Working Together So That All Experience Gracious Invitation Into Life-giving Christian Community
Welcome to the Gethsemane Lutheran Church Newsletter. As 2022 unfolds, and we continue to bring you information virtually, we welcome all who are members of Gethsemane, as well as those who are discovering us for the first time, to join us in our mission journey. We hope to keep you up-to-date in these times of amazing change for our church community. Feel free to forward the newsletter to others and give us the emails of those you think my wish to connect with us and see what great things God is doing with our church each week!
The Camden Shop is Open!

The Camden Shop is now open! After a short prayer of blessing, we opened the doors and shoppers found clothing and housewares that they needed. We are so excited about how this place will help our friends in the Camden neighborhood! Spread the word, and come say hello!

We are open every Saturday of the month at Gethsemane from 12-3pm
Gospel Reading: Psalm 88
Lord, you are the God who saves me;
    day and night I cry out to you.

May my prayer come before you;
    turn your ear to my cry.

I am overwhelmed with troubles
    and my life draws near to death.

I am counted among those who go down to the pit;
    I am like one without strength.

I am set apart with the dead,
    like the slain who lie in the grave,
whom you remember no more,
    who are cut off from your care.

You have put me in the lowest pit,
    in the darkest depths.

Your wrath lies heavily on me;
    you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.

You have taken from me my closest friends
    and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;

    my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, Lord, every day;
    I spread out my hands to you.

Do you show your wonders to the dead?
    Do their spirits rise up and praise you?

Is your love declared in the grave,
    your faithfulness in Destruction?

Are your wonders known in the place of darkness,
    or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?

But I cry to you for help, Lord;
    in the morning my prayer comes before you.

Why, Lord, do you reject me
    and hide your face from me?

From my youth I have suffered and been close to death;
    I have borne your terrors and am in despair.

Your wrath has swept over me;
    your terrors have destroyed me.

All day long they surround me like a flood;
    they have completely engulfed me.

You have taken from me friend and neighbor—
    darkness is my closest friend.

Writer's Corner:
If You Don’t Sleep One Night, You Will Sleep The Next

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Throughout my life, whenever I had a hard time sleeping, my mom would say, “If you don’t sleep one night, you will sleep the next.” She’d remind me that it was what my grandma would always say to her. And who knows where she first heard this saying. It most certainly is not a proverb or from the Bible. But, growing up in a long line of light sleepers, some with chronic insomnia, this phrase was always in the back of my mind. 

Life is not always the stuff from which deep sleep and good dreams can arise. I know the ongoing pandemic and now a war across seas have caused middle of the night awakenings and nightmares. Health concerns for my family, taking care of a sick daughter, death of loved ones, even a puppy who loves to sleep on my legs doesn’t help either. So I decided to do a virtual visit with a sleep specialist to see if there was anything to do besides repeat in my mind: If you don’t sleep one night, you will sleep the next. Because, honestly that has never been the case. Not for me, my mom, or her mom before her. It is a hope, of course, something to tell yourself so you can get through the day. Something to joke about. But not necessarily a reality. 

Over the years, I’ve tried different sleep hygiene techniques: dark room shades, eye masks, ear plugs, white noise machines, no electronics, warm baths…you name it. Now I am on a two week prescription of “compressed sleep schedule”. Going to sleep at the same time every night and staying in bed only a certain amount of hours, regardless of if I sleep well or not. Supposedly, I’m to retrain my body into sleeping the right number of hours in a row. Of course, I will do my best—but I have limited faith in this. There are no quick fixes to train your mind to not awake thinking of the yucky things that are going on in your life. No counting sheep, no calming music, etc. I’ve written on this before that really prayer, and thinking about God is really the best way to calm the mind. And even though I know this, I find it is hard to fully commit to middle of the night prayer when I wake up and am frustrated and tired. 

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

I love this wisdom from Jesus out of Matthew—it really is an important nugget of gold. Because it does not talk about sleeping, or a good night’s rest, or even that if you can’t sleep now you will later. What is being said is to not fret about tomorrow as there is enough to deal with today; do not take on any more than a day’s worth of worry. Now, it’s not exactly what you might want to hear. You might like it to say that “tomorrow will bring no more anxiety.” Or that “today you don’t need to feel anxious because God has this.” It is a little more practical than that. 

Jesus acknowledges our humanity, that as humans we will worry, and some more than others. But in this passage he writes that today is trouble enough to think about. This passage recognizes that life is hard. Life is complex. Life brings anxiety. Life is not at all predictable. Life is often cruel. It is natural to feel worry. We are only human. But (and a big “but” at that), is what it says NOT to do: don’t take on more than one day’s troubles at a time. This is a big message for someone, like me, that is a huge planner; I like my ducks in a row, and need to know what is going to happen to settle into my day with some ease. This is a big “one day at a time” passage. It says: just take one day at a time. 

Jesus is addressing the worry that is unproductive and can even keep us from fulfilling the purposes to which God calls us everyday. By worrying we just get in the way. So basically, “If you don’t sleep today. You don’t sleep today.” I’ll wait and see what happens tomorrow. I will work on not taking on tomorrow’s uncertainty. Perhaps, ask Jesus to be my next sleep specialist. 

The Camden Promise: Weekly Food shelf Schedule

Food Giveaway Schedule into 2022:
The Camden Promise Food Shelf feeds boxes of food to community families 6 days a week at noon: Monday through Saturday.

All are welcome!
Gospel Reading: Genesis 3:14-19
14 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.

15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

16 To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.

18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.

19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; or dust you are and to dust you will return.”
Sermon Notes: Our Life Is Like A Cigar
Pastor Jeff’s post sabbatical sermon on 3/6/22:

We are now in the season of Lent. According to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Lent is a solemn religious observance in the church that commemorates the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before beginning his public ministry. During this time, Jesus endured temptation by the serpent, overcame it, and was able to spread the good news of God’s love to all people. As we observe this church season of Lent, I reflect on a moment from all my years of travels. Something that I learned which has stuck with me to this very day. 

Years ago, when I was in Cuba, I was walking along the streets of Havana; taking in all the beautiful sights and smells and culture. Something that stuck out to me on one street was a Tobacco shop. One terrible vice of mine, that I have picked up over the years, is the smoking of Cigars. This particular shop sold some of the best. Right outside the shop, a black man was inhaling and enjoying the cigar which he had lit up. 

I walked over to him and asked in my best Spanish, “Hello, how are you?” 

With hesitance, we looked up at me and said, “I’m in the middle of my cigar.” 

“I am terribly sorry,” I replied. I had not meant to interrupt or offend him.

However, instead of disregarding me, the man showed me his cigar and repeated what he said, “I am in the middle of my cigar.” 

He continued on with an analogy: A man’s life is like a cigar; it looks so good and has so much to it at the beginning. It is handmade, beautifully. It is taken care of and made to perfection. When you snip the end and light it up, and take that first puff, there is so much potential for what it could be. At the beginning, you know you have so much potential to experience, and you feel as if you have all the time in the world. In the beginning of the cigar, you smoke it and it tastes great and feels good. It reflects the life of a young man. Then, you find the sweet spot about a quarter to a half of the way through. In life, this is the time when you know who you are, you are happy with what the day brings, and with the fullness with which life surrounds you. 

So, as the man took in another puff he said, “When I tell you I am in the middle of my cigar, I am saying my life it good.” 

The man kept going and said, ”Once you get past the sweet spot, the cigar starts to heat up and it puffs faster and faster. It then eventually gets smaller and smaller to the point that is it too hot to handle. Eventually you drop it in the ash tray and the the lifespan of the cigar ends. From dust we begin and dust we return.” 

I learned a lot from that man. All of it wonderful, but some of it very hard. One of the lessons I learned is: life is short and you should enjoy all of it. We regret the most what we would have liked to have done but never did. What I also learned that day is that all of our projects and hopes and plans and how life is exciting can all go away. Life is short, and just like the moment we all come in and out of the world, so do all the things we make for ourselves. Our big plans fade, our projects come to an end, and all the things we hope to leave as a legacy eventually fade and turn to dust—just as we do. 

The final thing I learned, and probably the hardest part of the this lesson, is that all that we love will go away. Those who we have taken care of will go away and all those we do love will go away. When our memories go, so will the memories of that which we care about—and no one will know them. Children go, parents go, loved ones will go. We all rise up and we fade and the only thing that lasts forever is the word of God. 

During this time of Lent, I am mindful of Jesus, and his coming into the world. Jesus did not come into the world with a sense of legacy or history. He was not a son of a king; but born as a result of a miracle and a miraculous conception. Jesus did amazing work, spreading God’s word and providing one of the most important gifts given to us by God: eternal life. 

Some of us hang onto that beginning part of the cigar, we live it up, don’t care about anyone or anything—when it is done it is done; the end is when we burn out. Yet, this is not the way in which we should cherish this gift of life. 

So, how might we best use our life? 

The answer is in the resurrection of new life and the promise of eternal life in Jesus. When we see the love of God, we know that God will give us a second life, even when we will lose everything. In Jesus, we have good news and means to live out a life, both on earth and after, of purpose, enjoyments and love. As our individual cigars burns out, and we live our lives, remember that God is eternal. The everlasting love we receive from Him is eternal, and a relationship with our Savior is eternal…even when this world is not. 

The Prayer Corner
A Prayer During Lent
Lord and Savior, You invite us deeper into your world, your people, your Lent. May this time be one of outward focus; seeking you in those we often ignore. Help us live a Lent focused on freedom, generosity, and encounter.

Sunday Worship
Please join us every Sunday for our Virtual Zoom Worship Service. Online "fellowship starts at 10:00 am and Worship Service Starts at 10:30 am.
Gethsemane Lutheran
Building Hope Together
4656 Colfax Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN 55412