A Journey Through the Psalms: Reflections for Worried Hearts and Troubled Times
Preaching the Psalms Cycles A, B, C
The words to this psalm bring to mind the phrase imprinted on a huge monument to Germany's fallen in World War I. Located outside Leipzig in the former East Germany, this towering pile of stones has inscribed on it in huge letters, "Gott mit uns!" In English, this can be translated into "God is on our side." In that same struggle, the forces allied against Germany also thought that God was on their side. It is a bit of a problem. For eons, people across the globe have tried to press God into service in their wars and struggles.
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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.