Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sermon on Matthew 22:34-46 for the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost. "All the Law and the Prophets hang on Love."

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The sermon text is from Matthew 22, an interchange between the Pharisees and Jesus, where they attempt to “stump” Him with a difficult question. He answers wisely and then turns the tables on them, asking a question that stumps them. In this dialogue, we will see how the two great commandments to love are fulfilled. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

At the start of today’s lesson, the Pharisees are impressed that Jesus had just silenced their theological adversaries the Sadducees. Jesus had just refuted them on the matter of the resurrection from the dead—something that they didn’t believe in, but He convincingly established. Now the Pharisees decide to test their luck in “stumping” Jesus, thinking that they’ve got a winner. An expert in the law, who would have been a well-studied scribe, throws this question at Jesus: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” His question already reflects something of his character as a Pharisee, as they had lengthy disputes over which commandments were the most important, which were higher than the others, and how many commandments there were. Often Jesus found fault with the questions asked of Him, and either redirected them or turned the questions on their head. But here Jesus validates the question by giving a straightforward answer, nonetheless one which astonished the Jews for its wisdom. This question got to the heart of the matter, even if the expert in the law was intending to test Jesus by trapping Him in His words.

Rather than choosing a specific commandment as most important, Jesus instead summarizes all of the 10 Commandments into two statements. He quotes from Deuteronomy 6:5 as the greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Jesus places this commandment as the first and greatest of the commandments—a point that the Pharisees surely couldn’t disagree. The second commandment like it, He quotes from Leviticus 19:18, in today’s Old Testament reading. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” For as often as people malign the Old Testament, we might be surprised to find both of these commands first there, and then on Jesus’ lips. Jesus had basically just summarized the 10 Commandments into what we often call the “Two Tables of the Law.”

The first table of the Law is the commandments regarding God. Typically numbered the first three, they are: “You shall have no other gods before me; You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God; and Remember the Sabbath Day by keeping it holy.” These commands relate to the sole worship of God alone, excluding all idolatry and graven images; the proper use of God’s holy name; and the proper way to fear and love God in worship. All of these three commands and every other command regarding God is summed up in that first and greatest commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” It’s absolute and unconditional love of God, in heart, soul, and mind. No aspect of our existence can be withheld or exempted from loving God. This is the first table of the Law.

The second table of the Law is the commandments regarding your neighbor. Typically numbered four through ten, they are: “Honor your father and mother; You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not bear false testimony against your neighbor; You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” While the first table concerns our relationship in the vertical dimension toward God, the second table governs our relationships in the horizontal dimension towards our fellow human beings. Obedience to parents and authorities, safeguarding the life and health of our neighbor, safeguarding the sexual purity of our neighbor and the marriage relationship, safeguarding our neighbor’s property, reputation, and even safeguarding against greed that would tempt us to plot to get our neighbor’s inheritance or possessions. These are perfectly summed up as “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love for our neighbor would not transgress any of these commands. This is the second table of the Law.

We can’t be sure how the ten commandments were split on the two stone tablets God gave to Moses, but it’s helpful to think of the one tablet containing the first table of the law—commandments about God, and the second tablet containing the second table of the law—commandments about our neighbor. For all of our life is contained and summed up in these two dimensions—vertically toward God, and horizontally toward each other. But Jesus takes this truth further than just being the greatest commandment in the Law—He goes on to say that “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” The Law and Prophets was a common shorthand way to refer to what we now call the Old Testament. The Law is the first five books of Moses: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. The Prophets represent the rest of the books of the Old Testament. Perhaps we don’t recognize the magnitude of this statement: that the whole teaching and content of the Law and Prophets depends on these two commandments of love—to Love God and Love your neighbor. Everything taught from Moses to Malachi, from the Psalms of David to the exalted prophecies of Isaiah, is expressed in these two commandments of Love. All of the Law and the Prophets hang on Love.

So now for a moment of self-examination. How do we measure up to these commands? Have we loved the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind? Have we loved our neighbor as ourselves? First consider what it means to love God with all our heart. If we love Him with all our heart, we should willingly and without reservation do everything that He commands. Such a person can pray: “O God, what you will, is my will; whether it be to die, live, be poor, be sick, saved, or condemned—I will suffer it all gladly, for I love you with my whole heart”. If someone says they love another with all their heart, they mean that they give their love unreservedly and without condition—that no matter what they would still love them. Second, consider what it means to love God with all our soul. “This is to love with one’s whole, inmost heart, spirit, and one’s whole life.” That our whole life is committed to joyful and devoted love to God. Such a person could pray, “My life is in your hands,” or even “Into your hands I commit my spirit.” Such a person would lay down their life for the one they loved. Third, consider what it means to love God with all our mind. This is to surrender ourselves to God with our whole mind, being “transformed by the renewing of our mind.” It’s to have the wisdom of knowing that God’s ways are higher than our ways, and to love and praise them even when we don’t understand. To consciously and with full agreement love and believe in God. Such a person would be filled with the wisdom and understanding that begins with the fear of the Lord.

I think if we honestly examine ourselves, none of us will be able to claim that we love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Our sinful life doesn’t reflect an ongoing agreement to and obedience of God’s will. We don’t love God with all our soul, as we divide our attention and devotion to Him with other pleasures, other ideas, and most of all a greater love of self. And our mind isn’t clearly and intently focused on God, but we doubt, get distracted from truth, or use our mind to excuse or defend our sin. No, we don’t love God with all our heart, soul, and mind.

But what about loving our neighbor as ourselves? The Old Testament reading gives some practical examples of what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves. We shouldn’t pervert justice or show favoritism and partiality, based on whether someone is rich or poor. We must not play favorites in our business affairs, our participation in civil service, or even in our social relationships—we’re to exercise fairness in all things. We’re not to spread slander or gossip. Such an easy thing! It hardly crosses our minds how often we’re gossiping. “Did you hear what she said?” “I heard that…” “Can you believe what he was telling me about…” “That woman is such a…” “That is so typical of him…” This is not loving our neighbor as ourselves. Do we guard our neighbor’s life, and make sure not to endanger it in any way? We’re not even to harbor hatred or resentment against a person. We’re to rebuke our neighbor frankly if they’re caught in obvious sin, so that we don’t share in their guilt. If we stand idly by while our neighbor is being harmed, we’re guilty of neglecting to protect their life. Finally, we must not seek revenge or hold grudges.

How are we measuring up so far? Are we all convinced that we have kept the simple but great commandments to Love God and Love our neighbor as ourselves? Obviously not. And now we’re in a predicament. We stand judged as guilty before the Law, having failed in keeping the greatest commandments, that sum up all of God’s Old Testament teaching. The Law and the Prophets cannot hang or depend on us. Rather we find ourselves hung by the Law. And as the writer to the Hebrews reminds us, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). We find ourselves just as much silenced by Jesus’ words as the Pharisees and Sadducees. The Law of God is having its proper effect on us, as the book of Romans declares: “Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19-20). The Law stops our mouth and holds us accountable to God—because by works of the law we can’t be justified before God. So we’re left silenced—muzzled by the Law, as it brings us knowledge of our sin.

Once silenced by the Law, we can receive the saving message of the Gospel. It’s Jesus who turns the attention of both the Pharisees and us to the Christ, the Son of David. For in Him is the resolution of our predicament. Jesus stumps the Pharisees with His own questions about who the Christ is, and why David, the Great King of the Golden Age of Israel, would address the Christ, one of his descendants, as Lord. Why would a king, the highest earthly ruler, address any of his descendants—like a great grandson or great-great grandson, etc—with the honorific title of Lord? What Jesus exposed with His question was that they were perfectly willing to accept the promised Christ’s humanity as a Son of David, but were unwilling to realize His divinity. They could not accept Jesus as the Christ who is both divine and human.

Yet Jesus stood among them, as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, and the fulfillment of God’s promises in the Old Testament. They knew to expect the Christ, foretold in the Old Testament. But they didn’t realize that He would be the one to perfectly live according to God’s Law. They didn’t realize that here standing among them was the solution to their predicament of the Law—theirs and our failure to Love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and our neighbor as ourselves. All the Law and the Prophets hang on Love. And Jesus the Christ, was the one and only person to walk that way of love perfectly and completely.

He alone, among mankind, loved God with all His heart, unreservedly giving Himself to the Father’s will, no matter what His circumstances. He showed this unconditional commitment to the Father’s will when He prayed in the Garden, “Father, not my will but your will be done.” He alone loved God with all His soul, with a joyful love and devotion to God that led Him to sacrifice His own life for the very one’s He loved: “Greater love has no man than this, that He lay down His life for His friend.” Jesus laid down His life for you and I at the cross. And He loved God with all His soul, as He spoke those dying words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Entrusting His soul to the one He loved, even at the moment of greatest forsakenness at the cross, Jesus showed His ultimate and perfect love of God. He alone among mankind loved God with all His mind, delighting in the truth of God’s Word and commandments. He delighted in the wisdom of God rather than men, showing no favoritism or partiality toward men. He grew in knowledge and stature before the Lord, because He feared and loved God with all His mind, which is the beginning of all wisdom. His perfect walk in love extended out to His neighbor in every circumstance. Considering others more important than Himself, He humbled Himself to become a servant to others—healing the sick, comforting the distressed and guilt-ridden, washing the feet of His disciples.

This perfect love and obedience of Jesus to the greatest of the commandments, led Him to the cross, where He laid down His perfect life for humanity. Led by God’s plan and purpose, step-by-step fulfilling the prophecies spoken of the Christ in the Old Testament, He was led to that gory tree. There He hung upon that tree, becoming accursed under the Law we failed to keep. There He hung on the tree, the One promised by the Prophets. To us who are broken and silenced beneath the Law, Jesus was born under that same Law, so that He could live and obey it perfectly. And as He hung on that tree, the heavy weight of the Law and the Prophets hung on Him. For all the Law and the Prophets hang on Love. He was and is and ever shall be that perfect Love. For God is Love. And in His hanging, dying, bleeding death, the Law and Prophets were finally fulfilled. The only one on whom all the Law and Prophets could depend. He is the solution to our predicament. By fulfilling the Law and Prophets in our place, God’s will was perfectly satisfied, for you. Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.

Living a Life of Self-Examination

What ought the spiritual life of the Christian be like? Is this a question we ever consider? Perhaps this question isn’t even on our “radar map.” We might take for granted that the Christian life basically consists in attending church every Sunday and the occasional potluck . Yet you’ve doubtless heard in at least one Sunday sermon that we cannot be Christians just on Sunday morning, but 24 hours, 7 days a week. In other words, coming to church on Sunday isn’t about “putting on a face,” and then returning during the week to a life that is “not in step with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). Practicing Christianity is not a “one hour a week exercise.” This would be the very definition of hypocrisy—to be hiding behind a pious mask, while our actions do not match our words (see the context of Galatians 2).

Perhaps we all should be struck cold by the thought that our lives rarely measure up to the standard of our own words or our own commitments—let alone the perfect and unchangeable standard of God’s Ten Commandments. How can we escape such a charge that we too are hypocrites? One way is to double our efforts to do well, and maintain that pious image. But for any who have attempted this, they will soon discover that it produces either self-righteousness (a “holier than thou”) attitude—or, just as likely, a despair that realizes this is only a game that furthers the self-deception. If no one else can tell that our words and pious image are but a mask for the guilt and darkness hidden within—we still know it full well. And the mental/emotional exhaustion of maintaining such a mask can lead a person to despair of all hope. “Who am I kidding?” “Why does it seem so easy for everyone else?” “What would people think of me if they really knew my heart?”

So again, how do we escape the charge that we too are hypocrites? St. John answers, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). To say we have not sinned is self-deception, and worse—makes God out to be a liar. So the solution to the dilemma is not to deny that we are hypocrites, or to deny that we have continually fallen short of the standard of God’s law—rather the solution is to confess our sinfulness. To confess is to speak back to God what is true about ourselves. Thus we affirm that God is true in calling us to account for our sin, and that there is no one who is righteous and never sins (Eccles. 7:20). Or as Jesus said, our heart itself is the source of “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt. 15:19). Rather than being an “inner source of goodness,” our heart is the fountain from which flows the evil thoughts that give rise to evil actions.

So what is the consequence of confessing our sins? First of all, the mask comes down—the pious fa├žade is removed, and we face the fact of our sinfulness before God. Then, “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We give up the exhausting and self-deceiving game of pretending our innocence, and face God’s mercy as a completely undeserved gift. We experience the washing over of God’s forgiveness, cleansing our deepest stain, freeing our conscience from an aging and increasingly heavy burden of guilt. Freeing us to confess even our failures—that we are in this life simultaneously both saint and sinner (Rom. 7).

Back to the original question of “What ought the spiritual life of the Christian be like?,” we find that it ought to be a daily life of self-examination. And by that I mean just what Martin Luther said in the first of his famous 95 Theses: “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ [Matt. 4:17], he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.” Repentance and confession aren’t one-time acts, an infrequent practice, or even a weekly ritual to be carried out only on Sunday morning. Our entire life is to be one of repentance. Day by day we should examine our lives and confess our sin. The Small Catechism asks “What sins should we confess?” and gives this answer: “Before God we should plead guilty of all sins, even those we are not aware of, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer; but before the pastor we should confess only those sins which we know and feel in our hearts.” It goes on to give a useful starting point for how we might learn a daily life of self-examination: “Which [sins] are these?” “Consider your place in life according to the Ten Commandments: Are you a father, mother, son, daughter, husband, wife, or worker? Have you been disobedient, unfaithful, or lazy? Have you been hot-tempered, rude, or quarrelsome? Have you hurt someone by your words or deeds? Have you stolen, been negligent, wasted anything, or done any harm?”

To this list we could add our own questions—but the important thing is that this gets at a fundamental part of our Christian life that is too often overlooked. Simply, that is to daily examine our sins and confess them to God, and want to do better. Having confessed our sins, we do not hide our sins behind a mask, but have the full confidence that we have been forgiven and cleansed, and that our sins are separated from us farther than the east is from the west! (Ps. 103:12) The Christian life of self-examination leads to only one solution for our guilt: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ! In Christ, there is no condemnation for us (Rom. 8:1).

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sermon on Matthew 21:33-43, for the 20th Sunday after Pentecost. "The Son's Inheritance"

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. The sermon today is based on the Gospel reading, Matthew 21, the parable about the vineyard. Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Old Testament reading and the Gospel reading for today are almost perfectly matched together, as you may have noticed both speak of a master who planted a vineyard. They talk about the care and attention the master gave in establishing and preparing His vineyard to bear good fruit. He cleared the land of stones, planted the vineyard in fertile soil, dug a winepress, built a watchtower to guard it, placed a hedge or wall around it to protect it, and entrusted it to the care of tenants to work it.

The Isaiah passage tells us what the vineyard is. “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of His delight” (Isa 5:7). So the vineyard represents God’s chosen people Israel, an elect nation, and how He established them by planting them in the land of Israel. He hedged a wall of protection around them, put them in a rich land, and prepared everything for them to flourish and bear much fruit. God questions, “What more could I have done for my vineyard than I have done for it?” He had every reason to expect a good harvest of fruit. This shows God’s gracious generosity in providing for His people, even though they had done nothing to deserve it. He was watching out for their interest, and shielding them from harm. In the parable, the landowner goes away on a journey, while His tenants are entrusted with the land. Like a sharecropping agreement, the landowner expected a share of the crop at harvest time. So He sent His servants to collect.

At this point the parable becomes quite surprising. First the landowner sends out a series of servants to collect the share of the crop, and one is beaten, another is killed, and the tenants stone the third. Amazingly, He continues to send even more servants than before, but they are all treated the same way. What could this mean? God sent numerous prophets to Israel to warn them of their sin, to turn them back from the threat of punishment for their disobedience. It was God’s mercy and patience that kept giving them yet another chance, to delay their punishment yet one more time, as prophet after prophet came to turn them back to God. In the history of Israel, these words were written: “The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:15-16). So the Israelites had a record of ignoring and mistreating their prophets, just as the tenants abused and killed the master’s servants. A few years after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven, the New Testament evangelist Stephen addressed the men of Israel about this very subject. He said, “Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered” (Acts 7:52)

Of course Jesus is the Righteous One whom the prophets foretold, and who is the Son of the landowner in the parable. Looking back at the parable, it continues to astonish. Not only did God, the landowner, repeatedly send His servants the prophets to Israel. But after they had all been mistreated, He then sent them Jesus, His Son, reasoning that surely “They will respect my Son.” We hear this with disbelief. What could He be thinking? Doesn’t He know what will happen to Him? But what is equally astonishing, is that the Son could ever come to His Father’s vineyard and not be received! How could the Son of the master, who had so carefully planted and prepared this vineyard, and entrusted it to tenants, now be so violently rejected? What sort of alienation or divorce must have happened between the tenants and the master, that they could turn so violently against Him? It is the alienation of sin, our human rebellion against God, that so blinds our eyes from recognizing the One who comes for our help and for our good, and sees Him instead as an enemy. Of all the kindness that the master had shown, and all the patience and even bearing with their abuse of His servants, when the Son came to them, He was rejected and killed. Let us learn not to turn away from the One who comes for our help and our good.

Truly did John write of Him: “He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13). Jesus, who made all things, came to His own people, and they didn’t receive Him. He came for their good, but they viewed Him as an enemy and killed Him. The parable says the tenants plotted against the Son, saying “This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.” I’ve always puzzled over this part of the parable. It’s completely illogical that they could have thought to gain the inheritance by murdering the Son and heir. How could they think the landowner would give them the property if they murdered His Son?

Recently I read a note in my study Bible that explained that according to Jewish law, if no heir came forward to claim a piece of property, then it was declared ownerless, and others could claim it. In the parable, they must have assumed that the owner was dead, and that was the reason the Son had appeared—in order to claim His property. So greedy thoughts of gaining the Son’s inheritance arose in their heads. And it turned ugly, as they threw the Son out of the vineyard, and killed Him. Again Jesus’ listeners did not realize He was now speaking about how He Himself would be taken out of Jerusalem and crucified, yet another prophet persecuted and put to death—but this One more than a prophet—He was the Son of God. They thought they could seize the inheritance, take it for themselves.

Relate this to how the Jews thought they could sacrifice Jesus in order to try to keep the “inheritance” of the land of Israel. The ruling council of the Jews, called the Sanhedrin, feared that the Romans, who ruled them, would take everything away from them, if everyone started following Jesus. Recorded in John, the Sanhedrin convened a conspiratorial meeting, and said: “What are we accomplishing? Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year spoke up, “You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. So from that day on they plotted to take his life” (John 11:46b-53).

Unwittingly, they fulfilled the words of Jesus’ parable. They tried to secure the inheritance for themselves by killing Jesus, God’s Son. And since the listeners were still unaware that this was being spoken about them, Jesus asked them what they thought would happen when the master of the vineyard came Himself, after they had killed His Son. Standing in someone else’s shoes actually made it easier for them to see the injustice of the situation. They quickly pronounced a just verdict—that the master would put those wretches to a wretched end, and give the vineyard to others who would give Him His share of the fruit in the time of harvest. So it was that the guilty pronounced their own just verdict, and proposed a solution—that the inheritance be given to others. “They killed Him that they might possess the inheritance; and because they killed Him, they lost it”.

And neither did they count on the Son rising from the dead! No one who plots to kill expects their enemy to rise to life again! And so they would face their own verdict. And they who could not be heirs by earning it or by seizing it, would give way to those who must become heirs by grace. To the Gentiles, to us(!) the kingdom of God was opened! To we who had no share in the inheritance, who were not even tenants in the vineyard—to us the promises would be given—for all who receive and believe in the Son of God. We have become heirs of grace, inheriting the kingdom of God, and being joined to Jesus, the Living Vine, through whom we bear the fruits of the kingdom. We are branches of that Living Vine, bearing fruit to be given to the Lord in due time. That fruit is the fruit of repentance, the mark of being joined to Jesus, the Vine, and having His love transform us. The kind of love, that so far exceeds our own, that drove God to sacrifice all to bring back the lost.

God’s plan in sending His Son to the vineyard seemed to make no sense, with a certain sentence of death awaiting any prophet who came to call Israel to repentance. But only after we’ve seen Jesus betrayed to the cross, suffering, dying for our sin; only after we’ve seen Him praying for the forgiveness of those who “know not what they do”; only after His rising from the dead on the third day—can we begin to see God’s purpose in this. Only God saw that Jesus’ death would seal and deliver His inheritance for us, both Jew and Gentile. Jesus, God’s Son, had an inheritance to bring, and His death put His “will” so to speak, into effect. And He didn’t give it to those who earned it, for none were worthy, and He was rejected by His own people. But through His death and resurrection, He willed His inheritance to all who receive Him by faith, both Jew and Gentile alike.

Scripture reminds us to be thankful that we have been grafted into the Living Vine, which is Jesus, but not to become arrogant or proud toward the Jews who were broken off (Rom 11). God still has power to bring back even the Jews who reject the Son and are cut out of the inheritance; they can still become heirs of grace by repentance and receiving Christ. And by trusting in Jesus, the rejected Son, they are grafted back into that Living Vine. Since through Jesus’ rejection we are welcomed into the vineyard as “tenants” and heirs, we lay hold of Jesus’ merciful forgiveness that is extended to us by faith. By faith in Jesus, the Son, we receive the Son’s inheritance undeservedly. For we who receive the Son, who believe in His name, have been given the power to become children of God, and co-heirs to His inheritance. So let us work with joy in His vineyard, until the time of harvest. Amen.

Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.