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

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.


Pastor Jen

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


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

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.

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,

Just a Thought…

“Have you understood all these things?” Jesus asked. “Yes,” they replied.  He said to them, “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of the storeroom new treasures as well as old.”  Matthew 13:51-52


Happy 4th of July everyone!

I just got back from my two weeks in Germany, where, with a bunch of other Lutherans, we followed in the footsteps of Martin Luther.  One of the purposes of the trip was to train those of us who are interested in taking groups in the future. This is especially pertinent, as 2017 is the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation.

In Germany, we visited Erfurt, Eisenach, Eisleben, Naumburg, Wittenberg, Leipzig and Dresden. We saw where Luther was born, baptized, and lived as a youth. We saw where he wrote the New Testament in German while hiding from the Pope in Wartburg Castle. We saw the doors of the Wittenberg Church where Luther would have nailed the 95 Theses. We visited the Black Cloister, where Martin and Katie Luther lived.  And we also had the opportunity to catch a glimpse of some Bach history, Buchenwald Concentration Camp, and the Zwinger in Dresden.

One the things that stuck with me, especially in Leipzig, was how ancient architecture coexists next to modern buildings. Old and new. Side by side.




There was something inspiring about that for me. And it reminded me of Celebration, and our original commitment to being a post-contemporary, “emergent” church. And what we mean is that we honor and celebrate that Lutheran heritage that has been passed on to us in faith, while at the same time being open to new ways of being the Body of Christ in the world today. Old and new. Side by side.

This is a gift. And it isn’t always easy. But, I believe it makes us a healthier community. And that is something to celebrate!

Old and new. Side by side.

It’s just a thought.

+pax et bonum,

Just a Thought…

‘In the last days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants— men and women alike— and they will prophesy.’    Acts 2:17-18/Joel 2:28-29 (NLT)


Coming off of the celebration of our 6 year anniversary of the launch of Celebration, I can’t help but marvel at how the simple “What If” Dream of one man (Pastor Jim Hinkhouse) would unfold into a congregation deeply rooted in the Gospel of Christ, experimental while remaining faithful to our inherited Lutheran tradition, and invested in the life of this local community.  God is good all the time!

If you haven’t been around Celebration recently, you’ve missed the strange sensation that God is up to something among us. It started about a month ago, as we began an intentional period of dreaming, of prayer and scripture study, of asking God who God wants Celebration to become.

It always comes back to one thing:  We’re in the work of creating opportunities for people to encounter Christ.  Because encounters with Jesus change people.  And changed people change the world!

Some people tell me they don’t like when we do interactive worship, like Animate Summer and Faith Labs.  However, one of the goals of Animate Summer is to help households practice having faith conversations at home.

So, imagine how I felt as a pastor when a family in our congregation shared with me how their youngest child has made it a rule that no one can eat dinner until everyone goes around and shares “highlights and lowlights!”

People are being changed by the Gospel.  Families are being changed by the Gospel. Cypress is being changed by Celebration because people are encountering Christ.

And it all started with a Dream that God planted in one person.

What Dream is God planting in you these days?

It’s just a thought!

+pax et bonum