Sermon for Trinity 10

Trinity 10 2012
August 12, 2012
Luke 19:41-48

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Zechariah 9:9-10 says, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

Luke 13:33-34 says, “Nevertheless, I must go on my way today and tomorrow and the day following, for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.’ 34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 35 Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see me until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’”

The readings from Zechariah 9 and Luke 13, both shed a little perspective on what is happening in this mornings Gospel. Both readings remind us that Jesus’ ministry is coming to its conclusion, but not before entering Jerusalem one last time, and that this conclusion to Jesus’ ministry was a long time in the making. Jesus’ three years of ministry and giving peace, culminates in Him being the Prince of Peace upon the cross in the city of Peace, Salem, without the inhabitants knowing what peace truly is.

Jesus tried to save Jerusalem from this destruction like a mother hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but they rebelled, relying on themselves and their own greatness for salvation. They falsely relied on their righteousness which only brings death and destruction instead of peace.

Jesus wept over Jerusalem saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.”

So, Jesus wept in the midst of all of this rejoicing, like David after the death of his son Absolom. Jesus wept tears, not of joy, but of pain and sorrow. Jesus wept tears that only God can cry over a people that have rejected Him, that are going to be destroyed in 70ad.

Josephus describes part of the destruction in gruesome detail when he says, “The city of Jerusalem was well fortified and had three walls. Therefore the Roman forces approached in full force to storm the city; and after much work, the first and second walls conquered and taken. At this same time, an innumerable multitude of people died of hunger, as Josephus wrote. The best of friends would often come to blows over a small piece of bread; children would often rip food from their parents’ mouths. Neither brother nor sister had mercy upon the other. A bushel of corn was more precious than gold. Driven by hunger, some ate manure; some, the cinches of their saddles; some, the leather stripped from their shields; some still had hay in their mouths when their bodies were found; some sought to escape starvation by means of their own filth. So many died of starvation that 115,000 corpses were found in the city and buried. Hegesippus reported that, at one gate alone, several thousand were carried out, and that 600,000 died because of the siege.”

Later in his writing Josephus says, “It was then that the soldiers became aware that a certain Jew was picking gold which he had swallowed out of his own excrement. Thus a rumor began to spread throughout the entire camp. This rumor caused those soldiers who thought about it to believe that they could find gold in all the Jews who had come out of the city to their encampment. More than two thousand Jews were disemboweled in a single night; and many more would have suffered the same fate had Titus not decreed that the captives should not be killed.”

Jesus was not the harbinger of this wanton destruction. Instead Jesus shows God’s mercy and love because Jesus enters Jerusalem as a Savior, not as an evil Judge hell bent on the destruction of the people with their city and their precious temple.

This is why, when Jesus entered the temple, He “began to drive out those who sold,46 saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

Jesus was fulfilling Malachi 3, which says, “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.” Jesus did this cleaning out of the temple while quoting Isaiah 56.

Jesus cleaned out the temple to restore it to its original purpose and function, a place of prayer not a place of profiteering. Jesus did this to once again show that He is the New Israel, the New Adam that has not sinned. Jesus stuck His perfect, sinless hands in the muck and the mire to clean out the temple so the faithful Jews could offer their Passover sacrifices in peace, while the true Sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was giving fulfillment to those happening in the temple. Jesus cleaning out the temple showed that His time was coming to an end, an end that led only to the Sacrifice of the true spotless Lamb of God, the New Israel, for the sins not only of Israel, but for all who believe. Because Jesus knew that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness (Heb 9:22).”

So I ask, “What effect did Jesus’ tears have on the destruction of Jerusalem that was going to take place?”

These tears of compassion, of love, of peace, unfortunately, flowed in vain. The sound of inevitability was at hand, the train was on the tracks and it was going full steam ahead. All Jesus could do was cry for Jerusalem, cry for those in the city. Jesus cried for all of those who thought that they didn’t need a Savior and that their righteousness would save them. Jesus cried for all those who thought, in foolish arrogance, that they could save themselves, work themselves up from the quickly collapsing cityscape all around them.

The destruction eventually came. No stone was left on top of another. Jerusalem, the city of Peace, was left in ruins when they unknowingly slaughtered Peace made manifest. The city walls were useless, barely even slowing the army down. The men courageously fought in vain because they were not fighting against other men, but against God’s just judgment. It didn’t matter how diligent they were in offering sacrifices for God, because for centuries they were ignoring the prophets theme of “I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).”

In the end, even the command of Titus did nothing to swage the carnal appetites of those soldiers that attacked Jerusalem and left it to burn. The soldiers can be described as viciously licentious, just like the French revolutionaries who rebelled against the aristocracy of Paris in Dickens, a Tale of Two Cities. Only following their own bellies and desires. The hunger of greed, lust, theft and murder was satiated.

These tears mean something different for us here today. For us those tears were not flowing in vain, instead they stand as a reminder from our Jesus who is both true God and true man in that He wept, and still weeps for rejectors of His Gospel.

What serves for your peace? Jesus Christ is your peace. He is the Prince of Peace who unselfishly and without fanfare suffered and died in a world that wanted nothing to do with peace. It went so far as to crucify Him as a rabble rousing, hate mongering, blaspheming terrorist between two other terrorists. All of God the Fathers burning anger that destroyed the world in a flood and entire cities later, hatred against sin, vengeance on the murder of innocents beginning with Abel, and want for blood for the forgiveness of sins Jesus endured on the cross. Payment was made in total for all who are called to be God’s sons and daughters.

This time of divine visitation is now for you. Come to the altar, see Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. See Jesus in the upper room. See Jesus upon the cross. See Jesus leaving the tomb empty. Come and partake of this visitation of Christ in body and blood, in bread and wine, in sacrifice and resurrection for you.

Luke 19 ends with “Jesus teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, 48 but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.”

Listen to Jesus and hang to His words of peace in a world that finds delight in destruction and war. Testify about the peace that only the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ upon the cross, provides. As long as the doctrine remains pure the visitation of grace will never be overthrown.

Amen.

Image is from Higher Things.

I’m very thankful

today for the leadership that we in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod have in Rev. Matthew Harrison. Here are his opening remarks when testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform: “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”

Here is his video:

Here is the transcript:

“Mr. Chairman, it’s a pleasure to be here. The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod is a body of some 6,200 congregations and 2.3 million members across the U.S. We don’t distribute voters’ lists. We don’t have a Washington office. We are studiously non-partisan, so much so that we’re often criticized for being quietistic.

“I’d rather not be here, frankly. Our task is to proclaim, in the words of the blessed apostle St. John, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all our sin. And we care for the needy. We haven’t the slightest intent to Christianize the government. Martin Luther famously quipped one time, ‘I’d rather have a smart Turk than a stupid Christian governing me.’

“We confess that there are two realms, the church and the state. They shouldn’t be mixed – the church is governed by the Word of God, the state by natural law and reason, the Constitution. We have 1,000 grade schools and high schools, 1,300 early childhood centers, 10 colleges and universities. We are a machine which produces good citizens for this country, and at tremendous personal cost.

“We have the nation’s only historic black Lutheran college in Concordia, Selma. Many of our people [who are alive today] walked with Dr. King 50 years ago on the march from Selma to Montgomery. We put up the first million dollars and have continued to provide finance for the Nehemiah Project in New York as it has continued over the years, to provide home ownership for thousands of families, many of them headed by single women. Our agency in New Orleans, Camp Restore, rebuilt over 4,000 homes after Katrina, through the blood, sweat and tears of our volunteers. Our Lutheran Malaria Initiative, barely begun, has touched the lives of 1.6 million people in East Africa, especially those affected by disease, women and children. And this is just the tip, the very tip, of the charitable iceberg.

“I’m here to express our deepest distress over the HHS provisions. We are religiously opposed to supporting abortion-causing drugs. That is, in part, why we maintain our own health plan. While we are grandfathered under the very narrow provisions of the HHS policy, we are deeply concerned that our consciences may soon be martyred by a few strokes on the keyboard as this administration moves us all into a single-payer … system. Our direct experience in the Hosanna-Tabor case with one of our congregations gives us no comfort that this administration will be concerned to guard our free-exercise rights.

“We self-insure 50,000 people. We do it well. Our workers make an average of $43,000 a year, 17,000 teachers make much less, on average. Our health plan was preparing to take significant cost-saving measures, to be passed on to our workers, just as this health-care legislation was passed. We elected not to make those changes, incur great cost, lest we fall out of the narrow provisions required under the grandfather clause. While we are opposed in principle, not to all forms of birth control, but only abortion-causing drugs, we stand with our friends in the Catholic Church and all others, Christians and non-Christians, under the free exercise and conscience provisions of the U.S. Constitution.

“Religious people determine what violates their consciences, not the federal government. The conscience is a sacred thing. Our church exists because overzealous governments in northern Europe made decisions which trampled the religious convictions of our forebearers. I have ancestors who served in the Revolutionary War. I have ancestors who were on the Lewis and Clark expedition. I have ancestors who served in the War of 1812, who fought for the North in the Civil War – my 88-year-old father-in-law has recounted to me, in tears many times, the horrors of the Battle of the Bulge. In fact, Bud Day, the most highly decorated veteran alive, is a member of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

“We fought for a free conscience in this country, and we won’t give it up without a fight. To paraphrase Martin Luther, the heart and conscience has room only for God, not for God and the federal government. The bed is too narrow, the blanket is too short. We must obey God rather than men, and we will. Please get the federal government, Mr. Chairman, out of our consciences. Thank you.”


Merry Slaps-mas

Slappy holiday

Why not take the Santa Claus tradition a little further? | Gene Edward Veith

Santa Claus had his origins in St. Nicholas, the fourth-century bishop of Myra in present-day Turkey. Known for his generosity and his love of children, Nicholas is said to have saved a poor family’s daughters from slavery by tossing into their window enough gold for a rich dowry, a present that landed in some shoes or, in some accounts, stockings that were hung up to dry. Thus arose the custom of hanging up stockings for St. Nicholas to fill. And somehow he transmogrified into Santa Claus, who has become for many people the secular Christmas alternative to Jesus Christ.

But there is more to the story of Nicholas of Myra. He was also a delegate to the Council of Nicea in a.d. 325, which battled the heretics who denied the deity of Christ. He was thus one of the authors of the Nicene Creed, which affirms that Jesus Christ is both true God and true man. And unlike his later manifestation, Nicholas was particularly zealous in standing up for Christ.

During the Council of Nicea, jolly old St. Nicholas got so fed up with Arius, who taught that Jesus was just a man, that he walked up and slapped him! That unbishoplike behavior got him in trouble. The council almost stripped him of his office, but Nicholas said he was sorry, so he was forgiven.

The point is, the original Santa Claus was someone who flew off the handle when he heard someone minimizing Christ. Perhaps we can battle our culture’s increasingly Christ-less Christmas by enlisting Santa in his original cause. The poor girls’ stockings have become part of our Christmas imagery. So should the St. Nicholas slap.

Not a violent hit of the kind that got the good bishop in trouble, just a gentle, admonitory tap on the cheek. This should be reserved not for out-and-out nonbelievers, but for heretics (that is, people in the church who deny its teachings), Christians who forget about Jesus, and people who try to take Christ out of Christmas.

This will take a little tweaking of the mythology. Santa and his elves live at the North Pole where they compile a list of who is naughty, who is nice, and who is Nicean. On Christmas Eve, flying reindeer pull his sleigh full of gifts. And after he comes down the chimney, he will steal into the rooms of people dreaming of sugarplums who think they can do without Christ and slap them awake.

And we’ll need new songs and TV specials (“Santa Claus Is Coming to Slap,” “Deck the Apollinarian with Bats of Holly,” “Frosty the Gnostic,” “How the Arian Stole Christmas,” “Rudolph the Red Knows Jesus”).

Department store Santas should ask the children on their laps if they have been good, what they want for Christmas, and whether they understand the Two Natures of Christ. The Santas should also roam the shopping aisles, and if they hear any clerks wish their customers a mere “Happy Holiday,” give them a slap.

This addition to his job description will keep Santa busy. Teachers who forbid the singing of religious Christmas carols—SLAP! Office managers who erect Holiday Trees—SLAP! Judges who outlaw manger displays—SLAP! People who give The Da Vinci Code as a Christmas present—SLAP! Ministers who cancel Sunday church services that fall on Christmas day—SLAP! SLAP!

Perhaps Santa Claus in his original role as a theological enforcer may not go over very well in our contemporary culture. People may then try to take both Christ and Santa Claus out of Christmas. And with that economic heresy, the retailers would start to do the slapping.

Birth and Re-birth.

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8:9).

Thursday night during the World Series my wife went into labor. She wanted to stay home until it was over to make sure the Cards won before we left. (That’s my wife!) We got to the hospital around 11pm and the baby was born 6:56am Friday. Our little Labradoodle is 19in long and weighed in at 8lbs even. The Lord be praised for a healthy pregnancy and baby.

This morning Jen and I had the little girl baptized in the blood that flowed from the pierced side of Christ. We did this because infants, like our little Labradoodle, and all people who are descended from Adam and Eve, are sinners and deserves punishment because, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Out of God’s love in Christ, Labradoodle is part of the ‘all nations’ mentioned in Matthew 28 and Jesus Himself invites all children to come to Him in Luke 18.

Thank the Lord for doing this promise and work in our midst today. Despite what some teachers in the world proclaim, “Baptism now saves you” (1 Peter 3:21) applies to infants as well.  “Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.” (Psalm 30:9).

Labradoodle being cleaned after lying on mommy.


My beautiful bride after a long night and the birth.

Labradoodle sitting up during cleaning.

Me and my baby.

A sleepy girl.

Momma and girl.

Girl in her mommy’s baptismal gown.

Not a great picture, but it’s all of us.

Jen, Labby and me by the girl’s banner.

Walther Turns 200

C.F.W. Walther turns 200 today, and this is why you should know who he is. By Travis Scholl

Many American Lutheran Christians will be marking the 200th birthday of one C. F. W. Walther today. Outside of those circles, very few will even know his name. But there are more than a few reasons why St. Louisans shouldn’t forget him.

Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther was born on October 25, 1811 in Saxony, Germany. After studying theology at the University of Leipzig, he became a pastor in the town of Bräunsdorf, Saxony, and quickly became disenchanted with what he saw as coercive political entanglement with religion. Hence, he involved himself with other religious leaders and followers who coalesced into an immigrant movement to America.

They landed at the port of New Orleans in 1839, where a small group stayed and remain even today a vital part of the culture of the city. Most of the group landed in St. Louis, with another portion establishing farming settlements further south along the Mississippi River in eastern Perry county, Missouri.

Walther quickly took roots in his new Missouri home, and particularly in the burgeoning city of St. Louis. He started the first Lutheran church west of the Mississippi River, Trinity Church, which remains a thriving part of the Soulard neighborhood. He was pastor of Trinity for 46 years. Trinity Church soon spun off three other large congregations, Holy Cross in south city and Zion and Immanuel on the north side. Yet, they all wanted Walther as their pastor. So for decades Walther spent every Sunday preaching and teaching at all four places.

Before returning to St. Louis from Perry county, Walther founded Concordia Seminary, was its first professor and president, and oversaw its move to St. Louis. He taught there from 1850 until his death in 1887. He played the central role in organizing likeminded Lutherans throughout the United States in forming the church body now known as The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, serving as its founding president from 1847 to 1850, and again from 1864 to 1878.

In his spare time, Walther was a quintessential entrepreneur. He started, wrote, and edited three different magazines. He wrote numerous books, including one of the landmarks of American Lutheran theology, The Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel. He established a publishing house, Concordia Publishing House, which still operates out of its offices on Jefferson Ave. in south city. All of which was considered the “new media” of its day.

In the midst of all this, he considered himself a proud citizen of both the city of St. Louis and the state of Missouri.

He died on May 7, 1887, and was buried in Concordia Cemetary in south St. Louis, where a mausoleum now honors his gravesite. He died as the unquestioned cultural and religious leader of the largest immigrant community of nineteenth-century St. Louis.

My own personal ties to Walther are as thick as blood. My forebears were among the immigrants who traveled with Walther to America, eventually becoming part of the settlements in Perry county.

He was, of course, not without his faults. He arrived in the United States just a few years before the Civil War. And although he would have thought it inconceivable to personally own slaves, he badly waffled on the issue of slavery as an institution. And in churchly circles, his theological stridency gave him a number of enemies just as it won him many friends.

Yet, perhaps in a nod to his strict German sense of modest restraint, amid all of the institutions and communities of St. Louis that are still his heir, not a single one of them bears his name. Not even a street in his old neighborhood.

And I am certain he would have it no other way. Which is perhaps the best reason St. Louis should remember him anyway.

3 Ingredient Fudge

After a busy day in the office doing some Romans 2 study and preparing tomorrow’s Bible Study on the 6 Law Codes found in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy I was pretty tired mentally when I got home. Thankful that my wife had tater-tot casserole on the menu for tonight, I decided to be the wonderfully sensitive and amazing husband that I am… I made a recipe for quick fudge that Jen has. Really simple…. 3 ingredients simple.

Step 1: Dump 1/4 cup butter, 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips and a can of sweetened condensed milk in a pan.

Step 2: Turn stove on medium heat and stir mixture until… wait for it….. it’s all melted and mixed.

Step 3: Pour into an 8×8 pan and let cool in fridge.

Step 4: Cut and devour.

Note: Cutting is option, devouring is not.

Baa Baa’s First Baptismal Birthday

This evening I had a Church Leadership Meeting which ran a few minutes late. I raced home, put my key in the front door and bounded up the stairs. When I got up there my son ran up to me and said that they were waiting for me for Baa Baa’s Bapbirphday. By the grace of God the kids slept late this afternoon, so Jen decided to keep them up for a few extra minutes before starting bedtime devotions. When those were over, I got home and we did the Baptismal Remembrance Service with the kids.

Here’s the Order of Service that we use. *

Light the Baptismal Candle

FAMILY: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

FATHER: Holy Baptism is the means by which the Father creates new sons and daughters. In the waters of Baptism we are joined to the death and resurrection of our Lord. Born again by water and the Spirit, we are made members of the body of Christ. Living in fellowship with him and with His people, we grow in faith, love, and obedience to the will of God.

MOTHER: God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we give you thanks for freeing your sons and daughters from the power of sin and for raising them up to a new life through this Holy Sacrament. Pour your Holy Spirit upon us: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence. Fill us with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.

ALL: AMEN.

The Family may sing or say (Hymn 298, TLH)

Baptized into Thy name most holy,

O Father, Son and Holy Ghost,

I claim a place, though weak and lowly,

Among Thy seed, Thy chosen host.

Buried with Christ and dead to sin,

Thy Spirit now shall live within.

And I have vowed to fear and love Thee

And to obey Thee, Lord, alone;

Because the Holy Ghost did move me,

I dared to pledge myself Thine own,

Renouncing sin to keep the faith

And war with evil unto death.

And never let my purpose falter,

O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,

But keep me faithful to Thine altar

Till thou shalt call me from my post.

So unto Thee I live and die

And praise Thee evermore on high.

The Family shall say the Apostle’s Creed

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary; Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Christian Church, the communion of saints: The forgiveness of sins; The resurrection of the body; And the life everlasting. Amen.

SYMBOLS OF BAPTISM

CHILD**:   The Water reminds us that God gave a visible sign that through faith our sins are washed away.

CHILD:   The cross reminds us that Christ died and rose again to free us from sin, death and the power of the devil. We have been marked with the sign of the cross to remind us that we have been redeemed through faith in Christ.

CHILD:   The candle reminds us that Jesus, the Light of the World, became the Light of our life in Baptism.

FAMILY: The Lord’s Prayer

FAMILY TOGETHER:

May the Lord bless us and keep us.

May the Lord make His face to shine

upon us and be gracious unto us.

May the Lord lift up His countenance

upon us and give us peace. Amen.

THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY BAPTISM 

THE NATURE OF BAPTISM

What is Baptism? Baptism is not simple water only, but it is the water comprehended in God’s command and connected with God’s word. Which is that word of God? Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Matthew: Go ye and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

THE BLESSING OF BAPTISM

What does Baptism give or profit? It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.

Which are such words and promises of God? Christ, our Lord, says in the last chapter of Mark: He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

THE POWER OF BAPTISM

How can water do such great things? It is not the water indeed that does this, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no Baptism. But with the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter third:

(According to His mercy He saved us) by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ, our Savior, that, being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BAPTIZING WITH WATER

What does such baptizing with water signify? It signifies that the Old Adam in us should, by daily contrition and repentance, be drown­ed and die with all sins and evil lusts and, again, a new man daily come forth and arise, who shall live before God in righteousness and purity forever.

Where is this written? St. Paul writes, Romans, chapter sixth: We are buried with Christ by Baptism into death, that, like as He was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

We ended the service by singing her baptismal hymn (TLH 299 Dear Father, Who Hast Made us All).

*Note: This Order of Service is from Jen’s best friend’s parents. Does anyone know what this may be based off of?

**Note: Because Baa Baa is only one year old and can’t read yet, Jen and I split her readings.