Born Blind


Sermon for Sunday, March 22, 2020



Sermon begins at 17:41

I know that there are a lot of priests and preachers this morning preaching to empty, or almost empty rooms. Everyone is trying to do the best they can to participate in worship online, but there is no sense in pretending that it is the same thing as worshipping together, it’s different. I can’t see most of your faces right now, and while that may not change the message I have to give, it does change how it feels to give it.

But this is not the first time I have preached to an almost empty room, as a matter of fact I do it all the time. I very often will come into the empty church and go over my sermons out loud. It’s not because I want the sermon to be some kind of performance, not at all. It is because I want to make sure that what comes out of my mouth is what I really want to say. Sometimes things sound different in your head, or on paper, that they do out loud. So sometimes, I will come into an empty church and preach.

I also do this when I am down taking classes for my graduate program in Tennessee. Most of you know that I am working on a doctorate in ministry, and when I am down at the University I do the same thing. I go into the chapel, which looks nothing like this space, but is nonetheless beautiful with lots of clear windows that look out on the mountain setting, I go in there and I practice my sermons.

I did it this past summer. I had a sermon that I was working on that I needed to give for class, so I left happy hour early one night and walked back up to the chapel to go over my sermon. Most of my classmates were still in the restaurant so I figured I was safe to have the chapel to myself for a bit.

So I went into the chapel and started reading out loud.

And about the time I got a couple minutes into my sermon I saw a man walk up outside, over on my right, just outside the windows, looking around. So, I got quieter, but I kept preaching to myself. A few minutes later he walked into the chapel and I stopped.

The man walked up to me and introduced himself. He was probably in his mid fifties and he was dressed like a man than knows about hard work. He said he lives on the mountain but doesn’t work here or study here. He had been out walking in the woods all day and for some reason he just felt like coming up this way. He knew that there was a chapel here, he had seen it from a distance, but had never been in it. He wanted to see if the doors were open.

I told him, yes, by all means, please look around. I’m just reading over this sermon I need to give next week. He said go ahead and keep reading, who knows, maybe you will say something I need to hear. And he began to look around the chapel and I went back to my sermon, but self-consciousness got the better of me and I read it to myself silently. I told myself that I didn’t want to disturb this man in his time of prayer, but of course the truth was I didn’t want him to think I was crazy, standing here preaching to an empty room.

So he went up to the front of the chapel and for a while he stood there at the foot of this life-sized crucifix, looking up at Jesus, as I stood over in the pulpit, silently reading my sermon. And then, when he was done he walked back over to me and said, would you do me a favor, would you tell me what your sermon is about.

Of course, I said.

Well my passage was from Deuteronomy, but the story was all about the Exodus story, some of which you may remember we heard about last week.

I said to him: Do you remember the story of Moses and the children of Israel? Do you remember the part when God sets them free from slavery to pharaoh?

Yes, he said.

Well, they came to the shores of the Red Sea and they turned back to Egypt. They said, “it would be better for us to serve the Egyptians than die in the wilderness.” But God shows them grace; they sea parts and they keep going.

And then a little further into the wilderness they get hungry. They remember the fleshpots, the food and the bread that they had in Egypt. That food, those fleshpots, that bread, it gave them life. They thought surely they should turn back. They turn and look back to Egypt and say, “if only we had those fleshpots and that bread again.” But God shows them grace; God gives them food, they re-turn and keep going.

And then I said,

They move on further, and when they don’t have any water, they turn away and look back to Egypt; and again God shows them grace and they re-turn and keep going. This happens over and over and over. God’s children even reach the border of the Promised Land once, they look in, and they are afraid, and they turn back toward Egypt again. They turn away from God. And eventually they find their way back to the Promised Land and Moses, right before he dies, tries to make it as clear as he can to them. Life is this way. The Promised Land is this way. Blessings are this way. God is this way. So I said the man that I think when we turn away from God we turn away from life, and it doesn’t really matter what we are turning too.

I told him that I think the point of my sermon is that even though we are on the road to freedom, the fleshpots keep calling. We keep looking back to Egypt. We want good things like bread and water, and family and wealth and comfort, but we forget nothing is as good as God. We want all these things in life, but we don’t want to put faith in God to provide them, that was part of the story from Exodus we heard last week. And I told the man that my sermon is that: God is the source of goodness; God is the source of life. Moses wants the children of Israel to make good choices. He wants them to make God their supreme good. He wants them to pursue God above all else. He wants them to put faith in God.

But I said to him, here is the funny thing: Moses already knows they are going to fail. Because right before Moses tells them to choose wisely, to choose life, he tells them that someday they are going to find themselves wandering again, scattered and exiled. And he says to them that when they realize they have turned away from God, when they take that to heart and they re-turn to the Lord, that he will take them back in love.

And I said to him that what I want to say in my sermon is that we will make wrong turns, but when we do, we can return and come back again. When we discover that the road we are on is headed in the wrong direction, we can turn around. God wants us to choose him. God wants us to choose the Promised Land and choose life. But when we choose wrongly and choose to put our faith in the wrong things, God lets us choose again and return back to him.

And he looked at me for a minute and said, thank you. I imagine if you preach it just like that you’ll do just fine. It really meant something to me. And he stood there a minute and paused and said, “but how can you see in here?”

And I said well, there’s a light right here that shines down on my text. And he said, “well I can’t really see very well. Bad vision runs in my family. That’s usually what I am praying for whenever I come into a church. Better vision.”

That’s when it hit me.

It occurred to me then that there was something missing from my sermon. I spent all this time talking about people turning away from God and settling for lesser things that are never as good as God; I spent time talking about people making wrong turns and heading in the wrong direction, and putting their faith in the wrong things, but I couldn’t see the obvious problem. The reason why we do it. The reason we do it is because we can’t always see which way the road is headed. Bad vision runs in our family. When it comes to knowing where God is; when it comes to judging ourselves and our neighbors rightly, we are all blind. We turn away from the Promised Land we turn away from God and from life, because we can’t always see clearly. We humans don’t have good vision and we can’t see God or Jesus from a distance, we have to get right up close to him and stand or kneel right at his feet to see who he really is. Sometimes God has to get right in our face before we can see him. Lesser things, closer things, block the view. Daily life can block the view. We cannot see the world as it really is. We cannot see ourselves as we really are. Sometimes we need grace to turn us around. By some means we need God to get in our face and show us the way and say “hey, here I am right in front of you, and life is this way.” Sometimes we need God not just to help us see, but also we need God to show us just how blind we really are.
And then it hit me again harder, because I realized in that moment that it was happening to me, right then, only I was the one who was lost, I was the one who was blind and couldn’t see God working right in front of me. Here I was focused on my text, a stranger came up to me and asked me for a word, I think he wanted a glimpse of the Promised Land; he wanted a word of life, he wanted me to show him Jesus and I didn’t do it. I let fear and respectability silence me. I decided to lean on fear more than God’s grace. It was so easy. Here was a holy moment, a divine encounter, and I wasn’t ready to enter in just yet. I wasn’t ready to open my eyes. I made the wrong choice. I was the one who turned away from God. I was the one who couldn’t see clearly. I was the one who was blind.

You know, this man could have just walked out and gone on his way. But he didn’t. He came back over to me and basically said, “would you offer me a word now.” I got a second chance. Here I was preaching to this man about how God gives second chances, and in that moment God flipped my world upside down and this man was preaching to me. I was the one who turned away from God and the Promised Land; I couldn’t see which way led to life, and this man gave me the chance to re-turn again. He touched me and opened my eyes. That was grace.

I once was lost but now am found

Was blind but now I see

We shook hands, said goodbye and thanked each other. I returned to my text and he returned to the woods, but he stopped before he walked out the door and called back to me.

He said, “It’s a round world you know…well meet again.”

And all I could say was “Amen brother, amen.”

I don’t know who that man was. Maybe he was an angel. Maybe he was someone that God sent to cross my path to teach me something. I don’t know. But what I know, or what at least I hope I know is this: I live in a world full of things that I cannot see. Some of these invisible things can harm me, we are all aware of that right now, but some can save me. If there is anything that we all need to realize, especially in this time we are living in, is that we can’t always see with the naked eye everything that is in this world of ours. We can’t always see viruses, and we can’t always see God. I hope I do run into that man again, or someone like him. Because I need God and God’s grace to help me see things as they really are, we all do, because the truth is, we are all born blind.

Harden not your hearts


Sermon for March 15th, 2020



Sermon begins at 16:00


“Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness, at Meribah, and on that day at Massah, when they tempted me. They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.”


Those words are from Psalm 95, our Psalm for the day.


Now if Psalm 95 sounds familiar to you, then you’ve just made me very proud, because that means you are probably saying Morning Prayer regularly. Psalm 95 is regularly said at the beginning of our Morning Prayer service as a part of the invitation to worship called the Venite, from the Latin word for “Come.” It begins “O Come, let us sing unto the Lord; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.”


Most of the time at Morning Prayer though, the Psalm ends with verse 7: “O that today you would hearken to his voice.” We don’t always read the rest. But right after that verse the Psalmist says:


“Harden not your hearts, as your forbears did in the wilderness, at Meribah, and on that day at Massah, when they tempted me. They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.”


What happened at Meribah and Massah? What did our forbears or ancestors do that tempted God? Well in our Old Testament reading today we hear the story.


Moses and the Children of Israel are traveling in the wilderness. They are in the desert really. They have just been through the most tumultuous journey. They had just been slaves in Egypt. God had seen their misery and heard their cries, and after Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, after Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, God demonstrated his might through one miraculous demonstration of power after another. And Pharaoh relented and set God’s people free.


God led them with pillars of cloud and pillars of fire out of Egypt.


And when Pharaoh changed his mind, and decided to pursue the Israelites, God demonstrated his power again, by opening the Red Sea and allowing them to pass through on dry land. And when the Children of Israel saw Pharaoh’s army stuck in the mud and drowned in the sea they sang a song of praise. It is the first song recorded in the Bible. We call it the Song of Moses:


“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God and I will praise him, my father’s God and I will exalt him.”


Everyone sang and celebrated what they had just witnessed. God was powerful and mighty and God had just demonstrated both his power and his will to save his people.


But it didn’t take the people long to forget it.


They had witnessed God’s saving power, but before the chapter ends, they are complaining to Moses that the water isn’t good to drink. When Moses calls upon the Lord, the Lord shows him what to do to make the water drinkable. And the Lord tells his people: listen to me and trust me. I am the Lord who heals you. I will not bring on you any of the plagues I brought on Egypt. I am the Lord who saves you. Trust in me. And they had good water to drink.


Then a little further, a couple months later, the Israelites get a little hungry. Do they turn to God and ask for his saving help again? No. They turn to Moses and Aaron and complain saying: “it would have been better for us to stay in Egypt! You should not have brought us here, you are going to kill us!” But God hears them, and through another miracle, sends them bread and meat to eat. The Lord commands them to gather the bread and meat for six days, but to rest on the seventh. On the sixth day he gives them enough to last for two days, but still some don’t listen. They won’t rest. They can’t trust that God will provide for them.


Then a little bit further and we find the Children of Israel in our passage from Exodus today. Still journeying through the desert, when they come to a place where there appears to be no water. They have seen God in pillars of cloud and fire, they have seen God split the sea, they have seen God turn bitter water into sweet, they have seen God provide bread and meat, but instead of turning and leaning on their faith in God, they turn to Moses once again and say: “Give us water! Why did you bring us out of Egypt to kill us?”


So God instructs Moses to strike the rock with his staff and there is water to drink. But Moses names the place Meribah and Massah, words that mean “test” and “quarrel” as a reminder of how the people quarreled and tested God, saying “Is the Lord among us or not?” These people that had witnessed God’s saving power in a way unlike any others, still allowed their hearts to be hardened the moment the next hardship came along. Instead of turning to God for their needs, instead of asking for God’s saving help again, they turned on each other.


So when the Psalmist many years later is composing another song about God and is imagining what God’s voice might say, what he writes is this:


Harden not your hearts, as your forebears did in the wilderness, at Meribah and on that day its Massah, when they tempted me. They put me to the test, though they had seen my works.


They may be hard words to hear, but it they’re true. We do that, don’t we? We witness miraculous things in our lives, we witness God’s love and saving power, and then we quickly forget about them. We forget what God has done for us. We question whether God is truly with us or not. We fear, we quarrel. We allow our hearts to be hardened.


It is so easy for us to become jaded and cynical. It is so easy for us to become hardened in our hearts; to give in to anger and fear. It is so easy for us to forget what God has already done for us, it is so easy for us to not see God, even when he is right in front of us. Jesus says to the woman at the well: “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would give you living water.”


Do we know the gift of God? Do we know the one who is asking us to serve him? We should know him, we have seen his works, but I guess we need to be reminded. We need to be reminded regularly about what God has done for us, and the miracles our forebears witnessed, and the miracles we have witnessed. That is one of the things that worship does; songs of praise like the song sung by the Israelites when they made it across the sea, they pour out praise to God, but they also remind us of what God has done for us. That is why we need prayer and praise in our lives, so that our hearts are not hardened when hard times and adversity show up again.


I don’t need to tell you that this week we have entered into a somewhat strange and difficult time in our world. The fact that this service is being broadcast online, without much of a congregation is a testimony to the fact that we are traveling in desert land right now. There are a lot of unknowns and people are worried about their health, their savings, and all that is perfectly natural, but we have been here before. Even something as bizarre as cancelling public gatherings and worship. We have been here before. This week I dug through the old parish register and found the entry from October of 1918 when our church was closed for two weeks due to the influenza epidemic. When have been here before. We have been through depressions and wars, we have been through tough times and we get through them. We get through them by turning back to God. By remembering what God has already done for us, and by remembering that he has promised to be with us through the end. That is why we need worship now more than ever. We may have to do it differently for a while. We may each have to turn to God in our homes, on our beds and sofas, and at our dinner tables. We may need to get our prayer books and bibles off the shelves, we may need to use some new technology for a while, but if in the end we are all individually brought a little closer to this saving God, then surely that is a good thing.


This God of ours has triumphed over death, let us never forget that. As Christians we remind ourselves of that every time we gather for prayer. That is the salvation that our forebears witnessed: Christ’s Resurrection from the dead. If that is true then what on earth do we have to worry about….nothing. We will do what is prudent and wise to protect the weakest among us and to limit the spread of this disease, but we will not fear, panic or let our hearts be hardened. We will not forget God’s saving works that our ancestors witnessed, or the miracles that we ourselves have witnessed. We will continually turn to God in prayer and praise and with supplications, because we know the answer to the question the Israelites asked in the desert. We know that the Lord is among us.



Salvation comes from above


Sermon for March 8th, 2020



Our passage from Genesis this morning is the familiar story of God calling Abram, whose name is later changed to Abraham. God calls this man Abram, and makes him an offer: Leave behind all you have, leave your country and your kindred (at least some of them) and follow me. Follow me and I will make you great. I will make your name great. I will make you a nation. In fact, I will make you a blessing to all the families of the world.


Naturally, one wonders why God makes this offer to this man Abram. Abram just appears on the scene, somewhat out of nowhere. We know a little bit about his family tree from the preceding chapter in Genesis, but we know nothing of Abram’s character. That comes later. When we do learn a little more about Abram, what we find is a man that is more or less unremarkable. He isn’t the brightest man in the Middle East. He isn’t particularly good or righteous. He’s not noted for being particularly strong or handsome. I’m not sure we would call him a charismatic leader in any sense. So why Abram? Why does God offer to bless this wanderer?


Well I think if we would know Abram better and appreciate what makes him so special, we need to take a look at what happens in the scripture right before he walks on the scene.


Abram and his family are wanderers, but if we look to Genesis chapter 11, we find people that don’t want to wander. Abram takes his family on a journey, but the family in chapter 11 is immovable. Abram is willing to risk everything to follow where he is lead; but the people in chapter 11 are willing to risk everything to stay put.


Abram’s family is introduced at the end of chapter 11 of Genesis, but at the beginning of chapter 11 we are shown another contrasting family: the human family.


“Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as they migrated from the East, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”


The story that comes immediately before Abram is the famous story of the towel of Babel. The humans of the earth all speak one language and they all want to settle in one place. And they said:


“Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”


Wandering can be a truly scary thing, and the world can be a frightening place. Fortunately for these people they had ingenuity and cleverness. They figured out that if you bake mud and clay it becomes hard as stone. They invented bricks. Now with bricks they can finally build buildings that protect them from the scary world. They are proud of this invention. They are proud of themselves. They began to think that this invention had the power to save them from the scary world. They had saved themselves. They had made a name for themselves. Is there anything they can’t do?


But of course, we know that what the people of Babel saw as their greatest pride, their tower, was ultimately the source of their downfall. They put more trust in their creation than they did their creator. They thought they would be saved by the work of their own hands; by their technology and their skill. We know the name of the city; you have heard of the Tower of Babel, but the names of the people, well, they are forgotten. What we find in Genesis, after the people of babel are scattered, is just a list of names. Names that don’t mean much to us. Names of people that didn’t do anything of consequence or leave anything behind. Wanderers, not builders. Just some individuals that are known to God more than they are known to us, until finally we come to a man named Abram.


Abram had a wife named Sarai and a nephew called Lot. They had a couple tents maybe, maybe some livestock and a few possessions that they could carry with them, but beyond that they weren’t weighed down with property. To Abram comes the promise that if he is willing to follow where God leads him, that he will indeed have a great name.


God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and it indeed becomes a great name. Abraham’s name is at the heart of the faith of billions of people throughout the world today. Christians, Jews and Muslims all worship the God of Abraham. Abraham has become a blessing to all of us. And yet the only thing we have evidence or record of Abraham building is altars to God. Abraham travels around this Canaan land, following where his God lead, and each time he stopped he builds an altar for God, but for himself he is satisfied with just a tent. All we have of Abraham is his relationship with his God. He left nothing else behind. But what a legacy.


I guess if Abraham is remarkable in any capacity it is that he has no illusions of being a self-made man. You know I heard a great line this week. Someone said that so many people are born on third base and think they hit a triple. So many people mistake God’s blessings for their own skill, ingenuity or righteousness. They think that they made it on their own. Abraham has no such misconceptions. Abraham knows that everything he has and all of his hope for the future of himself and of his family, rests on God. All of the blessings in Abraham’s life, comes from above. Sure Abraham has his part. He is called to follow, he is called to respond. He makes a covenant with this God and that requires sacrifices on his part, but Abraham knows that his sacrifices are just a response to God’s promise. Abraham is always focused on blessing God’s name, not his own. Abraham blesses God’s name, because he knows that that is where his salvation comes from, not the work of his own hands.


Knowing where your life and your salvation comes from. That is the legacy that Abraham has left us. The people of Babel thought they could save themselves. Abraham knew better. Abraham knew that it comes from above. That is Abraham’s greatest legacy to us: the knowledge that our salvation comes from having a relationship with the one who is above us. Unless we are able to recognize that life and all of its blessings come from above, we will never be able to see the Kingdom of God. Those are Jesus’s words to the Pharisee Nicodemus. “No one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” Until the day we recognize that our salvation is not to be found in the works of our hands, but in the life of the one who is the author of life, we will not see the kingdom of God. Sure we may leave some fancy buildings behind, but eventually they will tumble too. In the end, if our names aren’t known to God, they might as well not be known by anyone else.


What did Abram do that made him so special in God’s eyes? Nothing, and I think that may be the point. Abraham didn’t try to climb up to heaven by building himself a tower; he was content with following the God that came down to him. I wonder if we are.



Why didn’t you leave that apple hanging in the tree?


Sermon for March 1st, 2020



One of Dolly Parton’s lesser known songs is a little number called the PMS Blues. Dolly begins the song by singing:


Eve you wicked woman! You done put your curse on me!

Why didn’t you just leave that apple hanging in the tree?


Well, I admit that I know nothing about PMS, but I do know a little about the bible and theology, and as much as I am reluctant to disagree with Saint Dolly about anything, I don’t really think it is fair to blame Eve for all our problems. I mean, Adam had a hand in it too you know. 


Adam and Eve were supposed to be in this thing called life together. When Adam met Eve, she was “bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh.” The two were one. It is only after the fall that Adam starts blaming Eve for all his problems. So let’s not try to scapegoat Eve when we are talking about the fall.


When the Apostle Paul talks about the fall of mankind, he doesn’t scapegoat Eve. In his letter to the Romans, Paul blames Adam. So I think it is best not to try and separate the genders here. Adam and Eve both fall, they are both responsible for failing to uphold the one commandment that God gave them. But why? What was it about that fruit that was so appealing that they just couldn’t resist it? Why didn’t they just leave that apple hanging in the tree?


The bible tells us actually. The apple was tempting in three ways. Human beings have three major weaknesses, there are three temptations which we are always weak to resist, and this little piece of fruit hit all of them. 


Our passage from Genesis says: “the woman saw that the tree was good for food.” It’s the old adage that the fastest way into a man’s heart is through his stomach. Our flesh wants things. Our flesh wants to be appeased and sated. Our flesh wants pleasure and comfort. This fruit could fulfill a desire of our flesh. That is a hard thing to resist. It is especially hard to resist if you are hungry, but we have no reason to believe that Adam and Eve were hungry. They had plenty of other food to eat. This particular fruit was just a special pleasure that they wanted. It’s like that feeling you get after thanksgiving dinner, when you are so full you could explode, but for some reason you still want pie. The apple was a pleasure of the flesh, that is the first temptation.


Genesis goes on to say that the fruit “was a delight to the eyes.” It was pretty. We like pretty, shiny things. There is something enticing about owning something pretty. It is a rather odd desire, if you think about it. Food pleasure is easy to understand, but the desire to possess pretty things that you have to take care of and don’t really do anything, that is a bit different. Personally I would rather stand and look in a bakery case than in a jewelry case, because I get more pleasure from food, but the truth is I’m not immune from this temptation at all. For one thing, there is my dog Winston, who is pretty, but otherwise pretty useless. He’s a delight to possess but he requires care and in the end doesn’t really do much. He can’t pull a sled or ward off an intruder. There are actually quite a few things in my life that I own just because I wanted them. They are pretty. A delight to the eyes. We all do it; we don’t just want our clothes to be warm, if that were the case we could all just go cut a whole in a hefty bag and be done with it. No, we want our clothes to be pretty as well. We wash our cars. We plant lawns in front of our houses. We love beautiful things. We want to possess them. That is the second temptation.


Finally Genesis says that the “tree was to be desired to make one wise.” Think about this for a minute: what did Adam and Eve need wisdom for? They had everything they needed. They had almost all the food in the world. There was nothing that threatened them. There was no one else, no competition. Under those circumstances, what good is wisdom? Why not just stay ignorant and happy? Well, maybe it is because knowing things makes us feel good in a special way. Knowing things can make us feel superior, even when the knowledge we possess is useless on a practical level. Just ask the average PhD student. Now I say that as a doctoral student myself. Sometimes knowledge has practical value, but sometimes we like to know things simply because of how the knowledge makes us feel about ourselves. That is, afterall, what gossip is all about. How else am I going to feel superior to the royal family unless I dig up every piece of dirt I can on them? Sometimes we seek knowledge, just because it satisfies our pride and vanity.  Wisdom can make us feel superior to others. Wisdom appeases our vanity. That is the third temptation, vanity, feeling superior.


These three temptations are our weaknesses as a race: flesh, possession, and vanity. On their own these three things are good. Food is good. Beauty is good. Wisdom and self-improvement is good. The problem for us humans is what we do with them. We are so weak where these three things are concerned that we end up having a disordered desire for them and that disorder takes something that is created good, and makes it evil. Humans have tried throughout time to resist these temptations, but we always failed. That is, of course, until Jesus walks into the desert for forty days. 


In the desert Jesus is tempted by Satan three times. It should comes as no surprise by now what those three temptations are: flesh, turn these stones into bread and appease your appetite; possession, worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the world; vanity, throw yourself off the pinnacle of the temple and let everyone see how superior you really are. Flesh, possession and vanity. Jesus is tempted by these three things. And the devil is smart. The devil points out how good these things are; he even uses scripture to defend his argument, but each and every time Jesus is tempted with pursuing one of those three things, he turns to God instead. 

Food is good, beauty is good, wisdom is good; but they will never be as good as the God who created them all. That is what Lent is all about. These next forty days we are challenged by our tradition to turn away from lesser goods and reorient ourselves toward the greatest good, toward God. To be sure, we will fail, just like Adam and Eve failed, that is why the second Adam, as Paul refers to Jesus, comes to triumph where the first Adam failed, but still if we would know Jesus better, if we would walk closer with him, we will follow him into the desert for a season and observe the ways in our day to day life, where we too have found it all too easy not to leave that apple hanging in the tree.