Category Archives: Worship Services

Recent and upcoming worship services

Not Dead, Alive!

Everyone should at least watch a baptism by immersion. While I affirm infant baptism by sprinkling water on a child’s head, as it places the emphasis for salvation on the work of God, only baptism by immersion fully expresses the ideal of becoming dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

I did not experience my first baptism by immersion until I found myself standing waist deep in a mucky pond about to baptize a man who had insisted on immersion. Having been trained as a lifeguard, I had inklings of what could go wrong. At worst the candidate for baptism would panic, slip off the narrow ledge we stood on, and pull me under as well. Physical death was a real possibility, for both of us.

Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
— Romans 6:4

The challenges come after baptism, when followers of Jesus must turn from sin and walk in the newness of life.

This Sunday, June 25th, I will focus on Romans 6:1-11, providing a brief note for context, so that we might better understanding being dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Robert Shaw
Pastor, Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church

Character Building

Chocolate PieWhenever we went to a restaurant, my father would immediately flip the menu over and study the deserts. Once he knew which desert he wanted, he would plan his meal around that dessert. Then with desert in mind, he would suffer through eating his vegetables.

But Paul boasted of an even greater gift to look forward to in his letter to the Romans.

Therefore, since we were justified from faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God.

As if a guarantee of divine access to grace and hope in sharing in God’s glory were not enough, Paul continues to boast about the impact of boasting of God’s grace in this life. Usually we boast about what we have accomplished, but Paul urges us to boast about what God will accomplish through our sufferings.

Not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

I am convinced that my father lived his whole life the same way he ate dinners; knowing where he wanted to end up, he sought opportunities that would get him closer to his goal.

I will have more to say about Romans 5:1-8 and building character on Sunday, June 18th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Credit Check

Some people think of church as a store where they can acquire faith, or at least the trappings of faith: marriage, baptism, prayers during crises, funerals.

Instead believers come to church week after week because they have recognized God, the giver of faith, acting in through their lives every day! We come to say thank you and to hear stories of how other people have experienced God in their lives, affirming our experiences.

Credit CardsBelievers come not to be justified, but because have seen the justifier at work in us. We know that God has checked our credit, how well we have obeyed the law, and found too many deficiencies to even list, yet has blessed us as righteous through our trust in Christ Jesus.

For this reason justification depends on faith,
in order that the promise may rest on grace
and be guaranteed to all Abraham’s descendants,
– Romans 4:16

I will have more to say about Romans 4:13-25 and God’s gift of faith on Sunday, June 11th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Charisma

Confessing “Jesus is Lord” has implications for how we observe our daily lives.

Two-thousand years ago, confessing “Jesus is Lord” was akin to committing treason, especially in a culture that regularly confessed that Caesar was Lord.1 A modern analogy would be to confess: “Jesus is my President.” But this pales in comparison as Caesar considered himself not answerable to any human establishment (e.g. the Senate) nor even answerable to God.

Nonetheless confessing Jesus is Lord of all has real implications for how Christians must live our lives:

  • If we really believe in one God, then the whole of creation, the entire universe belongs to God and people are God’s creations, answerable to God to whom we owe our respect for the privilege of the gifts for creation. A prayer of thanksgiving at the beginning of a meal is a nice beginning, but our actions after getting up from the table are much more significant.
  • Gift boxesIf we really believe in one Spirit, then all talents are divine and in God’s eye, all people are equally gifted. Early Christians may have argued over the which gifts were more significant or which indicated that a person had truly received the Holy Spirit as evidenced by their gifts. If we claim that Jesus is Lord, then the question becomes how will we use the gifts or charisma that we have received to advance the Kingdom of Heaven?
  • If we really accept Jesus as Lord, then Jesus is Lord always and everywhere! Not merely on Sunday morning during worship is Jesus Lord, but especially on Monday morning and Friday night. Not merely in Church, but especially at work, at play, and in the voting booth. For if Jesus really is Lord advancing the Kingdom of Heaven must take precedence over advancing one’s nation, and especially over advancing one’s own career even over the laws enacted by earthly governments.

How do you use your gifts to advance the Kingdom of Heaven?

I will have more to say about 1 Corinthians 12:1-13 and gifts of the Spirit on Sunday, June 4th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church. Please wear red for Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit divided as tongues of fire among the disciples.
Robert Shaw, Pastor


1. For additional background on “Jesus is Lord” verses “Caesar is Lord” see: 
N.T. Wright, “Paul and Caesar: A new reading of Romans”

Witnesses

Each and every day, and increasingly in our connected world, we leave clues that some people can read and assemble into a portrait that depicts what we deem worthy of our time.

As a child might leave cookies to see if Santa had visited, many websites use digital cookies to track the pages you view. This site like nearly every other website uses cookies to track which pages you visit and carry information between pages, for example if you have logged in as a member or not. This helps us recognize important and popular pages so we can continually improve our content. While we do not intentionally track information about the actions of particular users, other websites remember which products you researched and use that information to show related advertisements even when you visit unrelated sites seeking to bring you back to their website.

What sort of picture do we generate about the importance of repentance and forgiveness of sins? If Jesus is central to our life, shouldn’t we leave crumbs about how Christ has made a difference in our lives or influenced the choices we make?

You are witnesses of these things.
— Luke 24:48

Do you share stories of exceptional examples of sacrificial love, someone’s willingness to forgive an outrageous misdeed, or even times when you experienced God’s mercy?

I will have more to say about Luke 24:44-53 and being witnesses of Christ on Sunday, May 28th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Seeking Infinity

How can we be  in God and God in us?

On that day you will know that
I am in my Father,
and you in me,
and I in you.
— John 14:20

Can a three-dimensional object have only one edge and one side?

Try this at home. Put a half twist in a strip of paper then tape the two ends together forming a loop. This loop is called a Mobius Strip; a three-dimensional object with only one surface and one edge.

To prove that it has only one side, draw a line down the middle of the strip by sliding it under a marker. With a little patience you will come back to where you started and line now appears on both sides of the original strip. If you attempt to cut a third off of one edge, you will get a loop twice the diameter as the original loop plus the middle third of the original loop. Both of these experiments show that a Mobius Strip is three-dimensional object with only one side and one edge. Thus it should not be too much of a jump to thinking about one God being Father, Son, AND Holy Spirit; about one God being in us and our being in God.

But the best part of being in Christ and having Christ in us, is that we become an extension of Christ and Christ’s actions become an extension of Christ’s ministry in the world. When our actions reflect Christ, those that demonstrate Christ’s love for the whole world, we keep his commandments and the Father grants our petitions, for then we will be doing God’s will.

I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

— John 14:13

I will have more to say about John 14:12-21 and being in Christ on Sunday, May 21st at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Building a Lasting House

Have you ever considered all of the expense that goes into building and maintaining a sanctuary, that part of a church building where we gather to worship on Sunday morning? A space that is difficult and expensive to heat or cool? A space that is seldom used during the week?

Since the first place of worship was merely an elaborate tent (see Exodus 26), what if instead of an impressive brick and mortar building that would only be used a few hours a week, we had a tent plus a few stacks of chairs,  a table, and a piano that could be rolled into place each week? Perhaps a tent we would inflate early Sunday morning then roll away that afternoon; for the church is not the building, but a people who worship together.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
— 1 Peter 2:4-5 (NRSV)

For when a congregation is focused on shaping the living stones rather than maintaining brick and mortar, then their spiritual house becomes stronger as the living stones are hewn to fit exactly together, matching the shapes of adjacent stones supporting and provoking one another.

Yes provoking one another. Smaller congregations are particularly good at this. If someone misses worship, they either call ahead of time or someone will check on them, perhaps even before worship begins. And not merely Sunday worship, for living stones have many opportunities to be the Church of Jesus Christ in the world.

While large ornate cathedrals leave me wondering how resources might be used more effectively, I do recognize the value of a permanent place for worship over the labor and wear and tear to erect a tent every week, and how all that labor can be come a distraction to being living stones in a community.

How are you a “living stone”?

I will have more to say about 1 Peter 2:1-10 and living stones on Sunday, May 14th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Testing Continues

St Mark's Cathedral
On Palm Sunday 2017, a bomb exploded at the entry of St Mark’s Cathedral in Alexandria, killing 17 people.

Recent bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt remind us of the dangers of professing Christ as our Lord and Savior. This incident reminds us that following Christ has physical implications that will indeed test our resolve to trust the one true God.

Yet even Christians in Western nations are tested. First the Church is increasingly marginalized as Sundays, even Sunday mornings are being filled with secular activities. Our children’s coaches have told us that if our children wish to remain on the team they cannot miss games and practices, including those on Sundays.

Western Christians are also tested in the application of faith in political discourse. Should we support candidates who challenge our values for sexual morality, for responsibility to care for the earth, and for our neighbors who are hungry or homeless?

Our faith is tested in the hospital room watching a friend or family member suffer a debilitating disease. We ask: “How can a loving, all powerful God allow this to happen?” or “Where is God in all this pain?”

In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. — 1 Peter 1:6-7 (NRSV)

On Sunday, April 23rd, we anticipate receiving as new members, those who have completed the confirmation class. However, the tests of faith do not end when they receive a Bible during worship. If anything, this ritual marks the beginning of testing the integrity of faith in all phases of life.

I will have more to say about 1 Peter 1:3-9 and testing of faith on Sunday, April 23rd at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Fear Not!

A young officer on his first dive in a submarine carefully inspects the equipment as the ship slowly descends to test depth. Prior to going to sea every system has been carefully inspected and tested using various equipment that simulates actual conditions when submerged. But the real test is taking the ship out for the first time and actually diving to to that depth where the test results indicate that the ship should function as designed.

Suddenly a pipe in front of the young officer jumps from a bracket with a loud bang. The officer freezes. He speculates: ‘should that have happened? Is that an impending crisis?’ At this depth, a rupture of even a small pipe could have catastrophic consequences as sea water would spray with horrific force inside the ship damaging equipment and quickly affecting the delicate balance of buoyancy and speed needed to resurface. But the young officer does not panic for facing him and staring at the same pipe is a first class petty officer, a rank that implies several years of experience. Since the petty officer did not panic, this must not be worrisome the officer supposes. Only later does the officer learn that this was that petty officer’s first cruise and that since the officer had not panicked, the petty officer saw no need to panic either. But when more experienced sailors learn of it, they sound the alarm quickly bringing the ship to the surface and back to port.

More frequently the lack of understanding causes inappropriate panic. Considered the two women went to see the tomb of a recently deceased friend when an angel suddenly appeared. Guards stationed to watch that tomb quiver then freeze stiff with panic. Yet the women hear the authority of the angel telling them: “Do not be afraid! The one whom you seek is not here. He has been raised as he said. Come and see the place where he had lain. Then go quickly and tell his disciples …”

How does trusting Christ’s resurrection affect how you live?

I will have more to say about Matthew 28:1-10 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church on Easter Sunday, April 16th, at 8:15 AM and 10:00 AM. We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper at both services.

Robert Shaw
Pastor, Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church

The Rose of Calvary

Our Palm Sunday celebration begins with children leading a triumphant parade around our building.

This year’s cantata conveys the emotional roller-coaster from the triumphant entry of Palm Sunday to the loss of hope at the crucifixion in nine movements.

  1. The overture samples themes of the entire work and introduces the Jesus as the Rose of Calvary.
  2. Isaiah’s prophecies of restoration of creation lie behind the rejoicing in second movement. Here Jesus is called the Rose of Sharon, an alternate translation from Isaiah 35:1-2.
    • Our offerings and prayers between the second and third movements will embody our rejoicing for God’s creation.
  3. The prophets also pointed to the need for people to turn from their sins. The aptly named third movement, “Call to Repentance,” portrays both our need and Jesus’s answer; his standing ready to save with love and power.
    • Between movements, the congregation will publicly confess our imperfections and failings.
  4. This movement, “A Rose in the Valley,” expresses God’s promise of pardon for our failings.
  5. The excitement of the fifth movement will have you bouncing in your seat as the people triumphantly “Shout to God” with a loud hosanna, musically evoking Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem on that first Palm Sunday.
  6. During his few days in Jerusalem Jesus taught us to live gently with loving kindness for one another and to love our neighbors as ourselves, for that is “Love’s Way.”
    • After this movement the congregation will demonstrate our compassion for one another in prayer.
  7. Not everyone was pleased by Jesus’s popularity. Leading the Rose to the Garden of Gethsemane to weep deep in prayer for his disciples and for release from the cup that the lay ahead, while also praying: “Father, let Thy will be done.”
  8. Meanwhile the priests had excited the mob “In the Praetorium” now to shout “crucify him!” The eighth movement resonates with anger at the Rose of Sharon, urging Pilate to plant the Rose on Calvary.
  9. Even the thorns had beg not to be placed upon the head of the Rose of Calvary as His petals fall and the flower dies.
    • Our Palm Sunday worship service will conclude with the congregation singing “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross,” receiving the benediction, then leaving.
  10. Joseph M. Martin’s The Rose of Calvary offers one more movement, but we must wait a full week to celebrate God’s surprise ending.

The fine voices of our choir will be supplemented by professional soloists and instrumentalists. You, your family, your friends, and your neighbors will not want to miss this musical account of Christ’s passion. Please share this invitation to experience the journey of the Rose of Calvary at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday April 9th, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.