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!
Happy Epiphany! Today is the day – the 12th day after Christmas to be exact – the day we celebrate Epiphany. In our holy story, it’s the day we remember the Magi’s journey from the east. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that the Magi followed a star to find the newborn King. Christ’s incarnation marks a new beginning, a holy reign for all people.
This time also marks a new beginning for us. Not only a new year, but also a new season in the life of our church. In this season of Epiphany we celebrate the revelation of God incarnate – 2,000 years ago and still today.
As a community we will mark this season of revelation with Epiphany Home Blessings. This ritual is a meaningful way to honor the Christ who dwells with us. A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance, 20 + C + M + B + 17. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless this house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2017 is the year.
So, I invite you to take part in this meaningful ritual in one of two ways. You may pick up a Home Blessing Kit this Sunday to chalk your own home. Or, I would love to come over for a blessing ritual and time of fellowship (Warning: Emma or Lily will likely be in tow). Contact me or RSVP on your connect card so we can set up a time. Either way, I hope you and your household will take a moment to celebrate Christ’s presence – wherever you dwell.
“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
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.”
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.