Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Skirl for December 2016

piperRead in this month’s edition of The Skirl:

  • Robert’s Ramblings: Gifts We Received
  • Celebrating the First Sunday of Advent
  • Notes from our Mission Committee
  • A message from the Endowment Committee
  • TT Weekday School enjoyed Stone Soup.
  • Director’s Note for our Christmas Cantata
  • Calendar, prayers of the people, and other interesting articles.

Click here to get your copy of The Skirl for December.

Peace on Earth?

As I have aged I have become more realistic about my hopes for Christmas.

Christians have been praying for world peace for two thousand years and Jews for thousands of years before them. Yet many days I wonder if we are any closer. When I read of the horrors of how prisoners and enemies were treated in Jesus’ time I like to believe that we have made some progress in how we treat one another. Then I see a preview for a popular movie and cringe at what we accept for entertainment.

chick-pea-1797432_640Thus I no longer expect world peace at Christmas, instead I merely expect whirled peas. Peace on earth and good will to all would still be nice, but peas are more likely. Plus with a few herbs and other vegetables, peas can make a tasty and healthy meal.

The prophet Isaiah would have none of this. In the midst of losing a war with the Assyrians he pointed Israel beyond the trials and tribulations of beatings and captivity to world peace. Not merely the cessation of hostilities and vanquishing of enemies, but a harmonious state where even the worst of enemies could live side by side.

The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the kid;
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
— Isaiah 11:6 (NRSV)

Isaiah wants us to look beyond the reality of today, beyond what we might expect, to what God can do in us and through us. For if these animal enemies can live together what might we accomplish by seeking peace with our political enemies? How might we expect Christ’s coming into the world to save us all together?

I will have more to say about the 11th chapter of Isaiah on Sunday, December 4th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Hanging of the Greens

Why do we have green leaves and red berries on the Advent wreath in our Sanctuary?

poinsettia-pulpitWhy do we light candles when we prepare for Christmas?

Why do we bring Poinsettia to church?

What is the story behind Christmas trees? Why do we decorate them with lights? What are Chrismons?

On Sunday, November 27th, we will share these stories and sing familiar carols while we place these and other decorations in our sanctuary. We will also receive a visit from Saint Nicholas. No not the man in the red suit from the mall, but the Bishop of Myra.

Where Is Your Heart?

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
— Matthew 6:21 (NRSV)

Many churches call the Sunday before Advent “Christ the King Sunday.” On this day the Church celebrates the authority of Christ in our lives and over all the earth and heaven.

At Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church we will also call this Consecration Sunday, a day when we consecrate the first fruits of our lives, that portion of our giving that we set aside for doing God’s work in the world. Doing so demonstrates that Christ is truly King over all the earth, including our income.

We have invited the Reverend Dave Baker, the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Tampa Bay, to provide an inspiring message for this morning encouraging our stewardship of all the resources that God has placed into our care.

I believe that gratitude follows giving. When I am happiest, when I most appreciate the opportunities that I have received, I want others to share in my joy.

OfferingPlateThis Sunday we will set aside part of our worship service to give thanks, to show our gratitude, for all of the gifts that God has entrusted to our care. We do this by writing out an estimate of our giving to the church for the next year during worship and praying over our pledges. This estimate of giving helps the Session be good stewards of what we receive, putting each dollar to its best use. This process of writing out my estimate of giving encourages me to think about all that I am grateful for and how much I want to share my joy with others.

Rev. Robert Shaw, Pastor
Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church


Imagine for a moment returning from battle, having risked life and limb, perhaps seen friends maimed or killed, all for the benefit of society. Imagine a lasting peace has been declared as you return home. What do you hope to see as the fruit of your sacrifice and of those who fought in this conflict?

When the people of Judea and Jerusalem were released from captivity in Babylon they returned home to a land that still bore scars from war forty years earlier. Their beloved city ravaged. Their dreams were not instantly fulfilled.

oak-treeThe 65th chapter of Isaiah was written for these people, assuring them of God’s new creation, not a human creation, but a divine restoration to the best of what Eden had promised: No more weeping; No more infant deaths; Living as old as the trees; Living in one’s own house and eating one’s own crops; Enemies living together.

As Christians we are called to live as though God’s new heaven and new earth are forming around us each day. Some may call us hopelessly naïve, even foolish. But doing so should be easy for us who trust that Christ has been resurrected from the dead and that we too shall rise.

Living confident of God’s new heaven and new earth has implications for how we live in the aftermath of this volatile election. Isaiah foretells of the wolf and the lamb eating together. And if we are to live beyond a hundred years and our labor shall not be in vain, then we need to live peaceably with those whom we call wolves and with those whom we treated as lambs. To live in God’s new creation is to reconcile with those whom we have disagreed, perhaps even denigrated or been insulted by.

This Sunday we will conclude our worship service with a ritual of anointing for healing. Those present will be invited to come forward, or merely to watch and sing, as we share a physical reminder of God’s act of reconciliation with us so that we might be reconciled with one another and point to glimpses of God’s new heaven and new earth.

I will have more to say about the 65th chapter of Isaiah on Sunday, November 13th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Hold Your Head Up

Each week as I turn from studying a passage to writing a sermon I ask myself several questions including: “What music does this passage call for?” Typically this question yields the hymn we sing following the sermon. And when I write that sermon I often hear that music playing in my imagination.

My study of the Second Letter to the Thessalonians immediately recalled the song “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical Carousel. It might not be considered relgious music, but it is none-the-less deeply moving and perhaps inspiring.

The recipients of the Second Letter to the Thessalonians seem to have been overly concerned about the coming of the new age, when disciples of Jesus Christ would be gathered together. The persecutions that disciples faced in that century boded of a storm gathering through which they needed to keep their heads held high.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. —1 Thessalonians 4:17 (NRSV)

Some may have been jubilant of Christ’s coming and others were fearful that they were not among those gathered and may have blamed their weaknesses in faith for the persecutions they were experiencing. Either way they were being shaken and deceived from their faith in Christ. The jubilant needed to be cautioned not to expect a quick fix and that they too should expect trials and tribulations. While the fearful needed reminders that God would indeed save them.

lightning on the horizonThe election process through which we are currently suffering thunders on the horizon boding unusual turmoil. I have heard from both sides fears that the election may be rigged and the results disputed, perhaps even violently. Both presidential candidates have been demonized with horrid caricatures and their supporters maligned. The lighting on the horizon bodes turmoil rather than a smooth transition from one President to the next.

Yet the apostle reminds us, as he reminded followers of his day, to hold our heads up high and to treat each person, those with whom we agree and those with whom we disagree, our favored candidate and their opposition, as equals, recognizing the image of God that each person carries.  When we recognize what is good and decent in our opponents and in their supporters and then seek reconciliation together in Christ, in those moments we exhibit the fruits of the Spirit.

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by our letter. — 1 Thessalonians 2:15 (NRSV)

I will have more to say about the Second Letter to the Thessalonians on Sunday, November 6th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor