Let me share some thoughts and insights that have been coming to me lately as I have been studying and observing trends in our culture today. It is important to see how culture affects our Christianity.
The trend in our thinking and action patterns in America today is moving from loyalty toward loneliness. To say it in a different way is to observe that we are drifting away from commitment to groups and heading more and more toward fulfillment of self.
The study of trends must always be understood to be working with generalities. There will always be exceptions. Generally, however, on the older end of the spectrum people have been willing to be joiners of organizations, giving time, money and effort to other people. This generation literally laid down their lives in a worldwide way so that our freedoms could be preserved.
As we move toward the other end of the spectrum, it is more typical of younger generations to exploit our freedoms than to explore them or die for them. The wide-angle view of how our actions affect others narrows down to how it pertains to “me, myself, and I.”
How does his influence our Christian faith? Loyalty to a local congregation or to a national denomination is not nearly as important to people as it used to be. The zeal churches once had to do world-wide mission work has diminished greatly and we would rather tend to business close to home where we can see the difference we are making.
A sociological term summarizing this transition is that today people are “believers, not belongers.” With each generation that comes along there is less emphasis placed on tradition. This can be good sometimes, if the traditions have become empty rituals. It can be devastation if we are leaving behind traditional values and biblical standards just because “that’s what our grandparents believed, but this is now.”
The trends we are looking at have a deeply profound influence on church life today. It is getting more and more difficult to interest or involve people in service, in giving of themselves, in going out of their way to help or to be with others. We all find ourselves caught up in the struggle of being so busy that when we have a chance to stay home we take it regardless of what else is happening.
Consider this quote from Peter Marshall (The Light and the Glory”). “So many of our churches are congregations of private people, surrounded by private personal spaces and wrapt up in private thought, until it is time to smile and shake the minister’s hand and get into their private cars. In fact, for many of us Americans, privacy has become our religion, with the home as the foremost place of worship.”
Contrast this with thoughts shared by Martha Grace Reese in Unbiding the Gospel. “The more the Spirit is leading each person and each group, the more conflict recedes. The more the Spirit is leading, the more creativity, energy, and outward focus are freed to go into gear. People in love with God and serving each other live with joy. Life is less power struggle, and more fun.”
Yes, we are busy people, but busy doing what? Is it pursuing our own goals and dreams, or being part of God’s purposes and plans? Are we hung up on “me, myself, and I” or are we determined to carve out significant time for opening up to others? Being too busy by ourselves usually also means too busy for others and therefore too busy for God as well. That’s too busy!
The very nature and calling of the church is to believe, to belong, to care, and to serve. Involvement with other Christians and outreach to others who are living without the faith are not options for followers of Jesus. This is where He is leading. It is very important for us to be going with Him.
Chances are that we are not going to dramatically change our culture in the near future. A good start, however, would be that we adjust our thoughts ad actions to “me, myself, and us.” The Holy Spirit will guide us from there.
ADULT CONFIRMATION: Do you know anyone who would like to learn more about the teachings of the Bible and become a member of the church? This is the equivalent of confirmation for adults – only shorter. If we can gather a number of students we will find the right opportunity to offer this 10 week course. Please let Pastor Zeige know if you are or have a prospect. Thank you.
HOSPITAL VISITS: The old days when the hospital used to call the church and tell us a parishioner was in the hospital are long gone because of privacy issues. Contrary to popular belief pastors are not mind readers and we don’t automatically know when someone is ill. A very meaningful feature of pastoral ministry is visiting the sick and bringing the encouragement of God’s healing presence. So, this is a reminder to those who become sick or family members to let me know so we can share in the recovery process. Thanks in advance. – Pastor Bill
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.
2/10/19 Sermon by Pastor Wm Zeige
2/3/19 Sermon by Pastor Bill Zeige
1/27/19 Sermon by Pastor Wm Zeige
1/20/19 Sermon by Pastor Wm Zeige
1/13/19 Sermon by Pastor Wm Zeige
1/6/19 Sermon by Pastor Wm Zeige
12/23/18 Sermon by Pastor Wm Zeige
The Sunday School and Youth children put on the program "The Birth of Jesus"