Monday, February 29, 2016

Reflection on Luke 13:1-9

The fig tree needs more time. It is not ready to shed figs upon its neighbors just yet. The birds and squirrels will just have to wait and find their food elsewhere. The people will just have to move on and harvest other trees. The fig tree needs more manure, more water, more pruning, and more nurturing. It just is not ready.

“I’m just not ready,” said the husband to his wife when she suggested that he come out of the den and participate in the bible study.

“I wouldn’t know what to say. I don’t think that I could even find the table of contents in the Bible much less look up a verse. I’m certain that I wouldn’t contribute anything to the study. I’m just not ready.”

Little does the husband realize, he is stuck. He is stuck in his insecurity. He does not know how to contribute to a discussion about faith. He does not know the first thing about contributing to other people’s faith development through a bible study.

Just as the gardener plans to attend to the growth of the tree, so too does the wife intend to nourish her husband, and, at least, show him how to look up a verse in the bible. That will not be enough to shape his faith, of course, but at least it is a first step.

"I’m just not ready,” said the mother who lost her son in a freak accident where a tree just decided to give its last breath and fall on the boy.

“I’m just not ready to move on in life. My boy was the love of my life. I’m just not rea…I just don’t understand.”

Like so many who have come before, like those who walked up to Jesus with their questions about the cause of terrible calamities, the mother questioned.

“Did I somehow deserve this pain? Was I not a good enough mother? Did God decided that I was the wrong choice after-all, and my son is just taken from me? I am just not ready to move on; not ready to do anything for anyone; not ready to even leave the house!”

The mother knew all too well that she was stuck. She was stuck in her grief. She just did not know how to switch automatically from the identity of mother raising a good, upright, productive young man to…well to…to something else that was not that; whatever that may be.

Just as the gardener hopes to prune and care for the fig tree that it may grow, the mother’s best friend was willing to give her a listening ear for as long as it took to get her unstuck. The friend knew how special and kind the mother was. The world did not deserve for her to be stuck for long, and neither did she. The world would miss out on a wonderful person.

It takes manure to make the fig tree flourish. Well, at least it is hoped that pitching some manure around the base of the tree will cause it to produce the beloved figs.

Taking this manure image to the next level, a seminary friend, after a horrible, snowball type day of a bad grade in the morning, a broken water pump in the car at noon, and an unexpected bill in the afternoon, stated, “Lord, if this is supposed to make me stronger, I’ve got to tell ya, I’ve got plenty of…"manure"…on me already!”

It was funny, especially in that irreverent, get all of the swearing out of you in seminary before you become a pastor, sort of way. But, it was also wrong.

The manure is not made up of the challenges of life. When Jesus was asked about the visitors to Jerusalem who were indiscriminately slaughtered by Pilate, and when Jesus talked about the people who were crushed by the tower that crumbled and fell, he clearly proclaimed that these tragic, horrible events where not retribution from a punishing god. They were not some sort of death sentence carried out on particularly sinful people. They did not deserve it. Period.

That means your fourth grade bully (you know…the one who put superglue on the toilet seat just before you sat down) is not going to be struck in the head by a random meteor tomorrow because of his evil deeds that still linger in the shape of an oval on your posterior to this day.

Nor is the manure tests for those around the tragedies given by a heavenly school teacher.

The manure is not some giant slurry mixed with of all the sins and tragic events that get you stuck in life.

Quite to the contrary, the manure is God’s grace. When we are stuck in life, Jesus spreads some grace on us with his pitchfork so that we just might begin to grow and flourish.

The manure is the grace of God that heals the brokenhearted and promises new life.

The manure is the grace of God that desires to draw us nearer to Jesus through the stories of the scriptures.

The manure is that grace of God that forgives us and sets us free from the sins that hold us back.

The Manure is the love of Jesus, who, on the cross, demonstrated that he would go to any length to give us the hope that there is always new life beyond where you are currently stuck.  We will produce beautiful fruit once again.

Understand, the world is like the landowner who would decide to simply cut down the fig tree when it does not bear nice, juicy fruit. Jesus is the one who demands more time to water and lay down manure so that the fig may come back and bear fruit to all those around.

The world would have no problem cutting you off at the roots whenever you become stuck and unproductive. Jesus decides to give you more tending and caring so that you may finally be the person you were created to be; a child of God who bears fruit of love and compassion on the neighbor…especially the poor and sinful ones.

Being stuck in life, no matter the cause, is not the last word for your life.

Thank you Jesus for that.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Reflection on Philippians 3:17-4:1

"Power in Weakness" Verse 1 by Jira Albers

Formed in the image of God.
Equal with strength from above.
Glory is hard to define;
it means he gives up his life,
on a cross.

Glory to God on high.
Praises to Jesus Christ.
Voices raise to the sky.
Power from God on high;
high upon the cross.

Power in weakness
on the cross.

Have no doubt, Jesus had all of the power of God. Jesus could have done anything he wanted.

There are kings and politicians who love power and will go to any length to stay in power. Take the president of Syria, as one example. He will willing to go to any length, even harming his own people in order to remain in control.

Well, those type of rulers existed back in Jesus’ time also.

Just as easily as Jesus filled the nets of the disciples with abundant fish just by waving his hand, and just as easily as Jesus stilled the storm of the sea with a three simple words, “Peace, be still,” Jesus could have just waved his hand and destroyed the corrupt rulers of his time. He could have easily set himself as a worldly king.

With the power to create the universe at his disposal, it would have been as easy as a snap of his fingers to take over political control of the world.

But, Jesus did not. He did not find the power of God…equality with God…as something to simply exploit at will just so that he could get his way.

I am not like Jesus. I know a couple of choice politicians who I would love to simply make vanish with the snap of a finger.

But, Jesus knew a truth as deep as creation. Creating life and showing love does not mean control. Creating and loving means giving something of yourself. For Jesus, that meant giving his life on a cross.

"Power in Weakness" Verse 2 by Jira Albers

Taking the form of a slave.
Power and strength in a grave.
Jesus asked no one to tell.
None knew that glory is felt,
on a cross.

Glory to God on high.
Praises to Jesus Christ.
Voices raise to the sky.
Power from God on high;
high upon the cross.

Power in weakness
on the cross.

Power is found in weakness.

Power is found, not in getting your way, but in allowing someone else to find their way.

Power is found not in controlling the world, but in caring for the world.

Power is found, not in getting even, but in showing mercy.

Power is found in giving up your life for the sake of someone else.

Power is found in imitating Christ, the one who gave his life for all creation.

Giving up your life for the sake of another is what it means to be a citizen of heaven of heaven. Giving up you life for the sake of another is what it means to be an imitator of Christ, and of his followers such as Paul, and our own teachers of the faith.

Just south of where I live there is a man who lives alone in a very large farmhouse. Well, at least he used to live alone. The man discovered that his neighbor was struggling to even pay the rent, so the man decided to offer up one of his empty rooms to the financially struggling gentleman. It was a gracious act that did not stop there. The man kept offering up his empty rooms to men who needed to get back up on their feet. To this day, he regularly has about 8 homeless men in his home, giving each one a chance to get back on their own feet. No longer lonely in his large home, the man imitates Christ and gives his all. For this man, there are no lines separating himself and his neighbor in need.


Part of being an imitator of Christ, who gives of himself, requires not drawing lines.

In this life, whenever you draw a line of separation you have, in essence set yourself apart from another person. When countries draw lines (when they draw boarders) they set apart who is in and who is out; who is deserving of love and care and who is none of our concern.

When families draw lines a similar thing happens, families decide who deserves attention and who does not. Our child is our problem, your child is yours.

The only problem with lines is that as soon as we draw one and plant our feet firmly on one side, we have decided that our citizenship is something less than “God so loved the world.”

In other words, when we draw lines, we decide to be citizens of somewhere other than the Kingdom of heaven.

Whenever we draw our lines and build our walls, demarcating who is in and who is out, we discover a shocking thing. Looking across the line we find that Jesus is always over on the other side. Jesus is always on the side of those left-out and forgotten.

When the righteous and religious fail to love the man beaten and bloodied on the side of the road in the story of the Good Samaritan, Jesus gently points out that it is a Samaritan (someone on the other side of society’s line) who is the self-giving hero. Jesus is always concerned about the other side of the line.

When Jesus’ family requests that he stop teaching and come to out from his crowded home to be with them, Jesus refuses and then teaches that all who do the work of God are his family, and, therefore, citizens of heaven. Jesus dares to step over the line of family because, Jesus is always concerned about the other side of the line.

When you were lost in sin, at the right time, Jesus gave his life that you, a sinner, might have live.

Meditate deeply on these things, because the truth is that Jesus is always concerned about the other side of the line.

The Apostle Paul urges us to always imitate Jesus who puts citizenship in heaven above any other obligation. Jesus' highest priority is giving it all for those left on the other side of the line. Jesus' love erases all lines. Country and family, as important as they seem in this life, are not exempt from this line erasing.

It is the people of the earth who draw lines and separate. The citizens of heaven look to Jesus who seeks to draw all the world together, even if it means giving his life.

That is why Jesus gets the glory. That is why Jesus is followed. That is why songs are written about him.

"Power in Weakness" Refrain by Jira Albers

Glory to God on high.
Praises to Jesus Christ.
Voices raise to the sky.
Power from God on high;
high upon the cross.

Power in weakness
on the cross.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Reflection on Matthew 6:1-6, 16- 21

Yesterday, I did a funeral for a 28 year old woman. It was a sad day, especially for her father who said outright,

“She isn’t supposed to be gone. I was supposed to walk her down the aisle. I was supposed to hold her first child. She was supposed to take care of me when I got old.”

But, none of that would come to be. “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust;” as the dirt falls on her coffin.

“Pastor, I’m not going to say I’m a religious man. I’m not, though I do believe in Jesus and his salvation. But I…well, what I’m trying to say is that I made sure that she got baptized. She was baptized Lutheran, and now, with you here, she dies Lutheran.”

As I drove home, I started thinking about dust. At the start of life, God forms us out of the dust, mixing the dust with the grace-filled water of baptism to mold a child of God. And, at the end of life, we fall apart and the dust blows away while the pastor again speaks words of grace and eternal life. Our life…the beginning and the end…is surrounded by dust and God’s Word. And, rightly so, because without God’s Word the dust would never be molded in the first place and the dust would not be given new life at the end. We are God’s, from beginning to end.

Somehow that truth is easy to forget in the meantime…the time between birth/baptism, and death. That was one of the father’s unwritten worries; that there was little contact with God for either he or his daughter. He sensed that, somehow in the middle of life, they had somehow gotten lost between the two
Now, it would be inappropriately easy to throw some guilt in his face and mention that there are churches in every part of town; it is not like there was not opportunity. But, Jesus stops us cold before we can even open our mouths. Even the most devout of people, Jesus says, can get lost in the meantime…in that middle time. In fact, most of us do.

Religious people may give to great causes, and that is all well and good. But, if one cares more about the giving than caring for the recipient, or caring about the one who gives us all gifts in the first place (God), then we have become lost in the meantime.

Religious people may pray eloquently and may even remember to do it daily, or more, and that is all well and good. But, if one cares more about prayer than caring for the ones for whom the prayers are lifted up, or caring about the divine one who listens to them (God), then we have become lost in the meantime.
Religious people may fast from the things that distract in life, and that is all well and good. But, if one cares more about the practice of fasting, than caring for those who could use our undistracted, undivided attention, including God, then we have become lost in the meantime.

Jesus could go on and on I am sure, listing off the ways that even those of us with the best of intentions tend to wander away from God in the meantime.

You get the point: being religious in no way automatically excludes you from the numbers of people who forget about God and neighbor in the meantime.

“We are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you, God, in thought word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.”

This is why Ash Wednesday exists. It is a time when the dust at the beginning and the dust at the end touch somewhere in the middle.

Pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber puts it this way:
"If our lives were a long piece of fabric with our baptism on one end and our funeral on another, and we don’t know the distance between the two, then Ash Wednesday is a time when that fabric is pinched in the middle and the ends are held up so that our baptism in the past and our funeral in the future meet. The water and words from our baptism plus the earth and words from our funerals have come from the past and future to meet us in the present. And in that meeting we are reminded of the promises of God: That we are God’s, that there is no sin, no darkness, and yes, no grave that God will not come to find us in and love us back to life. That where two or more are gathered, Christ is with us. These promises outlast our earthly bodies and the limits of time." (Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People)

 On Ash Wednesday, the dust of our beginnings touch the dust of our ends, with the dust of today right in the middle in the form of a cross on our foreheads. It is a reminder, in the meantime, that we are nothing but dust, if not for the love of God through the Word who breathes life into that dust, mixing it and forming it with the waters of grace. Remember, that you are dust, and to dust your shall return. Remember that you are, and will forever be, Christ's dust.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Reflection of Luke 9:28-43

The pastor found her just around the corner of the funeral home, sitting in the long-cut, Georgian lawn, staring forward.

“May I sit beside you?” the pastor asked.

“Sure,” the young woman said with a smile.

The pastor lowered himself, making an indent in the long grass, legs outstretched matching the young woman’s.

He looked over at her face and was confused by what he saw. What he expected to see was anguish. What he expected to see were red eyes and a running nose that required one of the pre-loaded tissues in his breast pocket. The pastor expected to be counseling a crushed soul who needed a savior in a harsh world.

Instead, he saw that the smile that she had given him still lingered as she stared forward across the lawn. Granted, it was a smile with a slight hint of pain, but a smile none-the-less.

“You’ve just lost your husband. I can’t believe you would have a smile left in you.”

“Not just my husband Reverend, but also my grandfather a month ago, and my best friend to an automobile accident two months ago.” After she spoke, there was a great silence. The smile lingered in the silence.

Finally breaking the silence the Pastor stated, “You know, when someone loses so many people in such a short period of time, it is normal to be angry with God. Others question why bad things happen to good people. Still others wonder if God is good at all. This is all normal, in case you’ve felt any of it recently.”

“Thank you Reverend for your words, but I tend not to worry about the things I cannot know or answer. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people or if God intended all of these bad things to happen. Maybe, God wants to prove a point, or maybe they just happened. I don’t know. I don’t get riled up about such things. There are depths to God that I just cannot know, so I don’t worry about them. But, there is one thing that I do know…one thing that keeps me going…one thing that allows me to smile even now.”

The Pastor searched her face, waiting for the answer; waiting as a gentle breeze blew waves across the lawn.

As the woman indicated, there are just some things that we cannot know about God.

Oh, how we wish we could ascend the mountain with Jesus and his disciples, see the glory of God shining through Jesus, and listen in on the holy discussion that Jesus has with Moses and Elijah about the depths of God’s purpose. Oh, how we wish, like Peter, that we could pitch a tent with the three of them, and over the course of a few days be guided and enlightened by the deep truths of the Holy One. But, the reality is: such insights into the divine are short-lived and fade quickly.

One night in college, while I was pondering the depths of grace in my mind, and just on the edge of sleep, I had an insight. It was as if I had been brought up the mountain of God to see the depths of God’s heart. And, for one instance…one brief moment…I felt what it must be like for Jesus to love even an enemy so much that he would go to the cross for them.

It was an empathy that understood their pain, their longings, their misguided desires to fix their world. For one brief moment, I felt what it must be like to have unconditional love with no reservations. But, just a moment later, it was gone.

It’s weird, I remember that I had the experience, but I do not remember what it was like to have that unconditional love with no reservations. That memory blew away just as quickly as it had come. The depths of God that I thought I understood so well are just as hidden after my hike up God’s mountain as before that experience. Some things are not available to us to understand.

Maybe it is because of the inaccessibility of God’s depths…the inaccessibility to the answers to the questions such as “Why do we suffer?” and “Does God intend this evil for good?”…that God does speak out clearly from the cloud saying, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

“Listen to him.”

Listen to Jesus.

This is more than just a request to open your ears. It is more than when I tell my granddaughter to turn on her listening ears and she reaches back and actually pretends to twist them to the on position.

Instead, it is the answer to the question, “If God is so hidden, how do I know what God thinks and what God cares about?”

Listen to Jesus. Look at his life. Pay attention to him, and you will see and know all that God desires to reveal to us about who God is and what God cares about.

As we watch Jesus walk down the mountain, we do see, immediately, what God cares about. A child, one of the lowly ones, is brought to him, infested with a terrible spirit. The child spits and snarls and screeches. No one else has been able to give him any help.

Maybe, no one believes that he can be helped. Maybe, no one believes that he is important enough to be helped. Maybe, people are afraid to even look at him. That is what people tend to do when they see the hopeless walking about, they tend to look away.

But, Jesus looked. He looked and he healed. Maybe, we do not know what it feels like to have God’s unconditional love…love that knows no enemies and fears no one…, but we know what it looks like. It looks like giving time to even the most lost of causes. Even people who are the most lost of causes are children of God.

“This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”

“Thank you Reverend for your words, but I tend not to worry about the things I cannot know or answer. I don’t know why bad things happen to good people or if God intended all of these bad things to happen. Maybe, God wants to prove a point, or maybe they just happened. I don’t know. I don’t get riled up about such things. There are depths to God that I just cannot know, so I don’t worry about them. But, there is one thing that I do know…one thing that keeps me going…one thing that allows me to smile even now.”

And, she pointed straight ahead. Ahead, the Reverend saw what looked to be a three year old boy spinning with his face to the sky with complete abandon. He recognized the boy as the woman’s son. The boy seemed oblivious to the pain surrounding his world.

“I smile because of him. I smile because Jesus cared that little children be given a fair shot at life…healing them and all. Well, that boy right there deserves the same. He does not deserve a broken mother or a broken world. I smile because I love him.”

The child stopped spinning, and waved to his mother and the pastor. The mother kept smiling and the pastor gave a smile of his own. It was a fake smile, of course. But, for the child it was the reassurance that life can be whole and new and wonderful again. The smile told the story of the cross...of death and resurrection. One does not need to understand the depths of God to understand the need for love.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reflection on Luke 4:21-30 and 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Jesus had just stood up and delivered his sermon to the people of his hometown in a way that almost sounded like a political platform. In essence, he preached the core of what he planned to be about during his ministry:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them,
“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

The crowd goes wild. The people have been completely captured by the gracious words that have come from his mouth.

People envision their own lives filled with release from captivity, with clarity of sight, and freedom, and the restoration of all that once was.

In today’s time, Jesus’ words would create in people a longing for the prosperity and optimism of the 1950s and 1990s. Jobs would return, homes would be built in the suburbs, children would play in the cul-de-sacs, and the stocks would only rise. People's imaginations would wonder to being free from the pains and fears of today’s world.

With such feel-good vibes coursing through their veins, the people smile at Jesus and someone even remarks astonished, “Wow, I can’t believe that’s Joseph’s son!”

Feeling loved and saved by God, they would join together in song, gladly belting out words of love that sound like they come directly from the apostle Paul,

(Sung) “Love, God’s love never ends. Love bears all things, hopes all things. Love endures to the end…”

But, Jesus stops their singing of love cold and the record player scratches loudly making all wince as he proclaims that none of this good stuff is directed toward them.

In a jarring way Jesus reminds the people that God refused to help anyone but a widow and her child in the time of Elijah, and that it was an outsider…a foreigner from Syria…a foreign soldier at that…who was the only one to be healed of leprosy during the time of the prophet Elisha.

The people of Jesus’ hometown automatically, and selfishly, assumed that they would be the recipients of God’s love and favor, not the bearers of God’s love and favor.

This is like a hedge fund manager finding out straight from Jesus that God could not care less about the 3 million dollars he lost last week during the global economic correction. Rather, God cares about the poor families in Flint Michigan who have truly suffered from the toxic pollution of their waters. God cares about the future of the children who may suffer physically because of balanced budgets and tax breaks.

Or, the hedge fund manager might hear that God actually cares about the Syrian refugees who still sink their boats trying to find freedom. And, that through his hearing (and through his wealth) maybe he should at least think about being a part of the solution.

“Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing sir.”

Jesus’ sermon was not a “feel good” sermon after-all. It was not a promise of self-fulfillment; it was a call to join Jesus in self-sacrifice.

“Not for you…for them.”

For them. Them. The dying widow. The outsider.

No wonder the people tried to throw Jesus off of a cliff.

(Roughly...and I mean the tune of "Jesus Loves Me")
Jesus loves your neighbor, this I know,
for Isaiah tells me so.
Poor and foreign to him belong.
They are weak but he is strong.
Yes Jesus loves THEM.
Yes Jesus loves THEM.
Yes Jesus loves THEM.
Isaiah tells me so.

Who wants to go to a cross with Jesus?

Anyone? Anyone?

At least the edge of a cliff?

"Come on!" we say. "Faith is supposed to sooth our souls, not place them in danger!"

Because of that idea we can get so full of ourselves and our needs and our wants that we become completely blind to others.

Just because I am preaching these words does not mean I am immune to to that same lulling of blindness and selfishness. I too would prefer a good old “feel good” sermon with some great old hymns any day, compared to facing the fears of helping those who live in the darkest places in life. It is hard to even bring myself to look into those dark places, so I would rather just worry about myself thank you very much.

But, Jesus is not afraid. Jesus is not afraid to go into the dark places. In the old version of the creed we say that Jesus "descended into hell." There is nowhere that Jesus fears going, and no length that Jesus would not go in order to save those who dwell in the darkness.

That is love. That is a love that never ends. That is a love that bears all things and never loses hope.

(Sung) “Love, God’s love never ends. Love bears all things, hopes all things. Love endures to the end…”

I once heard an old Jewish parable about a rabbi who invited his friends and a homeless man over for a meal. Seated at the table, the Rabbi's servant brought out the first course of the meal, and set a plate only before the Rabbi and the homeless man. They ate. The others looked on, confused. The same happened with the next two courses of the meal, only the Rabbi and the homeless man, whom they did not know, ate. Finally, incensed that they were all being dishonored, one of the guests complained that they were not being fed.

The rabbi replied, "Why are you mad that someone else is getting something good? Why don't you simply rejoice with them and thank God that they are finally being provided for? Rejoice with them, that would be the loving thing to do.”

Somehow when we pour the foundation of our faith, we envision that we are pouring the base using God’s love. We deceive ourselves though, because we tend to use our own love to pour the foundation of our faith…thinking that it is as good as God’s love.

As you already know, a foundation poured with our own love looks nice, until you get up close and inspect it. Up close you see the cracks, and see the selfishness mixed in. When we construct our own faith, we tend to use poor materials.

Here’s the silly thing though. Jesus already poured a foundation for us. It is a foundation of love for all. It is a foundation of love that would go to any length, especially for the sinner and the unlovable. That foundation is already there beneath our feet in the shape of a cross. We did not need to pour our own foundation at all.

From time to time, Jesus jabs a pry bay into one of those cracks and chip away that top layer of self-serving that we poured on ourselves. There is no doubt that such chipping hurts and can drive people to want to throw Jesus off of a cliff. But, even if we try to get rid on Jesus, no harm done. Jesus will just walk through our attempts to destroy his love.

You cannot kill forever the love that provides the foundation for all creation.

Once our own self-serving love is chipped away, and Jesus' foundation can be seen, it reveals a mosaic of love for the neighbor…even if they don’t deserve it…even if they are an enemy…even if they live in the darkness…even if they are sinners in need of God’s salvation. When Jesus shows us the mosaic of love sunk into the foundation of our faith, we are drawn to see, and care, and love as Jesus loved.

Now, I am not going to pretend that Jesus frees us from our blindness once and then we are completely Jesus-like for the rest of our lives, thanks be to God.

No, the minute Jesus chips away our selfishness we tend to pour more back on. But, chipping away need not be so hard the second time around…or the third time…or the 10,573ed time…that is pretty much where I am at by the way.

Instead, we can use the wisdom of those who have gone before us, who taught us to put Jesus’ love into song. We can sing melodies that repeat in our heads, and remind us that our foundation is Jesus' everlasting love for all. They are words that glimmer of Paul's reflection on love:

(Sung) “Love, God’s love never ends. Love bears all things, hopes all things. Love endures to the end…”