Sermons For Pentecost (Last Third) Cycle A First Lesson Texts
The people of God are strong people. We are not weaklings who tremble and quake every time a new threat comes into our lives. We stand with boldness to face whatever life has to offer. Ruth, the daughter-in-law of Naomi, the woman from the land of Moab, was not a weakling. The death of her husband broke her heart but not her spirit. She was determined to make a new life in a new land. Somehow, the text does not tell us how, Ruth learned to believe in the God of her husband and of her mother-in-law. She learned to trust him as a God of love and compassion.
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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.