Posts Tagged ‘Wilderness’

One Big Wilderness 2-22-15

This morning’s sermon is based on Mark 1:9-15, and features the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness…always the featured story for the first Sunday of Lent. I explore the temptation and what it means for us.

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/one-big-wilderness-2-22-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
This past week holds an interesting distinction for me…this week I had the opportunity to write 2 different sermons at home. First my sermon for Ash Wednesday which I wrote on Monday…and then since the kids were out of school on Friday, I wrote this one at home as well.
And as can sometimes be the case…I was stuck on this one for a pretty good chunk of the day…and so finally at one point I asked the kids “Hey guys…what should I preach about on Sunday?” Jack suggested that I just not do it…which was sort of tempting…but then Ava piped up with her idea… “Kittens.” (pause)
Now here’s the crazy thing…we never know what God is going to use to spark off an idea…but in this case…kittens was the spark. Because as I sat there thinking about the domesticated cat and their offspring, I was reminded of many instances where cats show their wild side. There have been the recent “dear kitten” commercials produced by Friskies…one of which involves the cat going all ninja crazy town on the dog…this in turn makes me think of our cat and her odd tendency to simply go off on Emily…you may pet me 3 time…no more…or I will bite you. (pause)
But finally, this got me thinking about an article that I had read not so long ago that named house cats…yes…house cats…as the single most dangerous, diverse, equal opportunity hunter in the world. Cats are responsible for the deaths of more birds and small animals than any other predator out there. (pause) And when I remembered that I realized that cats are the best representative of what today’s gospel lesson calls the wild beasts. (pause)
Now if today’s story sounds somewhat familiar, it should…this particular passage in Mark is highlighted three separate times within the first few months of the lectionary this year. We heard the first portion at the baptism of Jesus back in January…and we heard the final portion when Jesus proclaims that the kingdom has come near shortly after that when Jesus calls the first disciples…and now we hear it all again…simply because it also includes the temptation of Jesus…as this story happens to be the featured lesson for the first Sunday of Lent each and every year.
And why is that you ask? Is it because Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness and Lent is 40 days? Maybe. Is it a reminder that even Jesus endured dark times which serves as a reminder for this dark season? Again, maybe. Or maybe, in the long run there isn’t really a good explanation and we simply accept that every year at this time we’re going to hear the story of the temptation.
But now here’s the kicker…Mark, as we’ve discussed before is kind of stickler when it comes to detail…he just doesn’t include much of anything does he? And because of this…maybe that’s why we get the overlap of two other stories that we’ve already heard and focused on in the past 6 weeks…simply because the lectionary needed to add a little filler into the gospel lesson for the week.
In all honesty, if this week is supposed to cover the temptation in the wilderness…we could have stuck with the two verses in the middle…And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him…period…end of story. (pause)
That’s it? Really? Come on Mark…you gotta give us something…no details about the 3 temptations themselves…no back and forth verbal sparing with Satan…Jesus doesn’t endure and then bark an order to “Depart from me Satan!” (pause)
Seriously…the lack of anything even remotely resembling details of just what’s happening out there in the wilderness is devastating…once again we’ve got nothing to go on…All we know is that Satan’s there…and animals are there…and Jesus is there…and it was the prompting of the Spirit that got him there in the first place. (pause)
Oh hold on now…just a second here…anyone remember the last time we bumped something like this? I actually think it was the story of Jesus’ baptism a few weeks back…and in that instance it seems like I mentioned that since Mark says so little, we REALLY need to pay attention to what he does say.
And Mark tells us that immediately following his baptism…the Holy Spirit DROVE him into the wilderness…we could also say that the Spirit CAST HIM OUT into the wilderness…and I don’t know about you…but that seems pretty harsh…that the spirit of God got a little physical with Jesus, just as he himself would later get physical with demons…not to mention all the merchants and money changers in the temple…same deal…the Spirit…almost violently takes Jesus out of civilization and out into the wilderness.
And he’s not alone…because Satan’s there…instantly…right away…immediately following his baptism Jesus comes under fire…Jesus is subject to temptation…and its not limited to 3 different temptations…we don’t hear of three isolated things that Satan smacks ol’ JC with…no, Mark tells us that he is tempted for 40 days…apparently non-stop…and in the midst of all that…there’s dangerous animals around…this is no pleasant setting that Jesus finds himself in.
He’s in physical danger…and he’s in spiritual danger…and all of this at the whim of the Holy Spirit. (pause) And when we realize all that, perhaps it gives us a moment of pause…and the question creeps into our mind…wait a sec, the Spirit drove him out to where he was going to tempted…does that mean that God wanted Jesus tempted? And if so…does that mean that God wants us to be tempted? (pause)
Did anyone else go there? Or was it just me? Does anyone else hear this and squirm just a little bit…wondering just what in the heck we are supposed to take from this? (pause) Because surely we can start to see a lot of similarities here. Jesus was baptized…Jesus was tempted…and Jesus was in the wilderness…and in our lives…we experience a lot of the same stuff…because we live our lives in the midst of wilderness…perhaps not a physical one…but we certainly find ourselves in the midst of a spiritual wilderness within our regular lives don’t we? Times when we feel alone…or times when we feel surrounded by enemies…times when it feels like everything and everyone is a predator just waiting…stalking us…seeking to move in for the kill. (pause)
Does that sound familiar to anyone out there? I imagine so, because for many of you, I’m familiar with your stories…I know some of the things that you’re experiencing…some of the things that you are walking through…and perhaps it seems like there is no end in sight. (pause)
Now Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days…a month plus…and I’m guessing that in the midst of the temptations…in the midst of the testing that he endured at the hands of Satan, it probably seemed like there was no end in sight for him too. (pause)
And so once more, I beg the question…was this the will of God…for Jesus to be alone out there…for Jesus to be subject to the attacks of Satan…and if it was, does God intend the same for us? (pause) And my answer to that question…is no…because Jesus wasn’t alone was he?
And I’m not just talking about Satan or the animals…but I’m talking about the angels…throughout this entire ordeal, Jesus was…not…alone…and neither are we. (pause)
Now at this point I could say that we aren’t alone simply because Jesus faced temptation…not only facing it but overcoming it…and because of that we have a God who has experienced the same temptations we do…and while I believe that is true…that’s not what prompts me to say that we are not alone…
And its also not because Jesus had angels with him…because when we are in the midst of temptation…I’ve never looked around and seen a glimmering dude with wings and a halo backing me up…but yet I will still say it…we are not alone.
And I say this because of the mission of Jesus Christ…not just to endure temptation…not just to live and perform miracles…not to gain a following and then die on a cross…but the mission of Jesus Christ was to enable relationship. Remember that all of this happened at the prodding of the Spirit which had entered into him at his baptism…the Spirit of God was with Jesus throughout this ordeal…because in the Father Son and Holy Spirit we see that even God is in relationship and we remember that God desires us to be in that relationship as well…and not just between himself and us as individuals…but between us as fellow believers as well.
Not only did Jesus’ death and resurrection enable us to once again be in relationship with our heavenly father…the one who calls us his beloved child just as he called Jesus the beloved…but his death and resurrection also made it possible for us as sinful people to forgive the hurts that we cause one another and come into blessed relationship with one another.
This is fellowship…this is community…this is togetherness and remember even in the midst of the wilderness and temptation at the hands of Satan…Jesus experienced community. And take heart in knowing that this community is where we seek aid…where we seek support in those instances when we experience our own temptations in the midst of our day to day wilderness. (pause)
And so I’ll ask it one more time…does God intend for us to experience temptation in our wilderness? And I believe the answer to that question is no…but God is aware that we will experience it…and so He has provided us with the means to endure it…and in those times when we do fail…when we fall to temptation…he has also given us the means to hear the words of forgiveness…to hear the words of grace made possible through Jesus Christ…to know that our sin no longer holds sway over us…
And so…during this season of Lent…these 40 dark days that mirror the 40 days of darkness that Jesus endured in the wilderness…let us join together as a community…let us support one another and pray for one another…so that we too might be sustained…just as the angels sustained Jesus…and at the end of those 40 days, we will emerge into the glory of the resurrected Christ…who has made it possible for us to join in his victory over Satan. Amen.

Have You Found Jesus? 2-8-15

In this sermon, I explore Mark 1:29-39. Jesus has been active in Capernaum, but when everyone starts looking for him, he decides to leave. Apparently Jesus isn’t open to “being found.”

You can listen to the audio of the sermon here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/have-you-found-jesus-2-8-15

You can also follow along with the text of the sermon here:
Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
Rituals are…at times…a wonderful thing…something that we do for a specific purpose as a reminder…or as a way of maintaining a connection. (pause) But at other times…a ritual is something that needs to happen as a way to maintain order.
I got to thinking about this second type of ritual the other day as I was preparing this message…and as I thought about it…I recognized a ritual that has formed over at my house…one that is enacted pretty much every night just before we head off to bed…finding the cat.
You see…the kids head off to bed earlier than my wife and I do…and its pretty normal that when we put our daughter to bed, that we leave her door open so that light will come in from the hallway while she’s falling asleep. But we always try to close her door when we go to bed…and this is because of our cat.
If any of you are cat owners…you know that they have the tendency to be independent and not controllable. They go where they want when they want…and often times this roaming around happens at night. We discovered pretty quickly that when the cat decides to roam into Ava’s room in the middle of the night…she wakes up…and that means everyone wakes up…and so, the simple solution, since we can’t just tell the cat to stay out of there…is to pull her door shut…but before we can do that…we also have to make sure that the cat hasn’t already ventured in there and curled up in her room somewhere…and yes this is a common occurrence…and so, pretty much every night as we’re shutting all the lights off we ask the question…have you found the cat?
And we never know just where she might be hiding…sometimes out in the open, or other times she’s curled up somewhere secretive and it takes us awhile to find her. And as I was thinking about that, I remembered an old Far Side comic that I saw once…there’s an open in a house, and the lady who lives there is at the front door where she is greeted by a couple of missionaries asking her “Have you found Jesus?” (pause) Now the first time I saw this I wondered what was supposed to be so funny…until I looked a little closer to discover a pair of feet decked out in sandals hiding behind the curtain…because Jesus was hiding…waiting to be found.
And apparently in the world of this particular comic…Jesus, much like my cat…needs to be hunted for…needs to be found. (pause) Now that obviously draws us into today’s scripture lesson…now today’s story is yet another direct continuation of the ongoing narrative of Mark chapter 1. Following last week’s lesson where Jesus has been in the synagogue casting out a particularly troublesome demon, he and his disciples head across the street into Peter’s house where Jesus first heals Peter’s mother in law…and then a little later on in the day the entire city crowds around the door watching as Jesus heals person after person…casting out demon after demon.
And then…following all of this, early the next morning…long before sunup…Jesus rolls out of bed…walks out of town in the surrounding wilderness to get himself just a little bit of God time…and as we see…his departure, is not well received in Capernaum. (pause)
The first things we hear is that Peter and the other disciples…however many of them there might have been at this point…are hunting for Jesus…and we also hear that they are not alone. And you know what…the notion of hunting for Jesus strikes me as significant…because there’s really nothing gentle and passive about hunting is there? Any hunters out there will likely agree with me…its something that you’ve got to really go after…to hunt for something means you are fully invested in everyway…you are dedicated all of your energy into finding whatever it is that you’re hunting for.
And as I mentioned…Peter and the rest of the crew aren’t the only ones on the hunt for Jesus…we hear that EVERYONE…is looking for him…Everyone…and once Jesus find out that he’s been targeted…he tells the crew…hey guys…lets head out…we’ve got work to do elsewhere. (pause)
And you know what…that’s always struck me as a little odd. Clearly the people of Capernaum want Jesus to stick around…they seem open to what he has to say and they certainly appreciate the miracles that he’s been dolling out…and so, it raises the question of just why Jesus wants to skedattle out of there. You’d think he want to stick around…clearly he’s got a receptive audience now…all it took was casting out a few demons…curing a few fevers and now he’s good to go right? (pause)
But that’s not how Jesus reacts is it…Jesus doesn’t seem to like being hunted…he doesn’t like it that everyone is searching intently for him…and I often time wonder just why that is…and perhaps we can start to find the answer to that question if we stop and think about the season of the church year that we’re in right now.
Today is of course, just about the end of Epiphany…just one more week and then we hint Lent…and think for a moment about just what Epiphany means…it started back in January when the 3 wise men followed a star which revealed the Christ child to them…and all the way through this season…short though it may be this year…we been hearing story after story of how Christ is revealed within the world…of how God in human form becomes known. (pause)
Never do we hear about how Jesus is found by anyone…about how the Christ is simply identified by anyone…Christ…God…Jesus…is always revealed to someone…Christ is never found…because he is the one that does the finding.
Christ is the one that walked up to Peter and Andrew along the seashore and said follow me…he found them…not the other way around…and likewise…it was Jesus who revealed himself to the people of Capernaum…and he did so through those miracles that he performed the night before he headed off into the wilderness.
And so, the next morning…as all these people are seeking him out…we have to stop and think about their motivation…did they really want to hear more about kingdom of God…or did they simply want this magical healer to stick around and take care of any problems that they might experience.
I fear that the people of Capernaum were trying to find Jesus on their terms…they were trying to put him in a box…to limit what he was in the world to do…and to keep him for themselves. (pause) But just like my cat has a mind of her own…and goes where she will and refuses to play by my rules…Jesus isn’t going to be contained either.
That’s why he takes his disciples out into the neighboring towns…because that’s what he’s here to do…not to get stuck in healing mode…though he certainly does a lot of that…but to continue to reveal the truth that the kingdom of God has come near…and to continue to free individuals from those things that hinder their live in relationship with God.
And as we realize that…perhaps we need to stop and think about our own motivations when we seek God. Are we seeking God in order to seek his will…to spread his gospel…or as I fear…do we all too often fall in the trap of seeking God when we need something from him? Do we seek to put God in a box…to keep God limited to our terms? (pause)
I pose that question…because I think we all fall in that trap sometimes…and its not only important to avoid placing limitations upon God…but its vital to realize that God…will not…be controlled. We cannot place God in a box….we cannot keep God limited to what we think is right…because God will not be hindered.
This is the good news that Jesus came to proclaim when he said that the kingdom of God has come near…We have a God who not only spoke the entire universe into existence simply because he chose to…but we have a God who set aside EVERYTHING…and became human like us…simply in order to be with us…because He wants us to be in the kingdom along with him…and by become human…by taking on flesh and dwelling among us…God utterly destroyed those human limitations that hinder us from taking an active role in the kingdom…from finding a living relationship together with our maker….and since we all know that we just can’t do anything to get ourselves up there…he gave up everything to come down here…and this is what he seeks to reveal to us. (pause)
This is why he proclaimed the gospel…and this is why we are called to proclaim that same gospel that we have first received…so that one day all may hear it…and one day the glorious truth of that gospel will be revealed to everyone.
We don’t find Jesus…Jesus finds us…Jesus reveals himself…to us…no matter how hard we try to make it work the other way around. So don’t ask the question “Have you found Jesus…” Rather, ask yourself “Has Jesus…found me?” Amen.

I Once Was Lost

In this sermon I discuss the parables of the lost sheep and the lost coin from Luke 15:1-10. I explore the notion of what it means to be lost and just what it means to be found.  You can hear the sound file here:
https://soundcloud.com/revdalen/i-once-was-lost-9-15-13

The word file is here. As usual, disregard the odd punctuation and indications to pause. I gotta remember to do those things somehow.

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen
January…2009. St Paul Minnesota. The 2nd evening of my first stint on campus at Luther Seminary. Earlier in the evening, we had met with the dean of students. She had given us the normal spiel…enjoy yourselves while you are here. Enjoy the community and the school…enjoy your classmates…but make wise decisions while you are here…because if you do something stupid…I’m the one that gets the phone call…I don’t want to get that phone call…and you…DON’T WANT…me to get that phone call.
We laughed at that statement…and we were supposed to. After all…we were all adults…ranging in age from mid-twenties up to late-fifties…and not only that but we were seminary students. While the dean was serious in her warning…I doubt that she thought she was actually going to get one of “those” phone calls.
After the meeting was done with the dean, my classmates and I were all milling around…trying to decide what to do. Some were heading back to their rooms to hit the books. Others were talking about grabbing a bite to eat…and one guy…a guy that happened to be from Texas with no car on campus…was asking for a ride to Target. He needed some provisions for the 2-week stay. I heard the request and realized I needed to pick up a couple things as well…and so I volunteered to drive my truck to the store.
We made it to Target just fine…spent some time shopping…and proceeded to fill the back seat of my truck with shopping bags. Apparently my friends “provision list” was pretty extensive. As we were heading back towards campus, my friend mentioned one other type of provision that he wanted to pick up…the “cold one” variety…and so we swung through another store so he could pick up what he wanted…and a few minutes later a large case of “cold ones” went into the only available storage spot left in my truck…the back end…and we continued back towards our dorm. (pause)
Now here’s where things get a little shaky. Remember that this is my first time at school…and I was very unfamiliar with the area…and its winter…and its dark…and I don’t have a gps…you can see where this is going can’t you? I got…lost…totally. I missed the turn that would have taken me straight back to campus and so I ended up completely turned around in the midst of St Paul…just trying to spot something…anything…that looked familiar.
We drove around for a few minutes, and I was just trying to find one of the main roads so I could get some idea of where I was at, and then find my way back to campus when all of the sudden…there’s blue and red lights flashing behind me…and now I’m freaking out. I had no idea why I was being pulled over…but sure enough…I was.
I sat there, and through my mirror watched the policeman get out of his car, flashlight on…and start walking up past my truck…and as he’s walking past the back of the truck…I saw that flashlight flip over and stop on that case of beer…and I thought to myself. “I’m going to jail.” And even worse than that…when he finds out I’m from the seminary, then the dean…is gonna get “that” phone call…and I’m gonna get kicked out of school.  I was stuck…under the spotlight…everything was lost…and I was about to be found out.
Sound familiar? The notion of being lost? Sounds a lot like today’s story doesn’t it? Once again, we find Jesus in the hot seat with the political bigwigs. The Pharisees and the scribes are, yet again, giving him static because of the people that he attracts…we are reminded…yet again…that these guys don’t approve of sinners and tax collectors showing up at Jesus’ party…and yet again…they’re grumbling about it.
And Jesus…in his typical fashion…tosses a story or two their direction in order to set them straight…and today we hear two, very familiar parables…the lost sheep and the lost coin.  Which one of you, having 100 sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the 99 and go after the one that is lost until he finds it. Or what woman that has 10 coins and loses one, does not light a lamp and sweep the house until she find it?
Here we are…the lost…but just what does that really mean? To be lost? What is Jesus talking about with the sheep and the coin here today? We can assume that he’s being metaphorical because that’s what parable are…making a point with something a little more familiar and plain. But again, what does it mean to be lost?
Earlier this week I was doing a language study. I won’t bore you with the details, but I discovered that when Jesus uses the word “lost” in these stories, the word is normally translated as “utterly destroyed” or “to perish.” And so perhaps to say that the subject is lost is fitting. If something has been destroyed…or if someone has died than truly they are lost to us aren’t they.
But then what does that say about the sheep or the coin? If they are utterly lost…then it would seem that there is no reason whatsoever to go looking for them is there?  Think about it for a moment…what’s the point of searching…its destroyed…its gone…there is no hope so why on earth would the shepherd chose to leave 99 healthy sheep to go in search for something that’s as good as dead already?
Logic alone tells us that this is foolish…it makes no sense whatsoever for the shepherd to make this choice…and you know what…its even more crazy than we first think. Look at where the story tells us that the 99 sheep are left…out in the wilderness…THE GUY LEFT 99% OF HIS FLOCK OUT IN THE DESERT…the wilderness…at the mercy of the blazing hot, dry conditions…at the mercy of whatever wild predators might be roaming around…at the mercy of any other shepherd that might be in the area just waiting to scoop up a bunch of unattended livestock.  (pause) What would make this guy go out in search of the one that’s already lost? Let’s put a pin in that question for moment…we’ll come back in a sec.
Perhaps you’ve already made the metaphorical connection that Jesus implies with this story. Probably so…its pretty obvious isn’t it?  Humans are the sheep…Jesus or God…is the shepherd. The human gets lost and God goes to find them. End of story right?  Oh, bonus points if you recognize that the individual is lost because they are sinful.  (pause) Yep, that’s it…that’s the story in the nutshell…but now let’s back up to that question from a moment ago. What would possess God to leave the 99 and go in search of the one? Concern? Love? You betcha.
God chooses to leave the 99 in the wilderness to go seeking the one that’s lost…the one that’s utterly lost…the one that has perished…the one that has perished in their sinfulness…the wages of Sin is death…we hear that from the Apostle Paul in Roman…and so if we are lost in sin…if we are dead in sin then it seems like God is going on a mission that’s impossible.
God is going in search of the one that cannot be found…and worse yet, God leaves 99 alone to do it. And let’s think about that for a second…the 99 are left in the Wilderness…Is God being careless here? It sure seems like it…but is he? Is he really?  (pause) Remember someone else that went “into the wilderness?” Maybe, right after his baptism?  (pause) Jesus himself went into the wilderness where he was tempted by Satan for 40 days…the wilderness…is the place of temptation…the wilderness…sounds an awful lot like life…and the difference between Jesus temptation and our temptation is that Jesus could beat it…but we can’t. Try as we might…we CANNOT do it.
So maybe what this story is telling us here is that the 99…alone in the wilderness…are actually the one…the one that is lost…each and every member of humanity is the one at one time or another…lost…perished…destroyed by our own sinful natures…we are stuck…alone…with no hope…
But despite all that…the shepherd goes in search of the lost…in search of the lost cause…in search of that which has no way of being found on their own. (pause)
Look at the stories again…both the sheep and the coin do nothing…absolutely nothing…to be found.  They are completely passive in this situation…just sitting there…doing nothing…but the shepherd and women both…look, and look, and look. They seek and never cease…until the lost is found. (pause)
And that my friends, is the reality that we find ourselves in. Utterly lost…dead in sin…utterly destroyed with no capability of getting ourselves found. We need another…we need help…we need the salvation from certain death and destruction…and that’s what God chooses to do for each and every single one of us. (pause)
But when we stop and think about it…that can be pretty tough to accept. That God…even God…would love me so much that He would seek for me in my own wilderness…the wilderness of my reality…in the darkness of my life…in the muck and mire that bogs me down…that sinful, horrible, awful reality that is my life…If God really knew…and really saw me…he wouldn’t…I’m too far gone…I am utterly destroyed…I am utterly lost…and if God really knew…he wouldn’t want to find me…I don’t want be found…I don’t want to be found out… (pause) I don’t want to be found out.
Maybe…deep down…that’s the fear that many of us face…that fear that if God really knew…or if the people at church…REALLY knew the truth about me…then I wouldn’t be accepted…I’d be cast out…or worse yet…left out to die…
But you know what…that’s exactly the lost cause that Jesus came to earth to solve.  God truly loves each and every one of us so much, that he was willing to get into it…head first…no holding back…Jesus lived it…he lived the darkness…he lived the temptation…he died for it…but then…he came back…and you know what…he chooses to bring each and every one of us back with him.
Friends in Christ you are that sheep…utterly lost…utterly destroyed…but Jesus waded into the darkness…and kept on searching until he found you…you didn’t do it on your own…but he kept looking until he found you…and that my friends is a reality worth celebrating… (pause)
Maybe you’ve heard this before…and maybe this strikes you as good news…and maybe you hear this and you find joy in remembering that moment when Jesus found you in the wilderness…and if you praise God…but maybe…just maybe…this is new for some of you sitting out there…maybe you’ve never heard this before…or maybe its never really sunk in for you before…this idea that God is willing to do the impossible with no help from you…FOR you…and if you are hearing this…and I mean really hearing it for the first time today then PRAISE GOD because he’s seeking you out right now….and HE WILL FIND YOU. (pause)
Remember where we left our story before? I was pulled over in St Paul, seconds away from a police officer coming to my window…shaking like a leaf because I was afraid that I was about to be found out.
When the officer came to the window, he asked me the normal question. “Do you know why I pulled you over?” I answered no, and he said “Well, you pulled a little past a stop sign back there before you stopped, and I saw your Iowa license plates, and I saw you looking around…I could tell you were lost. Where are you trying to get to?”
I told him Luther Seminary…and he snickered…and he then he laughed…and then he got me where I couldn’t get on my own…I once was lost, but now, am found…may we all find the joy…in truly knowing that God, found us.  Amen.