Menno Musings

Thought offerings from our Community

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A Surplus of Rich Generosity

Last Sunday, Rob Muthiah walked us through 2 Corinthians 8:1-15. He introduced the passage as a sort of fund-raising letter — like those we receive from people raising support for mission trips. Paul is raising support for the mission of the church in Jerusalem, and introduces the churches in Macedonia as generous givers. They give out of poverty, but with happiness. In addition, Paul offers Jesus as a model of generosity to us through the act of incarnation. Paul is raising support for the mission of the church in Jerusalem. Paul introduces the churches in Macedonia as generous givers. They give out of poverty, but with extreme happiness. In addition, Paul talks about how Jesus modeled generosity to us through the act of incarnation.

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Giving God Our Best: How Much Is That, Exactly?

Lisa Finlay anticipated that speaking about giving would be an interesting challenge, because money is a complex issue for her personally. But she thinks it’s important to talk about giving because, in our consumer society, the way we interact with money—what we decide to give, to spend, where to spend—requires frequent decision-making. And the way we interact with money is a moral decision.
Though giving is much broader than monetary giving, we’ve had recent sermons on other ways to share resources & talents. And the focus on money reflects the widow in our scripture passage — who gives money specifically. And Jesus comments on that.

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2 Corinthians 8:1-15

On January 20th, Frank Scoffield Nellessen continued PMC’s theme for the month of first fruits giving. He weaves the theme of giving beautifully with our honoring of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. Reflecting also on 2 Corinthians, Frank brings together the words and works of Paul and MLK.
“God’s love is radical, flowing through the radical sharing of time, talents and treasures that Paul and Martin Luther King Jr. testify to today. This love creates a world where ‘the one who has much does not have too much and the one who has little does not have too little.’ Today we can thank God for love flowing through generations of communities, from Corinth to the South to Pasadena, who teach us how to love.”

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Being First Fruits People

Tim Reardon introduced PMC’s Consecration Sunday — the time when the congregation makes commitments to carry us through the coming year. As a lay-operated and lay-lead church, if we don’t do the things we think are important, they won’t get done. We try not to be a community of passive spectators but active participants. We have to do more than just say that it’s a value. We have to continue to act, to tell that story, and to reinforce that value, because it is easy to lose. We participate, we make this church, as an active community.
Tim goes on to reflect on the Israelite rite of first fruits from Deut 26 — as just a beginning point as we consider our own practice of giving.

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Star of Wonder

Eddie Beres shared an Epiphany reflection at PMC on January 6th—in relation to Matthew 2:1-12, and primarily Ephesians 3:1-12. He begins his thoughts, “As I read through the lectionary passages for this year’s Epiphany, the one from Ephesians caught me. I noticed one word repeated four times: mystery.
Eddie goes on to say that the word mystery stood out to him because it is central to healthy religion, and our inability to embrace it is the source of most conflict in our world. In our dominant culture, the word is likely to generate notions of questions that we must find answers to, or detective stories that will be solved through detailed analysis and clever thinking. In other words, our common response to mystery is to eliminate it, for mystery cannot exist if we have removed all questions or paradoxes.
Yet the power of mystery is alive in the teachings of Jesus, and alive in our world today, continuing its transformative ways.

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Christmas

Christmas Sunday for PMC was on December 30. Tim shared about a Mennonite community that strove for simplicity — so as not to burden others with material goods. He contrasted that approach to his memories of complex Christmas celebrations of his youth.
Tim goes on to talk about why simplicity is best practiced as a community endeavor, and the history of this within Mennonite churches.
Simplicity can also be thought of in relation to non-conformity — an attempt to unravel the bonds by which the world has us tied up — in order to be free to live together and for others … for love of neighbor, God, and creation with our whole selves.

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Joining Mary’s Joy

On our fourth Sunday of Advent, traditionally the theme of love is celebrated. Melissa Spolar reminds us that we celebrate a love defined by mercy, justice and peace. The final voice to declare the truth of what is finally coming — the birth that would fulfill years of promise — was that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Melissa talks about Mary’s bravery in incredible circumstances, her dedication to God, her words that would become an inspiration to many, and her eagerness and devotion to helping usher in the world changing kingdom of Jesus. These are things we can celebrate and learn from.

LauraJames_JohnTheBaptist

Advent Joy

On our third Sunday in Advent, Tim addresses the traditional theme of joy in through the lens of Luke 3:7-18 — where John the Baptist teaches the crowds who have come out to the desert to learn how to prepare for the imminent coming of the Messiah. With humor, Tim contrasts his visit with his family to the Magic Kingdom’s Christmas celebration to John’s message of repentance — with John’s call for the people to bear fruit.

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A Community Refined

On the first Sunday of Advent, Lisa Thornton reflected on Malachi 3:1-6. She talks about how we often think of advent as a time of waiting — forgetting that as we wait we are asked to prepare for the coming of the Lord — cleansing, refining, purifying. With Malachi, we look at the gospel of Luke 3:2-6, where John John the Baptist proclaims from Isaiah, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth…’”
Lisa calls us to hear these passages from a community perspective. What is required for us as a community of people to prepare for the Lord? Not just our own church community, but as a community of followers of Christ across the world. John seems to be saying that the world needs to be the opposite of what it is now — a Beloved Community.

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Simplifying the Complexity of Simplicity

Eric Schnitger welcomes our advent season with reflections on simplicity. We’d begun this topic at our fall retreat, and Eric offers thoughts about how simplicity ties in with the advent theme of hope.

Eric opens with a beautiful quote by Michael Kofi, about how advent speaks about the future reign of Christ, when all will be made right, and how we can live in eager anticipation of that good news now; that justice for the poor and oppressed and mercy for all is what we hope for — and if not, then we need to break our hopes and form new ones; the promise that God will act to bring the reign of peace, even when we have lost the capacity to believe it.

Contact Info

Pasadena Mennonite Church
Meeting at Pasadena Church of the Brethren
1041 North Altadena Drive
Pasadena CA 91107

Sunday Services begin with fellowship at 10:00am —
Worship begins at 10:30am