Monthly Archives: December 2015

Shine for All to See

Darkness is coming. It always comes. It comes in many forms. You need only turn on the evening news to learn of the latest shadow to fall across your community: a robbery, a shooting, an accident, … If an incident effects enough people, you will also learn of   in far away places storms, wars, famine … Not only does it come to unknown strangers and nameless neighbors, darkness also comes into lives of friends and family members, even our own lives: illnesses, lost jobs, deaths … Darkness is surely coming.

However the light has come into the world and continues to shine into the darkest corners. As people of God, we are called to reflect God’s light which draws all people to the one True Light. We are not the light. When we can shine in the face of adversity, when we can point beyond the gathering darkness, the True Light shines in us and through us.

A laser works in this fashion: An external light stores up energy in a medium and when appropriately stimulated, that stored light is emitted in sync with and amplifying the stimulating light.

When the True Light shines on us we absorb some of that light helping us through moments of darkness. Then when appropriately stimulated, we can amplify the True Light becoming helpers dispelling shadows that fall across our community or nation.

Bring your dinner to our discussion of Isaiah 60:1-6 at 6 pm on Wednesday, December 30th. I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, January 3rd, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Teaching God

Every time I teach I learn something. I learn while teaching the adult class from those with advanced degrees, especially in disciplines that I have not tackled. And I learn while teaching children.

Recently, while teaching Cub Scouts about being reverent and doing their duty to God, a boy about ten years old taught me about the resurrection. We were talking about how we celebrate Christmas to show our faith, to do our duty to God, and to act reverently toward God, in celebrating Jesus’ birthday. Then this scout asked: “Since Jesus was resurrected from the dead, does this mean he has two birthdays?”

My lesson from this Cub Scout and this week’s Scripture passage had me pondering about what God learns from us.

When he was about twelve years old, … the boy Jesus stayed behind … sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. … And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.
— From Luke 2:42-52

A quick reading of this passage shows that even at a young age Jesus amazed everyone with his answers and understanding. But a second, closer reading reveals that Jesus, God Incarnate, also learned from the teachers in the Temple and from his parents.

Not all of those Cub Scouts were deeply insightful and interested in my lesson. Some of them had different, harder lessons to teach me. I was not reaching them. Completing these activities required for advancement (practicing reverence for a month, participating in a worship service or reflection, reading about two people who did their duty to God, talking about their beliefs) could be difficult for them to even begin.

Since teachers learned from their students, and since Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, learned from his parents and teachers in the Temple, what might each of us  be teaching God about the human condition?

I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, December 27th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Lessons and Carrols

candlelight serviceOur 8 pm Christmas Eve worship service traces
God’s presence with us
from the earliest of time to the birth of the Christ.

You will hear familiar Bible readings, sing favorite Christmas hymns and carols,
and learn about symbols associated with Christmas.

As we trace God’s work in the world,
hopefully you will also recognize
God’s work in your life.

This worship service concludes with candle lighting.

8 pm, Thursday, December 24th, Christmas Eve

No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant

5:30 pm, Thursday, December 24th, Christmas Eve

Come and participate in our no-audition, no-rehearsal Christmas pageant. Arrive by 5 pm, if you want a particular part.

Manger Scene

This worship service provides parents with a low stress opportunity for their entire family to celebrate Christ coming into our lives this Christmas.


Notes on Luke 1:39-45  for worship at 8:15 am and 10 am, Sunday, December 20th.

An unwed teenage girl arrives at the door of an older woman and announces her pregnancy. The older woman could have responded: “What were you thinking?” Instead she beams with joy and says: “Look at what God is doing in you! I am so pleased that you chose to come to visit me. Thank God for your faith that has already allowed you to recognize what might be accomplished in you and through you.”

These were not merely a hypothetical pair of women, but Mary, the mother of Jesus and her cousin Elizabeth.

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
– Luke 1:41-45 (ESV)

Hope BannerLife often presents us with unexpected opportunities that challenge and confront cultural norms. By being open to the working of the Holy Spirit in us and through us we get to participate in building God’s kingdom. I suspect that had Elizabeth scolded Mary, she would not have stayed very long. Instead she stayed with Elizabeth for three months providing time for Elizabeth to mentor Mary.

How might we open ourselves to the work of the Holy Spirit? How might we open ourselves to the possibilities of salvation, to God’s blessing, and to promises of fulfillment in each pregnancy and each person?

Bring your dinner to our discussion of Luke 1:39-45  at 6 pm on Wednesday, December 16th. I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, December 20th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Youth Ministry and Christian Education Leader

Do you know someone interested in “reaching and inspiring youth, within our congregation and through community outreach by creative programs promoting Christian growth and spiritual development”?

We want to hire an enthusiastic individual as our Leader of Youth Ministry and Christian Education.


  • Demonstrated experience in Christian education and youth ministry
  • Demonstrated acceptance of the tenets of the Reformed Theological tradition of this church and knowledge of how to teach youth about Christ’s love, compassion, and acceptance of them.
  • Demonstrated computer literacy
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate verbally and in written form.
  • Demonstrated creativity and organizational skills to implement programs that serve both our members and the youth of our community
  • Applicants will pass a youth worker background clearance.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Provide pastoral care to youth, helping them to grow in their faith and develop Christian character for the experiences of daily life
  • Develop and implement outreach programs to connect students and their families from Temple Terrace Presbyterian Weekday School and local elementary schools
  • Recruit, train, and motivate volunteers for Christian education program and youth ministry
  • Work together and plan with the adult leaders of Sunday school and the youth groups
  • Recruit and organize parents of the students to assist in Sunday school and the youth ministry
  • Review and evaluate Christian education curriculum

Additional Responsibilities:

  • Actively promote youth programs and activities in the community using various social media and presence and making presentations at community events
  • Manage Vacation Bible School
  • Engage in continuing education to improve professional skills

Interested persons should quickly contact the pastor with a resume and cover letter describing how their training and experiences will help us minister with youth and families.

Road Work Ahead

My favorite places to visit include the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive in Virginia and the Carolinas, the Natchez Trace in Mississippi, and Going to the Sun Road in Montana. These roads expect people to slow down and enjoy the view, they have frequent turn-outs where travelers might gaze for several minutes at the scenic vistas or perhaps leave the road for a brief hike. Large animals may wander onto the roadway.

Natchez Trace, October 2011
On the Natchez Trace, October 2011

Do not take these roads if you wish to make time for they twist and turn, they climb hills and descend into valleys. These road offer few places to pass a slower car. Should a bear, elk, deer, or even an interesting bird linger near the side of the road, people will suddenly stop to look or take photographs, clogging lanes designed for travelers.

Instead, when we have wanted to make time, the Interstate Highway system provides straight and flat or at least gently sloping roads with multiple lanes and high fences to keep out wildlife.

This season of Advent, the four weeks prior to Christmas Day, is time to make straight the roads in our spiritual lives, to clear out spiritual diversions, so we might fully enjoy Christmas as a time to deepen our relationship with Christ.

‘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;

and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’
– Luke 3:4b-6 (NRSV)

Bring your dinner to our discussion of Luke 3:1-6 at 6 pm on Wednesday, December 2nd. I will have more to say about on Sunday, December 6th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor