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! There is Still Time!
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 121:1-8
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
    where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,
    the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—
    he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel
    will neither slumber nor sleep.'

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—
    he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going
    both now and forevermore.

Writer's Corner: A Piece of Paper
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)

One summer day when I was a young girl, I attended a friend’s bible camp. I’d never been to any church camp before, I was just visiting, and I was fairly shy. But when I think back, a few pictures come into my mind and I remember feeling both anxious and excited. There were lots of kids and young adults in a big outdoor space; all the children were lined up in front of a different teen counselor, holding narrow pieces of paper —their eyes looking at them, their lips moving—or they had their piece of paper tucked behind their back and they were reciting, by memory, something to their leader. Supposedly, it was a line of scripture, and my friend said that they did this each day of camp, the very first thing, and if they did well they got a prize (a gold star, a cookie?). I don’t remember much else about that day—although I’m sure from my knowledge of Bible Camps now, there were other things that happened like fun songs, games, and art projects. And I don’t know exactly how old I was at the time (surely old enough to read), but I do know that everyone was excited to talk about Jesus—and of course motivated to get their special prize.

The sound of the children’s voices mumbling their words over and over again, trying to perfect them, is something else I remember. Many passages of the Bible recited at the same time—some in loud, assertive voices and others whispered under their breath. And I remember staring at my own long strip of paper, holding it in my fingers stretched out, the typed words in two rows—but I cannot see exactly what the words say. Still, I remember standing in the line, the worry in my heart that I might forget my words, and wondering why Bible Camp was so stressful, yet everyone was smiling. I remember not even knowing what my verse really meant or why it was important to know it; but that it spoke of God and all the kids around me seemed to know what they were saying, got their prize in the end, and it was obvious how important Jesus was to everyone there.

My entire life, each time I read a passage of scripture that triggered this memory, I wondered if it that was the one from my piece of paper; if it was one the I had tried to memorize and forgot. And I wonder why this childhood memory still holds such importance to me— enough to stay locked in my mind and sneak its way back from time to time, but without the actual words on the paper clear enough to read in my mind. And I wonder if I ever memorized the piece of paper that day, or recited it correctly, or even got my prize. Even bigger: could it be the anxiety of that day trickled into my anxiety of never being able to ever memorize scripture correctly, quote it, or even find it when needed? Possibly. But I’m sure there is more to this story.

When I came across the passage in Revelations today (God telling us who God is), I once again thought perhaps this was the scripture on my childhood piece of paper. After all, I have always loved this passage. It has a very important message. Could that mean something? Of course, over the years, other scriptures have also triggered my childhood memory of standing in line—so many in John, in Acts, in Genesis. Perhaps, it was the hearing of so many different passages, that day long ago, from the mouths of young friends all at the same time (all the various scripture stuck in my head) that makes me think that perhaps each one was my passage to recite. Who knows. But I do know myself well enough to realize that if this passage in Revelations was indeed my recitation passage, that I would not have been familiar yet with the meaning of Alpha, or Omega— I would not have learned this yet—but I would have certainly known that God was the Almighty. And perhaps because I was too young to know the letters of the Greek alphabet, even what they looked like, that one letter was the first and one was the last, or understood that this passage meant that Jesus was the beginning and the end of all things—and everything in between— that maybe this could have been my passage and I just didn’t understand what it meant, so I forgot.

Does any of this matter?

I believe it does, at least for me. Because it means that one of my very first memories as a young Christian is one where I was worried that I needed to prove that I was a Christian to everyone by memorizing something that I later forgot. That I thought that the most important outcome of knowing sentences that talked about God is the gold star or the cookie I might get from it. An earthly reward. That because years later I cannot for the life of me remember what was on my piece of paper, this still haunts me. And I continue to ask myself why this all matters, when by now I’ve learned that the rewards I have received from knowing Jesus are not earthly, they are heavenly and eternal.

As a baby Christian I didn’t understand enough about who God was in Jesus to have the words on a tiny piece of paper make it into my memory. And that is okay. That as an adult Christian I can still sometimes judge myself for not remembering scripture now. How easy it is for us to stand in line fretting over things that God might want us remember, put into action in our lives, the ones that might bring us peace, understanding, wisdom, and yet we might still fail. But really the fact that the piece of paper can be any scripture that I come across (today being the one about God’s infinite existence in the world), it leads me to believe that the moral of my memory is that God will fill in the words of wisdom—that passage on the piece of paper—to be what I need in the moment. God will even forgive me if I happen to forget something. God will continue to find ways to remind me of what is important to know. God died and rose again. God suffered on the cross and concurred death. We have eternal life in Jesus. That because I stood in line that day, and tried, even when I didn’t completely understand why, that a door was opened. And for most of my lifetime, God has been writing on that little piece of paper in my memory everything I needed to know. And today it is for me to remember that God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, and everything in between. God is, was, and is to come. God is Almighty.

So what is on your little piece of paper from God today? What does God what you to know? Open your Bible and see.


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 24:36-53
36 While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”

37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 

38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 

39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”

40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 

41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 

42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 

43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

44 He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 

46 He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 

47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 

48 You are witnesses of these things. 

49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

50 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. 

51 While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. 

52 Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.

53 And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
Sermon Notes - The Empty Tomb: Jesus Defied Expectations
This week, I want tell you a story about a conversation that I over heard while on my travels in Latin America. It’s about a family.
The mother had wanted to go see Jerusalem, the place where Jesus lived. The husband agreed that he would take his wife to Jerusalem. However, the kids, when they heard this, asked their parents why mom wanted to go to Jerusalem. The father replied, “..because mom wants to see the sites, and you know, Jesus.” Confused, the kids responded, “Dad, why would mom want to see Jesus, He is not there.”

This story, especially during this time of Easter, is both funny as well as helpful to reflect on. In the book of Luke, we read that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. Jesus gave His life on the cross, was placed in the tomb. After a couple days, Jesus’s body was no longer there; no one could believe it.

In this way, Jesus defied expectations. Leading up to the day of His resurrection, Jesus was put in front of many of the things we, as followers, would have expected Jesus to confront and overcome. A week earlier, Jesus was paraded into Jerusalem. People laid out coats so that Jesus could walk across them. People were completely convinced that Jesus was going to make His way into Jerusalem and would relinquish the grasp of the government on the Jewish people. Yet, when everyone expected Him to do, He didn’t.
When Jesus was put in front of Pontius Pilate, and tried as a criminal, everyone expected that He would say things that were reflective or speak of His status as the Son of God and to use his power to save himself; just provide a small miracle. Everyone just wanted to get a glimpse of what Jesus is about. When they looked into the same authority of who Jesus was in accordance with what was expected, He was not there.
On that terrible Friday, called Good Friday, Jesus was on the cross with two criminals on both side of Him. He could have gotten off of that cross, and could have saved himself from being hung and let the world know who He was. He could have shown them the power of Jesus, of God; but when that moment came and went, He was not there in that way.

Three days later, Jesus goes missing, and everyone looks for Him because Jesus’s body was not in the tomb. When faced with this truth, the disciples dismissed his disappearance because there could be no way that Jesus was not there. In the disciples’ opinion, Jesus needed to be where He was expected to be.

We, as people, have preferences in who we want others to be within relationship to what we want. We expect others to act and be where we think they “should” be. When Jesus came to Jerusalem, everyone went from screaming “Hosanna!” —and laying palm branches for Him to step on—to crucifying Him. When Jesus did not show He was the one in charge or and didn’t change the political landscape in the region, everyone walked away and abandoned Him. However, when Jesus rose from the dead, and was no longer in the tomb, something changed. It wasn’t that the fact that Jesus was alive that changed the world, it was all of those things that everyone thought Jesus was that had turned out not to be the case at all; in that, the truth and the true change was realized.

Specifically in the Luke texts we have been reading, the desire for Jesus to be a political visionary was what the people wanted from Him. Even in today’s age, we seek answers from Jesus in a way that best fits what we think should be the case. The answer to social change is not to find a personal savior, or overturn the government, the answer to that kind of change only comes from a God that loves us and is not where we expect Him to be. The answer, in God’s world, to pain and sin is forgiveness and healing. The answer in God’s world to terrible injustice is in humility and sacrifice; in solidarity. In God’s world, there is only forgiveness, love. In His world, forgiveness wins. Love wins. Jesus is not in spaces that we decide He should be in. The miracle of Easter morning is that Jesus got up out of the tomb and forced us to leave who we think we need God to be, behind. In the resurrection, we find a call to follow the God who is, and is for us. We are called to walk as people of peace and to live out our daily lives as we do God’s work. Let us give thanks for the sacrifice of the Son of God, and may we remember that God is with us, always.

Praise God! He has risen. He has risen, indeed! Hallelujah!

Pastor Jeff 

The Prayer Corner
A Prayer of Empathy
Dear Lord, may we come to recognize our own vulnerability and our longing to be healed. As we encounter our own pain, let it deepen in us a capacity to feel for others. Enlarge our souls, expand our minds, and soften our hearts towards all who suffer. In your precious name, we pray.

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