasoned carpenter, able to share your craft. Maybe you are a savvy fundraiser willing to host an event or an experienced grant-writer poised to communicate on our behalf. With our powers combined*, we can make this happen.

In the weeks to come, you will have opportunities for conversation and consideration. Then on Sunday, July 24 we will gather campaign commitments. I welcome your questions and contributions.

Peace.

Pastor Jen

*Captain Planet has not officially approved of this sentiment, but I think he would.

 

From the Pastor

Well friends, it’s official! We are ‘going steady’ with Bethesda, moving forward into a new dimension of intentional ministry together. After careful consideration, a long-term lease agreement has been signed for Celebration to officially dwell Bethesda Chapel, now Celebration’s Ministry Center, for the next three years.

So what’s next? I’m so glad you asked. Next, we are on to renovating this space to make it our own. The renovation process includes:

  1. Discerning what needs to be remodeled, identifying reputable contractors and gathering bids for the work to be done.
  2. Proposing these renovations to our Bethesda friends. If the work is deemed to be permissible, Bethesda will grant permission to move forward. If the work is deemed to be mutually beneficial, a portion of the cost may be deducted from our monthly rental fee.
  3. Once we hear back from Bethesda, Celebration leaders will determine what work is financially feasible and get to work.

Take a look at the graphic to see the potential work to be completed. Take note – all of the renovations may or may not come to fruition. These, of course, are pending Bethesda approval.

So what can I do to help? Well, I’m so glad you asked. First you can pray. Pray for our partnership with Bethesda and for this next step in the life of Celebration. You may also prayerfully consider making a financial gift toward the renovation project. We have some monies already in hand; we will definitely need to gather more. Once bids come in, we will have a better picture of just how much money we need to raise. Stay tuned for more information on this front.

Thank you friends, for your willingness to imagine new ways of being the church. This intentional partnership yields not only a ministry center to call our own, but also an worth-while investment in the good work of Bethesda.

Abundant grace.
Pastor Jen

 

Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.
1 Peter 2:5

 

Bethesda reno graphic 6 2016

Just a Thought

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 

  Philippians 1:3-5

 

From the first day until now, I think often about the first day of worship at Celebration. I didn’t want to go to worship, and I certainly didn’t want a church home. Over the following weeks and months and years I connected into a community that didn’t care that I had walked away from the church years before. This community saw a call in me that I didn’t want to follow, but when the Spirit starts moving change is going to come.

Celebration has always been an incubator for leadership. A worship singer became an Associate in Ministry. A youth minister transformed into a vicar and then into a beloved pastor. A bartender became a seminarian. What started with a weekend or two filling in with the band turned into a job, which turned into a leadership role, and before I knew it I was off to Minnesota twice a year. The people of Celebration have always raised up and supported leaders. With this support and the care of the Spirit I have nearly reached the completion of my academic career. I only have a few credits to complete, and I have graduated from CPE. The next step of my candidacy process will be a one-year pastoral internship. While I will be sad to be moving on from Celebration, I am excited to take the experience and love I have received and serve the larger church.

I am happy to announce that I will be serving my internship at Messiah Lutheran in Cypress. I will begin on September 1. My last Sunday at Celebration will be July 31. I truly thank God when I think of you, my brothers and sisters, and have been overwhelmed with the level of love and support you have continued to give. I ask your prayers as I continue to follow the call God has placed on me and I will always remember you in my prayers.

Peace and All Good.

Brother Mike.

From the Pastor

The Making of Celebration April 2016

One of my favorite little people, my Goddaughter Marley, asked one question consistently, incessantly, for a while. What’s that making that noise? She loved to ask. She loved to make a noise and then ask. With any minute noise, she demanded an answer. And ‘I don’t know,’ was certainly not sufficient. Marley was (and still is) on a mission to discover her world.

So are we. The people of Celebration are on a mission to discover God at work in the world – and join in! So it seems most fitting to ask a few questions to remember who we are and what we are up to. Beginning Sunday, April 10, we will start a new sermon series called The Making of Celebration. The ‘making’ takes into account the 8+ years of faithful ministry that have brought us to this point, as well as the perpetual ‘making’, the creative work still happening today.

As a community, we will ask the basic questions, the tools of journalistic discovery: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? And with these careful queries and a hearty curiosity, we’ll discover God at work in this community, through this community, for the sake of the world.

Let’s discover together.

Pastor Jen

 

From the Pastor

Spiritual house

Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,
to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5

One thing I love about Celebration is our willingness to worship in a variety of places. From the elementary school to the portable buildings, from the storefront to Bethesda’s chapel – wherever God’s people gather, we can worship there.

At the same time, I understand the need to nest; to set down roots in a particular location so that we can grow in new directions. This real need has been addressed with multiple property searches throughout the years, some with fruitful and others with discouraging results.

And now, a new opportunity has emerged in light of our property search. Our partners at Bethesda are open to a long-term lease agreement. This option has a variety of positive aspects and some concerns as well. As we discern this opportunity together, it will be helpful to share all the details.

From Bethesda’s perspective…
• The new Community Life Center (CLC) will likely be completed in June or July. Upon its completion, the day program along with three staff offices will move into this facility. There is also a new chapel where Bethesda community events and weekly worship will take place.
• The current CLC will be taken off line and eventually demolished due to severe electrical and plumbing issues. The current chapel (where we worship) as well as two offices in the adjacent hallway will be vacant.
• Bethesda is seeking opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations for financial and missional benefits.

From Celebration’s perspective…
• While our congregation is mighty, our finances are small. Additional income may be possible with an intentional Capital Campaign, though the actual amount is uncertain.
• The prospects for land in our price range are limited. With population growth in Cypress and the completion of the Grand Parkway, real estate in this area is growing in value.
• Celebration is committed to Serving the World in a way that is intentional, relational and consistent. Investing heavily in real estate may hinder our ability to share resources with the community.

The proposal….
Bethesda and Celebration leaders will formulate a long-term lease agreement that is mutually beneficial. The details provided below reflect the fledgling conversations to date, they are subject to change (aren’t we all).
• The initial agreement will likely be for 3 years, with the intent to extend.
• Agreement would include:

o Exclusive use of the Chapel, three chapel storage closets and two offices. Bethesda will install a locking door to secure the chapel. All Bethesda materials will be removed to make way for our furniture, equipment, etc. Celebration may grant access to this space for Bethesda functions.
o The ability for Celebration to share space with other non-profits.
o Exterior Celebration signage on Cypress-Rosehill, K-Z Road and the facility.
o Shared use of the Conference Room, Training Room, entryway, outdoor pavilion, and restrooms.
o A process for renovations (paint, floor, ceilings, infrastructure, etc.) to be approved by Bethesda, completed by Celebration and applied toward the total cost of rent.
o A monthly rental rate (to be determined).

Like any partnership, there are positive aspects and points of concern. The Board of Trustees and Ministry Team have considered these in particular:

Pros
• Continue and grow the partnership with Bethesda, an established partner in ministry since Celebration began.
• Cost savings for sharing space verses purchasing property.
• Resources are freed to support the community rather than the building.

Cons
• Location is remote with minimal drive-by traffic.
• Change in Bethesda leadership may change our partnership.
• Investment in temporary location rather than owned property.

Thank you for investing in Celebration, the ministry we share. I look forward to fruitful conversations around this new property possibility. Please feel free to ask questions and share concerns. I am sure that God is at work in this, whichever direction we collectively decide to go.

peace.
Pastor Jen

 

Just a Thought

Brother Christopher Markert

 

“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now.” -Phillippians 1:3-5

Greetings Celebration friends!

Pastor Jen invited me to share with you an update on what is happening in my life and ministry these days.

As many of you know, I left Celebration at the end of February in 2015 to serve as the interim Director for Evangelical Mission (DEM) for the Synod Office. This interim was meant to be short-lived with plans for me to move to Galveston in August. There on the Island, I would begin serving as the Director of Ministries for Lutherhill’s new Zion Retreat Center while also developing a new Lutheran Franciscan mission.

But the Holy Spirit had other plans (as God often does!).  For a whole host of reasons, what was to be a three-to-four month interim was extended to 11 months. And although I hadn’t applied to interview for the DEM position, at some point during the call process the interview team invited me to consider interviewing. At the end of February I was offered the position of DEM.

The role of the DEM is to help the synod in figuring out how we do mission together-  how we start and support new churches and ministries, how we revitalize existing churches and ministries, and how we practice generosity in our congregations and as a synod.

Of course, the difficult part for me was stepping down from my leadership role at Zion Retreat Center and the new Lutheran Franciscan mission. However, we are now in conversation with Lutherhill, the Lutheran Franciscans and the Synod Office in how we will move forward with the collaborative ministry on Galveston Island.  And in my role as DEM I get the joy of working in a new and different way to support this endeavor in Galveston!

I thank you for your prayers and support over the years, and especially this past year. And I want you to know that I continue to pray for Celebration and cheer you on in mission!

Peace and good,
Pastor Chris Markert
Director for Evangelical Mission

From the Pastor

 

Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house,
to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices
acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:5

One thing I love about Celebration is our willingness to worship in a variety of places. From the elementary school to the portable buildings, from the storefront to Bethesda’s chapel – wherever God’s people gather, we can worship there.

At the same time, I understand the need to nest; to set down roots in a particular location so that we can grow in new directions. This real need has been addressed with multiple property searches throughout the years, some with fruitful and others with discouraging results.

And now, a new opportunity has emerged in light of our property search. Our partners at Bethesda are open to a long-term lease agreement. This option has a variety of positive aspects and some concerns as well. As we discern this opportunity together, it will be helpful to share all the details.

From Bethesda’s perspective…
• The new Community Life Center (CLC) will likely be completed in June or July. Upon its completion, the day program along with three staff offices will move into this facility. There is also a new chapel where Bethesda community events and weekly worship will take place.
• The current CLC will be taken off line and eventually demolished due to severe electrical and plumbing issues. The current chapel (where we worship) as well as two offices in the adjacent hallway will be vacant.
• Bethesda is seeking opportunities to partner with non-profit organizations for financial and missional benefits.

From Celebration’s perspective…
• While our congregation is mighty, our finances are small. Additional income may be possible with an intentional Capital Campaign, though the actual amount is uncertain.
• The prospects for land in our price range are limited. With population growth in Cypress and the completion of the Grand Parkway, real estate in this area is growing in value.
• Celebration is committed to Serving the World in a way that is intentional, relational and consistent. Investing heavily in real estate may hinder our ability to share resources with the community.

The proposal….
Bethesda and Celebration leaders will formulate a long-term lease agreement that is mutually beneficial. The details provided below reflect the fledgling conversations to date, they are subject to change (aren’t we all).
• The initial agreement will likely be for 3 years, with the intent to extend.
• Agreement would include:

o Exclusive use of the Chapel, three chapel storage closets and two offices. Bethesda will install a locking door to secure the chapel. All Bethesda materials will be removed to make way for our furniture, equipment, etc. Celebration may grant access to this space for Bethesda functions.
o The ability for Celebration to share space with other non-profits.
o Exterior Celebration signage on Cypress-Rosehill, K-Z Road and the facility.
o Shared use of the Conference Room, Training Room, entryway, outdoor pavilion, and restrooms.
o A process for renovations (paint, floor, ceilings, infrastructure, etc.) to be approved by Bethesda, completed by Celebration and applied toward the total cost of rent.
o A monthly rental rate (to be determined).

Like any partnership, there are positive aspects and points of concern. The Board of Trustees and Ministry Team have considered these in particular:

Pros:
• Continue and grow the partnership with Bethesda, an established partner in ministry since Celebration began.
• Cost savings for sharing space verses purchasing property.
• Resources are freed to support the community rather than the building.

Cons:
• Location is remote with minimal drive-by traffic.
• Change in Bethesda leadership may change our partnership.
• Investment in temporary location rather than owned property.

Thank you for investing in Celebration, the ministry we share. I look forward to fruitful conversations around this new property possibility. Please feel free to ask questions and share concerns. I am sure that God is at work in this, whichever direction we collectively decide to go.

peace.
Pastor Jen

Just a Thought

In the inspired words of Avril Lavigne,  “Why’d you have to go and make things so complicated?” It’s true, life can get pretty complicated. We heap on commitments, clutter our lives and our closets with excess, and cloud relationships with layers of distraction. Then we come up gasping for breath in the midst of it all. Why’d we have to go and make things so complicated?

Lent invites us to fast from complication. To step back from our indulgence, to evaluate and declutter our lives. This Lent, we explore the Simple life to which Christ calls us. We will take a look at simplicity in Love, Faith, Giving, Stuff and Presence.

Each week we will practice simplicity with lenten challenges for the whole family. As we gather for worship we will practice simplicity as we fast from the typical spread of doughnuts and sweet treats – and survive on coffee and juice alone.

Now don’t get me wrong. This life is simple, not easy. We tend to make things complicated. Recovering from our own foolish ways can be quite a task. But it will be worthwhile.
Here’s to simplifying our lives together.

 
peace.

Pastor Jen