Monthly Archives: February 2016

Garden Work

I am tempted to title this week’s sermon “Bovine Manure” for that is the value we might give to presumptions that particular casualties, disasters, accidents, diseases, … reflect God’s wrath and judgement against a particular group of sinners.

He asked them, “Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. — Luke 13:2-3 (NRSV)

“Bovine Manure” is also the prescription for those that do not produce good fruit.

He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ” — Luke 13:8-9 (NRSV)

Digging soilGarden work, especially when involving Bovine Manure is not fun. Rewarding in the long term, but not an enjoyable way to spend a warm Saturday. Yet if we are to be useful Christians, we are called to deep introspection of our lives with the addition of appropriate nutrition (reading, prayer, fasting, fellowship, and acts of charity) so we may yield dramatic improvements in our lives and in the lives of those with whom we work and play.

I will have more to say about Luke 13:1-9 on Sunday, February 28th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Prayer as Comminication

Talking to God is widely accepted as normal. As a pastor I am regularly asked to pray in public giving thanks for the food and beseeching God on behalf of those present for better tomorrows.

Hands resting in prayerEven listening to God is also generally acceptable. Many people, Christians and others, are practicing some form of regular silent meditation as a spiritual exercise that strengthens one’s ability to be mentally present especially in stressful times.

But should someone say that God spoke to them, many people would stop and question that person’s sanity. For example, a woman had been hospitalized in a psychiatric institution with several ailments among them was her assertion that God had told her to give away all that she had. This was counted against her for in doing so she had eliminated all of her means of taking care of her activities of daily living. However, in do in so she had also brought sufficient notice to herself that another person recognized her distress and initiated a process to heal her underlying physiological conditions that adversely limited her emotional health.

Abram (later known as Abraham the patriarch of Israel) had a problem. God had promised vast lands for him and for his offspring. Yet he had no children of his own. His only heir was a slave in his household. Then the word of the came to Abram a third time again promising him that his offspring would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens.

I will have more to say about Genesis 15 on Sunday, February 21st, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Believing Is Seeing God

I often want to thank people for inviting me to visit them in the hospital or when a family member has died. For during these times of crises, when families invite me into those times of spiritual richness, I get to experience the presence of God. I often leave such experiences praising God, thinking that those few minutes were why I had become a pastor.

Pordenone, trasfigurazione breraPeter had a more glorious meeting with God when Jesus had invited him to a mountain top where Jesus had a conversation with Moses and Elijah about his upcoming exodus which he would accomplish from a lonely hill top near Jerusalem.

Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here;
let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah”
— Luke 9:33 (NRSV).

When have you experienced God in your life?

Bring your dinner to our discussion of Luke 9:28-36 at 6 pm on Wednesday, February 3rd. I will have more to say about this passage during worship on Sunday, February 7th.
— Robert Shaw, Pastor