Thank You8 min read

Friends, we are blessed to live … and to live in this nation, with all its foibles and faults, discords and divides, growing inflation, and political unrest. In whatever way possible, please make the time to remember and reflect on the many sacrifices which allow us to celebrate our freedom … and the privilege and opportunities to work using God-given talents and gifts. In this time of reflection, let us also repent of our sins … our lack of love for God and those He loves, our often-distracted commitment to be in His Word each day, that all our life would be guided and blessed by the Holy Spirit.

But let us also remember the courage, strength of character, and persistence of the men and women who fought for their vision of a better future. And as you think of them, remember to give thanks. May God continue to bless America, in spite of the failure of many to love or even remember God or keep His Word and honor Him. May it always be our goal to proclaim the Jesus who gives us real freedom in perfect love—the freedom from sin and death—and the privilege of participating and working in His Kingdom.

Truly, it is important to stop and give thanks. Jesus once healed some lepers, and out of the ten only one returned to give thanks. I’m sure the other nine were thankful in their own way, but they failed to stop to give thanks to the One who healed them. Only one was intentional about giving thanks to Jesus.

Meditating on this account in God’s Word, I am confronted with my own failure to stop and give thanks for God’s abundant and continuous blessings in my life. I, at times, have neglected to thank those who have richly blessed my life. There are SO MANY OF YOU! Please forgive me for that oversight. Serving as District President has been a blessing—especially because of the many people I have met—and I am thankful to have had this opportunity for service to the Lord and ministry to His people locally and in the world.

Looking Back

It is almost unbelievable to realize I have served thirteen years (four 3-year terms plus the “bonus” COVID-year extension) as District President. As I look back on this incredible adventure, there have been some major highs and some stress-filled lows. Through the good days and the difficult days, the Lord has been faithful and kind, forgiving iniquity, demonstrating His steadfast love and righteousness for Christ’s sake. I am thankful for His salvation and for His hand of blessing in my life. Among those blessings has been the opportunity to work with an awesome staff at the District Office, a wonderful Board of Directors, wisdom-filled regional Vice-Presidents, a faithful and determinedly competent group of Circuit Visitors, and so many other wonderful people along the way. In fact, when asked what I will miss most it is, without hesitation, the relationships. Of special note … Julie Strobl and Laurie Brown, who have been my Administrative/Executive Assistants for all 13 years. They were indispensable in accomplishing ministry, and I could not have asked for better support, more committed prayer warriors, and dedicated friends. I treasure ALL the staff at the Michigan District and pray God’s continued blessings on them for the future ahead.

When I look back over the past 13 years, God has done some tremendous things. We were all a part of working for the survival of—but now the thriving of—our Concordia University Ann Arbor, now a dual campus with Concordia University Wisconsin. Despite the ‘recession’ of 2009, 2010, etc., and the COVID-19 Pandemic, our congregations devotedly supported the work of the district and also participated in the Future is Now and Here We Stand campaigns. This generosity of God’s people allowed for a major increase in church work career scholarships for students attending Concordia University Ann Arbor or Wisconsin, as well as other Concordia Universities and Seminaries. We have seen innovative ministries started, reaching into segments of communities previously unreached. God has allowed new partnerships among congregations for increased ministry together rather than hanging on separately as two or more “failing” congregations. There is ministry in the inner city, where many suburban congregations have partnered together and are participating in demonstrating God’s love in sports camps, meals served, Bible studies, and in bold prayers in the name of Jesus. I am grateful to have been introduced to the real suffering of others and to have experienced the gracious, patient touch of brothers and sisters in Christ from various ethnic backgrounds educating me to the sinful realities of prejudice. Sin acknowledged, confessed, and forgiven leads to lasting relationships under the cross of Christ, reconciliation, and focused ministry. Pat and I could never praise and thank God enough for the privilege of time shared with many of our pastors’ wives at the Katie Conference. What an incredible group of positive, supportive, creative sisters in Christ who are an intimate and vital part of Gospel ministry in their families, congregations, and communities.

Friends, I want you to know how thankful I am for District President-Elect David Davis. I know Dave to be a person of great integrity and honor, a dedicated and Jesus-filled man, someone who has always encouraged church workers and all God’s people to live lives of “significance” for the glory of God. An avid reader, God richly gives him wisdom and passion for the mission of God to seek and to save the lost. I look forward to how our God will use him as a blessing—not only to the Michigan District, but to our Synod, and the Church at large.

As for Pat and me, we aren’t quite certain what the future holds, but we are certain of the One who holds our future. As we settle into northern Michigan, we are determined to know and serve our community, to serve in our congregation where we will become members, and, as God allows, to spend more time with our children and grandchildren. We will truly value the opportunity to re-engage and be part of their lives.

A Prayer

My hope and prayer for the District is that of the Apostle Paul found in one of my favorite sections of Scripture, Ephesians 3:14–21:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

God is able! So …  “[Let us fix our eyes on] Jesus, the Founder and Perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God …” (Hebrews 12:2).

May it always be a part of the vision for the Michigan District, in some way or another, to equip, empower, engage, and connect people to Jesus. We equip as we teach and train disciples as servants of Jesus. We empower as we gather around the Word and Sacrament, and use the gifts placed within each of us by the Holy Spirit. We engage when we move beyond the confines of the sanctuary or the boundary of the church property to connect people to Jesus. To engage can be messy business because it involves an investment of self, resources, time, and often changing the familiar to meet the needs of others. I am so very thankful for the many people who have shared stories of how the Holy Spirit has blessed their witness, of how people have been connected to Jesus, and how their lives and the lives of others have been changed by the power of the Gospel. I will continue to pray for this for all of you that God may be glorified.

Thank You

In closing, let me simply say “Thank You.” Thanks for the love, prayers, and support. Thanks for the “gentle” correction at times, and the calls to repent. Thanks for the forgiveness and understanding, especially as we’ve struggled through the past two-plus COVID-marked years. Most of all, thanks for letting the Jesus in you be Jesus to Pat and myself. His love has shown through so many of you, and our lives, Pat and mine, are better for it. I can truly say I have loved working with all of you (most of the time 🙂 ).

My good friend Greg Walton (former Florida-Georgia District President) liked the way Bob Hope would create a song to thank his audience. Greg did the same for his District and I share that with you now:

“Thanks for the memories, of serving God above, and serving you in love, and walking in the blessings of the Spirit-driven Dove, I thank you so much!”

Thanks for the memories, of leading a great district team, it’s always been a dream, connecting folks to Jesus has always reigned supreme. So, thank you so much!

With gratitude in my heart,

David (and Pat)

Photo © Milaspage/iStock

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About the Author

Rev. Dr. David P. E. Maier is president emeritus of the Michigan District, LCMS.

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Craig Britton - October 5, 2022

Dear brother, it’s not hard to follow a trusted and tested shepherd. For your example, your zeal, your genuineness, and your unstoppable love for Christ and his people, thank you (both). God’s peace.