DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the self-replicating material present in nearly all living organisms as the main part of chromosomes. It is the carrier of genetic information, that is the fundamental characteristics or qualities of someone or something, particularly when viewed as unchangeable. DNA is also described less scientifically, as in “It’s in my DNA to…,” or “it’s just not in my DNA to…” sometimes spoken sarcastically, or even politely. When I say, “It’s in Immanuel’s DNA” I mean it as a compliment.
So, what is in Immanuel’s DNA? This living organism we call Immanuel Lutheran Church and School can trace its DNA back to the day in 1869 when eleven families gathered on the railroad platform in Palatine, Illinois to plan a Lutheran church in the area.  One week later, the congregation was formed. One year later, Immanuel’s people bought four acres of land for a church and cemetery. However, running short of funds (also in our DNA), some of the land was sold and a used church building on North Plum Grove road was bought. In the fall of 1870, just a year and a half after the church was formed, a schoolhouse was constructed, classes began and just a year later, five students graduated from eighth grade. By 1873 Immanuel had a full-time teacher on staff.
Within four years of that small group of families meeting on the train platform, a church is formed, a cemetery is opened and an elementary school begins. Each of these make up a distinct and yet unbreakable aspect of Immanuel’s DNA, our genetic code. Think of the way letters in the alphabet can be used to form a word. Similarly, the order in a DNA sequence forms (words) genes, which tells cells how to make proteins. DNA has information about our heritage.
For example, I have a rare kind of lymphoma because two of my gene sequences cause the B-cells of my immune system, a type of white blood cell, to occasionally grow and multiply uncontrollably. To be healthy, the DNA needs to be just right!
Immanuel’s DNA is strong. Pastor Warren wrote about it a few years ago, though he didn’t actually use the term”DNA” – see Immanuel, Then and Now: Changes and Constants.
It stands to reason that if Immanuel’s DNA isn’t “right,” if somehow the basic building blocks that formed this church back in 1869 are out of sequence, Immanuel will not be healthy. We can liken those basic building blocks to the legs of a three-legged stool: one leg is the church, another is the school and the final leg is the cemetery. If one leg is loose, cracked, or missing, the stool is broken.
Therefore, I am convinced that our school, church and yes, even our cemetery must still be healthy. We need to have the best teachers in each classroom filled with the best number of students, our church community must continually grow spiritually and numerically, and our cemetery (the third leg on the stool) must support the needs of families during their most difficult times while maintaining a pristine presence in the village of Palatine. It’s in our DNA!
If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy 1 Corinthians 12:26
See you in church,