Immanuel Lutheran Church


3000 West Main Street

Kalamazoo, MI 49006

(269) 345-8090

Missouri Synod

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


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...

November 29, 2017

To say that the wind cut like a knife would not only be cliché but it would be inaccurate. The wind cut like the edge of a thousand razor blades. The fine dry ice crystals that pretended to be snow swept over the unsheltered flat cemetery ground with an unrelenting belligerent attitude. As if to prove to the human beings gathered in a huddle that this was their prairie and that we were gathered there without their permission. The raw temperature was near 10 degrees (-12C) but with the wind and ice coming out of the Kansas prairie on the strictly horizontal— the cold froze your eyes until you wept and then your tears froze on your cheeks. The casket of my maternal grandmother Goldie rested on the hoist above the grave with its soft pink metallic shine turning white as the ice formed on its edges.

My first memory of her was in mid-summer when the temperature was at least a hundred degrees the other direction. As a boy, the sunflowers on the side of the house seemed 10 feet tall. I would l...

“The Free Gift”

This October stands as the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation if one begins the Reformation movement with the publishing of the 95 Theses by Martin Luther. Two Reformation Events are available to our church. The first is a Reformation Celebration on behalf of the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod to be held on the campus of Michigan State University on Sunday, October 15th at 5:00 pm. The second is the Kalamazoo United commemoration of the Reformation to be held at Wings Stadium on October 29th at 4:00 pm. The Kalamazoo United event is a joint effort of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kalamazoo led by Bishop Paul Bradley and by Protestant churches led by Pastor Jeff Wenke of the Bridge. I attend to attend both events and have an active participant role in the Kalamazoo United event.

The “What”

The typical Reformation text to consider on Reformation Day is from Saint Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Chapter 3:

 We know that whatever the Scriptures say appli...

September 29, 2017

The Creative Number Three

Naoki Higashida is a “non-verbal Autistic.” He communicates by pointing to letters on a letter pad. He is also an author of two books; “The Reason I Jump” and “Fall Down 7 Times Get up 8.” I read an interview of him in Time Magazine (July 13, 2017.) His response to this question caused me to smile and propose an alternative answer. But first, the question and his answer:

What’s your favorite number?

I’ve never really thought about my favorite, but if pushed, my answer would be 3. The number 1 is the most important. It feels like proof that something is there. Then again, zero is the most amazing discovery. The concept of nothingness is proof of human civilization. After 1 comes 2 in order of importance. The number 2 lets us divide things and put numbers in order. These three numbers (0, 1 and 2) would have been sufficient. As a number, 3 is enchanting. It was created even though it wasn’t needed. Perhaps it was born out of creativity?” (Emphasis mine)

I absolutely...

July 1, 2017

Peace in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit to all.

“But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14 ESV).

Water is a precious, vital resource essential to life. Water to the body is as important as prayer is for the soul.

The earth is often called the water planet. The months of July and August are usually hot and water is very essential for our bodies to be healthy.  Let us focus on water and its uses.

Some facts about water are:

  • 97% of the water on earth is salt water.

  • The remaining 3% is in groundwater and locked up in the icecaps. 

  • North and Central America use 1,692 cubic meters per person per year,

  • Europe uses 726 cubic meters per person per year. 

  • Africa uses 244 cubic meters per person per year.

The human body on the average is 60% water in a male, 50% in a female and 75-80% in a newborn. 

A pe...

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