Immanuel Lutheran Church


3000 West Main Street

Kalamazoo, MI 49006

(269) 345-8090

Missouri Synod

There are certain expectations of piety regarding preachers in Protestant tradition. More than once I have shaken hands with a man who has looked at me in surprise. “Your hands are rough like someone who works for a living!” Usually followed by a nervous smile in the realization that somehow it has been implied that I don’t work for a living. I let it go and explain that I have a house, five children who drive and a small fleet of mostly old vehicles that I maintain. The common expectation of my life is one of sitting at a desk and reading (which I also do.) Modern technologies give me a freedom of space that my predecessors would not have.

The common joke of the “job requirement” of a pastor is to be available at all times in the office for folks who want to stop by, and be studying and writing sermons for Sunday at the same time, while praying for his congregation, while also visiting his shut-ins while also doing the work of evangelism in the community. Oh, and raising those five chi...

Lent is a time of Preparation 

1. Concerning baptism, baptise thus: Having first rehearsed all these things, "Baptise, in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost in running water; 

2. But if thou hast no running water, baptise in other water, and if thou canst not in cold, then in warm. 

3. But if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head "in the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost." 

4. And before the baptism let the baptiser and him who is to be baptised fast, and any others who are able. And thou shalt bid him who is to be baptised to fast one or two days before. (Part VII of the Didache, circa the First Century.)

I laughed when I read the part about baptizing in warm water if you don’t have cold water! At Immanuel, we make an effort to pour hot water into the “ewer” from which I will pour water into the Baptismal Font. We do this because the Rite of Holy Baptism comes before the Prayer of the Church which means the water is going to cool...

November 29, 2018

A Foretaste of the Feast to Come

If you asked me what my favorite ministry is I would be tempted to answer as any parent would if asked which child was his favorite child. “They all are!” This is the best and safest answer. But I can answer that, although I enjoy all of my ministry opportunities, I do have a favorite.

My favorite is the monthly chapel service at Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital. This ministry is unique in that none of the participants are my members. I don’t have to be there, and they don’t have to attend. There is no collection plate and no budget. They call me pastor as a courtesy and I consider them my flock purely out of affection. I never know who will attend or how I will be received. Some days are a pure joy, such as when the patient choir sings. Other days are more like being a substitute teacher for a bunch of seventh graders on the day before the end of school. I consider it pure ministry.

One of the joys of following Jesus is the happy result of the illogical ins...

I made my first Thanksgiving Dinner when I was 20. My family usually went out for a nice Thanksgiving Dinner meal. I really don’t remember the kind of places we would go, except that my dad would look for a pile of cars in a parking lot of restaurant about dinner time. A crude and pre-technology kind of YELP! approach; the logic was that if there were a lot of cars the restaurant was both open and probably good. My dad was just as likely to want a good Chinese dinner as the classic turkey and stuffing so the type of dinner varied from year to year. He always wanted to make it a nice “Sunday afternoon drive” kind of wandering up to a couple of hours away.

The reason to go out was simple. After my mom’s car accident (when I was 12) she had a difficult time cooking. Standing up for any amount of time was impossible for her. We didn’t have any family within a 12-hour drive and no habit of visiting for holidays with anyone, family or friends. Taking a road trip at Thanksgiving became our ann...

Life in the Fast Lane…

“Voices surround us, always telling us to move faster. It may be our boss, our pastor, our parents, our wives, our husbands, our politicians, or, sadly, even ourselves. So we comply. We increase the speed. We live life in the fast lane because we have no slow lanes anymore. Every lane is fast, and the only comfort our culture can offer is more lanes and increased speed limits. The result? Too many of us are running as fast as we can, and an alarming number of us are running much faster than we can sustain.” 

― Michael Yaconelli

Life in the fast lane, Surely makes you lose your mind

Life in the fast lane, huh

Life in the fast lane, Everything all the time

Life in the fast lane,

— The Eagles

I am going to give you the answer to one of my “security questions.” To recover a lost or forgotten password or to log in from a new computer, some web sites ask you to answer  a question from a selection of standard questions. I avoid using my mother’s maiden name because the “O’ “ ca...

The name of the nurse who took my blood pressure was Michelle. I don’t know how old she was exactly, but I think she was a pre-teen when Friends was a top-rated TV show. She was very accomplished at having the right balance of concern and skill levels for an emergency room. She was very reassuring. Apparently there were two nurses named Michelle, so each had a nickname. Her’s was Bambi. I did not ask if the other’s was Thumper. I spent about 5 1/2 hours in one of her rooms, waiting for my blood pressure to come down to something like normal. The 20 minutes of 104 degree hot water in the Hot Springs of Thermopolis, Wyoming, had caused my blood pressure to rise enough to make me feel dizzy. 

They had good WIFI, which I quickly connected to. You do have to be careful when looking at health websites such as WebMD, etc. Like reading the warning label on a bottle of Aspirin, a quick read of any given malady would convince you that you are dying, if not now, then very soon. I started to resear...

Journey (a definition): something suggesting travel or passage from one place to another. “The journey from youth to maturity…” “A journey through time…”

When Latin developed into French, diurnus became a noun, jour, meaning simply “day”.  The medieval French derivative journée meant either “day” or “something done during the day,” such as work or travel. Middle English borrowed journée as journey in both senses, but only the sense “a day’s travel” survived into modern usage.

In modern English, journey now refers to a trip without regard to the amount of time it takes. (Merriam-Webster)

I don’t think you need a dictionary to get the sense that a there is a difference between traveling and journeying.

During the summer between kindergarten and first grade, my mother and I took a train from Pontiac, Michigan to St. Joseph, Missouri to visit my maternal grandmother. Being so young, I had no sense of the nature or scale of the experience. I was just sitting on the train looking outside the win...

After Sunday evening service, the week in May when we had introduced the orientation to 42 Seconds, the Jesus Model for Everyday Interactions, I walked out of the kitchen door to my car. Playing in the dandelions of the church’s back lot was a young child being carefully supervised by his grandmother. I thought I might try to have a polite and welcoming conversation over the joy the child had simply playing in a field of dandelions. I returned to our library and picked out a suitable children’s book to give as a gift.

I walked out doors and carefully, with a big smile, walked past my car toward the field and the boy. Without hesitation the grandmother scooped the boy up in her arms, turned her back to me and walked away determined to get away from me and out of that space as fast as she could. She never looked back.

I returned to my car, threw the book into the back seat and sat down in the front seat and searched my thoughts, my intentions, and my motives. It seemed a reasonable thing t...

For the month of May I am going to feature selected stories and instruction from Carl Medearis. (His brief biography is included at the end of this article.) I have used several of these stories in sermons and in various Bible studies. I thought that this month would be a good time to use his writing and experiences to emphasize the basic skills of talking to others about Jesus.

The premise of his writing is revealed in the name:  It’s the Art of “Not” Evangelism. In other words, we will learn how to talk about Jesus without making it a program or a project that is hard to hold onto or carry. Our discussions will not be freighted with activities or to-dos. I will expect to build in you a comfort and confidence that lets you be you and be Jesus to others.

The first clue is in the language of the first two paragraphs. Get used to talking about Jesus. We will not use the name “Christ” or the compound name “Jesus Christ.” Here is why. First, the compound name sounds like a first and last nam...

When it comes to memories, one must be careful not to mix events. It’s a very normal thing for our brains to link similar experiences and in the process “adjust” their time frames. The Apostle John had a very different sense of chronology than did Luke, for example. This is why the Gospel of John reads so differently from the “synoptic” Gospels. The traditional symbol of John is the Eagle because of the way his narrative of Christ soars. In telling his story John cares much more about proclaiming who Christ is than getting his timeline correct— which is why it works so well!

I wasn’t raised in a church-going family. Easter for me was a second Christmas of candy and gifts and tv specials. The difference was only in scale and relatively better weather. When I think back I associate spring and Easter with a special annual presentation of the Wizard of Oz. My strongest, earliest memory of watching the movie was while hiding under the couch, afraid that flying monkeys were going to come and...

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