Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Original Sin

"I've been searching for an original sin,
One with a twist and a bit of a spin.
And since I've done all the old ones
'til they've all been done in...
Endlessly searching for an original sin." 

- Jim Steinman

There is no such thing, of course, as an "original" sin, in that sense of the word. Every wicked thing under the sun that could be done by man has been done - social media and instant communication simply means that we see man's wicked deeds instantly. But we just keep doing the same old things. And we will - on and on - until the final day.

There is, however, such a thing as Original Sin. It is the sin of our first parents Adam and Eve that we have all inherited and in which we all take part. Original Sin is the death sentence of the human race. It is the total corruption that has destroyed the image of God in us. We are conceived and born in Original Sin. It is what makes us commit all manner of Actual Sins of wicked thoughts, words, and deeds - harming our neighbor and harming ourselves.

Sometimes I wonder if we really believe in Original Sin. Do we really believe what God's holy Word says about us? That is, after all, what confessing God's Word is all about - we say back to God what God says about Himself and what He says about us. Do we really believe that we are spiritually dead in our trespasses and sins? Do we really believe that we are by nature spiritually blind, dead, and enemies of God? My guess is that we don't. Not really.

We adhere to the belief that we are good. Our default position is that we are basically good people. We are good people who - if left to our own devices - make good choices and do good things. But this is not true. Even St. Paul told us that the evil he did not want to do - that is what he did. And the good that he wanted to do - he could not accomplish it. How much more true is that for you and me?

We are dead. We are dead in our trespasses and sin. Original Sin and all the Actual Sins we commit every moment of every day have killed us. Who will save us from this body of death?

Thanks be to God that we have a Savior who took upon Himself all of our sin and all of our death. He took them into His holy, perfect, and deathless body and He became sin for us - for all of fallen humanity! We cannot choose God anymore than a dead man can choose to be alive. But God chose us in Christ before the foundations of the world were laid. He put all of your sin and all of your death into the sinless one who is true God and true Man. 

Only in Jesus are you made alive. Only in Jesus are your Original Sin and all of your Actual Sins covered by the righteousness that comes from outside of you, making you alive!  

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sermon for the 14th Sunday after Pentecost

The 14th Sunday after Pentecost
St. Luke 13:22-30/25 August 2013
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Chicago

In the Holy Name of Jesus. Amen.
It is always a risky thing asking Jesus a question, because His answer will always be more than you could have possibly imagined. In the Gospel reading for this morning, our Lord had just finished teaching about the Kingdom of God, and had started journeying toward Jerusalem, through the cities and villages, making His way toward His own suffering, Cross, and Death. That is exactly where all His teaching about the Kingdom of God would find its fulfillment - that is where the Kingdom of God would be me made manifest - upon the Cross of Calvary. 
And in one of these villages, someone asks Him, “Lord, are the ones being saved, few?” In other words, “Are only a few going to enter the Kingdom of God, of which you speak?” Who will be there? Will there be many or will there be few in the Kingdom of God? It is a bold question. But, as I said, asking Jesus a question is always a risky thing, for you never know the answer you might get.
Jesus answers, but not the way one would think He might. He tells them to be concerned about themselves entering the Kingdom of God, not the number of the saved. He tells them, “Struggle to enter through the narrow door, because many will seek to enter and will not be able.” 
Struggle. It’s not an easy thing being a Christian. It is the narrow door - and struggling through a narrow door is a difficult thing. It is the narrow door of putting away all of our idols, the narrow door of turning away from our favorite sins, the narrow door of repentance, the narrow door of every day picking up our crosses and struggling and striving - despairing of our own ability to save ourselves and putting all of our hope for the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ alone. 
But that is what it means to be a Christian: and do you know something - sometimes I hardly have the energy for it. It is not a bunch of platitudes and New Age, Self Help nonsense. It is not “Living Your Best Life Now,” or “40 Days of Purpose,” or a get rich quick scheme. It is the Narrow Door of faith in Christ Alone. It is a struggle. It is hard and it is draining to live the Christian Life which our Lord has called us to in our Baptism into Him. But it is what Jesus says it is - striving to enter the Kingdom of God by the Narrow Door, and that Narrow Door is nothing more or less than Jesus alone.
And left on our own, we would be lost. Left on our own to struggle and strive to find the Kingdom of God would leave us facing the shut door and saying, “Lord, open to us,” and hearing the response, “I do not know where you came from.” The Law is perfect and requires perfection. Yet, in our sin and rebellion against our Creator we fall short every second of every day. All of our good works, all of our righteousness, cannot get us through the Narrow Door. 
Those who fit through the Narrow Door are those who despair over their sin and know that they in themselves have no good thing - that they claim no righteousness of their own. The works they do in the world are left behind, in service to their neighbors, but not carrying them through the Door. Through the Narrow Door they carry nothing, but instead are carried by Christ Himself through the Narrow Door. 
So our "striving" and our “struggling” is really nothing more than trusting in Christ alone and HIS perfect work already accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection. And our trusting rests upon the faith bestowed upon us by God's grace through the work of the Holy Spirit in Word and Sacrament. 
That is the actual stuff of the Christian Faith: Word, Baptism, Eucharist, Forgiveness, and trust in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection alone.  The Narrow Door is Jesus Christ. The Narrow Door is receiving His divine forgiveness through the saving Sacrament of Holy Baptism and Jesus’ very Body and Blood for forgiveness of sin.
Today, we open our Lutheran Parish School for its 53rd Academic Year. We also install Mrs. Margaret Smith as teacher in our school and celebrate Mr. Scott Schilling’s teaching in our school for 30 of those 53 years. A lot has changed in those 53 years, indeed, in those 30 years. The make-up of our student body, the cost of operating a Lutheran School, the way Lutheran Schools are funded, and much more. What, of course, does not change is the Lord who bids us, “Struggle to enter by the narrow door of Faith!” “Strive to enter the Kingdom of God by the only way you can - the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ!”
That saving doctrine of salvation through Jesus Christ alone for sinners through the Holy Word and Sacraments is the message that all of our faculty teaches and that Mr. Schilling, as teacher and principal, has taught here for 30 and more years.
When Mr. Schilling was installed here on September 11, 1983, there was a brief note in the bulletin that read, “Scott Douglas Schilling will be inducted as Teacher of grades 5 and 6 of our Lutheran Day School. We pray the Lord bless him and his association with us.” I think we can say, after 30 years, that the Lord has positively answered that prayer and blessed Mr. Schilling’s association with our Church and School. 
The Old Testament reading read on that Sunday, 30 years ago, was from the Book of Proverbs, chapter 9, and contains the verse inscribed on the outside of our school building, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser, teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” I hope you sometimes stop to look at and ponder those words.
Fear is reverence. The reverence of the LORD that Mr. Schilling teaches the students here is the beginning of true wisdom - not worldly wisdom - true wisdom - wisdom in Christ alone. Whether or not they become wiser still after they leave this place - whether they increase in learning - depends upon their striving in their Christian life to enter by the Narrow Door of Faith in Christ or follow the broad and easy way of the world - many do that, to their own harm. 
But here in this place, Mr. Schilling and all our teachers have taught and still teach that saving message to the children of our parish school: the Message that there is a Door: a narrow Door to be certain, but a gracious, forgiving, and saving Door to the very Kingdom of God. That Door is Jesus Christ alone. And He calls you from the east and the west, from the north and the south - to sit down with Him in the Kingdom of God. Hear and heed that gracious and life-giving invitation.  
In the Holy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sermon for Easter 5 St. John 15:1-8

This Sunday and the for the next two we shall concentrate on this all important topic that the Gospel presents to us this morning - the Word of God. This morning we hear our Lord speaking, “You are already clean because of the Word I have spoken.” 
Jesus says this in the context of one of His “I AM” statements. Like last weeks, “I AM the Good Shepherd,” this week we hear, “I AM the true Vine.” If a branch is not producing good fruit it is cut off of the vine. This was the problem of the Jews of Jesus’ day. They were not producing the fruits of faith. And so the warning is clear and unambiguous - they will be cut off. To be cut off from the Vine is to therefore not have life - it is to wither away. It ends with being thrown into the fire and burned - destruction - hell. Such is the end of those who have been freely attached to the Vine that is Christ but refuse to - will not bring forth the fruits that should should naturally flow when one is attached to Him.
But this does not mean that those attached branches who do bring forth the fruits of faith go untouched. Jesus says that that branch is pruned, or perhaps more accurately “cleaned” so that it will be even more fruitful and bear even more of the fruit of faith. He tells the disciples, “You are already pruned/clean because of the Word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” 
There are all manner of ways in which our Lord prunes us in this lifetime. And the fact is that don’t like that very much. We don’t like it when our Lord takes to pruning us - to cleaning us. Because from our vantage point, the Lord’s pruning is really only just pain and suffering. Look at how the Lord pruned Job. He stripped him of everything - took everything from him - his cattle, his wealth, his health, his children. It certainly did not look to Job like the Lord was pruning him - cleansing him - to bring forth even greater fruits of faith. When he was in the midst of it - it only looked like pain - like sorrow - like suffering. But the Lord is always the Lord. And all things are always in His hands. We cannot accept only things as blessings that we love, that we enjoy, that give us pleasure. As those who belong to Christ and know salvation in Him through suffering and the cross, we must also accept those things as blessings that neither look nor feel to us like blessings at all.
But for Job, as for the disciples, as for you - it is ultimately the Word of Jesus that prunes - that makes clean. The Word that Jesus speaks - the Word you hear - is that which keeps you connected to the true Vine that is Jesus. That Word is always a blessing. That Word is always life. That Word always cleanses you. That Word is what brings forth from you much fruit showing you to be a disciples of Jesus the true Vine.
Jesus is not only your “justification,” that is, the One Who by His life, death and resurrection makes you just and right - able to stand before the Holy God spotless and clean, covered in His own righteousness. He is also your “sanctification,” that is, the One Who dwells in you through Baptism and Holy Communion and brings forth all good works from you every day in all of your different vocations. Whatever you do as a Christian, from the smallest act to the greatest, is a good fruit of faith before God, because it is Jesus in you producing such fruit.
St. Paul says as much when he writes, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” What a branch that is connected to this true Vine brings forth - it brings forth because it is connected to this True Vine. What you as a Christian do in service to your neighbor because of Christ is done because you are connected to Christ and He lives in you through the cleansing Word and He works in and through you. 
So remain in Jesus and in His Word. That is to the Father’s Glory, after all. Continue to hear it proclaimed to you. Continue to receive it in and with His Body and His Blood. Have the confidence that whatever pruning/cleansing might come to you, you need not fear it, for you have been cleansed by the Word - the Word of Christ. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sermon for Easter 4 - St. John 10:11-18

What exactly is it that makes something “good”? Is there an objective standard that you can measure something against to declare it without any doubt to be ‘good’? What makes a movie good, for example? Is it ‘good’ because you enjoyed the story? Is it good because it made you cry or laugh? Those are very personal, subjective measurements. Perhaps the movie is ‘good’ because it had ‘good’ performances. But then we are right back to the question of what is it that makes the performances ‘good.’ Ultimately, it seems that it is always personal opinions that determine what is ‘good.’
At a more personal level, we might ask: What makes a ‘good’ father? Is a father ‘good’ if he watches the children now and then, plays with them, and provides for them financially? Is he still a ‘good’ father if he is not married to his children’s mother and lives apart from them? Is part of being a ‘good’ father that a man honors the commitment to the family blessed by God called marriage? Can that be declared to be an objective standard by which we can measure a father to be ‘good’? Is there ever any objective measurement to determine when something is ‘good’ or is it all purely subjective?
How about when Jesus calls something ‘good’? When Jesus says something is ‘good,’ He is not making a subjective statement or merely giving a personal opinion of whether or not He thinks something is nice or pleasant. When Jesus says ‘good’ He means something very objective and concrete. He is making a declaration that the thing is morally pure, free from defect, perfect for its intended purpose. It is objectively beneficial, salutary, pure, and right. 
The problem of humankind - of you and me - is that we are not good. You are not good. And that is hard to hear and even harder to bear. It is the Law of God and the Law always accuses of our sin, which we do not like. And, not only do we not like it, but it flies in the face of the entire “self-esteem” industry that sells books and DVD’s, holds conferences and promotes pricey motivational speakers telling people exactly that they are inherently good, moral, pure, and upright. And the reason people are told this over and over again is so that they will come to believe it, because intrinsically, deep down, they know that it is a lie. People are willing to pay in order to be told that they are good. They so desperately want to hear the lie over the truth.
Because what you know is true about yourself is that what comes from you - from your heart - is not good. Your gossip is not good. Your hatred is not good. Your self-righteousness is not good. Your lust is not good. Your lying to your husband, your unfaithfulness to your wife, your disobedience toward your parents, your self-excused stealing from others, your rampant idolatry of things and leisure, your indifference to injustice, your greed, your despising Christ’s Sacrament and Word. None of this is ‘good,’ no matter how you dress it up in robes of your own righteousness.
Jesus declares, “I AM the Good Shepherd.” Jesus alone is morally pure, free from defect, perfect for the intended purpose for which His Father sent Him. And He says what that purpose is three times in the Gospel: “The Good Shepherd lays down His life... My life I lay down... I lay down My life.” There is the purpose of His coming in a nutshell: He Who is truly, absolutely Good came into this fallen world to lay down His life in the dust of sin and death for you who are not at all good. He lay it down, taking upon Himself all the badness that dwells in you - taking upon Himself all the badness and the sin of this bad and sinful world. 
He Who is truly, absolutely Good came to rescue you from the ravening maws of the wolves of your enemies - you who rightly deserve to be chewed up by those monstrous jaws and teeth. That is why Jesus is the Shepherd Who is called ‘Good,’ and who is ‘good.’ 
He is no hireling who runs away in the face of your enemies: the wolves of sin, death and hell, who so gleefully would destroy you. No, this Good Shepherd stays and dies for His flock - for you. And not only does this ‘Good’ Shepherd lay down His life for you, willing giving His throat to the jaws of the wolves in your place, but He takes it up again, “I have power to take it again.” And taking it up again, He slays those wolves for you so that you need not fear what they can do to harm you anymore.
St. John wrote in the Epistle for this morning, “By this we know love, that He laid down HIs life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers...Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and truth...whenever our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our heart.” When your heart condemns you over your sin, over your lack of goodness, remember that Jesus is greater than what your heart tells you. He is greater than your guilt - He is greater than your sin - He is your Good Shepherd Who laid down His life and has taken it up for you. He makes you good, by giving to you of His goodness. 
So little children, having been thus freed and forgiven - having thus had your enemies conquered - love not in word or talk, but in deed and in truth.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sermon for Easter 3 - St. Luke 24:36-49

What is so important about a piece of broiled fish that St. Luke thought it necessary to record it in his Gospel? The fish that would have been caught in the Sea of Galilee in the time of Jesus were nothing special. The main staple that was fished from the sea were sardines. The other was a fish known as the Barbel for the barbs at the corners of their mouths. So that is probably what the fish were. And the method of cooking them - St. Luke even records that. Broiling is, of course, nothing more than cooking something over/under direct heat - in this case, the fish. So broiled fish - no big deal - nothing very earth-shaking - sardines and bread - a basic meal among the people of that time. No doubt they had eaten that exact same meal in their lives thousands of times.  And that is what the disciples were doing on that Sunday evening - the Sunday of the Resurrection – they were making dinner – having something to eat: some regular old broiled fish. What else, after all, was there really to do?
Even in the midst of the most extraordinary events going on around us: the everyday, mundane things of life keep going on - they have to. Life happens - it doesn’t end when something extraordinary happens. We have to sleep, we have to get dressed, we have to go to work. We have to broil fish and have something to eat to feed our children, to keep ourselves alive. Such is life – day in and day out – it is the menial tasks – the mundane things – that make up so very much of our lives.
So it was for the disciples. Even after all that had happened - life had to go on. But into the menial tasks of the disciples’ lives - into their cowering together in that room, pondering the strange news they had heard, and making themselves dinner - suddenly Jesus was there. 
Jesus Who they betrayed and deserted. Jesus Who was whipped and beaten. Jesus Who was tortured and nailed to a Roman cross. Jesus Who was dead and buried. Jesus Whose heart was pierced with grief and a Roman spear. There He was. And they are terrified for they think He is a spirit - a ghost - perhaps even seeking vengeance. 
But He tells them to look at His hands and feet - to feel His Body - that it is flesh and bone. And then the most menial of things becomes desperately important - a piece of broiled fish. “Have you any food here?” He asks them. And taking the piece of fish He ate it before them to calm their fear. The most menial of things reveals that Jesus is not a spirit - His Resurrection is very physical. He is there with them like He had been - in the flesh - risen just as He said. The extraordinary is revealed in the most ordinary.
Into the ordinary - the mundane - the menial things of your lives, Jesus comes too, and assures you that He is risen for you just as He said - that He is no spirit - no ghost, but your living Savior: true God but also true Man of flesh and bone Who comes to you to calm your fears.
In fact, Jesus comes in such menial, mundane ways, it is very easy for us to despise them. We want God to come to us in grand, flashy, amazing ways that knock us over. And there are churches and pastors that are more than happy to try and meet people’s sinful desires to have a ‘god’ like that. 
They might put on a flashy rock and roll floorshow, complete with videos, a light show, and dancers. They might tell you to look for miraculous healing or great gifts of wealth that show that you really are faithful and ‘god’ really is blessing you. They might tell you that if you aren’t getting these great blessings - that you are doing something wrong - not being faithful enough - or lacking something that you have to figure out, somehow, to get them.
But God does not reveal Himself to us in the grand, the flashy, and the amazing. He does not promise us health and wealth in this world. He reveals Himself in Suffering and in the Cross and, indeed, He promises us that we will have troubles and crosses to carry, too. 
But it is precisely right in the midst of those troubles and those crosses - that He is present for and with you - He Who bore the Cross of all your sin. And it is precisely in the mundane, menial things of life that He is found: in the man who witnesses of Christ’s love while he is dying of heart disease - in the woman who joyfully changes her child’s diapers because of Christ living in her - in the teacher who works for next to nothing in a Christian school so that children might learn of Christ - in the woman who forgives the friend who hurt her because she believes in the forgiveness of her sin at the cross - in the soldier who quietly does his duty with honor because he recognizes the authority that God has placed him under.
In all these things: the ordinary, menial, mundane things of life - the joys, and the sorrows and the crosses - there is Jesus revealing Himself risen for you - forgiving, loving, comforting and calming you. He shows you in these things that He is risen - that He is living - that His forgiveness is for all the nations - it is for you. He gives dignity and joy to all the little things of your life - even grilling a piece of fish.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve Sermon St. Luke 2:1-14

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church of Chicago 
Christmas Eve Lessons & Carols
St. Luke 2:1-14
24 December 2011
In the Holy Name of Jesus. Amen.
Exactly nine day ago, December 15, the combat operations in Iraq officially ended. In almost nine years, Operation Iraqi Freedom cost 4,486 U.S. troops killed, 32,226 U.S. troops wounded, perhaps more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians killed, and 1 trillion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money spent. And, whatever one might personally think of the conflict and of its cost, one thing we can be certain of: it did not bring peace.
It is possible that the conflict has brought some measure of democracy to that country - that has yet to be seen. It is possible that it has brought some measure of stability to the region - that has yet to be demonstrated. It is possible that it has freed people from a repressive totalitarian ruler, although what the future government will be like is still largely unknown. But it did not bring peace. Bombs are still being set off in marketplaces - civilians are still being murdered - horrific violence is still an almost daily occurrence. Whatever good or evil it might might have wrought - it did not bring peace.
There was peace in “those days” of Caesar Augustus when he ordered a census of his Empire. It was the Roman Peace - the Pax Romana. It was a peace that came through conflict, war and conquest. Rome had conquered much of the known world, and so there was peace. It was an uneasy peace, to be sure - but it was peace. And the Caesars - the Emperors - like Augustus - were the peace makers - through conquest; and they were the peace keepers - through force. But it was peace nonetheless.
War and conquest do sometimes bring a kind of peace for a little while - but never more than a fleeting peace - a temporary peace. But the Almighty God used this fleeting, temporary peace to do something new - something that would bring true Peace. To a little nondescript, backwater town called Bethlehem in an unimportant region of the Roman Empire called Judea to an insignificant Hebrew girl named Mary the LORD God sent the true Gift of Peace to mankind. The angels sang it to the shepherds, “Glory in the highest places be to God, and PEACE among me with whom He is pleased!”
Mankind does not know true peace apart from this Gift of God. We are, by nature, at war with God, in conflict with Him and under the conquest of sin. Sin is our emperor and our captor. We have belonged to sin, death and the devil from the time of the disobedience of our first parents in the Garden of Eden. And so we rage and war against our Creator with our false belief, our idolatry, our lust, our rebellion and our hatred. And that warring against God has eternal consequences. Because when you put yourself in opposition to God, you will always lose. And the only end is then to be our under the eternal conquest of the devil.
But, thanks be to God, that, “in those days,” the LORD God did send the true Gift of Peace. “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, Who is Christ the Lord.” These words are so familiar to us that they can pass right over us without our even giving them much thought. But these words speak peace to our war - an end to our conflict. 
  That Baby is the long awaited Christ of God - the Savior of the world - the bringing of true Peace - Peace between God and man - Peace between your Creator and you. That Peace is not of your making - it is only of His. 
Later in this very chapter Simeon said to Mary in the Temple, “a sword will pierce through your own soul too,” the sword of grief as her son, her baby hung upon the cross making the Peace you could never accomplish, however hard you might try.
“It is accomplished!” He cried from the Cross. That was His cry of “Mission Accomplished!” But it wasn’t just bravado. He accomplished True Peace for you and all God’s righteous anger was stilled because it was poured out on Him. 
That is Christmas - although is sounds a lot like Good Friday. The two can never be separated. Christmas is God’s declaration of Peace in Jesus Christ alone for you through His miraculous conception and birth, sinless life, holy death and glorious resurrection. 
Christmas, contrary to some sentimental opinions is not found in your hearts: it comes from outside of you and is found at the manger, at the cross, and at the empty tomb. 
His declaration of Peace for you is found again tonight in His Holy Word of Holy Absolution, in Holy Baptism, in the Holy Supper. That is Peace - true Peace.
The world will always have its conflicts and wars, and sinful man will ever find new ways of hating and killing his neighbor. But in Jesus - the Babe of Bethlehem - you have Peace - true Peace.
And now may the Peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus to life everlasting and may the Peace of Christ prevail on earth.
In the Holy Name of Jesus. Amen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

"That was long and I liked it."

This past Thursday we had a somewhat different Chapel Service than we usually do at Gloria Dei Lutheran School of Chicago where I serve as Pastor. Usually, our school chapel is the Office of Matins, which lasts about one half hour. It consists of the Matins Liturgy, two hymns, sometimes a Psalm, the Te Deum Laudamus (or another Canticle), two readings and a brief homily. 

This last Thursday, we had a Service of Supplication and Prayer. It was somewhat different. The Service had four rather long readings, a longer homily, and three hymns. We also chanted Psalm 62 as well as one of the Canticles from Lutheran Service Book. The Service was about one hour in length. After the Service, one of our 1st Grade young school children (not a member of our parish) said to me, "That was long and I liked it."

"That was long and I liked it." What an interesting comment from a six or seven year old non-Lutheran little boy about a liturgical Service. I did not ask him what he liked about the Service. I do not really know if he could have articulated what it was about this "long" Service that he liked. But there was something there - something that resonated with this little boy - something that brought forth that comment. 

Children are not stupid. Children also naturally resonate with rite and ceremony. We so often treat children as they are stupid and that they cannot possibly "get anything" from rite and ceremony. They can appreciate, understand, and yes, even "like" complex things like a somewhat complex liturgical Service where there is standing, sitting, praying, chanting, listening, speaking and singing. They are, after all, creatures of rite and ceremony. Their entire lives are made up of rite and ceremony. This is true for all of us. 

When we treat children as if the only things they can understand and appreciate are those things that are based on entertainment and silliness, as if they are too stupid to understand that which is reverent and even sometimes complex, we do them and the Church a great disservice.

"That was long and I liked it." Yes it was and I am glad you did. Maybe, just maybe, there is hope.