From the Pastor

 

credo water

Well friends, you were certainly up for the challenge. Back in September, I welcomed / invited / challenged our community to write personal creeds, statements of faith that proclaim your understanding of God and your modus operandi. Throughout our Credo series we explored the wholehearted confession of faith we share in the Apostle’s Creed as well as the unique personal creeds that tug at the heart of each individual.

These personal creeds took on a variety of shapes. We received a little Hebrew lesson from Meredith and an insistent plea that God loves all from Carrie. We experienced a beautiful story of belonging from Griffen and a Top 10 List from Sister Shelli (of course).  Chuck encouraged us to respond to hate with love and respect and Rey challenged us to embrace a God that’s bigger than our imagination. The Cordes family taught us that God is good at Algebra, while the Drapers revealed a creative, humor-filled God of the platypus. Kathy pointed to the face of God unveiled in her children and grandchildren while Amber celebrated her 30th birthday with a God who redefines our expectations.

Thank your for exposing your heart, for sharing your faith. Through the diversity of our experiences and the depth of our understanding – we come to know God more fully. And this is good news. We learn more about God when we are in relationship with God’s people. This, I believe.

Pastor Jen

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

 

Just a Thought

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

 

Blessing of the Animals
Blessing of the Animals

So, we just had two fun ministry events this month- the joint Blessing of the Animals we did collaboratively with Messiah and Covenant, and the Reformation Beer & Hymns fundraiser at St. Arnold’s Brewery.

The Blessing of the Animals brought together about 40 folks with their pets to give thanks for the gift of companionship. Several folks walked up from the dog park to have their dogs blessed. In the end, this Blessing was for the community, and people invited friends to join them.

The Reformation Beer & Hymns fundraiser brought together more than 140 people to sing songs, sip some brews and raise money to support the Lutherhill’s new Zion Retreat Center in Galveston. We were able to raise over $5000 for Lutherhill! Although many of us from Celebration attended and had a blast, this event was not for us, but for the sake of others.

Beer & Hymns
Beer & Hymns

 

While the Beer & Hymns was going on, some folks from the church went downtown to join A Simple Thread in providing needed resources to the homeless community as we move into the colder time of year. Again, this ministry wasn’t about us, but about those in need.

This is what we mean when we say in our Guiding Principles that It’s Not About Us. Because it isn’t. It never was. When our life and values become Christ’s life and values, then it is no longer about what we want, what we like, or what we expect. It’s about God and God’s desire for others to know and experience Christ in their own lives.

Because encounters with Christ change people.  And  that’s what it’s all about.

This Sunday is All Saints Sunday. It’s the day in the Church year when we specifically remember our loved ones who have died in the past year. So, think about your friends, co-workers and neighbors who may have lost someone this year. What if you invited them to join you on Sunday to help them honor the ones they love? Maybe it’s an invitation that will change their life.

 

Because, it’s not about us.

And, it’s just a thought.

+pax et bonum
pc

Just a Thought…

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

-Isaiah 6:8

I’m still coming down from the high of our Festa Italiana. Wow! Just…  Wow.  What a phenomenal event it was.  The food was tasty, the ambience was warm and inviting, the entertainment was outstanding, and the servers served like professionals.  Most importantly, we exceeded our fundraising goal!

But there was a deeper lesson we learned (or maybe re-learned) as a congregation. I found myself learning it at the event, as people came up to me saying things like “Wow, Chris- you did such an amazing job!” Of course, the only reply I could honestly give was, “I didn’t do anything…”

And that is mostly true.  Except for some ancillary support (lending dishes, purchasing last minute extra items, encouraging others, etc.) the entire success of Festa Italiania happened at the hands of others.  From Jo and Mike birthing the original dream for the Dinner… to those who were captivated by the dream and joined together to plan and coordinate the event… to ownership of the entire congregation by making donations and serving… as well as the financial support of friends and partner churches… the Festa Italiana was a group endeavor!

Ministry is the work of the people. It is never just the work of the pastor, or vicar, or a Council or the Ministry Team. Each of us is called to ministry in and through our Baptism.  And the Vicar Event Planning team lived this out in its fullness!

On occasion, someone will approach me and say, “Pastor, I think Celebration should…”  And then after sharing a really great idea for ministry, the person walks away, expecting me or others to make it happen.  Friends, if this was ever a way we did ministry at Celebration, it will no longer be!

 

From now on, when you have an idea for a new ministry, you will have immediate permission to establish an Action Team as long as:

  1. It doesn’t violate our church’s mission/core values;
  2. You recruit enough people who share your interest to carry out the ministry; and
  3. It is self-funding.

If these three things can be answered faithfully, the you are free and fully authorized to move forward! No more waiting for the Ministry Team or Council to start new ministries, to plan events, or coordinate activities.  We will encourage and support the members as the primary ministers of the congregation!

 

This was something we talked about when we first launched, and we never quite fully lived into it. But, you will begin to see our church culture shift from “pastor-type” people leading ministries, to lay people being ministry leaders. The job of the Ministry Team and pastoral leaders will now be to offer you resource assistance as you minister in the name of Christ and his Church.

Exciting? Yes! Scary? Yes! Who will make sure no mistakes are made? No one! We will embrace them as they happen, and use them as opportunities to learn and grow. And we will be stronger because of this paradigm.

I give thanks for those who dreamed up and coordinated the Festa Italiana as they gave witness to the Church at its best.  May God stir up each of our imaginations as we seek ways to minister in Christ’s name, and then are set free to serve!

It’s just a thought.

+pax et bonum

 

pc