Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Skirl for April 2017

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In this month’s issue:

  • Spirituality: Seeking to experience God, rather than merely learn about God.
  • April book club selection
  • One Great Hour of Sharing goal
  • See what is hatching at our Weekday School this month.
  • Read about the roller-coaster in The Rose of Calvary our Easter Cantata.
  • Tax Relief Luncheon.
  • Which fruit of the Spirit did we run out of this month?
  • Our congregation’s calendar.

Called to Live

Apart from trust in God, the world is a cemetery.

Calling Lazarus from the tomb disturbed many people.

  • John reports Jesus snorted in spirit and was deeply agitated: perhaps because Mary, like Martha, had regretted that he had not arrived soon enough to prevent Lazarus from dying, or perhaps because Lazarus was his friend and he regretted that his friend had to suffer through death, or perhaps because of the bitterness of death which is the wages of sin.
  • Many who saw the great sign, of Jesus calling a dead man from the tomb to walk among them, were sufficiently disturbed to believe in Jesus.
  • Others who had also seen the sign feared what Jesus would do to the status quo, feared him taking power from the fear of death that allowed the powerful to control people.

Belief in the resurrection, not only of Jesus which we will celebrate on Easter, but also of all whom God loves, should disturb many people: emboldening some to dare to challenge the status quo while making others fear that the future will be different. The promise of the resurrection has emboldened disciples to dare to proclaim the Good News even in the face of certain death and continues to do so even today.

Since death is not the end, what might we accomplish?

I will have more to say about John 11:1-45 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church on Sunday, April 2nd, at 8:15 AM and 10:00 AM.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Seeing Jesus

Meeting a blind man in the New York Port Authority Terminal building formed my understanding of people with disabilities.

Hundreds of people rush through this building every minute, especially during the early evening hours. As I recall that building: subways trains would continually drop off and pickup passengers on at least two levels below the main level while buses disgorged and swallow passengers on at least two levels above the main concourse and above the buses were several levels of car parking. That building continually absorbs and wrings out enough traffic to fill an interstate highway.

I had met my father at his work earlier that day and we were heading to the bus that would take us home when my father recognized and hailed a friend of the family wending his way across the concourse swinging and tapping his red tipped white cane. We chatted for a minute or two when he flipped open the bezel of his watch, felt the position of its hands then told he might miss his bus. After explaining that he had lost count of his steps during our conversation, he asked if I would guide him to his bus. I agreed then he pushed me across the floor and up the escalator and to where his bus stood waiting. Slightly disoriented I mused aloud about getting to my bus, then he proceeded to give me accurate directions to my bus. Although fully blind, he had seen where I had not.

When Jesus healed a man born blind, his entire community failed him: his neighbors could no longer recognize him as his identifying disability had disappeared; the authorities would not recognize how he had been healed, as it did not fit the story they wished to tell; and his parents could not celebrate his healing as they feared the authorities. Only Jesus remained.

What blind spots do we have that keep us from seeing people around us for what they can do to build the kingdom of heaven?

I will have more to say about John 9:1-41 on Sunday, March 19th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

The First Evangelist

Are you seeking that big faucet in the sky?

Are you living the rat race, at least occasionally wondering which rats are winning or if its worth even running? Are you wondering how your contributions fit into the Kingdom of God? Are making an eternal difference, helping to usher in Jesus’ promised future on earth as it is in Heaven? May be you look around and want to make sense of the confusion of life all around us.

The woman Jesus met at the well had to carry a bucket down into the well, fill it, then carry it back up to her home probably several times a day. The modern convenience of tap water was beyond her imagination. She used a different term. She called the idea of running water “living water.” But she was so busy struggling with lugging water each day she missed the Living Water right in front of her.

The disciples had gone looking for food and were perplex by Jesus’ statement about his having food to eat that they did not know about, for they had missed the Bread of Life right in front of them.

In Cana the wine steward at a wedding was so perplexed with the wine that Jesus had made from water he missed the Wine of Salvation right in front of him.

Everyday people around us hunger and thirst for fulfillment for we are so caught up in the living we miss the Kingdom of Heaven.

I will have more to say about John 4:5-42 at 8:15 AM or 10 AM on Sunday, March 19th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

 

Transformations

When I walked out through the gates, my work stayed behind me. This was one of the great advantages of working on classified programs. The requirements of the workplace demanded that I compartmentalize my life. Work had to remain locked up inside the safe inside my office. Conversely during my time at work, my employer expected me to focus on work problems and not on family or church matters.

Nicodemus may have wanted to keep his contacts with Jesus separate from his daily pursuits as a Pharisee. Would other Pharisees understand if they had found out that he had sought Jesus’s teaching? Thus he came at night so that others might not find out.

Throughout history people have tried to separate their religious life from other pursuits thinking that one ought not to affect the other. Christ had instructed John of Patmos to write a letter to the angel of the church in Ephesus including:

Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
— Revelation 2:6 (NRSV)

The Nicolaitans likely practiced pagan rites while claiming to be “Christians,” as if they could compartmentalize their Christian belief apart from the pagan practices of their culture.

The Nazis similarly expected Christians to compartmentalize their religion from the expectations of the State. Instead, representatives of the confessing church replied:

We reject the false doctrine, as though there were areas of our life in which we would not belong to Jesus Christ, but to other lords — areas in which we would not need justification and sanctification through him.
— “The Declaration of Barmen,” paragraph 8.15. Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): Part I, Book of Confessions The Office of the General Assembly, 1999.

Jesus had challenged Nicodemus: “I tell you all the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born over.” An intriguingly ambiguous phrase implying at the same time to mean: to be born again, a second time; and to be born from above, spiritually as well as physically. A phrase that implies Nicodemus’s faith was somehow not quite mature enough, not quite fully gesticulated.

How do we continue to keep Christ out of parts of our lives? Are we fully ready to be born over?

I will have more to say about John 3:1-21 at 8:15 AM or 10 AM on Sunday, March 12th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.