Week 3 Lenten Thoughts for PMC

Dear Pasadena Mennonite Church (and her constituents),

Our Lenten theme of trusting God came to a head for us in worship yesterday when Drew creatively and humorously compared Jesus driving out the money changers in the temple to a day at the LA County Fair. It was a great parallel that ended with us demanding Jesus to overturn the tables of the carnival games; you know, the ones that are rigged to rob us of all our money yet tempt us to empty our wallets when we still haven't managed to toss the ring onto the corresponding pin. I find something oddly comforting when it comes to placing my trust in a God who displays such passionate fits of temper when God's children are victims of a scam--be it financial, social, relational, environmental, or whatever.

I think it's no coincidence either that the author of John's Gospel places this story of temple chaos in the second chapter, very early in his Jesus narrative. Scholars speculate that perhaps this is so, because throughout the book of John we see a Jesus who is very divine, very in touch with God the Father, and very confident of his identity in relation to this Godhead. In other words, throughout John's gospel, Jesus most surely is Christ the Lord, the Son of God. So, it is not a surprise when Jesus angrily demonstrates that God's glory is not present in the temple scams, but instead, God's presence is powerfully manifest in the person of Christ. John wants to make that clear from the get-go.

We twenty-first century followers must be careful with such readings, however, not to turn an anti-Semitic ear to Biblical texts like this one. John was a Jew and therefore able to participate in this "family fight," so to speak. It's sort of like how I'm the only person who was aloud to call my little brother a dork when we were young kids. The second my best friend joined in the taunting, she was no longer permitted to say such untruths! Therefore, we do not have such liberal freedom to criticize the Law or Temple practices. This is why I'm so glad our other text this week is Psalm 19, "The law of the Lord is perfect...the decrees are sure...the commandments clear...the ordinance are true..." Instead, this week of Lent, by way of learning from Jesus' vehemence toward injustice, let us turn our attention to other unjust practices that dramatically need to be overturned in the name of Christ the Lord. Not too much of a difficult exercise given the state of our current American economy, much less the global one as well.

Psalm 19
John 2:13-22

Question for Reflection:
What or whom do we long for?
Who in our societies today are victims of a good scam?
Are we over-committed to the wisdom of financial gurus?
What must we sacrifice this week in order to have more time for the practice of justice?

Almighty God,
Help us keep our eyes on you.
Keep us clear from hidden faults and innocent of transgression.

Jesus is the visible manifestation of your holiness.
You are beauty,
forgiveness, and

Therefore, let our lives be of sound discipleship as we seek you by following the path of Jesus.
Prepare us to celebrate the mysteries of Easter,
as the feast of the world's redemption comes closer and closer.

In the meantime,
Let the words of our mouths
and the meditations of our hearts
be acceptable to you, O Lord,
our rock and
our redeemer.

Working to stay the course with you,

P.S. I gave up fastfood for Lent. (ha.) Each time I have found myself craving an In-n-Out salted fry dipped in a swirly chocolate shake, I am glad to remember that Easter is on its way. Albeit, it's sort of an unconventional way to approach the expectation of Christ's resurrection, but the simple sacrifice gets my mind moving in a direction of thoughtfulness. How are your Lenten sacrifices going? Anyone else craving a good metaphorical cheeseburger yet? It won't be too much longer now...

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