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

From the Pastor

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God will be with them ; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away. And he who sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”
Revelation 21:1-5

Happy New Year!

And blessings to you for a happy and healthy 2016.
In the Christmas season, we celebrate the God who came to dwell among us, to be our God. This God brings peace, salvation, new life. This God wipes the tears from our eyes, wipes the pain and suffering, mourning and sadness from our hearts. The healing presence of God does not deny the past, rather it reorients our lives to a hope-filled future; reorients us to new life.

As we look to the new year, filled with hope, we celebrate this newness together. We get to be for each other a reminder of God’s healing presence. In the weeks to come we will explore the theme, “Behold, I make all things new!” Each week will incorporate a meaningful ritual to remind us of God’s healing presence in our lives, and to reorient our hearts to newness. The rituals will invite God’s blessing for our bodies, our homes, our work and our play. In these acts, we live into our faith, expecting God to dwell with us, remembering that we are God’s people, always marked by newness.

Peace.
Pastor Jen

From the Pastor

thankyou

Grateful. I am so very grateful for the love and support this community has shared with our growing family. The Baby Book Shower was simply delightful. The company was excellent, the cake scrumptious and the extensive library of children’s books – so very thoughtful. I also learned that my ever expanding belly is more than 3 feet in circumference – yikes! – and that I cannot match up books with their authors to save my life – major fail! The girls’ bookshelf is overflowing with intentionally selected books. I can’t wait to start reading to Lily & Emma. Thank you.

Beyond this delightful shower, I am grateful for all the ways you care for us on a weekly basis. From checking on my oh so swollen feet, to insisting that I not lift even the lightest of things. It’s a humbling experience to rely on the help of others! But through your care, I feel loved.

I am especially grateful for your willingness to share your own stories of pregnancy and parenting. What an incredible gift to be invited into your lives, into your treasured memories, into your hearts through these stories. It is certainly a privilege and joy.

Just four more weeks and, as Sister Shelli said, “We are having babies.” I am grateful that you are included in this “we”. This whole process has helped me understand more fully the importance of community, and especially this bold, genuine, compassionate community of faith we call Celebration. Thank you for loving Matt and I so very well and loving Lily & Emma before they’re even born. Your faith-filled actions bring Christ to life, here and now.

With gratitude,

Pastor Jen

Reformation – Beer & Hymns

Celebrate the reformation with a good ol’ hymn sing!
We’ll make a joyful noise as we enjoy some tasty brews.

Reform - Beer and Hymns

Sunday, October 25 – 4-6pm

Saint Arnold Brewing Co.
2000 Lyons Ave.
Houston, TX 77020
saintarnold.com


Benefitting

All proceeds will benefit Lutheran Campus Ministries in the Texas-Louisiana Gulf Coast Synod.


Registration & Sponsorship

+ Individual Tickets – $25 per person, all ages

Ticket price includes entrance fee, beer (root beer available), snacks and general merriment.
And of course – the satisfaction of supporting Lutheran Campus Minsitries!

+ Sponsorship opportunities available.

Help underwrite the cost of this event so more funds may go to Lutheran Campus Ministries.

+ Donations welcome!

Not able to make it? You can still make a monetary contribution in any amount.
Your entire gift will go directly to Lutheran Campus Ministries.

Register Now! – for Individual Tickets & Sponsorships

Click here for online registration through EventBrite.


Hosts

This adventure in fellowship and fun is hosted by the people of Celebration Lutheran Church. We are excited to share a little of our community style with you! Thanks for joining us!

For more information, contact Shelli Williamson.

From Pastor Jen

Let justice roll down

Over the past several weeks we have heard stories of faith in action from various saints in our community. The Cordes family shared their experience in Guatemala as they took time to Act, Love and Walk alongside the Q’eqchi’ people. Shelli divulged her not-so-secret obsession with calendars as she invited us into the story of Mary & Martha, a story of both listening & serving with an invitation to Live in the &. These stories of real faith in real life help us experience God at work in our lives here and now.

Starting August 9, we will embark on a new sermon series: Let Justice Roll Down. Justice can be a slippery, unruly topic as it is often shadowed by personal politics or systemic struggles. Often, people within the same community approach justice in a variety of ways. So where do we look for a word of truth about justice?

Justice in the Bible seems to oscillate between extreme or inhumane (Old Testament) and unfair or placating (New Testament). And yet throughout the Bible, justice is upheld as a value within the Kingdom of God. What does this mean for us today?

The prophet Amos confesses that God is angered when people propagate injustice and oppression. The people of Amos’ time are misguided, they turn the other way as people are being abused and neglected. Amos tells his contemporaries that no amount of shiny offering or embellished praise can cover-up broken relationships. And so the prophet Amos declares, “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24). How are we as Christians called to “let justice roll down”?

As this series unfolds, we will explore a variety of injustice – racial, economic and environmental – for example. Warning – this series will likely stir up more questions than it answers. But together, we will find ways to be advocates for justice and purveyors of peace as Jesus was in this broken world.

Peace,

Pastor Jen

Farewell Just a Thought

“Now, compelled by the Spirit, I’m going to Jerusalem. I don’t know what will happen to me there…  But nothing, not even my life, is more important than my completing my mission. This is nothing other than the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus: to testify about the good news of God’s grace.” -Acts 20:22-24 (CEB)

springSo, this is it.

The days are growing longer and the nights shorter.  Lent is almost upon us. And then it will be Holy Week, and Easter, Memorial Day and Pentecost, the end of school and summer, and then it will be Fall. The next thing you know it’s 2016.

That’s how life seems to go. Fast. So fast.   And then, POOF!  It’s over.

As I reflect over the past 7 1/2 years of ministry together as pastor and people, all I can say is, “Wow! It went really fast!” I think back to September 2007 when we launched our first worship at Robison Elementary School— a dream becoming a reality. Hopes being hoped.  A people being formed into a household of faith by the Holy Spirit.

It wasn’t always easy. We hit obstacles. We had struggles as we found our identity and as we sought to follow Christ faithfully. Sure, we made mistakes. And we learned along the way.  But, I can also say that it has been a blast! Celebration is a congregation that doesn’t take itself too seriously… a church that laughs, and loves, and enjoys worship, and believes the best.

I wish I could take credit for who Celebration has become as a church. But I can’t. It was never about me. It was always about a God willing to entrust this Great Experiment called Celebration to us. And, it was about a people willing to be transformed by the Gospel, who were then willing to roll up their sleeves to bless and change the world around them with God’s love.

My friends, I will miss being your pastor! As I shared the Gospel with you and cared for you, you did the same for me. It was mutual.

And my hope for you as I take my leave is that you would never lose your spirit of adventure! That you would remain authentic, and quirky. That you would continue to be an incubator for leadership and a laboratory for ministry for the larger Church.

From the bottom of my heart, I thank you for the past 7 1/2 years. I love you all and I wish you the best!

And, that’s just a final thought.

+Peace and good,
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