Just a Thought

I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. 

  Philippians 1:3-5

 

From the first day until now, I think often about the first day of worship at Celebration. I didn’t want to go to worship, and I certainly didn’t want a church home. Over the following weeks and months and years I connected into a community that didn’t care that I had walked away from the church years before. This community saw a call in me that I didn’t want to follow, but when the Spirit starts moving change is going to come.

Celebration has always been an incubator for leadership. A worship singer became an Associate in Ministry. A youth minister transformed into a vicar and then into a beloved pastor. A bartender became a seminarian. What started with a weekend or two filling in with the band turned into a job, which turned into a leadership role, and before I knew it I was off to Minnesota twice a year. The people of Celebration have always raised up and supported leaders. With this support and the care of the Spirit I have nearly reached the completion of my academic career. I only have a few credits to complete, and I have graduated from CPE. The next step of my candidacy process will be a one-year pastoral internship. While I will be sad to be moving on from Celebration, I am excited to take the experience and love I have received and serve the larger church.

I am happy to announce that I will be serving my internship at Messiah Lutheran in Cypress. I will begin on September 1. My last Sunday at Celebration will be July 31. I truly thank God when I think of you, my brothers and sisters, and have been overwhelmed with the level of love and support you have continued to give. I ask your prayers as I continue to follow the call God has placed on me and I will always remember you in my prayers.

Peace and All Good.

Brother Mike.

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

 

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

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.

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

Just a Thought…

“I can’t profess to understand God’s plan, Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.” -Hershel Greene, The Walking Dead

“For God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  -2 Corinthians 5:21

 

One of my favorite shows is The Walking Dead. I know, I know.  It’s not the most “family friendly” of shows. Some might even question why a pastor would watch such a graphic, and sometimes gory, show.

But what I love about The Walking Dead is how it captures the spirit of the human condition- how broken people seek to survive in a broken world.  How some are able to overcome their own foibles  and rise to become heroes, while others with upstanding character fall from grace.  Oh, and I enjoy the zombies, too!

That’s the way of life, actually, isn’t it? One reason I am Lutheran is because  of our understanding of sin, and how it permeates everything. We too, like the folks of The Walking Dead, are a broken people living in a broken world.  Although sometimes we may rise heroically, there will always be times when we fail miserably.

It’s like the Zombie virus. As Rick Grimes would say, “We are the Walking Dead!” There’s no escaping it, it will always catch up with the survivors in the show.  And that’s the same for us when it comes to sin.

It’s as Saint Paul says, “So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me… I’m a miserable human being. Who will deliver me from this dead corpse? Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:21-25).

Yes, thanks be to God for Jesus, who overcame death and the grave to bring life to the world. And in Christ, there is a kind of forgiveness that allows us to start over and begin again… and again… and again.

No, forgiveness doesn’t wipe away the evil we do, the brokenness of our lives. There will always be consequences that come with sin and evil.

However, Christ is able to take our brokenness and transform it, redeem it. Christ keeps sin and death from having the last word. And that is hope that can even overcome zombies!

Just a thought on this All Hallow’s Eve.

+pax et bonum

pc

Just a Thought…

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV)

I remember one time when I was a redevelopment pastor in New Orleans, dreaming with some folks about God’s Vision for the church. Someone had a huge idea—one that would require a significant amount of time, resources, volunteers, advertising, support from local businesses, etc. And as she shared her idea, others began to shake their heads and murmur among themselves… “It’ll never work…,” “It’s too big an endeavor…,” “It’ll be too hard…,” etc.

And I remember getting frustrated by the limitations these folks were placing on us and on God’s church.  It made me wonder:  Do these people tell their children, “Learning to play baseball is too hard.  You will have to learn and practice and play games, and be yelled at by the coach.  You’ll make mistakes.  So, just don’t even try…”?   Do these people tell themselves, “College is too hard.  It’s too expensive, I’ll probably fail, and I won’t find a good job after I graduate.  So, I’m just not going to go”?

Of course not!  In fact, just the opposite.  Good parents teach their children that playing sports (or learning a musical instrument, or learning how to write or color or draw) can be fun and rewarding, but it won’t always be easy.  College will prepare you for adulthood and vocation, but chances are it will not be an easy experience.

I think it’s a copout for churches and church leaders to say that something is too hard, and that’s why we shouldn’t do it.  Difficulty should be measured, but it should not be the determining factor for whether we do the work that God is calling us to do.

So let’s not let the fear of something being hard keep us from daring to following Jesus, wherever he might lead us!

Just a thought!

+pax et bonum
pastor chris