Menno Musings

Thought offerings from our Community

WhyNotBeChangedIntoFire

Why Not Be Completely Changed Into Fire?

Rooted in Amos 5:6-7, 10-15, Tim Reardon, preached on James James 1:22-27; 2:18-26. Tim begins with a story of the desert fathers — or better yet, “desert parents” — a dialogue between Abbot Lot and Abbot Joseph, his elder. The question ultimately posed by Abbot Joseph, “Why not be completely changed into fire?” is contrasted to the way Nicodemus might have heard Jesus’ directive, “you must be born again.” These are interesting, ridiculous, and meaningful sayings. Both imply that they need not just to do certain things, but to have something done to them — allowing something to be done to them by God. Yieldedness.

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Wisdom that Unifies

On September 23rd, Lauren Murtidjaja led us in a reflection on Mark 9:30-37, and James 3:13-4:3, 7-8a. James seems to be writing a “tough-love letter to the diaspora. The diaspora was dealing with partiality and favoritism — caught up in appearances. Most of us can relate at some level: we like to be seen in a certain light. How can their journey challenge us?

Their struggles can be traced back to wisdom. James asks: Who is wise and understanding among you? What are the marks of wisdom? In the bible, the goal of all wisdom is the formation of character — the relationship between hearing the Word and doing the Word. Hence, they are instructions for life.

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A Double Minded Gospel

On September 16th, Tim Reardon led a reflection on James 1:1-12 — emphasizing that justice cannot be seen as separate from the cross. James talks about a double minded person as one who wants to hear the gospel but not do it.

Tim reminds us that the cross is a revelation of injustice. The cross of Jesus, the innocent one, who was executed, who calls into question our social, economic and justice systems — calls into question all forms of injustice. It is a revelation of God’s solidarity with the poor and those disenfranchised, and a call to repentance for those who are powerful and unjust.

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El Buen Samaritano

On September 9th, Inés Velasquez-McBryde led us in a reflection on Luke 10:25-37 — with new thoughts on the good Samaritan. Inéz first notes that the expert of the law puts Jesus, the teacher, to the test.

Jesus invites the expert into a dialogue. “What is written in the law?” And as the dialogue progresses, the expert asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor” — in an attempt to justify himself. He seems to understand the idea of loving God with all of his heart, mind, and soul — but does not understand the work of love toward his neighbor.

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A Few Dirty Words: Holiness (James 1:17-27)

We often separate “social justice” from more “religious” ideas of holiness, but Jesus does not artificially separate these. He teaches us that the tree and the fruit are intimately tied together. A tree is known by its fruit, and it matters who we are and what we do.

But this is not a call to perfectionism. Rather, James tells us to develop habits of listening and reception, to encounter God, who plants good seeds, who tills the garden, nurtures the soil, and grows the tree, so that we might be doers of God’s peace and justice as people tilled by God the Gardener, illumined by Jesus the Sun.

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When Doubt Cries Out in Faith

On July 15th, Madeleine Cameron spoke to the PMC shared a sermon with PMC that she’d prepared during an internship in Fresno, where she’s preparing to take part in a community project following her graduation from Fresno Pacific University.

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Being Rooted in Love

On July 8th, Tim Reardon referenced David Benner’s book Surrender to Love, asking our congregation, “Imagine God thinking about you — what do you think God feels when you come to mind?” Though we might have various responses, he went on to describe that we are created out of love by a God whose essence is love; that Love is the source and ground of our existence — an unending mystery that extends beyond and precedes time and space; that sustains us, holds us, and extends to the innermost parts of our being.

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We All Need a Savior

On July 1st, Tim Reardon talked about Luke 18:18-30 and Luke 19:1-10 — and the difference in how a rich ruler approached Jesus in comparison to the story of Zacchaeus. What did it mean to be a wealthy ruler in Jesus’ time? How did this differ from Zacchaeus, in spite of his wealth? Zacchaeus was “small in stature” — likely more a reference to his status than his height. What is the focus of each? How does Jesus receive each of them, and why? Who do we identify with?

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Picking Up Righteousness

On June 24th, Lisa Lockwood Thornton of PICO California (www.picocalifornia.org) talked about the lectionary passages — 1 Samuel 17:38-45 where Saul dresses David to enter battle with Goliath, Psalm 9:7-10 about God establishing justice in the the world, and 2 Corinthians 6:1-10 where through adversity Paul says they carried the weapons of righteousness — in light of her presence at a border action at the Otay Mesa Detention Center over the previous two days.

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