come and see: following in the footsteps of MLK

• January 15th, 2017

On the anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth, Pastoral Intern Allison Bengfort challenges us to follow in his footsteps as advocates for change.  Remembering the Charleston church shooting and Dylann Roof's connection to the ELCA, we cannot ignore the reality that racism is still alive in our culture and in our denomination.  While we may feel overwhelmed by the task of dysmantling the complex system of racism, Jesus offers us a path forward (John 1:29-42).  His invitation to "come and see" encourages us to step into the flow of the Holy Spirit by taking action and being open to change.  Through abiding in God and in one another, we join in a community of resistance.

 

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resilience and belovedness: the baptism of jesus

• January 8th, 2017

In today's gospel reading (Matthew 3:13-17) we hear the story of a great epiphany when Jesus-the-Beloved is proclaimed servant of God who will bring forth justice and be a light to the nations. Pr Joanne invites us to consider how we also are sent into a world as followers of a humble way, tending the needs of neighbors near and far.

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christmas eve

• December 24th, 2016

Gathered to sing carols, we stir-up new hope at Christmas because Light shines in the darkness. And we rejoice that Light has not been, and will not be, overcome.  Tonight, Pr Joanne Engquist invites us to think of the angelic song "Gloria in excelsis deo" and to consider the ways we are called to glorify God who is not only in the heavens, but here among us, God-with-us.

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Mothers of God

• December 18th, 2016
In a tradition whose central figure is male, it is crucial to lift up the female figures who also model our Christian vocation.  Today, we remember Mary and Elizabeth, who proclaim their joy in songs of praise to God (Luke 1:39-55).  Pastoral Intern Allison reflects on the difficulties of being a woman in our culture and demonstrates how like Mary, we are called to be mothers of God, giving birth to God's love and life in the world.  
 
In honor of her Catholic background, Allison offers a modified "Hail Mary," directed at the people of the church:
 
"Hail people of Gethsemane, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among humanity, and blessed is the fruit of your lives, which is Love.  Holy people, mothers ofGod, act on behalf of this broken world, now and in the darkest hours.  Amen." 
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Prepare the Way

• December 4th, 2016

PREPARE THE WAY is a cantata by Bruce Brolsma that beautifully presents words of Isaiah 40:1-11. Members and friends of Gethsemane Lutheran Church (Seattle) presented this in worship on Sunday, December 4. The cantata was commissioned by University Lutheran Church (Cambridge, MA) in honor of the 60th ordination anniversary of Bishop Krister Stendahl. The cantata will be reprised at Horizon House (900 University Street, Seattle) at 2:30pm on Sunday, December 11. All are welcome to the performance which will be followed by caroling and cookies.

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an axe at the root of the tree

• November 27th, 2016

As Sundays and Seasons puts it, "At the heart of our Advent preparation stands John the Baptist, who calls us to repent and make a new beginning." Pr Joanne reflects today on how this is a call for communal change, not so much a measure of individual piety. Together we, too, prepare the way of the Lord as we seek to know ourselves connected to one another and charged to care for all. Read the text at Matthew 3:1-12. Use your voice and actions to make known the gentle, inclusive dominion of heaven come near.

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no fear?

• November 20th, 2016

Gethsemane Lutheran Church welcomes Pastor Mary Lindberg to its pulpit!  Pastor Lindberg calls our attention to one of scripture's most repeated exhortations, "Be not afraid," and she demonstrates how today's readings (Jeremiah 23:1-6Luke 23:33-43) help us to do exactly that.  

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the already & not yet of advent

• November 13th, 2016

In the wake of a divisive election that has resulted in widespread fear and increased violence, Pastoral Intern Allison Bengfort explores how we can live in a world in which the kingdom of God has not yet been fully realized.   Like many of us this week, the disciples in the gospel reading (Luke 21:5-19) are confronted with a reality that elicits uncertainty, pain, and fear for their lives.  In her homily, Intern Allison unpacks Jesus' two-fold message of comfort and encouragement, reminding us that God has not abandoned us and that we must endure in bearing the name of the poor.

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living as the saints we are

• November 6th, 2016

The beatitudes in Luke (6:20-31) strike many people as way too "in your face" to confer blessing to listeners. Add to that the "woes" that come right afterward and more than a few of us want to run in the other direction. But Pr Joanne asks us to listen more deeply, and to hear in the "woes" not a threat or judgment so much as a wake up call. These textual interjections invite us, she says, to pay attention to what comes next: a message for us all when Jesus urges that we love enemies, do good, bless, pray, and give. He went on to put it another way: Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Nobody said it would be easy. Or that we'd perfect our efforts. But everything points to us taking this as a watchword for living. Not least in these final days before the election. So, let's give it a try. Love enemies, do good, bless, pray, and give. Or, as Jan Richardson puts it, let's live "in love that illumines every broken thing it finds." 
  

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reformation sunday: listening for a living word

• October 30th, 2016

Pr Joanne Engquist reflects on living history, including the ongoing reform of the church. 499 years after Luther's  action sparked the Protestant Reformation (read more about that here), history is being made on 10/31/16 in Sweden as Lutherans and Catholics gather for prayer in Lund and Malmo (click on the names of each city for a recording of each event).

In her homily, Pr Joanne returns us to Luther's insight that God's Word is a living address that comes to us ever-new and ever-renewing. As the ancient prophet had promised, the new covenant with God will be written on the hearts of God's people, communicating connection and love and forgiveness. This word frees us from all that binds us, and continually names us God's own. In that freedom, we may respond to the cries and needs of our neighbors.

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