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12-10-19 - Spiritual Leaders

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)
What do you think a holy man or woman should look like? What should be the markers of "success" for spiritual leaders? This is what Jesus asks the crowds about how they viewed John the Baptist. "What did you go out there to the desert to look at? Were you just spiritual tourists gawking at the latest guru? Did you think you were going to see a smooth-talking, well-dressed leader, get a little charge, and leave your life unchanged?"

Advent is a good time to examine our spiritual motivations, what is it we are truly yearn for, why we engage or disengage from spiritual community. It is easy to become disenchanted with church and clergy - or to expect too much. Today, let's do a little inventory. When we can name our expectations, we can better manage them.

What are your expectations of your spiritual community? When you are disappointed or disaffected, what is the cause? Do you communicate…

12-5-19 - Good Tree/Good Fruit

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)

John the Baptizer lays into those who wear their religion on their sleeves, but do not allow their hearts and behaviors to change. And his invitation to true repentance comes with a bite: “Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
Later, Jesus uses the same metaphor, saying that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a bad tree good fruit. It seems that judgment awaits us, and we will be judged by the fruit our lives bear.

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12-11-19 - Greatest and Least

(You can listen to this reflection here. Sunday's gospel reading is here.)
We have spent quite a few days in this space thinking about John the Baptist – who he was, why he was the way he was, what impact he had. Many people thought he was the Messiah, or an incarnation of the prophet Elijah – until Herod imprisoned and later had him executed at the whim of his step-daughter. John truly was a holy man, and Jesus speaks of him as such:  “Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist.”

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What was that about valleys being lifted up and mountains brought low, the lowly being exalted and the “mighty cast down from their thrones?” Here is Jesus, articulating again that equalizing quality of the realm of God – that equalizing which was so challenging to people in his own day, and has remained so in the thousands of years since.

To say …