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Why are you here?  I mean, what brought you to worship today here at Grace of God?  Why did you tune in on the live stream?

You know you can read your Bible at home, right?  You can pray at home.  You can say the Apostles Creed at home.  You can even sing at home by yourself.  Even if it’s only in the shower.  Sometimes we have no choice but to do these things at home by ourselves.  But you made a choice to be part of this gathering today.  And what is the value of THIS? 

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What would you say is the most important part of Jesus’ story?  Mark is the original author of what we call a “Gospel” — a story of the life of Christ.  He was the first one to write down the stories of Jesus.  We have been hearing readings from the Gospel according to Mark this past year and especially these past several weeks.  What would you guess to be the highlight or the climax of his Gospel?

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I don’t think I could do it.  Could you?

Give up all your material possessions and give them to the poor?

Keep all the commandments perfectly?  No way.

The impossible demands reflected in today’s Gospel made one young man turn away from Jesus when he realized he couldn’t do it either.

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Today’s Gospel is one of the few times Jesus talks about marriage!  So you’d think it would be the perfect choice to be read at a wedding!  And actually, there is a line from this Gospel that has actually become part of the Christian wedding liturgy.  At every wedding I’ve been a part of, right after the couple exchange their vows, the officiant is directed to repeat words of Jesus from today’s Gospel reading.  “What God has joined together, let no one separate.”  Or as the older translation put it: “Let no man put asunder!”  which sounds much more dramatic! 

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Most of what Jesus is quoted as saying in the Gospel accounts is wonderful and beautiful and comforting and lifegiving.  Some of it is downright confusing.  If we were to compile o list of “Difficult Sayings of Jesus” we would HAVE to put today’s Gospel on that list.  Jesus talks about salting with fire, gouging out an eye and cutting off a limb!  That’s some wacky stuff.

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Brothers and sisters can argue about the dumbest things!  I’m embarrassed to think about some of the things my brother and sisters argued with ME about!  Being the youngest, I may have instigated some pretty dumb arguments myself.  When I was a kid, I seem to recall hearing from them that I always had to be right.  The adult “me” has also heard that criticism. 

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Today Jesus asks two questions of his followers.  The second one infinitely more important than the first!

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Our Gospel today opens with Jesus doing something that seem entirely uncharacteristic of him.  We know Jesus to be very open to others – very willing to help and show compassion – very available to all who needed him.  The Gospels depict Jesus as welcoming to sinners and not afraid to talk to or even touch those others avoided.  But today’s Gospel begins with Jesus behind closed doors. 

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Do you ever feel like something is “off?”  Off-center or off-balance?  Like you are going through the motions with no real purpose?

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Lots of us struggle with the idea of eternity.  It’s hard to wrap your head around the idea of something going on and on and never ending. Especially for kids, it can actually be kind of frightening.  Eternal things are hard for us to imagine.  I don’t know if I’m scared about it, but I’m not sure I’m actually comforted by the whole idea either.   In fact perhaps in our minds it’s at best something we don’t fully expect to understand until we get to heaven.  Or, worse, perhaps it seems to us like just a religious fantasy.

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