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!
Weekly Update: Share Your Story With Sam!
Do you have a story you want to share with our community that you think will be inspiring for others? Well I’m here to help you share it! With your story, we will be able to spread the goodness of our community members in our church by highlighting it on our social media pages and weekly newsletter so that anyone and everyone can see!

If you would like to be interviewed by me, I can be reached by...

Email ( or
Phone (609-431-1369)

Consider contributing today!  
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
Bible Reading: Psalm 122:1-9
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
    “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Our feet are standing
    in your gates, Jerusalem.

Jerusalem is built like a city
    that is closely compacted together.

That is where the tribes go up—
    the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
    according to the statute given to Israel.

There stand the thrones for judgment,
    the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you be secure.

May there be peace within your walls
    and security within your citadels.”

For the sake of my family and friends,
    I will say, “Peace be within you.”

For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
    I will seek your prosperity.

Writer's Corner: Tears and Joy
Psalm 126: 1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. 2 Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” 3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. 4 Restore our fortunes,LORD, like streams in the Negev. 5 Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. 6 Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.

It is hard not to read this psalm and wonder about the balance of tears and joy in the world right now. To think of all those who are weeping with sorrow, maybe actively trying to do God’s work, serving others, fighting for their beliefs and wondering when their joy will return, miracles to happen; God’s face to be revealed to them. Those dreaming of the end of war, the end of suffering, the end of tears. Those working in compassion to help those that have a lack food, lack shelter, lack any kind of stability, maybe even a lack hope. The many prayers beseeched for God to restore the fortune of His people that are in dire need right now.
The newspapers, TV, news apps, and social media these days are not often filled with much happy news (or at least as much as we’d like); there is so much that is serious about what is going on in the world and here at home. It can be hard to see how God is working in the most difficult of times. A Facebook post on a cute puppy or a beautiful sunset, a new baby or a piece of scripture do help, and whenever I come across one I am thankful to the person who took the time to spread a bit of joy around.

Personally, I find it disheartening to turn on the news, especially at night; it is not the best time of day to hear about the pain of crowds of displaced refugees, the heartache of those losing loved ones and homes because of war, burying bodies in mass graves, giving birth in basements under bombed buildings. Even the worry about future economic situations that might cause more food shortages and prices of everything to rise so that soon many more will be unable to afford basic needs. So for anxiety reasons, I’ve given up watching the news before bed. Instead, I’ve been listening to George Winston’s Winter Into Spring piano album as I anxiously await the warmer sun and final melt of snow. Yes, maybe I might watch the news at noon, now and again, with my favorite married network commentators, and catch just the basic snippets of what I need to know. I can handle half an hour increments. But at night, before sleep, I like to focus on the hope of the coming new growth of God’s creation in all its lush glory and prayers for a better tomorrow.

The other day—when the weather was especially gloomy (Spring really is having a hard time arriving), my noon news brought another bout of sadness, and Sarah and I were feeling extra down—I asked our Alexa to: “play music from the Mama Mia Movie Soundtrack” (my daughter’s very favorite). Good thing Alexa knew exactly the music we were looking for—not the ABBA version, but that of Meryl Streep—and seemed (in her computer voice) to be as pleased (if Alexa can be pleased) to play it for us as we were to hear it. It had been awhile since we had twirled and “jived” to Dancing Queen. The minute the song came on, with its fast tempo and upbeat lyrics, Sarah started to smile a mischievous smile as if to say “here we go, mom!”.

I followed her lead and our elbows started moving and grooving, and our toes tapping. Pretty soon we were pointing at each other and laughing. Amidst the seriousness and darkness of
the day, we managed to find joy. Or really, God filled us with joy and we accepted it. And this joy was much needed for both of us.

You see, Sarah has been struggling with a neurodegenerative slowing down of her body since well before Covid. Doctors aren’t quite sure what to do about it. Some days are pretty tough and she doesn’t want to do much, it is hard to get her to move, walk down the stairs, much less dance. Some days I find myself in tears, worrying about her, missing how active she used to be. Other days, we put on her favorite tunes and dance and laugh and forget, for a few moments, what all is on our plate right now. These moments are blessed respites. And this is when I remember how good God is. These moments remind me of the great things the Lord has done for us. The Lord has given us the ability to put on music and dance. The ability to choose and accept joy during sorrow. Yes, we have tears and yes, we have joy. The two are not exclusive from one another.

Life is definitely a struggle. God never promised it would be easy. Sometimes we dream of better days, or for the days we used to have, to return. Sometimes we wish we’d wake up to find the nightmare we might have been experiencing is really not our reality. Or we might fear our dreams of better days may never come true. Sometimes we might feel like our sorrows will swallow us.

But here is the good news: Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. God will restore us, the streams of His love and grace will overflow. This is God’s promise. So when we plug through difficult days or find ourselves suffering, weeping through the work of living in compassion and care of others, crying because life just isn’t seeming fair, we must remember there is always the choice to look for joy. To dream of joy. To believe in joy. To accept joy. Instead of (or in addition to) asking Alexa to turn on your favorite song, you can ask God to fill you with His measure of joy, even just for a moment. And my guess is, as the lyrics of Sarah’s favorite song say, even in times of tears still “you can dance, you can jive,” praising God for the good things that He has done for us. To move from tears to joy; or even move in tears of joy. 

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: Luke 15:11-31
11 Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. 

12 The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

13 “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. 

14 After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. 

15 So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. 

16 He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

17 “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 

18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.

19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ 

20 So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

21 “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 

23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 

24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.

25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 

26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 

27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 

29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 

30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 

32 But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
Sermon Notes: In the Lord's Arms All Are Welcome
Now is the time to repent, to turn around and for those who are lost to be found. 

I am going to tell you a story about a little girl that lived across the street from the church. She was involved with the foodshelf, youth group, and would be at service almost every Sunday. But she would steal; many times. She would also get caught and without a second thought would say she is sorry. This, however would happen many times. She took paper, eye glasses, a bag, and one day took someones cellphone. After she had taken the cell phone, I pulled her aside. “You cannot do that type of thing”, I told her. She would respond by saying she was sorry. After looking at her and hearing those words, I told her, “I am going to tell you about what sorry really means.” 

I take this plate that is sitting on the counter and I show it to her. “Imagine this plate is something important,” I tell her as she looks at the clean and shiny new plate. Suddenly, I drop the plate and It breaks, shattering all across the floor. I tell her, “when you do something wrong, the plate breaks, and you may say sorry, but the plate is still broken. How will saying sorry change what happed to the plate?” 

A week later she comes back to my office, and in her hands she gives me the broken plate which she had glued back together. She gives it to me and says, “I am sorry”. She says that she feels like this plate; “I am not good enough, permanently damaged - you can try putting me back together, but I will always look like this.”

One day, during the after service kids program, the same little girl is playing with her friends. In walks her mother, and with rage in her eyes, walks up to her daughter and back hands her with her right hand. The mom looks at her daughter and says, “you had no right to eat the food in the refrigerator.” And she left. In those little girl’s eyes, I could see the feeling of a brokenness. I could see a reflection of that plate that was so broken that there was no “sorry” that would make it whole again.

In Luke 15, this story is important because it is not just a story about the younger son, but a story about God, broken people, older more righteous people, and us. It is a story about God because God does amazing things in this parable. The son spends all the half if his inheritance he was given had and spends it like crazy. When he finally has nothing, he doesn’t have the heart to ask to be taken back. 

Sometimes the pride we have outweighs the shame we feel; if we do not do something in moments that are very low, we lose our way. Something happens to us as we drift away from God. When we take what God gives us and we squander it on things we have no business to squander it on, we lose our way. Even worse than that, we do not have the courage to ask God to help us find our way once we are lost. 

In Luke 15, before the son gets to the father, the father sings praises to his son’s return. The father had nothing but love for his broken son. This is how God treats all of His children. There is nothing that we have to do when we come back having repented for the stupid things we have. God will put a cloak on our body and throw us a party when we are lost and found again. That is the type of God that we have! 

It was not long until that little girl, now a young woman, was caught by the police for stealing cellphones. She was convicted and is now in a women’s jail. I imagine the challenges that are ahead for her. I remember her when she made the plate and how broken she felt. When your liberties are taken from you and you are forced to live out a sentence for the mistakes you have made, you can feel your most broken. 

It does not matter what you have done or how bad it is, God will forgive you. He will love you. It does not matter where you are, you can still come back to the love of God. This is the story of who God is for us. He will not let us forget that when we feel broken like, that plate, or the prodigal son, that we can run to the arms of the Lord. We are always welcome into the arms of our Lord.


-Pastor Jeff
The Prayer Corner
A Prayer For Humility
God, I am far too often influenced by what others think of me. I am always pretending to be either richer or smarter or nicer than I really am. Please prevent me from trying to attract attention. Don't let me gloat over praise on one hand or be discouraged by criticism on the other.

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