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 Paying Attention... to God and Each Other
Especially as this year comes to a close, we reaffirm our belief in all that Jesus has promised and has already accomplished in us; and we see in this promise a reason to hope for so much more.... for a deepening of our own faith and love... for the power to overcome evil in ourselves and in our world... for the spread of the gospel... and for us to proclaim that the darkness that overshadows the present moment, whether from sin, sickness, poverty, sorrow, weakness or failure, will be dissipated and driven away by the Sun of Justice, the Word-Made-Flesh.

 Speaking Plainly
The message of Jesus is not an easy one to hear - especially during the times in which we live. One of the most difficult facets of Christianity is that it continually invites us to re-imagine how the whole process of “church” works. There can be no compromise when it comes to the message of Christ. If we only buy into it half-heartedly, we will ultimately lose it. If we fail to open our ears and if we fail to speak plainly, we will betray the entire message.

The Gospel message has never needed to be proclaimed more urgently.

 Without a Shepherd
Our world and our church need healing and renewal. Each of us can play a part in this moment's potential for growth, by finding ways to speak to one another and to care for one another in His name.  For only he can heal and renew what has been so wounded. Only he can help us face what divides and destroys our communal bonds. Only he can feed us and heal us so that we can face what assails our lives as citizens and disciples, be witnesses to hope and continue to preach, teach and heal as he did.

 Being Sent
Jesus sends the Twelve - two by two - on their mission to preach the Kingdom.  He does this for a reason.  Not only do we need to place our trust in God - we also need to place our trust in one another.  This is a job that we cannot accomplish alone. We need each other for support and protection. We are responsible not only for the Word of God, but for one another as well. This is an important fact for us to remember - especially in the politically-charged atmosphere in which we live today.  If we are truly committed to Christ and the Good News we are sent to proclaim, perhaps a change in our patterns of living and thinking, and a cutting out of “excess baggage” will speak more clearly the message we are sent to preach..

 How It Is With The Kingdom Of God
Faith is not something that we can have more or less of. Faith, it seems, doesn't have to increase - as much as exist. Having faith doesn't automatically give the believer the power to perform crowd-pleasing spectacles or life-saving miracles. But it does mean that we are in touch with God and experience God as the source of that energy which enables us to live good lives, marked by the ability to forgive - as we ourselves have been forgiven; to reach out to one another - as we ourselves have been found and embraced by God.

 Where are We?
How do we realistically talk about God in a society that has lost its sense of the sacred, and considers the religious view in which we have shaped our images and language about God to be nonsense?  How do we spread word about the God of Life to a society bent on creating instruments of death and total destruction?  How do we preach a God of Reconciliation to a world wrapped in hatred, prejudice and war?  How can we even dream of proclaiming God’s unconditional love to families and persons whose lives are steeped in suffering, loneliness and despair?

 Spirit of New Life
The impact of the entrance of Jesus into human history is an unending source of power and challenge in every age.  The miracle of God becoming man is unending. It continues to touch out minds and hearts and lives, to challenge us, to invite us to change. Pentecost is not just a spectacular episode of Salvation History that happened a long time ago; it still touches us with its reverberations.  For us as a people of faith, Easter/Pentecost is now.  It is the continuing invitation from our God for an ongoing, ever new encounter with Him and with others...

 The Smell of Sheep

When sheep lose trust and confidence in their shepherds, when they sense a lack of attention and care when they have no example to follow, they tend to scatter.  And without a flock to tend, shepherds are no longer shepherds.

And the Gospel is blunt and absolutely clear in reminding us that our shepherding should be marked by compassion and justice, gentleness and reconciliation - by our own willingness to lay down our lives. Maybe it is time for all of us to re-examine just how willing we are to do just that.

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