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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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As we grow older, we hope to become wiser. Going to school is certainly part of the process of growing in knowledge, but wisdom isn’t learned in books. We gain wisdom through our experiences. And often through unpleasant ones. It is said that experience comes from what we have done; wisdom comes from what we have done badly.

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A movie is being made about your life!   Who would you choose to play YOU?

Undoubtedly you’re going to pick someone who makes you look good. And someone everyone admires and adores. You’d probably choose someone who could imitate your movements, your facial expressions, your Minnesota accent??  You’ll want someone who can embody the best of YOU!

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I’ve been going mission trips with our Grace of God youth for 16 years!  And it never fails that for the first 30 minutes after we arrive at each site, right after that show us where we’ll be sleeping for the week and we blow up our air mattresses and get set up, I have this moment where I look around and think: “This is gross.  I can’t do this. There are too many of us crowded in here. And it’s going to be too hot or too cold and I’m not going to be able to sleep.  And I’m ready to go home.”  This year was no exception.  But this year there was another 30 minute period of time – at the end of the trip – that I wished would never end.

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I wasn’t great at kickball when I was a kid (I say that as if my skills somehow improved as an adult!) so it should have come as no surprise to me to be chosen near the bottom when it came to picking teams during recess. We’re all familiar with this playground ritual in which two captains take turns choosing, in descending order, the roster of each of their respective teams based on their abilities. It can get very awkward as the process plays out – captains sizing up each player – evaluating specific skills, remembering past performance.  You know how it goes! 

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Today we have a scandalous episode in the life of Christ a scandal that revolved around Jesus. It was something he said.  It was something he did.  It was who he was.

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