Immanuel Lutheran Church

 

3000 West Main Street

Kalamazoo, MI 49006

(269) 345-8090

THE
LUTHERAN CHURCH
Missouri Synod

April 30, 2019

May 2019 Pastor’s Newsletter

There is a new Pew Research Report (January 31, 2019) on the relationship of religion to health, happiness and civic engagement around the world.

The summary may or not be surprising to you. Religious people, who attend church regularly, are measurably healthier, happier and engaged in civic actions!

While believers can rely on God to help manage their suffering and endure hardship whether active members of congregations or not, those who regularly attend services have the added support of social connections. Earlier research, Pew pointed out, indicates that friendship is a key factor.

“Those who frequently attend a house of worship may have more people they can rely on for information and help during both good and bad times,” the report said, citing scholars Chaeyoon Lim of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Robert Putnam of Harvard University. “Indeed, a range of social scientific research corroborates the idea that social support is pivotal to othe...

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...

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...

He grew up in his presence like a young tree,

     like a root out of dry ground.

He had no form or majesty that would make us look at

     him.

He had nothing in his appearance that would make us

     desire him.

He was despised and rejected by people.

He was a man of sorrows, familiar with suffering.

He was despised like one from whom people turn    

     their faces,

         and we didn’t consider him to be worth anything.

He certainly has taken upon himself our suffering

    and carried our sorrows,

        but we thought that God had wounded him,

            beat him, and punished him.

He was wounded for our rebellious acts.

        

He was crushed for our sins.

He was punished so that we could have peace,

       and we received healing from his wo...

February 28, 2018

Trope: on the interwebs really refers to an often overused plot device. It can also be described as another variation on the same theme. TV shows, movies, comics, games, anime', & books are full of tropes & many rabid fan-sites now name and track said tropes with a self-explanatory title for each one.

An example: in several James Bond movies, Bond has some sort of cat and mouse chase set in a Mardi Gras parade. This allows for a colorful and exciting chase with upbeat dance music and colorful (and minimally dressed) dancers.

Actually, there are several famous trope-parades used in movies. One of the most obscure parades is the Von Steuben Day parade in Chicago featured in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Also in Chicago, The Fugitive used the St. Patrick’s Day parade. There are many more but I think Mardi Gras is the most and best used.

(If you are ready, the Mardi Gras parade season kicks in Saturday, January the 27th and continues until Fat Tuesday on February 13th.)

My favorite parade is f...

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29)

Except for one reason, I pretty much can’t stand the ads that now intersperse every other post in Facebook. The one type of ad/post that does capture my attention is the link to history items. The “hook” is always a list like, “10 significant moments when...” or “8 Things Your Teacher Never Taught You…” Once you start with the number one link, they have your curiosity until you get to the tenth link (or however many links you can stand!)

The other day, I got hooked on a link about Constantinople and the church of Hagia Sophia (Holy Wisdom.) 

It was the Imperial “Cathedral” church of the Eastern Roman or Byzantine Empire.

It was built in 532 by the Emperor Justinian I and for nearly a thousand years it was the largest church in Christendom. Today it is considered a museum but has limited use as a mosque.

The Orthodox Church has been arguing t...

December 29, 2017

My mother told me a story once to explain the difference between a house and a home. She was taking a nursing class to be certified to work at Pontiac State Hospital. The instructor passed out paper and rulers and protractors and pencils and asked the class to draw a home— they had a half an hour.  She looked around her and saw fellow students busily “architecting” their dream houses. She felt quite intimidated as beautifully shaped designs appeared on paper with drawing skills that she did not have. She thought the assignment through— what did a home look like? Leaving the hardware aside, she drew a rectangular house with a free hand. And then she added a chimney. She put puffs of smoke coming out of the chimney. Then she drew a crude picket fence to make a yard and put a dog and a couple of cats inside it. She added trees and shrubs. Then, unable to draw people, she stuck a couple of out of proportion faces inside a front window smiling at each other. When the work was handed in it w...

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