During this month ahead it is an American custom to set aside time to give thanks for the many good things we enjoy in this land of abundance. For some this means eating too much and watching too much football. It is a paid holiday and people do not have to show up for work. In many cases family gatherings are interrupted or canceled to stand in line waiting for the choice spots for Black Friday sales. This national day of thanksgiving has come to mean many things to many people.
As Christians we are no less likely to engage in these different aspects of this day. Who doesn’t bite off more turkey than they can chew? We hope, however, that we do not forget the origins of this observance. We can remember our history lessons as grade schoolers about the Pilgrims being woefully hungry and exceedingly thankful to the Native Americans who shared food with them to stave off starvation. We may even recall that it was President Lincoln who first called for the fourth Thursday in November to be a day of national Thanksgiving for our many blessings.
We, however, as God’s children do not only look at customs and history lessons. We draw on God’s word to direct our hearts and minds specifically toward God to thank Him for His bounties. We do not chalk things up to “luck.” We are drawn by the Holy Spirit to see the good things we have as being from the gracious hand of our Creator, Sustainer, Provider, Protector, and heavenly Father.
Did you know that the Bible has 137 references to thank, thanks, thanksgiving, or thankfulness? The Old and New Testaments are filled with expressions of gratitude. The New Testament Greek word for thanksgiving literally means “good grace.” As God’s children we are called upon to praise God for His good grace that comes in countless forms of blessings – one of them being the “Eucharist,” or the Lord’s Supper, through which we receive the good grace that comes to us when we participate in eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood.
As I am writing this article I am looking out of my office window and watching it snow on October 11th. In my book that is more a cause for complaining than for giving thanks. Yet, when I really think about it I remember that God is in control and He knows what we need. See the pattern? When we stop and think we can get beyond our natural thoughts and turn our ponderings toward God – cause for thanksgiving.
We will be having a worship service of thanksgiving at First Lutheran on the eve of Thanksgiving. That would be on November 21 at 6:30 p.m. Last year there were only 19 people in attendance at this special time of worship. Pardon my frankness, but THAT’S HORRIBLE! I am challenging each and every one of you to prioritize this gathering and let’s at least multiply that by 6. That would bring the attendance up to 114 – and that even sounds low .Let’s pause together to allow our hearts and minds to be directed toward God to be expressly thankful to Him and bid Him to continue to richly bless us as a nation. Let us be the last ones in this nation, as God’s people, to take Him for granted. “O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good and His steadfast love endures forever.”
Pastor Bill Zeige has been in the ministry for 45 years since being called out of the St. Louis
Seminary to serve at Our Redeemer in Cohasset and Trinity Lutheran in Hill City in 1973. He
and his wife Sue grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where they met in college.
After moving to Grand Rapids they raised five children: Lynne, Lisa, Laurie, Sarah, and Mark
and cared for a foster daughter for several years. Sue has been involved as a director of
Independent School District 318 for several terms and is seeking re-election currently. She also
served on the Grand Rapids City Council for seven years – five of those years as mayor.
Pastor Bill served Trinity for 13 ½ years before becoming full time pastor at Redeemer where he
served for 38 years before retiring in 2011. Since retiring he has served interim ministries at
Detroit Lakes, MN., Nevis, MN., Our Redeemer in Cohasset, and at First Lutheran since
February, 2018. He also served the Minnesota North District as the Iron Range Circuit
Counselor for 16 years. He also currently serves as City Councilor for the City of Grand
Pastor Bill, although being not so successful at being retired, is grateful to be able to use the gifts
God has given him to be a spiritual leader for the members of First Lutheran congregation and
the people we can reach out to to be part of the family of God.
Pastor Bill Zeige
Pr. William Zeige
Trusting God's Provision
Pr. William Zeige
Equipping the Saints
Pastor Bill Zeige