Sermon: Sunday, July 5, 2015: Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Texts: 2 Samuel 5:1-5,9-10  +  Psalm 48  +  2 Corinthians 12:2-10  +  Mark 6:1-13

For those of us who preach according to a lectionary, which is what we call the cycle of readings assigned for worship, we begin to mark time by the texts. Our lectionary operates on a three year cycle, so when a set of readings comes back around it’s an opportunity to reflect on the passage of time and to ask how things have changed or haven’t since the last time we heard these words together.

The readings for this morning always jump out at me because they are the texts I preached for my trial sermon here at St. Luke’s nine years ago in 2006 when I flew up from Atlanta, Georgia to interview for this call. Back then, almost a decade ago, I was drawn to verse 11 of the 6th chapter of Mark, “If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” Kind of a risky verse for a trial sermon, but I reflected here on how hard it sometimes is to shake off the dust and move on. How we often come to define ourselves by our conflicts, and want to stay put and keep fighting, when what’s truly needed is for everyone to get a fresh start and to trust that God will keep working on each of us in other ways at other times by other means.

At that point in history St. Luke’s was on the cusp of launching a redevelopment, but struggling with a story that was being told about us: that we were too small, too old, and too worn out to do anything new.  The challenge for us was to knock the dust of those old struggles off of our sandals and stop trying to convince those whose minds were already made up about us that they were wrong. Instead, we needed to move on with our own journey, travel light, and see who was ready to join us for the miracle of rebirth that happened next.

Church of the Advent (Episcopal). Located at Logan Boulevard & Francisco Ave., Logan Square, Chicago.

Church of the Advent (Episcopal). Located at Logan Boulevard & Francisco Ave., Logan Square, Chicago.

When these texts came up three years ago it was also the Fourth of July weekend, and we were gathered with Church of the Advent, as we are this morning, but that year we met in their sanctuary and I was drawn to the story from Second Samuel of King David consolidating power and unifying the nation after a long series of violent sectarian struggles. “Look, we are your bone and flesh” say the tribes of Israel, after fighting hard against David and the nation of Judah, in an appeal to their shared memory of a time when Israel and Judah had been united.

At that point in time the question we were all asking had to do with how long our congregations could continue living out of the ethnic denominational identities that have defined us for centuries.  How much longer will we subdivide ourselves as the body of Christ by labels rooted in our immigrant past: Scottish Presbyterians, German Lutherans, Church of England, Dutch Reformed; or how long will we endure being segregated within our own denominations, which is really a coded way of asking how long white racism and the legacy of colonialism will keep us from doing the work of creating places and patterns of worship that are hospitable to the wide diversity of people who are truly our neighbors in this community, Anglo and Latino, life-long working class homeowners and young renters just passing through. When will we have our “look, we are your bone and flesh” moment with one another?

How are we different in the nine years that have passed?  How are our struggles the same three years later?  What is the word for us today?

As I prepare to begin my fourth journey through the three-year cycle with St. Luke’s, what has struck me the most about these texts at this time is how Jesus himself struggles with the power of prejudice to limit his ministry. Although he has just calmed a storm, exorcised a demon, healed a hemorrhaging woman and raised a dying girl to life, when he arrives in his hometown he is so boxed in by people’s preconceived notions of who he is based on their memories of who he was that he is unable to do any deed of power there (other than to lay hands on a few sick people and cure them, which is just tossed out there as an aside, to remind us that he is still Jesus after all).

How many of you have had a taste of what Jesus experiences here? It’s a fairly common occurrence, for those who leave home as young adults and experience some measure of success in the world to find that, when they go home, they chafe against the expectations of people who remember them from when they were children and define them by their past instead of their present. It’s the reason my sister and I turn into teenaged versions of ourselves at the holidays.

Jesus’ own ministry is deeply shaped by people’s prejudices about him (“is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” [Mark 6:3]), and as we will see in the next chapter of Mark when he encounters the Syrophoenician woman, by his own prejudices about other people as well. Half the miracle of that story, in which a non-Jewish woman begs Jesus to heal her child, and Jesus initially resists saying “Let the children be fed first, for it is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (7:27) is that Jesus overcomes his ethnocentrism and allows himself to be changed by the appeal of a woman who does not share his ethnicity, but definitely shares his humanity. When she challenges him, rather than condemn her, Jesus heals her child.

I think it must be divine providence that on this Independence Day weekend, as our two congregations are once again gathered for worship in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in which many of our long-time neighbors are getting pushed out by rising rents and unbalanced development; in a month in which our nation has had to grieve the loss of nine more Black lives, lives that matter, to a White racist, who also happened to be Lutheran, who still in this day and age had easy access to guns; a month in which nearly a dozen Black churches across the South have burned to the ground with at least three confirmed as arson and other investigations still pending; that the scriptures once again ask us to examine how our prejudices have stood in the way of the deeds of power God is dying to accomplish in and for us.

When Jesus, the descendent of David, the child of Mary, the one who called himself the “Son of Man,” a title sometimes translated as “the Human One” who has no place to lay his head yet makes his home in every heart comes home to you, to us, to Logan Square, to the city of Chicago, to the not-quite-yet United States of America, what deeds of power can he accomplish here and how do our prejudices about who he is, and who we are, stand in the way of who God is and what God longs to see in our lives and in the whole world?

It’s perhaps easier, though no less painful or shameful, to name the ways our prejudices stand in opposition to God’s healing and justice-making love on a societal level.  We can see how our culture’s love of money and power have manifested in the manufacture and sale of guns, in the over-development of military power and the under-development of human potential, especially in poor and working-class communities, disproportionately communities of color, across our nation. We can see how our ethic of retribution over reconciliation has led to a system of mass incarceration and built a pipeline that starts in our schools, passes through our penitentiaries, and follows ex-convicts the rest of their lives in records that can never be expunged.

But I can’t see inside your heart, and you can’t see inside mine. So I don’t know how your prejudices are standing in the way of God’s healing and justice-making love in your life. I don’t know how our many and varied histories intersect in you in ways that make it hard for you to see the full humanity of your co-workers or your neighbors, your parents or your children, your spouse or even yourself. Yes, even your relationship to your own self has been beaten and bruised by the forces of racism and sexism and heterosexism and classism and nationalism and colonialism and capitalism so that you can’t, none of us can, really see ourselves clearly anymore.

There’s not much humility in our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, but there is in the song we sang as we entered worship this morning. O Beautiful for Spacious Skies sounds like one of the psalms, as it sings its praises for the beauty of creation, for the achievements of the nation’s sons and daughters, but finally as it petitions God to “mend thine every flaw, confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” It is a confession that our prejudices can’t be draped with a flag and forgotten, but that our union is flawed and can only be mended by the amazing grace of God, which meets us exactly where we are and yet calls us to become more than we’ve ever been before.



Sermon: Sunday, September 15, 2013: Second Sunday in Creation — Fauna Sunday

Texts:  Job 39:1-12,26-30  +  Psalm 104:14-23  +  1 Corinthians 1:10-23  +  Luke 12:22-31

A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values, a visual representation of chaos theory that looks remarkable like ... a butterfly.

A plot of the Lorenz attractor for values, a visual representation of chaos theory that looks remarkably like … a butterfly.

You’ve heard of the butterfly effect, right?  Aside from being the title of a mediocre Ashton Kutcher movie from a decade ago, the butterfly effect is the popular name for a phenomenon described by the field of mathematics known as “chaos theory.”  The butterfly effect refers to “sensitive dependence on initial conditions,” or the observation that even minute variations or fluctuations in a system can produce vastly and powerfully different outcomes at a later state. The effect gets its name from the now well-known example of a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere on the coast of South America resulting in a hurricane across the Atlantic.

The point, of course, isn’t whether or not the flapping of a butterfly’s wings, or even a preacher’s lips, can produce significant changes in weather (or behavior), but the idea that systems are deeply interconnected on levels that we can barely begin to understand.  That even small changes produce significant outcomes, but most importantly that we can’t know or forecast what those outcomes will be.

This is a challenge to our hubris as human beings.  Despite the fact that our knowledge of the world’s workings is constantly changing, that we are constantly replacing old ideas about how the universe works with new ones on the basis of new information, humanity generally tends to act as though it already knows all it needs to know to go traipsing off into God’s creation, crashing through the rain forests or drilling into the ocean floor, making not just small changes but massive ones at every step of the way that have created massive disruptions in the world’s climate and ecology and threatened the ecosystems for virtually every species of life on this planet, including our own.

So, the butterfly becomes a symbol of the power of something small, something frail and fragile, to effect great change in a system.

But as our preacher last week, Pastor Hector Garfias-Toledo, pointed out to us, there is a difference between knowing facts about something and having a relationship with it.  In his beautiful sermon about the ocean, he reminded us that 70% of the world’s population lives just miles from the sea, and that people who live close to the sea develop a relationship with it, not just ideas about it.

The same is true for the world’s fauna, its creatures.  Certainly people with pets understand the kind of bond that can emerge between human beings and domesticated animals.  Farmers and hunters can have a profound respect for their inter-dependence on the breeds of animals they raise and hunt. Biologists and preservationists help us all to understand the marvel and mystery of species that exist beyond our experience, that we relate to in the most abstract manner — like the massive, 11 ton whale sharks that live in the warm equatorial seas and live off of plankton, but have become an endangered species because of the unintentional damage done to them by boat propellers.

But the truth is, we don’t even know what we don’t know about the incredibly diverse array of creatures, of fauna, of species that fill the earth.

When God speaks to Job, in response to Job’s preoccupation with his own plight, God asks,

“Who has let the wild ass go free? Who has loosed the bonds of the swift ass, to which I have given the steppe as its home, the salt land for its dwelling place? It scorns the tumult of the city; it does not hear the shouts of the driver. It ranges the mountains as its pasture, and it searches after every green thing. Is the wild ox willing to serve you? Will it spend the night at your crib? Can you tie it in the furrow with ropes, or will it harrow the valleys after you? Will you depend on it because its strength is great, and will you hand over your labor to it? Do you have faith in it that it will return and bring your grain to your threshing floor?” (Job 39:1-12, 26-30)

The Book of Job reminds us that human arrogance has imagined ourselves as the center of God’s creation since the beginning.  In the invitation issued in the Garden of Eden to join God as stewards of God’s creation, we misunderstood the mandate that came with our vocation, and have treated the earth and all its creatures as if they exist solely for our benefit.  Even as Job laments his own deep losses, God reminds him that creation does not exist for his benefit.  The wild ass becomes emblematic of all God’s creatures who did not come into being simply to serve humanity, to be farmed, or yolked for labor.

This season of creation, which we are now celebrating for the third year in a three-year cycle, is very new.  It grew out of the Lutheran Church of Australia, but has become a global, ecumenical movement that intentionally interrupts the Revised Common Lectionary we share throughout much of the Church in order to draw our attention to the urgent, unprecedented ecological crisis in which we now find ourselves.  A crisis which threatens our climate, and therefore every species on earth in one form or another.

Season of Creation commentaryOne of the features of the theological work being done by these eco-theologians has been the development of a “hermeneutic of creation,” or a way of reading scripture that attempts to dislocate humanity from the center and to recognize the subjectivity, or perspective, of all of creation. In their introduction to the preaching resource that accompanies this season, theologians Norman Habel, H. Paul Santmire, and David Rhoads, the emeritus professor of New Testament at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, write,

“We are seeking to read the relevant Bible texts also from the perspective of Earth and of members of the Earth community. We have become aware that in the past most interpretations of texts about creation — Earth or our kin on this planet — have been read from an anthropocentric perspective, focusing on the interests of humans. The task before us is to begin reading also from the perspective of creation.” (“The Season of Creation: A Preaching Commentary,” p. 11)

With that hermeneutic of creation in place, we are encouraged to hear even texts like Paul’s letter to the Corinthians with new ears.

 “Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Cephas,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’  Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:10-13)

Paul is addressing himself to the problem of privilege and prejudice in the Corinthian community.  Some members of the congregation have come to imagine themselves as more important, more central, perhaps even more blessed, than others because they were baptized by Paul himself.  It is the basic human sin, to distance ourselves from God by distancing ourselves from one another, to harm our relationship with God by harming one another.

The hermeneutic of creation isn’t only applied to texts about wildlife, or the environment, but all of scripture. So when we re-read this passage from First Corinthians, we are encouraged to ask not only how we may be creating false distinctions between ourselves and the people sitting next to us in the pews, but also between ourselves and the species that surround us, between ourselves and the rest of creation.  Do we imagine that our commissioning at the dawn of creation, the dominion God gave to the first people over Creation’s fauna, has not only set us apart from, but above, the needs of all that God has created and that God loves?

That may, indeed, be the wisdom of this world, where corporate entities consolidate our individual appetites for consumption into engines of expanding markets that treat everything like a commodity to be purchased, packaged, and sold for our pleasure.  It may well be the wisdom of this world that says that environmental degradation is the necessary evil, the price that must be paid for human progress. Nevertheless, Paul speaks to us as Christians, as people saved from the powers of this world by the foolishness of the cross, the saving power of God, which makes itself known in the frail and fragile things of this world.

The cross teaches us about the folly of empire, the foolishness of placing our trust in systems of power, production and consumption that, in the end, will only enslave us, consume us, and destroy us.  In fact, aren’t they already?  Don’t you already sense that so much of our modern life has diminished our ability to enjoy what it means to be truly human?

Do you really think we were created for fifteen-hour work days, or weeks without sabbath?  Do you really think we were created for canned vegetables and powdered potatoes when the earth is erupting with fresh fruit in its season? Do you really think that reality television and the never-ending parade of digital distractions on your smart phones and tablets are any substitute for what is actually happening in God’s reality, for the waves of Lake Michigan crashing against the lakeshore and the wild play of children and animals and sunshine and trees?

Waves of Lake Michigan

Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Jesus said to his disciples,

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body about more than clothing … And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:22-23,29-31)

Sounds like foolishness, doesn’t it?  How are we to stop worrying about our lives, our next meal, our shelter and our clothing? Still, there is wisdom in this foolishness. Imagine the sabbath the earth and all its creatures would experience if we could curb our unceasing appetites and live lighter upon the earth.

Monarch ButterflyConsider the beautiful monarch butterfly, another of Creation’s endangered species.  It neither buys nor sells, but through the innate wisdom implanted in it by God its creator, it migrates unimaginable distances from the United States to Mexico each year, traversing national boundaries to make its home among people divided by wealth, ethnicity, language and power. Consider the monarch butterfly, in its frail, fragile beauty, which enters the tomb of its cocoon as a caterpillar and emerges ready to flutter, to fly, to become more than it had ever been. If God so equips the monarch butterfly for its future, how can we imagine God in her infinite compassion, would do anything less for us?



Sermon: Sunday, July 8, 2012: “A Game of Thrones; Act 2, Scene 1 — Flesh & Bone”

Texts:  2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 and Psalm 48  •   2 Corinthians 12:2-10  •   Mark 6:1-13

(Preached at Episcopal Church of the Advent, Logan Square, on the annual occasion of our ecumenical summer worship service.)

In the name of Christ, our sovereign.  Amen.

It’s good to be together this morning.  Our congregations have been sharing mission and ministry for decades now, gathering at least twice a year for worship at the peak of summer near Independence Day, then again in late November near Thanksgiving.  Always around these two national holidays.

Ecumenical ministry and worship is something we all pretty much take for granted these days, but that wasn’t always the case.  My mother, who was raised in Boston as an Irish Catholic during the Kennedy years, remembers hearing that the Lutherans were stockpiling bombs in their church basements.  Lutherans were, in many parts of the country, synonymous with Germans, and in the post-WWII-era there was still plenty of suspicion and hostility against Germans floating around.  This is why so many American flags popped up in Lutheran sanctuaries in the 1940s and 50s.

No, these days denominational difference — at least within the mainline Protestant church — is mostly treated as a matter of preference, not of substance.  Decades of full communion agreements between Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Congregationalists and others have followed, not coincidentally, the assimilation of many ethnic immigrant communities into the fabric of national life.  So, if for this reason alone, the fact that we gather around the 4th of July and Thanksgiving Day actually follows a certain logic.

As we were planning for this morning’s worship, I shared with Father Peter that St. Luke’s is in the middle of a preaching series this summer and asked if I might continue it here with you today.  The Revised Common Lectionary provides two tracks of readings during the season of ordinary time after Pentecost — the thematic readings and the semi-continuous ones.  The thematic series, which you’ve been following here at Advent, pairs the Old Testament reading with the Gospel reading so that the former intentionally prefigures or reinforces the latter.  The semi-continuous series, which we’ve been following at St. Luke’s, disconnects the Old Testament reading from the assigned Gospel reading.  Instead, each year, it follows one of the major narrative arcs from Hebrew scripture.  This year it traces out the story of the rise and fall of the nation of Israel and the house of David found in 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings.

It’s a story in three acts, and we’ve just come to the beginning of Act Two.  In the previous act, the people of God petitioned the prophet Samuel for a king.  God warns that this desire to be ruled will lead to all kinds of suffering, but relents and gives the people what they ask for.  Saul is anointed king over Israel, and things quickly fall apart.  The boy shepherd David is introduced as an unlikely underdog of a political opponent — yet, as the one chosen by God, his star rises without fail as Saul’s diminishes.  At the close of Act One, Saul and his son Jonathan lie dead on the battlefield and David is poised to become king.

During last week’s worship, St. Luke’s heard the song of lament David sang for his fallen king and his beloved Jonathan.  To move from that text to the one for this morning, in which Israel joins Judah in making David their king, is sort of misleading.  It’s a kind of amnesia, glossing over the painful past to lay the groundwork for a unified future.  You see, David didn’t immediately become king over all Israel and Judah immediately after Saul’s death.  For seven years Israel and Judah were locked in civil war, a battle between the houses of David and Saul.  While the southern tribes of Judah had moved immediately to make David their king, the northern tribes of Israel were ruled by Saul’s military commander, Abner, who used Saul’s weak-willed son, Ishbaal, as a puppet to take control of the north.

As we enter into the story this morning the tribes of Judah and Israel are weary of war and long to be united under a strong king.  They are ready to forget the past and begin building a future together.  The leaders of the tribes of Israel come to David in Hebron in the south, where he has been ruling until this point, and they appeal to him on the basis of their common ancestry.  “Look,” they say, “we are your bone and flesh.”

Don’t you wish we could remember that before we launch into our wars, civil and uncivil?  Whether we are at war other nations, are caught up in religious or corporate power struggles, or are simply fighting with our neighbors — even our friends and families — a time will come when the battle is over and we will be left to make peace and forge a new future, when we will have to look in the eyes of our former enemies and say, “look, we are your bone and flesh.”  Wouldn’t it go so much better for us all if we could remember that at the outset?

Within the family of Christianity, the ecumenical movement is a funny thing.  Again, we in the mainline Protestant church basically take it for granted that the schisms that ripped Europe apart in the 16th century are essentially resolved.  We forget that Luther was branded a heretic and that, for a time while he fled from Rome with a death sentence on his head, it was illegal for anyone in Germany to provide him with food or shelter.  Fifty years later, Pope Pius V declared Queen Elizabeth a heretic and “released all of her subjects from any allegiance to her and excommunicated any who obeyed her orders.”

The battles that divide the church have been bloody and, as in the time of David, these conflicts have always been about more than who carries the God-anointed truth — they are about nation building and ethnic identity.  Religion, nation, and ethnic tribe have always been inseparable elements of our collective stories.

In his commentary on this passage from 2 Samuel, Tony Cartledge — a Baptist scholar — writes,

“The kingdom of God, as represented by the community of faith, is far from united.  We make far more of our differences — even within individual denominations and churches — than we do of our common ties.  Our differences may be theological, methodological, ecclesiastical, or cultural.  Though we are bound by a common faith in Christ and by a common call to share Christ’s love, our tendency is to allow our differences to overshadow common cause.  Instead of celebrating diversity and allowing it to empower growth, we often fail to fellowship or work together with those whose gender, creed, culture, or worship style fall outside the lines we have drawn.”

However, we are living in a time of incredible transformation, a time in which the lines that divide us are being redrawn — some disappearing as others become more deeply etched.  In a recent article on the Huffington Post, David Lose, a professor of preaching at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota asked if Christian denominations have a future.  He gives five reasons why he suspects denominations may have seen their day, including:

  1. How confusing denominations are in an increasingly non-Christian and religiously unaffiliated society.
  2. The relatively minor and difficult to communicate theological difference between Christian denominations.
  3. The inordinate expense of maintaining the same number of seminaries, publishing houses, and denominational organizations when there aren’t as many people to support them and those who remain have fewer means with which to do so.

But it’s the last two that I find most interesting in light of today’s story from 2 Samuel.  Lose writes,

4) Political differences outstripped theological ones decades ago. Let’s face it: progressive Lutheran, Presbyterian, and Episcopal congregations have a lot more in common than do progressive and conservative congregations in the same tradition.  Differences over how to read the Bible, the nature of the atonement, and the character of God are far more important today than nuanced differences in polity or regarding the sacraments.

5) Denominational affiliation often represents the triumph of ethnic and cultural loyalties over theological convictions.  While denominations may have initially arisen over theological differences, they were soon co-opted be the political realities of their sponsoring state.  Little wonder, then, that ethnic and cultural identity is closely tied to denominational affiliation.  Those in the club, after all, talk not simply of Presbyterians and Lutherans but Scotch Presbyterians and Swedish or German Lutherans [and I might add Irish Catholics and Mayflower Anglicans].  This has always made it difficult to reach beyond one’s ethnic enclave because interested seekers, even if they were attracted to, for instance, Lutheran theology, had to accept it in the form of German chorales or Swedish traditions.  Moreover, as ethnic culture has declined as an important identity-maker, so also has religious affiliation — after all, for many folks, if Lutheranism isn’t about Santa Lucia, what is it about?  And if they’ve stopped going to the Santa Lucia festival, why bother with church?

Dear people of St. Luke’s and Church of the Advent, these are actually very important questions for us to be wrestling with — and, most likely, we should be wrestling with them together.  As congregations who both once boasted of membership rolls far more robust than we presently enjoy; who are both experiencing some measure of revitalization and new growth; and who find ourselves increasingly surrounded by a society apathetic, or even hostile, to our presence; we must learn from the lessons of our past.  Those we mistrust, those we resent, those we even perhaps envy, will one day be sitting with us at the end of a long, bloody, civil (or uncivil) war and one of us will be saying to the other, “look, we are your flesh and bone.”

Here’s how my mother became a Lutheran.  She ended up going to a small Lutheran liberal arts college in Fremont, Nebraska on a vocal scholarship where she met my dad (a Congregationalist).  When the choir went on its annual tour, they would perform in churches and before each concert they would have a brief prayer service and would take communion together.  Raised Catholic, my mother had been taught to refrain from taking the sacraments outside the Roman Catholic church.  Although she deeply loved the choir, being unable to share that meal felt like not really being a part of that community.  In the end, she took the communion and she joined the Lutheran church.

It hasn’t been too difficult for us to get together like this, twice a year, to share the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper and to renew our long friendship.  I wonder though, who else might be invited? When we consider that religious difference has always been tied to national identity and ethnic tribe, who else belongs at the table with us when we break the bread of life and drink the cup of salvation?  Despite our differences, and the lines that divide us, there is something in us — I think it is most likely the image of God, like calling unto like — that draws us back together again.  One day we will all be looking at each other across the table saying, “look, we are your bone and flesh.”

Why not today?