If my math is correct, today is Season Opener #123 for the Detroit Tigers.  Our son, Joel, and I, though we are members of the “elite” 1901 Society, will not be there … because the Tigers’ Season Opener this year is in Tampa Bay.  One might say that we planned our return from Florida a week or two early.  However, one week from today is the Home Opener … and the plan is that I will be there with our other son, Matthew.
Speaking of Season Openers, this Thursday’s Thirst is opening a new season for me … the season of writing these brief words of spiritual encouragement as a “pastor emeritus”.  While the Tigers are in season #123 (I think), I am calling this “Season #2” for Thursday’s Thirst.  And, similar to how the Tigers will be playing ball most days – but not every day … Season #2 of Thursday’s Thirst will be sent out most weeks, but the promise is NOT (catch the emphasis) for every week … and without an 8:15 a.m. deadline.
The past off-season started with nearly two weeks of recovery … from the overwhelming farewell weekend filled with S.A.S.S., worship, banquet, family love, cards/greetings/gifts, and a whole lot more (over one month later we are still overwhelmed … and still receiving greetings).   Then came two plus enjoyable weeks south … slow-traveling so that we could spend time with friends in Dayton, Columbia, Celebration, and the Panhandle … a great week with our immediate family in “Disneyland” … finishing off with a few days for just the “two of us”.  Thus, in many ways, it feels like this is the first week of retirement … back in town Monday afternoon, Tuesday morning grandchild-care followed by all the usual post-vacation domestic catch up, Wednesday was worship, COSTCO, and Andary’s for lunch.  Is this what retirement is all about?!
This day will start as Tuesday started … have you heard the story of my “brainstorming thought” that instantly was transformed into concrete (or granite?)!  Then comes a breakfast gathering with eight-or-so other retired pastors followed eventually by a long-overdue haircut.  Since the rest of the week may change, I will not speculate here.  However, a thought occurred to me yesterday morning during my time of prayer … which seemed to be confirmed in a “God@work” conversation that afternoon.
In many ways, I am experiencing a time of grief.  While I believe I am basically through denial (‘D), I have noticed the other emotions (ABDA) at different times.  These are the emotions of retirement from a ministry that was filled with so many blessings and so many passions.  There are many, many things … and especially people/conversations … that I miss.  However, at the same time, I am extremely content with a joy-filled anticipation of what is, and what is to come.  The stress (that I did not even realize I carried) is gone, opportunities to spend quality, pressure-free time with an unbounded number of people are continually expanding, while new, creative ways to serve Christ and His Church are beyond the horizon.
As I reflect upon this, it occurs to me that this is really what our entire earthly pilgrimage, and the Holy Week we are about to enter, are all about.  An old hymn (or is it a dirge?) by Thomas Taylor (LSB 748) starts out “I’m but a stranger here, Heaven is my home. … Heaven is my fatherland; Heaven is my home.”  But, as you may have noticed, I am entering into Season #2 with the words of a more contemporary and uplifting hymn by Herb Brokering.  “Thine the amen Thine the praise Alleluias angels raise Thine the everlasting head Thine the breaking of the bread … Thine the glory in the night No more dying only light Thine the river Thine the tree Then the Lamb eternally Then the holy holy holy Celebration jubilee Thine the spendor Thine the brightness only Thee only Thee.” (LSB 680).

Could it be that we actually know more about tomorrow than we ever will know or remember of yesterday?
I know that, as I age, my memories of days gone by have been altered by many different factors, some positive with others not so.  On the other hand, the promises of our God – which are built upon His past actions and are focused upon the future – remain unadulterated and clear.  Consider the vision John was granted on our behalf – “After this I looked, and behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation,, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with  loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’  … (Others were) saying, ‘Amen!  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!  Amen.’ Then one of the elders (asked), ‘Who are these? … These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation.  They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. … They are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple … They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore … for the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water (Thursday’s Thirst), and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” (Revelation 7.9-17)
Here is one thing that I believe will be true of Season #123, and I know will be true of Seasons #2 and #3 (for Season #3, consider the “after this …”) … and you can check me on this later … I don’t even need to write it here, because you already know what I am about to say!  Or, as Herb Brokering would say, “Thine the truly Thine the yes Thine the table we the guest Thine the mercy all from Thee Thine the glory yet to be Then the ringing and the singing Then the end of all the war (and, I might add, the end of all the school shootings) Thine the living Then the loving evermore evermore.”
Blessings … I’ll see you real soon .. an Go Tigers … #123 will be much better than #122.

Season Opener