Monthly Archives: February 2017

If you are …

King James I of England

Powerful men stand boldly on the pages of history. Cities, universities, even Bibles are named for them: Pharaoh Ramses. Cesar Augustus. Emperor Constantine. King James. Chief Pontiac. John D. Rockefeller. James Buchanan Duke. Joseph Stalin.

Thus when the Son of God steps onto the pages of history people might have expected greatness in the way of the world: Miracles performed that would end hunger and poverty. Angelic armies protecting the Prince of Peace. Kings and princes the world over would immediately bow to his name and tremble in his presence.

Thus the slanderer (the devil) taunts him: “If you are the Son of God …”

Instead of gathering his supporters and army, the King of Kings spends forty days and forty nights fasting in the wilderness, struggling with his humanity, responding to temptations with humility. Not in the fashion of great figures of history, but as one who might be a footnote or a comment in the margins of history.

How might we prepare ourselves during this season of Lent to understand the Prince of Peace who would not lift a finger even to end is own hunger for bread?

I will have more to say about Matthew 4:1-11 at 8:15 AM or 10 AM on Sunday, March 5th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Kirkin’ o’ tha Tartans

For thousands of years tartans have reflected the preferences of particular weavers and the tastes of particular regions, and families who lived in those regions. Following the Dress Act of 1746, when the British government attempted to suppress wearing tartans, particular designs became associated with clans and bear the names of the clan.

Tartan09On February 26th, in the year of our Lord 2017, the Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church will celebrate Scottish heritage with grand pageantry, parading tartans of clans that have worshiped in this congregation.

This service will emphasize Scottish influence: we will repeat portions of the Scots Confession of Faith, prayers from the Scottish Book of Prayer, and hear the Lord’s prayer in Gaelic.

Pastor Robert Shaw’s sermon will consider how Celtic theology might influence our appreciation of our place in the world.

Almost Divine

I remember a cousin calling out “Mrs. Shaw” at a family gathering then smiling as nearly every woman in the room turned to look at him. Such is the power of having someone’s name!

O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
— Psalm 8:1

Most translations honor a deep respect for the sacred name of God, using the word LORD in all capitals to represent the four Hebrew letters. A name so powerful ancient priests would only whisper it in the temple but once a year lest they use it too lightly or wrongly.

Yet we humans have been given this name to call upon the Creator of the heavens and the earth!

When I look into the heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what are humans that you are mindful of them,
Children of Adam, that you care for them?

— Psalm 8:3-4

The Celts perceived God not as sitting out beyond the edges of creation, but having created all that is from within the very substance of God, adding a divine dimension to all things seen and unseen.

I will have more to say about Psalm 8 at 10 AM on Sunday, February 26th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.


We taught our dog, Buddy, several of the usual commands: sit, stay, down, off, leave it, take it, roll over. But the most important command is focus. If when out for a walk I see something that might cause him to get unduly excited, I tell him to focus. Each time his eyes meet mine I say: “Yes!” Then when we are well beyond the stimulus he gets a biscuit.

Now by telling him to focus we usually can walk past a potential stimulus with him keeping his eyes on me.

Jesus has similar commands for us:

  • Look at the birds of the air.
  • Consider the lilies of the field.
  • Do not worry.
  • Do not be afraid.
  • Love one another
  • Forgive as you have been forgiven.
  • Remember me.
  • Follow me.

The world around us provides many distracting stimuli: bright shinny things to buy, debts to repay, malnutrition, health concerns, homelessness physical assault, untimely deaths, environmental disasters. When we keep our eyes on Jesus we can minister through distracting stimuli seeking the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Heaven.

I will have more to say about Matthew 6:24-33 at 8:15 AM or 10 AM on Sunday, February 19th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.


“I can work with the people here,” a city official had told me. He then compared the city where he currently worked with a previous city where people would take advantage of him and turn his offers of assistance into endless delays to avoid correcting violations.

In the Sermon on the Mount as recorded in the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is not at interested in working with us nor giving us any wiggle room in complying with God’s moral code. If anything Jesus wants to give us less wiggle room, less opportunity to justify ourselves.

“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire.” — Matthew 5:21-22

“Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord.’ But I say to you, Do not swear at all, … Let your word be ‘Yes, Yes’ or ‘No, No’; anything more than this comes from the evil one.” — Matthew 5:33-34a, 37

Imagine a world where everyone spoke truthfully, so there would be no need to swear an oath when speaking in court. We would no longer have a need for contracts. Negotiations would be times when people openly explained all of their concerns and desires, their skills and limits, for all parties would seek to maximize everyone’s interests.

Imagine a world where anger and insults never happened, for people cared deeply about establishing and maintaining solid relationships with one another.

Such a place would truly be Heaven on earth!

What if people started acting as if God’s Kingdom already existed on earth? Yes a few hardhearted people would take advantage of the truth tellers and those who shun even verbal hostilities. Perhaps a small group of such high minded people might actually begin to slowly change the world? I would call such a group of people the body of Christ Jesus in the world or simply the Church.

I will have more to say about Matthew 5:31-37 at 8:15 AM or 10 AM on Sunday, February 12th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Yours in Christ,
Robert Shaw, Pastor

February’s Newsletter – The Skirl

BagpiperRead in this month’s edition of The Skirl:

  • Robert’s Ramblings: Divine Reading
  • Upcoming Kirkin’ o tha Tartans
  • Did you resolve to become involved?
  • Weekday School doings and photos
  • Faith Formation for Adults and Children
  • Calendar, book club, prayers of the people, and other interesting articles.

Click on this link to get your February 2017 issue of The Skirl at the speed of light!