A Journey Through the Psalms: Reflections for Worried Hearts and Troubled Times
Preaching the Psalms Cycles A, B, C
There is a deep yearning here. A longing for a time now past. It seems that memory always burnishes the finish of bygone days. Listen closely to any gathering of older folk recalling the good old days. If honesty were to prevail, they probably weren't quite as good as recollection claims. But still, fortunes do decline. Armies invade. Economies stumble. Crops fail, and loved ones perish. In other words, even with an inclination to put a spin on the past, there are times when people ache for a restoration of good fortune.
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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.