I was getting pretty good at Spring facade pipes. facade pipes are the pipes on a pipe organ that may be fake and never play or they could be real pipes but the distinction is that they are usually painted gold or silver or have a beautiful ornate stenciling painted on them so that they add to the beauty of the organ and the room in which they are sitting. I wasn’t usually spraying brand new, out of the crate or freshly made pipes but I served on a team with my buddy, Dan a pipe maker. He would repair all the dents and use Bondo and a method of beating the dents out and he would turn the pipes over to me and I would clean them thoroughly and spray them with primer and sand that down appropriately and then turn them back over to him so that he could once again find any dents that had become easier to see because of the primer and we would repeat that process several times until the pipes look pristine. At that point, I would then spray on a mixture of lacquer and metal dust that would make the pipes appear to be bronze or gold or silver. Usually facade pipes can be up to 16 ft long if they’re in a particularly tall room, so it’s quite a process. The pipes we were working on at the time were up to about 12 ft long and I was very happy with how well they came out. They were drying in place when I went to lunch and I came back and was going to put another coat on when I saw some of the primer and lacquer was laying in the floor underneath the pipes and a lot of it was starting to peel off. That didn’t make sense so I had to scrub down the pipes and try again. It happened again. I had never faced this phenomenon before, but like the guys on Apollo 13 failure was not an option, so I had to do some research. My problem turned out to be an interesting mixture of ignorance, chemistry and tradition. The problem was that many large organ pipes are made from zinc. As it turns out, and as any old time plumber could probably tell you, you can’t paint zinc fixtures with all based paint or primer. Oil based paint is alkaline and zinc is well zinc. As it turns out chemistry did not care that many of the pipe painters of the past had gotten away with it. The atmospheric conditions of the days I was spraying and the supplies I was using were not going to let me get away with it. As it turns out when alkalines meet zinc a process occurs called saponification occurs. Simply, saponification is how soap is made. you mix fat, lye (an alkaline) or ashes (when they get wet they make lye) Together and they saponify, that is they make soap. Paint does not adhere when there’s soap between it and the thing you want to stick to. It didn’t take long to discover that I needed to be spraying water based lacquer to prevent the chemical reaction. It was interesting because we had changed over the water based lacquers for safety, but were only using the oil based for pipes which was the one thing it shouldn’t be used for, but that was the way it had always been done! It was amazing how wrong change felt despite how right it was. Why is this important today? Well I read the old Testament lesson and it talked about Fuller’s Soap. I had no idea what that was so I went searching. One thing I read mentioned something in relation to saponification. and it reminded me of my ordeal and frustration, but then I realized it had interesting implications. The Fullers were the folks that whitened and cleaned cloth. Sheep’s wool could be pretty dirty, so the Fullers set up shop to launder it and whiten it after it was created. You could soak the wool in water, but it was Fuller’s Soap, the agent, that made the dirt turn loose and the wall to whiten. Malachi tells us that God’s agent, God’s messenger, will act like Fuller soap. In the Gospel of Luke we hear that the messenger will prepare the way and give us knowledge of our salvation, that is that we are made right in God’s eyes. We hear from the Gospel of Luke that preparation for the way of the Lord includes a leveling, that is the high places will be made low and The valleys will be brought up and the rough places will be made plain. I think this preparation takes place on two different levels, One being the internal, that is what is within each one of us and then the external that which is outside us in our interactions in the world. Through Christ and God’s grace our hearts and minds are transformed. The way it is, the way we’ve always done it and what we’ve always thought are shown to be inadequate and insufficient and love and grace become the measuring stick against which our internal thoughts, care and concern for our neighbor and creation and our outward actions, our words and deeds are measured. Reaching out in love and receiving the love of others is what our calling is. Openness and sharing opens doors and changes lives. Because of Jesus, our sins, like the paint on the pipes, don’t stick. We are made right and incongruous with sin. In joy and thanksgiving, because of Christ’s grace for us, we reach out to share it. I would like for you to meet Shanki Kumari Chaudhary, a fellow child of God from Nepal. ( ) Through reaching out and working together new relationships are born and new ways of thinking take root and we discover that the old ways are not always the best. Parts of Nepal are the highest of high places in the world. That’s where we find Mount Everest at 29,032 feet high. That’s a big mountain to get over. For the lion’s share of the world, that peak is insurmountable, but it doesn’t always take an Everest or a K2 to create an unavigatable barrier. Sometimes, it can be 3 or 4 inches, a step, a parked car, a narrow door, a lack of signs, a poorly placed or full elevator or an unwillingness for anyone to offer help. This week, when I thought about rough places and high places, I thought about Nepal and about Zach Anner and the Quest for the Rainbow Bagel. Check it out on Youtube or just Google it. In 2017 Katie Dupere wrote in Mashable, If you’re in New York City, you could get your hands on a coveted rainbow bagel pretty easily. Only a MetroCard fare and a few subway stops are between you and the copious amounts of dyed dough. To mark Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month this March, the popular YouTuber, who lives with cerebral palsy, collaborated with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation to release a hilarious and illuminating video on the lack of accessibility in cities.” I think Zach would have me tell you, comically, that the trip would take a hipster ablest about 28 minutes to get to the bagel shop from his starting location in a hotel. Zach set out to bring the hotel doorman one of the bagels, and he was leaving work in 6 hours. So no problem, right? Dupere wrote, “Spoiler alert: Anner fails to complete his journey in the allotted time — and it’s all due to the inaccessibility of public transit and walkways in New York City.” And I watched Zach mention how NY City is one of the most accessible cities on the planet. You wouldn’t believe all of the rough places that he encountered and many unhelpful people, but wait, that’s just out in the cold harsh big city world, right? There are churches that have decided to not cut a pew short or add a ramp, widen doorways or other modifications because it would “destroy the look of the church” and anyway, it’s always been that way! So not just the big city. Remember, when we point fingers elsewhere, there are three fingers pointing back at us. Barriers to wheelchairs and scooters aren’t the only barriers or high places that get thrown up or exist. Are we open to hearing about the barriers we create or maintain? Or will we insist on maintaining a status quo that is incompatible with God’s kingdom, like spraying zinc with oil lacquer and complaining because it doesn’t stick. We are told that Christ’s mission was to make all of them smooth. If that is the mission of Jesus, shouldn’t it be ours? Lutheran World Relief is one way we have to reach out, but there are so many more, not to mention the first most powerful step, that of confronting our own thoughts and hearts concerning how we feel, react, or respond to the suggestion that one of our traditions, spaces or comforts is a barrier to others. The old hymn says, “Just as I am, Thy love unknown. Has broken every barrier down; Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone, O Lamb of God, I come, I come!” Let’s return that kind of love to our neighbor, from the one sitting next to us to the highest peaks of Nepal, and, in so doing, we will have prepared the way of the Lord and we shall all see the salvation of God.