"And a little child shall lead them" (Isaiah 11:6c). A pioneer in California during the time of the gold rush days said that for the first year or two there was not a child to be found within ten miles of where he lived in Sierra Nevada County. A big festive Fourth of July celebration was held, and among those who came was one child. The celebration included an oration, a poem, and a boisterous brass band. The band music troubled the child and he began to cry. The planners, not wanting the loud child to be heard above the band, asked the band to play louder, which they did.
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Oscar Wilde penned a powerful story about behaviors and definitions and justice called The Picture of Dorian Gray. Dorian was a handsome young man, a model of physical beauty and moral virtue. People complimented him on his good graces. Parents pointed to him as an example to their youth. One artist even painted an exquisite portrait of him.
"Have you seen it?" whispered the Barbie doll to her next door neighbour.
The next Barbie doll in line was instantly alert. There were five different Barbie dolls, who lived jumbled together in the toy cupboard but who were so jealous of each other that they rarely spoke. "Seen what?" asked the second Barbie doll, blue eyes darting all round the room.
"The Princess," replied the first Barbie with glee. "Caitlin's done her hair and it looks terrible!"
These verses from Mark's gospel are a call to commitment, a call to sacrifice, and a call to give up everything of earthly value in life. To say these are difficult verses is truly an understatement. It is pretty clear that the disciples are not at all ready for what Jesus is saying. They are not ready for Jesus to die and they certainly are not ready to die themselves.