On Top Sail Island, North Carolina, stands the ruins of a dream in a shell of a house. Before the hurricane, both the house and owner had proudly stood on the oceanfront daring the challenges of wind and wave. Six years before, John (not his real name) had left his wife of eleven years in search of something he could not define -- something that would make his life complete and happy. He wanted adventure and fun; he wanted big-boy-toys. He wanted a beautiful home and a beautiful wife, and he was willing to live beyond his means to get it.
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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.