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

seaford-posse

This month’s pastoral insight comes from my seminary friend, Brook Seaford. Brook is a dad to five wonderfully unique kiddos and a spouse to the phenomenally resilient Kristan. Brook is in the final stages of preparation for ordination in the ELCA; he currently serves as vicar of Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Matthews, North Carolina. 

Today I awoke singing and was reminded that I am happy again.

Happy is such a broad term, I guess.  And it means different things to different people. But for me, it was that feeling that acts as an elixir to anything negative.  It’s that light that chases away the shadows.  It’s the warmth that crowds out the cold.

To be fair, these feelings would pop up now and again over the last few years; it’s not as if they were gone forever.  But they weren’t as commonplace as they once were.  Happiness wasn’t the default experience it once was.  I knew it had, in some way, slipped my grip.

But this reemergence prompted me to reflect about the shared experience of grief, sadness, and pain. Life throws curve balls and oftentimes, our situations seem to be the worst of all.  But somewhere, someone else is also suffering.

The good news (yes, there is good news) is that we aren’t there forever.  And despite our perception, we are never, ever alone.  Our God is a God of accompaniment.

One friend of mine was abandoned by her husband with young kids and had to scamble to figure out how to make sense of her unexpected new life. Through grit, determination, and tears, she got to work.  Her daughters are now beautiful, smart, and strong young women, and she spends her days helping underprivileged kids. Life is not easy; but it’s rebuilding.

Another friend of mine wrestled with addiction, enduring countless losses, only to reemerge running a successful non-profit.

And there are many similar stories.  Perhaps yours is one.  Or perhaps you are still in that desert.

At one point or another, we all experience hurt and loss.

At some point, we feel abandoned and alone; heartbroken by the life that was supposed to be or perhaps, never was.

Marriages fail.  Addictions destroy. Careers collapse.  Illnesses strike.

But God is with us the entire journey.

There were nights when my wife was sick and I anxiously and fearfully awaited the call from the nurses that she had not made it.   My house was filled with people who had spent the day preparing us meals and taking care of my kids, and yet I still felt alone. As others slept, all I could do was grip my tear-soaked pillow and scream into it at God, making sure my cries were muffled so no one would be alarmed that the optimistic seminarian was angry at God.

But morning came and she had survived another day.  I also, had survived another day.  And I realized at that point that I had never truly been alone.  God had been with me in Spirit through the night.  But also, God had been with me through the care of the nurses, the love and support of my family, friends, and community.  God had been there the whole time, walking with me and holding me up.

God was with me the entire journey.

The Bible offers many hopeful stories of the accompaniment of God. The Israelites wandered through the desert, but eventually found home.  And that is just one example.

I guess the message in all of this is that, regardless of where you find yourself today; whatever desert you are walking through; however dark your night is; God doesn’t leave you there.  You aren’t there forever.

God is with you.

The pain might always endure; we all have scars, some are visible, some are not.  But eventually you will emerge and one day you will start to notice that the sun is starting to eek out a little light again.

Food will start to taste good again.

Laughter will reemerge, bubbling up sometimes in the most unexpected of places.

One morning you’ll notice yourself belting out a favorite old song in the kitchen or in the shower or in your car and it will dawn on you that you’re back.  The happiness that eluded you has returned like an old friend.

And maybe, just maybe, that’s the postscript.

Written by Vicar Brook Seaford

From the Pastor

Credo graphic sept 2016

Warning, yet another nerdy confession follows. In college, I loved listening to an NPR radio show called, “This I Believe.” It was a revival of Edward Murrow’s program from the 1950s. Originally, Murrow launched the program to help people articulate individual beliefs rather than ascribing to religious dogma or patriotic platitudes. The show encouraged famous and everyday people to distill their beliefs into a simple essay, and then read the essay aloud over the air. The unveiled creeds diverged in countless ways, but all of them began with the same words, “This I believe.”

As Christians, we share a common set of beliefs confessed in the Apostle’s Creed. These shared beliefs form the foundation of our faith and our life together. Beyond this, we each hold individual beliefs about the world, the people and the experiences around us.  I believe it is essential to our faith and to the sharing of the gospel that each of us can clearly articulate what we believe.

In September, we will start a new series called Credo. As part of this series, I invite you to share your beliefs in a personal creed. More specifically, I am inviting you to write and read a personal statement beginning with the words, “This I believe.” It might take the shape of a top 10 list, a prayer, or a monologue. The point is not to be perfect or profound, though I imagine that will happen, the point is to articulate the beliefs that inform who you are and what you do.

We will share some of these creeds in written form via this electronic newsletter, eCelebrate. Some of the creeds may be read aloud in worship; others may be recorded to share in worship or on social media (of course with your permission).

So, what do you believe? Think about it. And get ready to share.

Pastor Jen

You can follow this link to explore the original and revived additions of This I Believe.

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.

Peace.

Pastor Jen

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

 

From the Pastor

Well friends, it’s official! We are ‘going steady’ with Bethesda, moving forward into a new dimension of intentional ministry together. After careful consideration, a long-term lease agreement has been signed for Celebration to officially dwell Bethesda Chapel, now Celebration’s Ministry Center, for the next three years.

So what’s next? I’m so glad you asked. Next, we are on to renovating this space to make it our own. The renovation process includes:

  1. Discerning what needs to be remodeled, identifying reputable contractors and gathering bids for the work to be done.
  2. Proposing these renovations to our Bethesda friends. If the work is deemed to be permissible, Bethesda will grant permission to move forward. If the work is deemed to be mutually beneficial, a portion of the cost may be deducted from our monthly rental fee.
  3. Once we hear back from Bethesda, Celebration leaders will determine what work is financially feasible and get to work.

Take a look at the graphic to see the potential work to be completed. Take note – all of the renovations may or may not come to fruition. These, of course, are pending Bethesda approval.

So what can I do to help? Well, I’m so glad you asked. First you can pray. Pray for our partnership with Bethesda and for this next step in the life of Celebration. You may also prayerfully consider making a financial gift toward the renovation project. We have some monies already in hand; we will definitely need to gather more. Once bids come in, we will have a better picture of just how much money we need to raise. Stay tuned for more information on this front.

Thank you friends, for your willingness to imagine new ways of being the church. This intentional partnership yields not only a ministry center to call our own, but also an worth-while investment in the good work of Bethesda.

Abundant grace.
Pastor Jen

 

Like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house.
1 Peter 2:5

 

Bethesda reno graphic 6 2016

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.