words from the pastors at First United Methodist Church
Sabbath – taking a time out for rest, renewal, and reflection – is an essential part of the spiritual life. I was reminded of that again recently while on retreat at the coast, when I ran across this quote from Judith Schulevitz:
The Sabbath is to the week what the line break is to poetic language. It is the silence that forces you to return to what came before to find its meaning. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.
It is indeed difficult to stay connected with our own spirits and to remember ourselves as spiritual beings if we never take the time to stop. If we never find, or create, those “line breaks” in time it is easy for one experience to flow into the next, one day to merge with the next, and one life to become hopelessly muddled in the routine of every day.
This is so important to the life of faith that Rev. Jeremy and I have planned a whole month of sermons to focus on Sabbath. During the month of July (when it’s “summertime and the livin’ is easy”…) our sermon series, “Give Me A Break!” will look at what it means to take the gift of Sabbath time seriously. Because we all need those breaks – from work, from the world’s demands, from our technology systems, from endless activity.
But don’t wait for July! You can begin right now to inspire and to claim your own Sabbath time – even a few minutes at a time. Trust me – it will be time and energy very well spent!
Grace and Peace,
Theologian Karl Barth once wrote:
Grace always evokes the answer of gratitude. Grace and gratitude belong together like heaven and earth. Grace evokes gratitude like the voice of an echo. Gratitude follows grace like thunder follows lightning.
That has certainly been my experience this week as I have been on retreat at the Oregon coast. I happened to choose exactly the right week to come away for a few days of prayer and reflection undergirding my work of worship planning and sermon preparation for the next six months! The weather has been truly amazing. The sun has shined every single day, and today there is not even a breath of wind!
Because there has been much work to do, I have remained fairly disciplined in this time. However, about every three hours the view of blue waters and white waves just outside my window has colluded with the eager expectancy of my dog to bring me outside onto the beach for another walk.
As always I have been surprised and delighted by the gifts of grace I have encountered along the shore. The immensity of the water brings to my mind the abundance of God’s powerful love. And the rocks and little bits of shell seem to adorn the sand as if placed intentionally by a master artist. It is all beauty wherever Maggie and I turn.
So I walk and I pray and I am overcome by an awareness of grace – that freely given, unmerited and unlimited love of God. And I discover again that Barth was right, as gratitude wells up to echo the grace and to lead me back inside to plan some more, to create more opportunities for us all together to see the grace and to share the gratitude.
Mother’s Day is around this time of year and it can be either:
- an acknowledgement of a great mothering spirit or
- a difficult time for those who do not fit the definition of “mothering” that they see in society and perhaps from the pulpit.
A blogger Amy Young (www.messymiddle.com) wrote the following liturgy to recognize the full spectrum of mothering.
See if you can see yourself in this list (here’s a PDF of it):
To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you
To those who lost a child this year – we mourn with you
To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains – we appreciate you
To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions, or running away—we mourn with you
To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears, and disappointment – we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make this harder than it is.
To those who are foster moms, mentor moms, and spiritual moms – we need you
To those who have warm and close relationships with your children – we celebrate with you
To those who have disappointment, heart ache, and distance with your children – we sit with you
To those who lost their mothers this year – we grieve with you
To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother – we acknowledge your experience
To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests, and the overall testing of motherhood – we are better for having you in our midst
To those who have aborted children – we remember them and you on this day
To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children – we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be
To those who step-parent – we walk with you on these complex paths
To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren -yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you
To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year – we grieve and rejoice with you
And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising –we anticipate with you
This Mother’s Day, we walk with you. Mothering is not for the faint of heart and we have real warriors in our midst. We remember you.
This Mother’s Day, I hope you feel celebrated in all the ways you mother those around you.
Rev. Jeremy Smith
I usually cringe whenever I turn on the cable news and see someone offering political commentary from a “Christian perspective.” While I do occasionally share the same beliefs as the talking head, it troubles me that someone can offer a “Christian perspective” as Christianity is as diverse as the snowflakes on a windowpane.
I do not, however, cringe whenever I see that our church is holding conversations about hot topics (politically and otherwise). Conversations through forums or panel discussions are the best way to talk about hot topics as it invites a variety of perspectives into conversation with one another. Even a forum that has only one perspective usually involves a first-hand account of the topic.
So to that end, buckle your seatbelts because May and June have somehow become “Hot Topics” month at First United Methodist Church.
- Sunday, May 5th, there will be a Water Fluoridation Forum after church in the Fireside Room. We have invited Dr. Kurt Ferre, DDS from Healthy Kids Healthy Portland (who is advocating for the May 21st ballot measure), and Rick North from Clean Water (who is advocating against the ballot measure) to give presentations and have Q&A time with our congregation. While we know there are advocates who are passionate about this topic outside our congregation, this will be a congregation-centered conversation for us to discern how to vote in a few short weeks.
- Sunday, June 2nd, there will be a Palestine Forum after church in the Fireside Room by our own Dee Poujade who has recently spent three months with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel. She has eye-opening experiences and will share of her thoughts on the troubled Holy Land. This is sponsored by the Global Missions committee.
- Sunday, June 9th, there will be a Death Penalty Forum after church in the Fireside Room with a guest speaker Frank Thompson, who was a penitentiary Superintendent from 1994-1998. He will be here to speak as well as show a 13 minute film documentary about the death penalty. This is sponsored by the Church and Society committee.
- Sunday, June 23rd, there will be a Marriage Equality Forum after church in the Fireside Room with panelists from Basic Rights Oregon, who are advocating for a 2014 ballot measure to change Oregon’s constitution. This is sponsored by the Reconciling committee.
For some, these will be hot topics. For others, these are settled issues. But the great thing about our church is our willingness to discuss these topics openly and in ways that lead to life for all who participate. We hope you can attend.
I read a good amount of Wendell Berry’s essay “Christianity and the Survival of Creation” for the sermon yesterday. I wanted to pull out one of the quotes that didn’t make the sermon but nonetheless is fascinating to me.
Berry, a farmer and a writer, speaks about the dualism between body and spirit as being one of the most dangerous remnants of the early Roman influence on the church:
This dualism, I think is the most destructive disease that afflicts us. In its best known, its most dangerous, and perhaps its fundamental version, it is the dualism of body and soul. This is an issue as difficult as it is important, and so to deal with it we should start at the beginning.
The crucial test is probably Genesis 2:7, which gives the process by which Adam was created: “the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life: and man became a living soul.” My mind, like most people’s, has been deeply influenced by dualism, and I can see how dualistic minds deal with this verse. They conclude that the formula for man-making is: man = body + soul. But that conclusion cannot be derived, except by violence, from Genesis 2:7, which is not dualistic.
The formula given in Genesis is not man = body + soul; the formula there is soul = dust + breath. According to this verse, God did not make a body and put a soul into it, like a letter into an envelope. He formed man of dust; by breathing his breath into it, he made the dust live. Insofar as it lived, it was a soul. The dust, formed as man and made to live, did not embody a soul; it became a soul. “Soul” here refers to the whole creature.
Humanity is thus presented to us, in Adam, not as a creature of two discrete parts temporarily glued together, but as a single mystery.
Such powerful language when we consider how connected we are to the Earth and all its various parts and places, fields and streams, mountains and valleys. No longer can we consider ourselves to be spiritual beings trapped in a material world, but we are whole people mysteriously yoked with all that is around us.
On this Earth Day, my hope is that you also see that connection, that you are not body and soul, but your soul is made up of dust of the earth and the breath of God. You soul is intimately connected with all that there is, and your salvation is wrapped up with not only your faith in Christ but your connection to the souls around you, born of breath and mud.
Lunch time in the church office is usually a casual affair. Someone will pull a card table out into the Narthex and we’ll gather a few chairs around it, and whomever is available will bring their lunch to the table to eat together.
One day last week I commented on the difficulty I have washing my silverware or dishes after lunch. You see, in the “break room” (which doubles as the Facility Manger’s office), the faucet in the sink never warms up. It doesn’t matter how long you let that water run, it always comes out cold – very cold, in fact. So my comment went something along the lines of “It’s a wonder we’re not all passing around germs” because we can’t adequately clean our common cutlery.
Whereupon one of my colleagues said, “Oh, that’s why we have the hot water spigot on the sink”. What? There’s hot water? Where?!
Apparently, it has been there all along… right on the side of the sink, one of those little spigots that only dispenses very hot water. I had never noticed it. Not only that, I had just assumed that the red handle on the water bottle in the hallway didn’t work, that we could only get cold water out of that. Turns out, I could have been making tea in the hallway all this time!
Once I wiped the egg off my face (metaphorically, of course), I had to wonder about all the other things in this world that I have not noticed. All the other things that could make life cleaner, neater, happier, easier, or even just more interesting. What else have I neglected to see? What else have I mistakenly assumed was not there, was missing or was not working? And what else have I missed out on because of my inability to notice or my lack of exploration?
It gives new meaning to that old hymn, “Open my eyes, that I may see… Open my ears, that I may hear.. Open my mouth, that I may share…Open my heart that I may love…” I’ll be praying that (and maybe even singing it) for a few days to come – especially at lunch time in the office!
The exiled Guatemalan poet, Julia Esquivel wrote about Easter in powerful ways during the 30 years in which Guatemala suffered unspeakable political violence, as thousands of indigenous peoples were murdered, and whole villages were destroyed.
Esquivel became as a leading voice for peaceful nonviolent resistance and a witness to the suffering of the innocent marginalized. Reading the ending of her most famous poem, Threatened With Resurrection, is an Easter ritual for me:
…There is something here within us
Which doesn’t let us sleep, which doesn’t let us rest,
Which doesn’t stop pounding deep inside,
It is the silent, warm weeping of Indian women without their husbands,
It is the sad gaze of the children
Fixed there beyond memory,
In the very pupil of our eyes
Which during sleep, though closed, keep watch
With each contraction of the heart
In every wakening…
What keeps us from sleeping,
Is that they have threatened us with resurrection!
Because at each nightfall,
Though exhausted from the endless inventory
Of killings since 1954,
Yet we continue to love life,
And do not accept their death!
…Because in this marathon of Hope,
there are always others to relieve us
in bearing the courage necessary
to arrive at the goal which lies beyond death…
Accompany us then on this vigil
And you will know what it is to dream!
You will then know how marvelous it is
To live threatened with resurrection!
To dream awake,
To keep watch asleep
To live while dying
And to already know oneself resurrected!
(by Julia Esquivel)
The first time that Chelsea and I were able to see a movie after adding Anjali to our family, we had a choice between Argo and Cloud Atlas. One of them won Best Picture…and we didn’t see that one. We decided upon Cloud Atlas because of the pretty commercials and the acting troupe. In the long run, probably not the best choice, but we enjoyed the movie.
The movie is a science fiction film that depicts six different time periods and the struggles for justice or mere survival on each of them.
One of the time periods is in 1849, years before the breakout of the Civil War. The son-in-law of a wealthy businessman in America is sent overseas to conclude a business arrangement to transport slaves from Africa. The son-in-law witnesses brutality done to the slaves, and then his life is saved on the trip back by a slave. He returns to his wife and confronts his father-in-law, stating that he renounces the slave trade and will work with the abolitionists. They have the following exchange:
Father-in-Law: There is a natural order to this world, and those who try to upend it do not fare well. This movement will never survive, if you join them you and your entire family will be shunned. At best you will exist at pariah to be spat at and beaten, at worse to be lynched or crucified. And for what, for what, no matter what you do it will never amount to anything more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.
Son-in-Law: But what is an ocean but a multitude of drops?
If you were listening to Rev. Donna’s sermon on Sunday, you may recognize the parallel to her story about the mouse asking the weight of a snowflake. It doesn’t seem like much, but a multitude of snowflakes can coat the roads, can even collapse roofs…and a multitude of drops compile an entire ocean.
In the same way, we are called as Christian to do good, to seek justice, to love kindness. Each of those tiny moments or actions accumulate into a vast ocean of building for the reign of God.
My hope for you is that you consider each interaction with someone else to be a drop in the ocean, slowly turning it from one thing into another. And may that other thing be filled with drops of goodness and justice-seeking that echo throughout time–even in a bad science fiction film.
It’s a Holiday!
This Friday, March 8th, is a holiday you’ll want to celebrate. No, it’s not National Pig Day (that’s March 1st), or Holy Experiment Day (March 4) or St. Patrick’s Day (March 17). It’s not Learn about Butterflies Day (March 14) or the Ides of March (that’s the 15th, a date Julius Caesar won’t soon forget!). It’s not Extraterrestrial Abductions Day (March 20), or National Goof Off Day (March 22 – another good day to celebrate!). It’s not International Waffle Day (March 25), or Smoke and Mirrors Day (March 29), or even I Am In Control Day (March 30).
So what day is it? International Women’s Day, of course! Friday, March 8, 2013 people around the world will celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future. This is a day to honor the work of the early suffragettes, and to lift up the important ways that women have advanced culture around the world. It is also a day to remember the inequities women still face – from the persistent wage-gap between women and men in this country to the life-threatening and limiting conditions many women face in too many parts of the world, simply because of their gender.
Here at First United Methodist Church of Portland, Oregon, we might be tempted to laugh a little, or to make light of “Women’s Day” – as if it is something we hardly need attend to in 2013. After all – women are welcome to participate fully in all aspects of church life. Women serve on every committee of the church, teach adults as well as children, volunteer at the Goose Hollow Family Shelter, help out the Shovel and Rake Gang, care for the finance and investments of the church… and even preach!
It is true that women have by-and-large “made it” here at 1st Church. Great! But that does not mean we do not have a role to play in celebrating – and responding – to International Women’s Day. You might want to check out this website – www.internationalwomensday.com for more information. You might want to read a book from our church library. Here are just a few titles to choose from:
- Half the Sky, by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
- Heart of Flesh: Feminist Spirituality for Women and Men, by Joan Chittister
- All Her Paths Were Peace: Women Pioneers in Peacemaking, by Michael Henderson
- Church in the Round: A Feminist Interpretation of the Church, by Letty Russell
- Women in New Worlds: Women in the History of Methodism
Or, you might want to learn more about organizations helping women right here in Portland. Or maybe you just want to spend a little time getting to know an elderly woman in your neighborhood, or helping befriend a single mother, or sponsor a child at your local Boys and Girls Club. Or, just recognize that women do, as they say, “hold up half the sky” – and that we are called to community as men and women – all children of God. St. Paul put it this way, in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So be it! Happy Women’s Day!
My life currently is full of routines. With a four-month-old, routines are how you slowly show the baby what to do and what is expected. For example, we have bath-time then lotion then pajamas then feeding before we put Anjali to bed. In theory, she knows what happens next and hopefully rolls with it so that she knows it is time for sleep. So far, this has worked on some days and not others, but I think we are slowly revealing our expectations and showing what is coming next by this routine.
We also have a cat (I’m a dog person who married a cat person, so you can see what happened there…). The cat likes to be fed at 8am and 8pm. If there isn’t food in the bowl within +/- 3 minutes of that time, she starts rubbing against the furniture, our legs, jumps up on the couch and head-butts us, and if we are really impertinent, she begins to claw the furniture and the carpet. But the moment that we begin to put out her food (open the can, shake the kibble container), she transforms into whatever close to grateful a cat can get. We’ll take it, I guess.
I often think of this time of Lent as a time to examine our routines and see what they are revealing for us and what they are hiding from us. Lent, which means “Spring” is a time when life is budding around us, poking through the cold, and revealing new-ness.
So I ask you about your routines:
- Does our routine of morning prayer reveal more of what God is offering us each day than if we didn’t?
- Does our routine of the morning Starbucks run rather than making the coffee ourselves hide the possibility of giving that excess money away?
- Does our routine of monthly communion reveal God’s presence in a way that weekly communion might or might not?
- Does our routine of just showing up on-time for our church meetings hide the opportunities to get to know others that dinner before or social time afterward might offer?
During this time of Lent, break the routine that might be hiding something new for you and see what new-ness might be found. Make a routine of breaking your routines to see what alternate world might be present that you are missing. And when Lent is done, you can choose to return or adopt the new routines and see what God has offered us now.
I couldn’t stand it last night. Finally, at about 2:00 am, I just had to climb out of bed, go across my bedroom and drag the dog’s bed (along with the sleeping dog) out into the hallway, closing the door behind her.
You see, the problem is that appearances can be deceiving. You look at little Maggie, all 21 pounds of canine companionship, and you think, “How cute! What a sweet little Corgi!” What you don’t see at first glance is her determination, her intense loyalty, or her athletic enthusiasm. Like all Corgis, Maggie is a herder, who likes to work hard and to maintain her status as a preferred member of the pack, someone who surely deserves to sleep in the same room as I inhabit.
Still, even with all this knowledge, appearances can deceive. Who would ever have thought that such a small body could produce such a LARGE sound! I’m telling you – this dog SNORES like a stevedore… and one with a bad head cold, at that! In the middle of the night, when I’ve awakened her repeatedly, only to have her resume sawing logs in a matter of minutes, it is difficult for me to remember all those endearing Corgi qualities.
In the middle of the night all I am aware of is the annoyance of being kept awake. And I have to confess I am not particularly gracious, nor even terribly patient about that deceptive appearance. So when she nudges the bedroom door open a crack and I see those two fox-like ears peeking inside, I am the one who growls, telling her to go away and leave me alone.
I tell this story because it gets me to thinking about other stories. We all have moments of surprise, when our perception of others turns out to be incomplete, inadequate, or downright wrong. Appearances can be deceiving, and so often we find the deception fades away in those moments of annoyance or stress or conflict, so that it can be difficult to see anything beyond our annoyance. It can be difficult to remember the endearing qualities when faced with the irritating ones.
And yet, when the light shines just right on those fox-like ears (or in the eyes of another), it is possible to catch a glimpse beyond the irritation. It is possible to allow others to be more of who they are, knowing that we will never be able to see ALL of them at once. And they will never be able to see all of us, either.
The gift we are given when our deceptions crumble and appearances become more real is the gift of possibility. Not only for the other – but also for us. It is the gift which reminds us that each of us carries within us an infinite number of possibilities. If appearances can be deceiving, they can also be freeing. When the light – God’s light – shines just right.
This week I will celebrate my birthday. My 58th birthday – good heavens, how did that happen?! I recently convened the first meeting of the “20-Somethings” Sunday School class (which meets each week from 9:30-10:15 am in my office) by telling them, “You are my people… You may not realize it, but I imagine myself to be one of you!”
They were very gracious and at least did not let me see their eyes rolling. Because of course I really am not 20-something any more, and have not been for quite some time. And yet…
Writer Anne Lamott once commented, “I am all the ages I’ve ever been.” I like that understanding of age, and I think about it every time my birthday rolls around. I like it because I have found there is something to be cherished and appreciated about every step along the journey of life. There is the spontaneity of 6 year olds, the courage of toddlers, the curiosity of teenagers, the passion of 20 year olds, the practicality of 30 year olds, the stamina of multi-tasking 40 year olds, the spiritual deepening of 50 year olds… and who knows what I will discover about the 58 year old me, or the 60 year old (eek!)
I do believe we carry within us all those ages and stages, and if we are lucky (or maybe just smart), we drag them out and live through them again from time to time. Because no good birthday – and no good age – should ever be wasted, forgotten, or lost forever. We all are all the ages we’ve ever been. And the truth is, we are all the ages yet to come.
Last week we celebrated Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday, remembering a prophetic voice of justice in the struggle for civil rights and racial equality. One of Dr. King’s most famous speeches is his “I Have a Dream” speech, given during the August 28, 1963 March on Washington. In it, King says, in part:
“…in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.
…I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
…I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain,and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together…”
It was a great speech, given in a great historical moment. And while there has been much movement forward toward the realization of Dr. King’s dreams, the work is definitely not complete. And there is still a crying need for dreamers, dreaming dreams of justice and righteousness, of peace, forgiveness and love.
What is your dream? What is it you would bring to God and your community as you consider this community, this nation, this planet? It is a good day for dreams. It is an essential time for dreamers. Because the glory of the Lord is still waiting to be fully revealed.
There once was a Methodist pastor in London, England. He started a mission ministering to the poor and downtrodden in the Victorian times. He got some second hand army uniforms, gave them to those folks, got them cleaned up and started feeding them, and marching them around the city teaching them Christian discipline. Can you imagine the ragtag group of people in old army uniforms teaching people about the Church?
In one of our less faithful decisions as a Church, a bunch of uppity Methodists didn’t like his work and got him reassigned to a country church outside of London, knowing that if he went away, his mission, and his lower class folks he was helping, would go away. When the pastor objected, the Bishop laid into him and berated him, telling him he had no right to reject his authority as Bishop to reassign him. The pastor, knowing that his missionary work was far more important than the Church politics, looked up at his wife in the balcony of the church where the annual conference was being held, and then, turned around from the that bishop and forever walked out of the Methodist Church.
He continued his ministry. The Pastor’s name was “General” William Booth and the mission and church he founded became the Salvation Army.
Over 100 years later, the Salvation Army ministers to Christians on every continent on the globe.
On the contrary, where is the Methodist Church in Great Britian? And what was the name of that Bishop? History has forgotten.
While we can have objections to the “who” and the “what” of the results of such situations — The Salvation Army is hardly a beacon of support for LGBT folks — the story reminded me that bold actions and seeking to step forth boldly is not only dangerous for our security but also may be exactly what possibility God is placing before us.
My hope for you at this turn of the new year is that you also step out in boldness towards the possibilities placed before you and you seek 2013 to be a year of big changes and new beginnings in your walk with Christ. Blessings and see you soon. ~Jeremy
By the time you read this, 2012 will be a memory and we will just be opening up a brand new year, 2013! As I am writing it, we are still a few days away from Christmas, and I am busy checking that list twice, three times, even more – to make sure I have not forgotten anything or anyone. I am also busy trying to help myself grow up a little.
Because my youngest daughter is studying in southern Mexico this term, and my oldest daughter is a highly responsible full time non-profit worker in San Francisco, this is the first year I find myself making Christmas preparations by myself. The girls won’t arrive home until December 24th, so everything from baking Christmas cookies, to choosing/cutting/decorating the Christmas tree, to putting outdoor lights on the house – it all had to be done by me, by myself.
I have to admit I spent some time feeling a little grumpy about this. I wondered “What’s wrong with those young women? Don’t they realize they are messing with our traditions, our much-cherished family routines and rituals? And how can it really be Christmas if we have to do it differently?”
It was there – in that last thought – that I recognized the error of my ways. How easy it is to fool ourselves into thinking that our “routines” are sacred, and totally miss the fact that they really are simply well-worn ruts! It doesn’t matter if the issue of the moment is Christmas celebrations, or ordinary, everyday life routines. We all have a tendency to slide into our own particular behavioral “ruts” without even noticing when the routine became sentimentalized and concretized into something far more precious and far more immoveable than we might want to admit. And a good question to ask ourselves – especially in this New Year, so full of opportunity for growth and potential for change -is this: “Does it really matter?”
Does it really matter that Christmas preparations are finished before the family arrives? Does it really matter that I pray in the same way, at the same time, in the same location, each and every day? Does it really matter that I spend my vacation in the same way, or lunch with the same friends, or worship in the same style, or eat the same foods, or buy the same gas, or…? Asking this question may help us to uncover those ruts masquerading as routines. And it can help us to move out of the ruts that have become constricting, limiting, or just too ordinary for comfort. Because nine times out of ten, I’m guessing the answer to the question is “Probably not”.
Growing up is not always easy. And it certainly doesn’t happen overnight. It seems to be a lifelong endeavor of making friends with change and looking forward to growth. Ultimately, that is what really matters. For 2013… and beyond.
Happy New Year!