Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Scaerian Mass

What follows here is a proposed setting for LSB created in the Spring of 2004 by a diligent (i.e. bored 4th year who shall remain nameless) Seminarian who sat at the feet of Dr. Scaer. Inspired by Scaer’s high appreciation for both the liturgy and brevity, the following setting is dedicated in his honor. Note: Everything is spoken, because singing takes longer.

It is to be noted that this service did in no way pass doctrinal review is and is not to be used. It is provided here simply for your information.

The Scaerian Mass

(To be said with all due haste)
P: In the Name of God (1)
C: Praise the Lord, guy.
P: Beloved, boy, do we have a lot to confess.
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
C: And you forgave the iniquity of our sin.
[The pastor shall put his right foot in]
C: God we are miserable people. [The pastor shall put his right foot out] We have acted like we are Germans, [The pastor shall put his right foot in] we have knocked corn and refused to do things Iowa style. [The pastor shall shake it all about] Forgive us this and all that other junk too. [The pastor now turns himself about]
P: Do you believe that my forgiveness is God’s forgiveness?
C: NO!
P: Upon this your confession, I, by virtue of the majority vote of this congregation, as a called servant who has experienced the non-sacrament adiaphora of ordination. . .
C: Get to the point!
P: I forgive you.
C: Praise the Lord, guy.
The Introit
Psalm 117 is read.
The Kyrie
C: Lord and Christ, have mercy.
The Hymn of Praise
P: Glory to God in the Highest.
C: Here’s to You, God.
P: The Lord be with you.
C: But not with you.
P: Oh well, let’s read.
P: The Old Testament is ________
C: Get to the point!
[Here shall follow the reading as speedily as possible]
P: This is the Word of the Lord.
C: We know.
P: The Gospel is ________
C: Read it, already.
[The Gospel is read in Latin]
P: I’ll go preach now.
[Here shall follow the sermon. It shall last no longer than 5 minutes]
The Creed
C: Jesus is Lord.
The Prayers
P: Dear Lord, help everyone who needs it.
C: Praise the Lord, guy.
The Preface
P: The Lord be with you.
C: But not with you.
P: Lift up your heart [The pastor shall flap his arms while saying this]
C: I’m flying!
P: Let’s give thanks to God [The pastor shall lift his hands above his head]
C: Get on with it already.
P: It is truly good, right, meet, salutary, spiffy. . .
C: Enough with the synonyms.
P: . . . that we get on with the service.
C: Pater Noster. . .
P: Our Lord, on the night He was, well, you all know, let’s just eat.
C: Praise the Lord, guy.

[Here shall follow the Communion. Every member consumes the individual serving wafer and wine he received upon entering the sanctuary.]

C: Lord, let your servant depart in Peace.
P: Wait, come back!
C: What?
P: The Lord bless you, now get out of here!
C: Take care, blessings (2)
[leave the church and hob-nob over coffee]

1 - The Phrase “In the Name of Dave, Pete, and the Queen of Heaven” may be used to provide variation.
2 -
In advent the phrase “Don’t slip on the ice” may be added.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Not just a political heretic - I'm a nerd.

Oh, yes - and I am really jazzed over Star Wars: The Old Republic - which won't be out for quite some time.

This has absolutely not theological import whatsoever. . . but my fellow nerds out there - when this approaches - let's make sure we are all on the same server.

I'm a political heretic - for a theological reason.

"Trust not in princes, they are but mortal"

Well, I got the e-mail from the LCMS President (whose name I will not publicly misspell this morning) encouraging us pastors to promote amendments which define marriage as between one man and one wife.

Okay - first off. Gay marriage, unions, what have you is wrong. That being said. . . yes, I know we are a democracy, and we ought to vote our conscious as citizens - and that is fine. But will a law or amendment "save marriage"? Will it save the family.

We have this idea that things like this are crumbling from above. . . that it's all these external pressures and that if we elect the right person or pass the right law, things will be better.

So let me ask a theological question. Do people sin because they don't know or don't have good law? Or more specifically - do the folks in our parish, who are taught scripture, fall into sin because of what the government does? No. People sin because people sin - and the Law doesn't solve that.

Or let me organize my (surely unpopular) thoughts in a different way. At Sem we would talk about the hammer of the law - law in preaching which directly applies to the hearer. We would also talk about the "mirror of existence" - the fact that the world is evil and that this makes it harder for Christian. Which one more directly impacts the hearer - the hammer. Primarily I must struggle against my own sin, my own wicked desires.

We spend so much time trying to polish up the mirror of existence that we can end up ignoring preaching the Law in it's firmness to ourselves. If only we pass a law. . . what. . . people will stop being gay. . .and stop you from destroying your family by your sin? Um. . . we have a huge divorce rate. . . would defining marriage fix that? Come to think of it. . . there are laws against adultery - has that gotten under control?

Here is my advice. Vote your conscious. Try to pass good laws. But don't pretend that politics is the epic struggle to save Christianity. We are not American "Evangelicals" - we don't believe that Christians are made by decisions, and certainly not decisions in a booth in November. It's simply laws, they are simply politicians. They come and go - the Word endures.

Remember this, if you become fearful of where the country is headed. The Church survived, even thrived under Nero - if this country falls into a moral morass. . . Built on the Rock, the Church doth Stand!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Observing All Saints' Day

Is there a more wonderful day, theologically speaking, than All Saints' Day? It is the day where we focus precisely upon the fact that all that Christ has done has been applied to us, applied to our loved ones who have died in the faith. All Saints' day is Application of the Cross and Easter day.

We get this in the Gospel lesson - the Beatitudes. Blessed, blessed, blessed. Yes - it describes Christ - He is poor in Spirit, He is the peacemaker - but it describes us too, it describes what God does to us in our lives - it describes what God makes us into in order that we might labor in this world, until we need labor no longer. In life, in death - we are what God makes us to be. What a fantastic comfort!

And yet. . . it's a day a lot of folks end up not liking. We remember people who have died. We move to the end of the Church year and start talking about the end times. . . and isn't that a scary thing? I don't know - we've been freaked out about the end for too long - freaked out by Rome with tales of purgatory after death - freaked out by evangelicals by being left behind (which is, let's face it, purgatory on earth). American culture, even the culture of "Christianity" in America teaches us to fear death and the end. We spend a month trying to counter that fear. . . and how rarely it works.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Reformation Sunday - October 26th, 2008

Reformation Sunday – October 26th, 2008 – John 8:31-36

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
Ah, Reformation Day. One of the great days of the year, a day of
celebration. I like it – we get to sing A Mighty Fortress – and if you hadn't guessed by now, I like the old Luther hymns. A wonderful holiday where we celebrate. . . well, just what exactly do we celebrate with Reformation Day? For what reason do we spend October 31st thinking about more than just candy – for what reason do we take this last Sunday in October and place our focus upon Reformation? I think we can get it wrong sometimes. Today is not “Aren't we glad we aren't Roman Catholic” Day. Today is not “Aren't we glad we aren't like those other Protestants who got it wrong” Day. Today isn't even “Being a Lutheran is super cool” Day.
No, Reformation Day is nothing other than a day of repentance, when we focus again on what Christ Jesus has done for us, and pray that He would continue to shape us and our lives.

We get this focus quite clearly in our Gospel text. Listen again. So
Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him, “If you abide in My Word,
you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Do you want to know what your life is to be, O Christian? Do you want to know what the Christian life looks like? Christ just described it. Christians abide in God's Word – we remain those who hear God's Word. We hear God's instructions – and so we learn more and more to struggle against our sin and how best to beat it down. We are His disciples, and we train under Jesus, we learn from Him – Jesus puts us through our paces spiritually – drills us and works us to shape us into better people. The Word makes us His disciples. Christians abide in God's Word – we hear God's Word of forgiveness and we are free – free from our sin, free from guilt, free from the fear of punishment – free to worship God without fear. This is the Christian life.

But what is interesting to note about this is that Christ Jesus speaks these Words to Jews who believed, speaks it to Christians. And yet – they hear these Words, and they are not pleased, they are not happy with them. They answered Him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that You say, 'You will become free'?” Wait a second here, Jesus. We believe in You, we are good little Jews – what's with all this future tense stuff? What's with all this “you will be free”? We are completely free right now. . . in fact, we've never been slaves to anyone.

Now, perhaps today we don't realize how dumb of an answer this is. . . because we don't live in Old Testament times. Over and over, when God speaks through the prophets, He has a specific way of identifying Himself – He says, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” That's who God is – God is the One who has delivered the Jews out of Egypt. And what were the Jews when they were in Egypt? They were slaves! Yet what do they tell Jesus – we are children of Abraham, we are from the good family, and look, we've never been slaves. The very identity of being a Jew is to be a child of Abraham who has been purchased by God from slavery in Egypt – that's what they remembered every Passover. And the children would ask their father at passover – why are we eating this lamb like this, why are we dressed for travel at the table when we eat it. For these Jews to say that they've never been slaves to anyone would be like one of you saying, “Oh, I didn't know that God raises people from the dead.” But God makes a point in Jeremiah – people kept on forgetting the Old Covenant – people kept forgetting that God brought them by the hand out of Egypt. We see that in Jeremiah. The days are coming when things will be right – and no one will have to be taught about what God has done for us – because everyone will know it.

So. . . are we there yet? Have we reached the time when everyone knows God, when we no longer need instruction, when we can sleep through the sermon and not really miss anything – when we no longer should bother with studying God's Word? Well – of course it is Pastor – we are Lutherans! Most of us are even German Lutherans – even better! We got confirmed – we learned the Small Catechism – what more do we need? Who cares if we don't know the Catechism from the Sears and Roebuck Catalog now, we did the work back than – we can just coast along proud and prim – I know I'm right because I'm not Roman Catholic, I know I'm right cause I'm not a Methodist or a Baptist – I'm Lutheran – and it's Reformation Day, let's celebrate! Let's celebrate how awesome I am! The more things change, the more they stay the same. How often we sound just like the Jews here in the text. We are children of Abraham – we were born in this Church. We have never been enslaved to anyone – we've never been anything but Lutheran. And we miss the point. It slides right on by us because in our pride we focus and delight on who we are. . . and forget who Christ Jesus is and what He does in our lives.

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin.” So – how about it, O Lutheran? Commit any sin this past week? Do anything you shouldn't have? Oh – I guess that means you still need Jesus. I guess that means you still need to be His disciple. I guess that means, Confirmed or not, you are still a student who needs to learn more about the Christian life. You see, this is the heart of the Reformation, this is how it came about. This is what Luther observed – that we always, always in this life, need to strive against our sin. The very first of those 95 Thesis nailed to the door at the Church in Wittenberg - “Our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when He said Poenitentiam agite [you will pay the whole penalty], willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.” Our life is to be one of repentance – not one where we rest on our laurels – not one where we with pride point to what we have done as good little Christian boys and girls, not one where we buy an indulgence or put money in the plate to make sure that we are taken care of for eternity. No – our lives are to be ones of Repentance – lives where we see the simple truth that we still sin – that it still creeps up in our life, that sin still rears its ugly head every day – in our thoughts, in our words, in our deeds. Everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. What is Reformation Day about – remembering that we are still sinners, that we need to repent, that we need to be made free.

The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. How do we gain our freedom? How do we become free from sin? Is it because of who we are, what we've done? Is it because of our pride that we are free? No – it is because of the Son, Christ Jesus. Do you sin? Does sin still cling to you? Luther says in that Small Catechism that if you wonder if you still sin, all you need to do is stick your hand to your chest and see if you still are flesh and blood, all you need to do is look around and see if you are still in the world. If you are – you are a sinner. So, how to deal with it? We don't – God does. Christ Jesus goes to the Cross to suffer and die for your sin – and then He turns to you and speaks a Word of forgiveness to you and say, “I free you from your sins – I forgive you.”

You realize here that when Jesus talks about the Son setting you free, He's talking about forgiveness – the forgiveness that we receive whenever we abide, whenever we live in His Word, whenever we study that Word and grow in faith and trust in Him, whenever we hear that Word preached and His Gospel proclaimed. If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. God's Word trains us, makes us disciples – shows us our sin, shows us our need to struggle and learn more and do better. God's Word makes us know truth – makes us know Christ Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life – gives us the forgiveness won for us upon the Cross.

And that, dear friends, is what Reformation Day is about. It is the day where we remember that as Christians our lives are ones of continual repentance – ones of continual reformation – where God by His Word continually re-forms, re-shapes us. Sin twists and distorts us – we see that – but God's truth, God's forgiveness restores us, shapes us again into whom we are to be. And this is something we need every day of our lives. Today isn't the day that we merely celebrate that we are Lutheran but the day that we remember what it means to be Lutheran, what we as Lutherans claim about God – that the chief point of the Christian faith isn't how I work my way to God, or how I can get God to bless me. Rather it is this – All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. There it is. And more over, on Reformation day, above and beyond just celebrating this old, familiar truth – we acknowledge another fact – that our sinful flesh always seeks to drive us away form this and unto sin – that Satan is always trying to shift our focus off of Christ and His forgiveness. That the strains of this life seek to bend us away from God – and so we are always in need of Reform, of being forgiven and reshaped by Christ. We do not simply rest on our own laurels – we do not say, “Eh, I'm offspring of Abraham, eh, I've been raised Lutheran” - but rather this – we seek all the time to know the LORD and His love for us better – we seek to understand more and more the depths of His love, to increase in wisdom and instruction – to be better disciples, to rejoice in our freedom more and more. Reformation is not something that comes about once a year – it is the constant reshaping of your life in Christ. God grant that He keep us in His Word – so that we might continually be reformed in this life until we see Him face to face in heaven and are brought about to complete perfection, perfectly shaped by Christ's love for all eternity. Amen.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Today's Chunk o' Luther

I think what I will do is on occasion post a chunk of Luther and comment on it. Today's quote comes from the introduction to "Freedom of a Christian" which can be found in it's entirety here (I'll probably just live in Freedom for a while with this). This is the third paragraph.

I have indeed inveighed sharply against impious doctrines, and I have not been slack to censure my adversaries on account, not of their bad morals, but of their impiety. And for this I am so far from being sorry, that I have brought my mind to despise the judgments of men, and to persevere in this vehement zeal, according to the example of Christ, who, in his zeal, calls his adversaries a generation of vipers, blind, hypocrites, and children of the devil. Paul too charges the sorcerer with being a child of the devil, full of all subtlety and all malice; and defames certain persons as evil workers, dogs, and deceivers. In the opinion of those delicate-eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul's language. What can be more bitter than the words of the prophets? The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers, that, go soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries. What would be the use of salt, if it were not pungent? or of the edge of the sword, if it did not slay? Accursed is the man, who does the work of the Lord deceitfully.

My thoughts upon reading this part this morning is as follows - the more things change, the more they stay the same. Blunt and honest language is always derided. So - how ought we react to this? I think we ought to remember it - and use it wisely. If you thunk people's sacred cows, if you call them to the carpet, chances are they will think you are mean. There are times you need to be mean - but they have to know you aren't being mean just because you are a jerk, but because you love them and want what is good for them. Luther spends the first 2 paragraphs of the Freedom professing his love for Pope Leo - and then and only then does he bring this forth. Even as Paul raps people over the head - see, he writes in his own hand to them words of love as well. You must have both - otherwise the mean words will not be heard.

We have the phrase "speak the truth in love." Maybe it should be "speak the truth along with love" - speak words of love as well - that way they can perhaps bear the truth better.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

What fixes the Church? - Or what fixes Lutheranism?


So it's aware to anyone and everyone that the Church is in a bit of a mess at the moment. You have denominations all over the theological map. And even in Lutheranism, all over the place.

This is not how it should be. How do we restore the Church - how do we fix it (or if you prefer, and this is more accurate, with what will God fix it)? How does Lutheranism get back on course?

Some say it will be fixed if we have more relevant, exciting worship - along with the freedom to do different things in every place.

Some think if we just had good rubrics things would get better.

Some think if we had dynamic pastors with good leadership things would be better.

Some think that if we had pastors who actually taught the Catechism things would be better.

I suppose I could keep going and find other hot topic issues to show the political divide - congregational polity or something else? Big districts or little districts? SMPP versus full course Seminarians? On and on we could go.

Here's the thing. Now, it should be some what obvious that on most of these questions I lean a certain way. Yes - we should have a common liturgy that is easily recognizable by any visitor - and yes, we should know the Catechism -- so on and so forth. However, if we suddenly, magically had everyone, just for the sake of unity, agree to do the same liturgy, use the same hymnal. . . that wouldn't fix anything.

What?!? How can you say that? Because the problem isn't any of these questions. These are all just symptoms of the true disease. We've lost our respect for and trust in the Word.

On the one hand, there isn't much respect for the Word -- we can't go by the Word, we must accomodate the needs of the day -- or to put it in Scriptural terms - everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

On the other hand, there isn't much trust in the Word. If we just did the same liturgy. . . what? Will we make people better Christians by enforcing a rule upon them? Or if the right person gets elected, he will make everything better.

Reformation approaches - and we need remember the lessons of the Reformation. The Word is what does things. The Word they still shall yet remain, nor any thanks have for it. The Church will never be fixed, it will always be a bloody mess in need of reform - and that reform comes not about by increased personal piety or devotional piety or liturgical or sacramental piety. Increasing law and piety doesn't fix things. . . rather, a focus on the Word will bring forth growth and an increase in piety.

We can put the cart before the horse - we end up trying to make the Church look like it ought while forgetting to focus upon the foundation. Thus - I exhort you all - be in the Word! Know nothing but Christ and Him Crucified. Learn the Word yourself, teach the Word, and let God tend to things.

Lord, save Your Church from those within it!

Monday, October 20, 2008

An early morning Ponderance - The weekend of the Church Year

Reformation approaches. This is the time of year where. . . well, we end up dealing with ideas in the Church that run the most counter to the typical American point of view. We have our celebrations of Reformation Day (which I end up transferring to the last Sunday in October) which reminds us that we ourselves are in need, always, of continual reform - that the entire Christian life is one of repentance.

What? You mean we aren't in the most perfectest gloriest place ever?

Then we move into November, with it's focus on the end times - that Christ Jesus will come to deliver us from this vale of tears and wicked world unto the glories of heaven.

What? The world is evil. . . but we are Americans in America -- we live in the bestest country in the world -- why, shoot - I've never been to heaven, but I've been to Oklahoma! Why do we need this talk of the end times (and especially if we don't have any cool novels about our approach)?

And then we move into Advent - with it's focus on patience, and waiting, it's reminder that God acts for us and our benefit when it pleases Him.

What? Get with the times! Today it's all about instant gratification - Christmas comes as soon as the unsold Halloween costumes go on clearance. . . what is this waiting thing you speak of?

In America, when it comes to God, well, we love having our weekends. . . Saturday is too busy for in-depth study, and Sunday is a wonderful day to sleep in. We ought to have an intense, theological weekend - but we just won't want it. We are hitting the year-end - the Saturday and Sunday of the Church Year - it's end and it's beginning - and it's an intense time where we examine ourselves and realize that we must rely and wait upon God.

And too many of us would rather sleep on through it. Lord have mercy upon us! Prepare us for Your coming by continual reformation of our hearts and minds!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Get out of God's Way

I find I have an approach to Good Works that is completely backwards of most people. I simply focus on trying to get out of God's way. My reasoning is this. I am God's workmanship - made for good works that God has prepared for me to walk in. Hence, my focus shouldn't be on trying to figure what minute detail of life God wants for me, or even angsting about what I should do. God's got that all set up.

No. . . what I need to do is find and beat down my sin, to throttle that old Adam that fights against God's Will - I need to pray "Thy will be done" more often - I need to return to my baptism with contrition and repentance. I need to know the Cross so that I have no fear of my sin - I need to hear forgiveness so that I face down my sin with bold confidence in God's love for me.

I need to know my sin. I need to know my weaknesses. I need to know how Satan attacks me, Eric Brown, an individual. And by God's strength I shall fight my own flesh. . . and guess what will happen? You take the clog out of the pipe and the water flows. I am God's new creation in Christ Jesus - how can I not do His works?

God grant me strength to tame my flesh and bend it to Thine will!

Today's Sermon

Trinity 22 – October 19th, 2008 – Matthew 18:21-35

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
We Christians just have to put up with so many things, sometimes. I mean, think of all that we have to do for God. We could all be home in our beds nice and comfy right now, or out there making some good cash, or watching NFL pre-game shows, but no, we just have to give up our Sunday mornings for Jesus. And then there’s all the things that we don’t do as good little Christian boys and girls – we don’t cheat, we don’t rob, we don’t have all that wild fun that other people do – no breaking up families or waking up in the gutter for us. We have to give that all up. Why, we poor Christians even have to be nice to people, even to people who are lousy. Look at all that we have to do for God – man, if we aren’t just the best people in the World!

That can be the damnable attitude that we take sometimes, can it not? Poor, poor me – that mean old God just keeps on making me do more and more. . . but, oh well, I’m a good person – I guess I’ll just do what I have to do. And God weeps and laments our sinfulness and our hard hearts. It is a trap that all Christians may fall into – where we begin to focus on all that we do for God, how much we put up with for him. This is where St. Peter is when he asks of our Lord, Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Alright Jesus, I get this whole thing that You’re the Messiah and that I should be following you – but just how much are you going to expect of. . . me. . . just how good do I have to be? How much love do I have to show – if I don’t take revenge on a person seven times – well, that’s pretty good isn’t it? If I forgave my brother 7 times, I’d be a pretty good person, wouldn’t I?

We know Jesus’ response. 70 times 7. Many, many times more. But when we hear Jesus instruct Peter this way – what we are we thinking? Are we thinking, “Boy, I have to do more and more and more?” Are we thinking, “Boy, my work as a Christian is never done”? Are we still thinking like Peter, wondering what I have to do to get in good with God? If so – we miss the point. Listen to how Jesus explains this issue. The problem isn’t that Peter, isn’t that we don’t do enough – it’s that we forget who we are.

Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. To explain, Jesus starts to tell a story. Alright, there’s a king, and this king is going to settle accounts with you. Or put it this way – you owe the government money – the IRS people are at your door, and it’s time to pay. You want to talk about what you have to do, what you owe, what is incumbent upon you – go look at taxes. You pay, or at best we garnish your wages – at worse, into the clink with you. And the fellow in our story – well, he is up the creek without a paddle. 10,000 talents is an insane amount of money. A typical person might make a talent in 20 years. This is sort of the equivalent of saying, “and this guy owed the king 10 Billion dollars.” A ridiculous amount of money. So – what should happen? Bad things.

And what does the king do? He tells that man what will happen to him. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. Bad things should happen. You bilk me – that’s it, you are a slave for life and you have no more freedom. If you owe the government, let’s even take a smaller number – let’s say you owe the government a mere 10 million dollars in back taxes – what happens to you? Bad, bad things! And the King says, “alright, bad things are coming to you.”

So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.” Now, this is great. Did you notice – the “servant” falls on his feet. He’s already owned by the master – he has no freedom – he’s toast. He’s not a free man anymore – and yet, he falls on his feet, and what does he do? I’ll pay you back. Oh, come on – really? You’ll pay everything? This is utterly ridiculous – it’s like the 3 year old asking her dad to buy a pony and promising her dad that she’ll pay him back. It’s not going to happen. . . and the king should just laugh this guy off.

But the king doesn’t. And out of pity for him, the master of the servant released him and forgave him the debt. No, you can’t pay me back. . . so I’m not even going to demand that you pay me back – don’t even bother trying. Just go, get on your way. Now, we know this wouldn’t happen today – the IRS would never say, “Ah, let’s just forget the audit, and don’t bother about filing next year, it’s all good.” Isn’t going to happen. But don’t you understand – this parable is describing you and it is describing God. You owe a debt to God that you can’t pay. God is the creator – and with your sin you destroy His creation – and you can’t fix that. Can you make up for it, can you restore the earth? Unpayable – you can’t do it. And yet, what does God do – don’t worry about your debt, your mistakes – I will take care of it – I’ll send my Son Christ Jesus to the Cross, and He will take up your debt, He will clean up your mistakes. Now, go on your way and live your life.

This is how we relate to God. We ought never, never have the attitude of, “look at all I do for God”. All you do – you are sinner! In sin your mother bore you – what are you doing to do to change that! What in you will bribe God? Don’t even try. Make no vain boasts. Rather this – remember who you are – you are a person who falls before God and receives mercy. That is what a Christian is. A Christian is a sinner like everyone else, a Christian is simply a sinner who is forgiven. And the damnable thing is we can forget this – we start thinking of ourselves as good people, look at how well we pay back God – we’ll cut a deal with You. And do you know what happens to people who forget that they are sinners who receive God’s mercy? Let’s hear what Jesus says.

But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him saying, “Pay what you owe.” Now, sometimes we can diminish what this second servant owed – oh, it’s nothing, a 100 denarii is nothing compared to 10,000 talents. That’s not what Jesus is saying. 100 Denarii would be around 10,000, 12,000 dollars. That’s a goodly chunk of change. I don’t think any of us would just shrug off 10 grand – so no, it’s something serious – but the servant goes nuts. Even chokes the fellow. And the other servant responds, So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, “Have patience with me, and I will pay you.” Sound familiar? And it’s a lot more realistic. . . but this servant will have none of it. He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. No mercy, no love. And, by rights, he doesn’t have to show mercy, to show love. No, the guy owes him cash, let him pay. Isn’t that what we often think when someone sins against us – Hey – he has hurt us, he’s done real damage to me – so forget him. Make no mistake – sin is real, and it hurts. When someone does you wrong – it hurts. But how do we respond to this – how do we respond to our own hurts? Do we forget who we are – do we forget that we too are sinners who are not just as vile, but even more vile, more worse, more guilty than this person who has sinned against us? Or do we become angry – do we condemn and judge and punish them?

The King finds out about this servant who is unforgiving. Then his master summoned him and said to him, “You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?” And in his anger his master delivered him to the jailers until he should pay all his debt. So also My heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from you heart. Well, who feels good right now? Who here? I hear this and I don’t feel too hot. I know that I can lament all that gets done to me, I can feel good about my anger towards people – and what does God say to that? Nothing good.

It becomes, dear friends, a question of how you will relate to God. Are you to be proud and demand what is owed you – well, if that’s who you want to be, God will play that game with you. And you will lose – you will lose hard. But you know, that’s not how God wants to treat you. This king in the parable, he didn’t want to put the guy in jail, if he had wanted to he would have done so to start. Instead, the king desires and delights in showing mercy.

Dear friends – God delights in showing you mercy. God desires to forgive you, He desires that His forgiveness overwhelm you and cover your whole life. That is who God is, that is how He desires to relate to you. And that is why He instructs you to forgive your neighbor. Do you realize that this is not a harsh burden, a dire command? No – forgive your brother so that your eyes are always upon forgiveness – because when you remember to forgive that fellow next to you, what else are you going to remember – that God is the God who forgives you.

Think on this – God wants everything in your life to point you back to Him, He wants His Word to dwell in you richly. How much so – so much that even when someone sins against you, when someone hurts you – your first thought should be, “Wow, I do worse to God and yet He loves me – how great is His love and mercy to me!” At all times and in all places, our thoughts should be upon how God has shown us mercy, that He is full of great mercy and kindness. He is the one who heals those who are broken, who gives out forgiveness. God directs us to this constantly, so that we always remember it, so that we live lives full of His forgiveness. And so, my friends, I encourage you – hear God’s Word of forgiveness – know that He desires mercy for you, know that He gives You His Body, His Blood for the forgiveness of your sin – always have before your eyes and in your ears God’s love for you – so that you may always remain in faith – that you may always remain a Christian, a forgiven sinner. Amen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Almost ready for Fall Pastor' Conferencs'

Well, today I get to head for the Fall Pastors' conference. Prof. Reed Lessing from St. Louis is going to be presenting on Jeremiah - so hopefully that part will be good. And hopefully the opening service tonight will be. . . good. I look forward to the service as we don't have regular worship at our winkels - or if we do, they are short devotions rather than a full service with preaching. Tonight will be one of the few sermons that I get to "hear" from another throughout the year.

I will be off and about for a few days. . . hold down the fort in my absence.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A sermon

Well, I did do things this week - just not on the blog I guess. Here is today's sermon

21st Sunday after Trinity – John 4:46-54 – October 12th, 2008

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
I would hope that you would have seen the parallels between our Old Testament lesson and our Gospel lesson this morning. In the Old Testament we hear God speaking, and by His Word He creates, He brings all things into being. Let there be light – and what do you know, there is light. God speaks, and it is done. Is this not what also happens in our Gospel? A man comes to Jesus, begs Jesus to come with him and heal his son. And what does Jesus do? Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. And of course, the guy heads home, meets servants who tell him that his son is recovering. And the guy asks when his son started getting better – and wouldn't you know it – The father knew that it was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” Of course there is a connection – when Christ speaks, He is God, of course there will be creation – healing, recreation – creation put back the way that it ought to be. We have a wonderful demonstration of Christ Jesus being true God in our text this morning.

However, dear friends, let us spend a few moments thinking about how this truth – that Jesus is the God who creates – how this impacts us. The first thing we ought to remember goes right along with what we see in the Gospel text – God provides for our bodies and this life. God is the One who created us, and He is the One who preserves us, who upholds us in this life. Our body and soul, eyes, ears, all our members – these are things that He provides for us purely out of Fatherly goodness and mercy. It is as simple as that. Did you note how Jesus deals with this man who desires healing for his son? Jesus doesn't make the man jump through hoops, Jesus doesn't demand work – rather – out of love and compassion, Christ simply gives. Think on you yourself. Has not God given you many wonderful talents and abilities? Hasn't He provided you opportunities in your life? Hasn't God placed wonderful people into your life through which He has blessed you? Remember this dear friends – our God is the Creator – and He delights in creating, He delights in blessing, He delights in making whole. God will care for you throughout all your days – and He will cast aside and fight down all fears that would try to make you forget this truth.

However, dear friends, from this text this morning we should also remember that Christ Jesus our God not only cares for our physical needs but our spiritual as well. When we see a healing we should remember the root cause of all illnesses, all strife, all problems we face in this world – and that is sin. Plain and simple, we have to fight and deal with sin. The world we live in today is not as it was when God created it in Genesis 1. Every time God created then – and it was good. Things were right – we were made to live – to have life. And then, you have the fall, and that is ruined. Our bodies – they begin to fall apart, to age, and to die. The animals, the plants – they too die, they too don't work right. Fields produce thorns and thistles and bugs instead of just healthy crops. Things all fall apart. It is not just, dear friends, that we are occasionally sick, or that things occasionally don't work right, but rather sin, our own sin as well, constantly breaks things down, throws them into the muck, ruins things. All sin attacks creation. What is needed is recreation, what is needed is mankind to be made a new, to be remade righteous and holy. And this is what Christ does.

Ponder with me what Christ does when He goes to the Cross. Upon the Cross, what exactly is it that Christ is doing? Here you have the perfect Man – Christ Jesus, true God and true Man. And He suffers and dies. We are told that He who knew no sin became sin for us – that Christ Jesus who was perfect took up all the muck and weight and burden of sin upon His shoulders – and He died. Why? There was a turn of phrase in the Gospel that caught my eye. The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” Think on this. We know what happens at the Cross, that forgiveness is won for us upon the cross. And what does Christ say as He is being Crucified? Father, forgive them. It is finished. When Christ Jesus goes to the Cross, He says to our Father in Heaven – Father, Your son Adam will live, Your son Abraham will live, Your sons and daughters whom You claim in the waters of Holy Baptism, they will live. Jesus dies so that you might live. Do you see – forgiveness is simply healing of the soul, preparing you to live again – to live forever. When Christ gives you forgiveness, He is making you ready for life eternal, preparing you for the joys of heaven and eternity. That is what Christ Jesus does when He goes to the cross – He wins forgiveness for all believers in all times and in all places at that very moment. That is the why we focus so on the cross, because that is where it happens – that is where the Lamb of God takes away the sin of the world.

But there is another side to this matter of forgiveness. The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” Jesus is true God who brings healing, that is always true – but when in time, when in that child's life in the text did Jesus bring this healing? At the time when He spoke. Likewise, dear friends, when in your life does Jesus bring you the healing, the forgiveness which He won upon the Cross? When He speaks His Word to you. That is why we as Lutherans put such an emphasis on the importance of Baptism, of preaching, of absolution, of the Lord's Supper – because these are the ways in which God takes Christ's forgiveness won upon the cross and applies it to you in your life, in time. The Cross, which wins forgiveness for all people in all times and in all ages, is applied to you, a very specific and individual person, in your time, in your life. And how? By the Word. Consider Baptism. It is not simple water, but water combined with God's Word at God's command – and what for? For the washing away of sin – for the making of a child of God – for taking what Christ did upon the cross and making it a reality in your life. It isn't just that God died for the whole world – but behold, you are baptized, Christ Jesus died for you and for the sake of your sins. Christ brought to you by the Word.

We have the same thing with preaching. What is the point of a sermon? Why every Sunday do I climb up here in this pulpit? The sermon isn't just an information session. The sermon isn't some type of pep rally meant to get you fired up. Rather this – again, the sermon is to take God's forgiveness, won by Christ upon the cross – and apply it to you here and now in this time. Satan does not want the eyes of this congregation focused upon Christ, Satan wants you filled with doubt and fears, Satan wants you to fall into sin and vice. So what goes on in a sermon? The Word of God is preached – the Word of God which warns of Satan's tricks in our lives – and the Word of God which defeats Satan and gives forgiveness. A sermon is nothing else but a weekly application of God's Word of forgiveness to heal the spiritual bruises of the past week – to make whole again God's people.

The same thing with Absolution. In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all your sins. That's the general one in the service – and why do we have that – so that first and foremost we always receive God's forgiveness. The Peace of the Lord be with you always. Why – so that we receive again God's peace. God works when His Word is spoken. But what of the times when guilt continues to flitter about you – when Satan whispers, “he's not talking to you, that's not for you.” What about when there is some sin that bothers you? That's why we have private absolution – which isn't some scary burden where the pastor will sit and get to be a mean judge, but rather where your pastor can speak directly God's Word for forgiveness to that issue. Think on our Gospel text. Oh, sir, is your son ill – let Me heal him. Oh, my friend, you are struggling with this sin – let me speak God's Word of forgiveness. Yes, it is for you, even now as you struggle with this trial.

And this is why on the night when He was betrayed, our Lord established His Supper. At Baptism we are joined to the Body of Christ – in His Supper our Lord gives us His own Body, the very Body that was given for you, the Blood that was shed for the forgiveness of all your sins. The Words of our Lord are spoken over bread and wine, and we then receive His Body and Blood. And do you see the focus here – once again – be forgiven, be joined to Christ, be strengthened in your faith. This eternal truth, let it be real in Your life now. Again and again, over and over – Christ comes to you and brings the fruit of the Cross, brings His forgiveness to you, over and over, so that you always have that forgiveness – so that your faith and trust in Him is firm. And this Word of God, you not only hear it, but you see it and taste it and smell it and touch it – by every sense you have God brings His forgiveness to you.

This, dear friends, is how God goes about making you a new Creation in your own life. By His Word, whether attached to water in Baptism, or spoken to you, or in His Holy Supper, God takes up the wounds of this life, the wounds that we humans have had to face and struggle with since the fall, and He heals them. This is what we know. One more quote from the Gospel to ponder before we conclude. Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. Jesus speaks the word, the man believes and then goes about his business. For this time on Sunday morning, for that time when we do our daily devotions, we pause, we hear God's Word - and believing we go on our way. The man goes, trusting that there will be healing – he sees, he gets the servants' reports only later – but he goes nonetheless, trusting the Word. Likewise, we hear God's Word, we receive His forgiveness – and then we go on our way. We know that we have forgiveness, we know that we are washed clean – but we will see it most clearly later – we will see it in ourselves on the last day when our Bodies are fully washed clean of every spot and are glorious, we will see it when we are reunited with our loved ones who have died in the faith, we will see it when we behold the Lamb who was Crucified for the sin of the world and fall before His throne. But until then we walk in this life, we go about our business. But we are not alone in this. Know, dear friends, that you are God's new creation – that He is zealous to defend you, zealous to protect you – that He is your armor – at home this week consider Ephesians 6 – it is the armor of God – not just that which belongs to Him – but that armor is God Himself – Christ is Righteousness, Christ is the Word – God Himself covers and protects you, accompanies you – and always, at the end of a hard day, a hard week in this life – He speaks His Word of forgiveness and life to you. God grant that we remain steadfast in this word! Amen.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Trinity 20 Sermon

Trinity 20 – Matthew 22:1-

In the Name of Christ the Crucified +
During Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Good Friday, our Lord Jesus says some pretty blunt things. Sometimes we like to think of Jesus merely as gentle and mild, a nice cute Baby who would never make a fuss. Well, when He grows up and preaches, Jesus quite often makes a fuss, because Christ Jesus our Lord does not let sin go unchecked or unnoted. And so, here in our text this morning, Jesus has entered Jerusalem, in fact, this parable is given right in the Temple. The chief priests and the Pharisees and the big-wigs of the people are there – and Jesus lays down the Law. We too should pay attention to this text, lest Jesus be forced to crush us with a word of Law. Listen.

Hear another parable. There was a master of a house who planted a vineyard and put a fence around it and dug a winepress in it and built a tower and leased it to tenants, and went into another country. Christ here, with this parable, is speaking directly to the formation of Israel. God placed the people of Israel in the Holy Land – He brought them up out of Egypt and put them there. He did more than put a fence around them – but gave them the protection of His almighty power – so that they were safe. What winepress did He dig for Israel – God gave them plenty, so they were provided for. A tower – Jerusalem, city built on a hill, with even the towers of Solomon’s temple – so that all was provided, everything that they would need – a home, safety, wealth, worship – all there for them. But.

When the season for fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the tenants to get his fruit. And the tenants took his servants and beat one, killed another, and stoned another. Again he sent other servants, more than the first. And they did the same to them. It doesn’t go well. God sends His servants, His prophets to the land of Israel, and they are constantly rejected. The people don’t want to hear what the prophets say – even when the prophets come and give warning – watch out, repent – they are rejected. And often they are beaten. Or exiled. Or even killed. That is how the prophets were treated. In doing so – in despising the men sent to preach the Word of God, Israel was despising God Himself.

Finally he sent his son to them, saying, “They will respect my son.” But when the tenants saw the son, they said to themselves, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him and have his inheritance.” And they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. And it even is out right rebellion. Let us completely forget the God who has blessed us, let us ignore Him and His salvation – we will do it ourselves, it will be ours. This is how Christ describes the state of affairs in Israel – and He is spot on, for these Chief Priests and many of the Pharisees will call out for Christ to be crucified.

So, what effect will this have? When therefore the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those tenants? They said to him, “He will put those wretches to a miserable death and let out the vineyard to other tenants who will give him the fruits in their season. The Priests, the Pharisees get it. If you continually confront the master, if you continually resist God – well, God is known to resist the proud and humble them. And they even say, “Yeah, God will give His blessings to others.” And they still reject Christ, they still put Him to death.

And Christ even warns them. Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone, this was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?’ Therefore, I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits. And here’s where we have the temptation to be smug. We have seen what happens. God’s Kingdom now rests with Christianity – it is we Christians who are now the people of God, we are the tenants now serving God and reaping His benefits. And that is historically what happened – but this shouldn’t be a cause for pride or arrogance – rather, we should take this parable not just as a history lesson of some 2000 years ago, but also a warning for ourselves today.

Are we here not tenants in God’s Kingdom? Have we not been called by the Holy Spirit by the Gospel, gathered together to hear His Word and receive His Sacraments, are we not even more blessed than David or Elijah were – for what they merely looked forward to we have in full? We know the Messiah, we know His plan of salvation. Yet – how often can we fail just like God’s people of old failed. Israel’s failure was two fold. The first is that they forgot God. They forgot that it was God’s vineyard – that He was the One who had planted them and blessed them and provided for them. Rather, in pride, they thought to claim the glory for themselves. The second is that they failed to produce fruits. They failed to show love – they had become jaded and self-centered, worried only about their own petty little lives. And because of this, when Christ comes – when the Messiah finally arrives – so many reject Him. They no longer recognize God’s blessings – why would they recognize His greatest blessing to them? They no longer desire to show Love – why would they recognize God Himself and His love? And so – they were lost.

Do you think, dear friends, that just because you aren’t 1st Century Jews, but rather are Americans in the 21st Century, that the same pitfalls don’t await you? Should we become lousy tenants, the same condemnation awaits us. So – how about it? Do we forget God? Do we forget His blessings to us? Do we look upon our lives and simply see wonder after wonder that God has provided for us – do we see our house and home, our families, our fields, our jobs, our stuff as wonderful gifts from God? Or are they something else – do we see them as the “fruits of OUR labor” – is it God’s blessing to me, or is it my stuff that I worked hard for? We are in God’s vineyard, and we are richly blessed – but do we remember that it is all God’s – or have we become prideful in our own works, in our own strength, that we fail to give thanks to God, that we fail to recognize Him as the loving Lord who provides for all that we need?

And what of the second danger? Do we produce fruits? It’s the horrid irony – we will be so prideful about all that we do – when so much of what we are prideful in is simply blessings given to us by God. No, when it comes time to work, the question is do we produce fruit, do we produce good works, do we show love like we ought. Well? How’s your love been this week? Have your thoughts been more “What’s in it for me” or “What’s in it for my neighbor”? Have you sought to give out and share the Master’s harvest – share the blessings in your life – or are you working on stockpiling a horde worthy of a dragon? Are your thoughts focused upon God and the Neighbor or are they primarily focused on serving and pleasing yourself?

Here’s the simple, plain truth. We are no better than the people of old. Both they and us, sinners through and through. Israel runs off cock-sure and proud – and don’t we? Israel frets and worries – and don’t we? Israel grumbles – and don’t we? We are in the same danger the people of Israel were. And so, we too should listen when Christ says, And the one who falls upon this stone will be broken to pieces; and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him. Jesus doesn’t sugar coat it – He sees the mess that sin has made of the world. Not one is righteous, no, not one. And our Cornerstone, Christ Jesus has come. How will you relate to Him? Will you be broken upon Him, or will He crush you? Which will it be? When Christ comes, will you fall upon Him seeking mercy, will you see your sin and let your heart be broken to pieces – or will you be stubborn and obstinate, demand your own ways, and be crushed by Him.

Broken or crushed. One is much better. David says in the 51st Psalm – The Sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Will you repent of your sin and be broken of your sinful desires – will you struggle to beat and break down your sinful flesh by the power of God’s Word – and be welcomed and forgiven by Christ? Or will you be crushed – The Lord God said to the serpent. . . I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring; he shall crush your head, and you shall strike his heel. Will you hold on to your pride and resist God and be crushed and destroyed along with Satan and all His minions? This is the blunt truth, and Christ lays it out today.

Well, that’s a good old blunt parable from Christ – isn’t it, a good old paint peeler. So what do we learn? What we learn is this. As Christians, we are always to strive to show love more fully, to seek out ways of showing God’s love. We are to delight in the blessings God gives us, to rejoice in them. But we must be wary – when we do show love, we should never think, “Oh, look what a good Christian I am.” When we see our blessings, we should never think, “Ah, God must really like ME more than my neighbor.” That’s the way of pride, that’s the way of sin and Satan. Rather this. One of Luther’s last words was “We are all beggars before God.” We are those who are humble, who are lowly, but who receive from our Lord and Master much goodness and love. And even when we do work, when we produce fruits – what’s the old hymn? We give Thee but Thine own. Your life, dear Christian, is all about what God gives you, the blessings He lays out for you. He is the One who is the Giver of Life, is the One who provides daily bread. But He is also the One who provides rich forgiveness of your sins, and gives life to you. Think on this service – how many times does God say that you are forgiven, how many times is His peace given to you, how many times is His blessing placed upon you? And this is what Christ desires that you remember and know and believe all your days – in spite of whatever Satan throws your way. Know who you are, that you are a humble tenant who relies and lives on the good will of your Master – and know that God, your master is good to you. He will see you blessed and He will see you forgiven – the Cross of His Son Christ Jesus is the proof and guarantee of that. All glory be to God alone, who is so eager to save us from our sins. Amen.

Probably some theological lesson

There is probably some theological lesson that I can draw from the Cubs getting swept. Perhaps something along the lines of - trust not in Cubbies, they are but mortal (although this would be better if I were a Brewers fan - trust not in Prince Fielder, he is but mortal). Or perhaps how we see an example of fear causing good works to cease. . . fear of history and nothing good comes.

But right now - nothing. On the bright side - I probably won't be as morose as I was last week.

Oh well - thus is life. And my adopted AL team, the Rays, are still doing well.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Not really liking the real Christian life

So, I teach an adult catechism review - and yesterday's discussion of the 4th Petition turned quite law heavy and long. . . instead of 20 minutes or so focusing on the fact that God GIVES us daily bread, even without our asking. . . it turned into a insightful examination of why we hesitate to actually believe this -- and why we can be so fearful and such poor stewards.

It was useful - I got to point out over and over that the Law is never fully satisfied by the Christian - there is always more and more that could and should be done. That's an idea that isn't common. The Christian life, true Christian life, is always about serving your neighbor - no ifs, ands, or buts. And that's daunting.

But the fact is that we are never content with bread to this day - we worry about the future and fret and frit. Now, this is not to say "savings are evil" - no, that's responsibility - but generosity is even more important than savings (and your savings also should be for the benefit of your family as well).

We aren't shaped by the Cross, so often. When you are carrying your cross, there is no worry about tomorrow - for you will take up your cross and be put to death today. The Christian life is a series of Good Fridays, where we give of ourselves as Christ gave of Himself -- and also a series of Easters, where we rejoice and celebrate in what our Lord gave us - you know - worship.

But we don't really talk about the putting to death one's own desires, or even so much of daily drowning the old Adam. We don't talk about following Christ - and if we are to speak of our actions, that is what our actions must be - follow Christ - humble yourself, even unto the point of death.

Actually, I do talk about the Christian life quite often - it gets preached all the time - but wow, our sinful flesh doesn't life it - and it sure isn't what you see on the bookstands at the falsely-so-called Christian bookstores. That is why above all things, a Christian is humble - because when you understand what the Christian life ought to be - you understand how horribly you fall short. And so you confess your sins and receive forgiveness and joy and blessing from Christ. How astonishing that we have any joy whatsoever in this life - and yet that is just another measure of how wonderful God is to us.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Cubs and Rays

So, I have my two teams that I root for. The Cubs, and then, since 2002, the Tampa Bay Rays. And they both make the playoffs this year. If they meet in the World Series I will be both happy and sad. Thus is life in this world.