Monthly Archives: December 2016


I still enjoy receiving a paper calendar, seeing the pages and rows of blank unsullied squares each ready to receive opportunities to meet with people and to advance the kingdom of heaven. Those fresh new pages remind me of the gift of God’s grace, coming to us fresh each day. This reminder of not merely a new day, but a new year with all of previous years put behind to grow on without being weighed down by the burdens of what might have gone less than perfectly, is what drives my desire to celebrate not merely on New Year’s Eve, but also on each Sunday when we affirm the truth of God words.

He who was seated on the throne said,
“I am making everything new!”
— Revelation 21:5

The assurance of pardon is perhaps my favorite time during worship. The pouring of water into our baptismal font adds a visual and auditory reminders of God making all things new. Plus you might notice me dipping my hand into the font as I leave worship, one final physical reminder of God’s act of grace affirmed in our baptisms and recited each Sunday.

I will have more to say about the 21st chapter of Revelation on Sunday, January 1st, 2017 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Christmas Gifts

Wrapped present with bowMy family always went to church on Christmas Day. Like many families we would wake early, tumble down the stairs and tear open the gifts under our tree. My mother would slip in and out preparing a special Christmas breakfast for us to enjoy. But then we would rush to dress and dash to church every Christmas, even after staying up for midnight services the night before, even when Christmas day did not fall on a Sunday.

The Christmas morning service was different from any other worship service. Instead of a sermon families would tell about the gifts they had received. Children might bring a favorite toy. Parents of adult children would gush over a new son-in-law. Some would talk of healing from an injury or disease, or care they had received from members of the congregation.

One year, I wish I was old enough to remember it, I was the gift that my parents had talked about. They had given up expecting to have a child of their own when I was conceived. That year, a few weeks after I was born, I was baptized on Christmas morning.

For as many years as I have been a pastor, on the Sunday following Christmas Day, I have tried to capture the essence of Christmas morning worship services from my youth, except for the rush of trying to do everything on Christmas morning.

This year, at 10:00 on Christmas morning, I hope you will bring a remembrance of a gift you received this year. It might be a toy, a story how friends, family, or congregation members helped you, a new member of your family, or healing from disease or accident. I look forward to hearing our stories of how God has been with us this year, hinting of when we might sense God with us in the year ahead.

Yours in Christ,
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Lessons and Carols

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 includes celebrating the Lord’s Supper and concludes with candle lighting.

8 pm, Saturday, December 24th, Christmas Eve

No Rehearsal Christmas Pageant

5:30 pm, Saturday, 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.

Christmas Cantata

Daniel Pinkham titled his opus “Christmas Cantata,” but it conveys the feel of Advent. Jesus is coming into the world, but did the shepherds, their neighbors, or even Mary have questions about what this would mean for them? Read our director’s note below.

IMG_1433A brass choir will complement our expanded choir for “God Rest You Merry Gentlemen” and “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence” plus Pinkham’s Christmas Cantata. Scripture readings and prayers will complete this unique worship service.

Please invite your friends and family members to this special worship service at 10 am on Sunday, December 11th. There will be no early morning worship service this Sunday.

Director’s Note

Daniel Pinkham’s “Christmas Cantata” is divided into three distinct movements, each with their own story to tell. This work challenges the listener with its unusual harmonies and uneven rhythmic ideas. The composer also uses a technique called text painting to create images and layers of sound that try to portray the lyrics. To best enjoy the music, the listener must put themselves in the position of the characters in the Christmas story and what it must have been like to hear the good news told to them.

The first movement begins with a call to action from the choir, asking the shepherds to share what they have heard. In the same movement, the choir transitions into the role of the nervous shepherds who repeat the same rhythmic idea–“Born, for us, was Christ Jesus.” Although they are excited to share the good news, there is an inherent uneasiness in the composition which symbolizes the chaotic energy that must have existed. Even the brass parts feel somewhat frantic and disjunct. Wouldn’t you also feel excited and uneasy if a choir of heavenly angels descended upon you?

The second movement uses the “O magnum mysterium” text, depicting the wonder of the manger scene with Jesus Christ lying next to cows, sheep, and goats. The text also praises the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus. This tribute to the mother is signified by the female soloist who begins the movement. The melody that she sings and the harmony used once the choir enters, is made up of unusual chords that move in and out of tonality. These harmonies, and the overlapping text by the different parts of the choir, create that mysterious quality that the lyrics are referring to. Again nothing is quite settled or resolved, and the movement ends on a bit of a question mark which is somewhat fitting for a Virgin birth.

The final movement represents the joy that all Christians feel during this time of year. We finally have resolved harmonies in major keys set to the text of “Gloria in excelsis deo.” It begins softly and slowly builds to the end, painting a perfect picture of Christ’s coming. The soloists interject with bouncing and celebratory verses and further add to the joyful atmosphere.

The whole work takes the listener on a journey through all of the emotions that would have been felt in Bethlehem that night. They range from bewilderment, to joy, to fear, to nervousness, to praise, and everything in between.

Kavan Gilespie,
Co-Choir Director