From the Pastor

Clockface

As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. – Henry David Thoreau

At the turn of a new year, I’m inclined to think about time – about the minutes and hours that comprised the past year, and about the unmarked time that inhabits the year to come. And I wonder, what will I do with this time? How can I make the most of it?

Throughout my childhood, my dad tinkered with clocks as a hobby. My childhood home was full of antique clocks with stark faces and staccato hands marking the time as it passed. This kind of time is observed and managed. This kind of time is rigid and unyielding.

Another kind of time – Kairos – marks time not with minutes, but with divine encounter. Kairos is God’s time, the holy moments that disrupt our organized, over-stuffed days. In daily Kairos, God becomes incarnate and our time is in God’s hands. The moment becomes slow and acute, and full of meaning.

This is my hope for the new year, that my time – that your time – might overflow with Kairos – divine encounter. That your hopes, resolutions, commitments might be spacious enough to make space for God. That you might hold your time gracefully so that you might radiate grace.

I leave you with this prayer written by Walter Brueggemann found in his collection, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth.

Occupy our Calendars
Our times are in your hands:
But we count our times for us;
We count our days and fill them with us;
We count our weeks and fill them with our busyness;
We count our years and we fill them with our fears.
And then caught up short with your claim,
Our times are in your hands!
Take our times, times of love and times of weariness,
Take them all, bless them, break them,
Give them to us again, slow paced and eager,
Fixed in our readiness for neighbor.
Occupy our calendars,
Flood us with itsy-bitsy, daily kairoi,
In the name of your fleshed Kairos.  Amen.

Pastor Jen

From the Pastor

Wait for it. Wait for it. This Sunday, December 3rd marks the beginning of Advent, a season of holy longing. With Christians around the world, we eagerly anticipate the birth of Christ.  We prepare room for Jesus – in our daily lives, in our homes, in our relationships. This is an active waiting filled with hope and great joy. And when Christmas finally comes, it’s worth the wait.

As you and yours wait faithfully, there’s no need to sit idly and twiddle your thumbs. Think of these as holy possibilities, not holy obligations. I commend to you this Active Advent Calendar. It contains a list of reflections and activities that embrace the waiting and help you prepare for the birth of Jesus.  If you’re a rule follower, you can begin today, December 1 and continue through to Christmas. If you’re a rebel, I dare you to meander throughout, pick your favorites, change up the order, do what you will. Either way, I hope that this time of active waiting will create space in your life so that Christ might manger with you.

Advent Blessings!

Pastor Jen

 

ACTION! ADVENT CALENDAR

  1. Create space for your nativity, as you set it out take a moment to retell the story. Don’t have a nativity? Ask Pastor Jen to help you make one or find one.
  1. Make a list of 10 things that bring you HOPE.
  2. Keep awake! What makes you tired or bored. How might you be more awake to God at work in these things?
  3. Wake up 10 minutes early, use the time to execute a Random Act of Kindness.
  4. Contribute toward the Christmas Food Bag collection for our friends at Holmsley Elementary.
  5. Read about Christ the Light (John 1:1-5) then go for a walk in or around your neighborhood and look at Christmas lights.
  6. Make a homemade card for someone and hand deliver it.
  7. Introduce yourself to a neighbor that you have never met before.
  8. Make a list of 10 places that bring you PEACE.
  9. Prepare the way of the Lord! What might it look like for you to prepare Christ room in your home and your heart?
  10. Buy some water, coffee, cocoa, snacks, etc. to give to people you meet on the street.
  11. Read Luke’s Nativity Story (Luke 2:1-20) then retell the story in your own words.
  12. Find 5 things that you could do without and donate them.
  13. Read a newspaper or watch the news, then pray for all the places that need peace in our world.
  14. Sit still for 5 minutes and imagine what peace looks like.
  15. Make a list of 10 things that bring you JOY.
  16. Do not be afraid! Think about what makes you afraid. Is it realistic? How does it hold you back from living fully?
  17. Bake some treats for Bethesda’s Cocoa & Cookies gathering, then come mingle.
  18. Read Matthew’s Nativity Story (Matthew 1:18-2:12) then retell the story in your own words.
  19. Buy something you’d really like to have for yourself and give it away.
  20. Give $5 to someone who looks like they could use a little joy and love.
  21. Create some paper snow-flakes and hang them up for others to enjoy.
  22. Make a list of 10 people who taught you how to LOVE.
  23. Let your soul Magnify the Lord. Find a Christmas Eve Worship to attend with your people.
  24. Sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!

 

From the Pastor

 

epiphany-home-blessing-2017-blue-door

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.

Peace.

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

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

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

Just a Thought…

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”  -2 Corinthians 5:17-18

happy new year

I love the beginning of the new year! There is something holy for me about ending a year reflecting on the past 12 months- all the joys, the griefs, the stresses and the silliness- and then giving them up to God to celebrate a new, fresh start.

Of course, this letting go and starting fresh can happen each and every day. In fact, Martin Luther encourages it!

In the Small Catechism, in the section on the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, Luther writes that the promise God makes in Baptism “signifies that the old Adam in us… should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance and be put to death, so that a new creation can come forth daily and rise up, cleansed and righteous…”

So what are you still holding on to in this New Year that needs to be released? What petty or selfish thoughts need to be drowned? What resentments need to be put to death? Where do reconciliation, forgiveness, and love need to rise up and come forth for you in 2015?

As has become tradition for us at Celebration, we will be offering Epiphany Home Blessings during the Season of Epiphany. This is one of my favorite things to do at this time of year! If you would like to have your home blessed (it’s okay to have it blessed again!), please note it on your Connect Card during worship, or email me.

May God surprise and delight you in 2015!

It’s just a thought.

+pax et bonum
pc