Tag Archives: Isaiah

Expect Joy

“Occasional sun breaks,” was my favorite weather forecast from when we lived in Seattle. The Cascade and Olympic Mountain ranges frequently trapped clouds and rain over Puget Sound and the city, thus the usual forecast would be “overcast.” A much better forecast would be “partly sunny,” meaning overcast much of the day with long periods of sunshine. “Occasional sun breaks” fell between those two.

Isaiah’s 60th chapter was written to a people who had experienced “darkness covering the earth and thick darkness the people.” But from under that darkness Isaiah points to the sun breaking forth.

While the secular culture is caught up in celebrating Christmas even before it arrives, we have a period of Advent, a time to ponder the meaning of Jesus coming in the world and to consider our readiness to greet him. It is a time to point to the light that will come, even though we are in the midst of darkness, even thick darkness. While everything around us glistens and glitters, our food pantry draws many people who have no where else to turn to ensure that their family has something to eat this night.

I will have more to say about Isaiah 60:1-11 at 8:15 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, December 17th at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.

Our Chancel Choir will sing “Are You Going to Bethlehem Town” at our 10:00 service.

Robert Shaw, Pastor

Glow with the Flow

The ancient Celts discerned that creation did not come from nothing, but from within the very substance of God. Thus the Holy Spirit enlivens and flows in and through all that we can see, touch, hear, smell, and taste. They saw the light of Christ in the sun as it arose each morning, reminding them of Jesus’s resurrection. They saw the light of God reflected in the moon as it rose each evening, assuring them of the Father’s watchful presence during the night.

If, perhaps since, the light of God flows in and through all matter, and flows in and through each person, how then could we not arise and shine? How then could we not glow with the flow of the Spirit? How then could we not be drawn to that light in all that God has made, including every person? How then could we not see in those whom we love as well as in those from whom we are separated the light of Christ?

This is the miracle of Christmas. The awakening of all of humanity to the presence of God in all people, in all matter, and seeing that light in one another. A light to which we are drawn and to which all people and things are drawn. The light from which all matter has come and will ultimately return.

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.

— Isaiah 60:5 (NRSV)

I will have more to say about the 60th chapter of Isaiah on Sunday, January 10th, 2017 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

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

Peace

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

King and Kingdom

CommunionTableSome people call the table in the front of the church an altar.

In ancient Israel the blood of a freshly slaughtered bull would be sprinkled on the altar as a means of atoning for the sins of individuals and communities, so they might again become one with God. Sacrifices were also viewed as necessary to satisfy kings and the King. Necessary to pay the price for the error of our ways. We see the idea of sacrifices even today in parking fines and in jail time.

But we have no need for an altar. For we trust that Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient and fully satisfies all of the sacrifices specified in the Old Testament.

What then do we call that table between the pulpit and the lectern upon which we celebrate the Lord’s Super?

I like calling it an ALTER table, for we come to this table to be altered in our lives and in our living. We gather before this table for an hour once a week to redeem and reconcile the remaining 167 hours each week, so the whole of our lives might be focused on building the Kingdom of God and thereby glorifying God.

I will have more to say about Isaiah 1:10-20 on Sunday, August 7th, 2016 at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor

Prayers for Good Friday

On Good Friday, the day Christians remember Jesus having been betrayed, arrested, quickly tried and convicted, then crucified and buried.

On the Friday between Palm Sunday and Easter our sanctuary will be open from noon until 3 pm for anyone interested in quiet meditation and prayers. Should you be unable to come here, we offer the following for your family or personal devotions.

Welcome

The ancients called this day “Triumph of the Cross” reminding us to gather not to mourn this day, but to celebrate Christ’s life-giving passion and thus find strength and hope in the tree of life.

As you consider these readings, listen carefully for signs that
affirm
God is Good.

Throughout this day, as you ponder these readings, members of our Worship Committee or Congregational Care Committee or the Pastor will be available to sit with you and pray alongside you.

Please silence all cell phones and other devices to enhance your time with God.

cross-944475_640

Invitation To Worship Isaiah 53:4

Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
All the while we thought
that his suffering was punishment sent by God.

But because of our sins he was wounded,
beaten because of the evil we did.

We are healed by the punishment he suffered,
made whole by the blows he received.
All of us were like sheep that were lost,
each of us going his own way.
But the LORD made the punishment fall on him,
the punishment all of us deserved.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God,
for our sake Christ Jesus allowed us to betray him,
and allowed himself to be given into angry hands,
and allowed himself to suffer death on a cross;
look with mercy on your people again,
may we confess our sins, turn back to you,
and receive your overflowing love.

Moment of silent reflection…

This we ask in the name of our Lord Jesus the Christ,
who now lives with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever and ever. Amen!

Scripture Readings:

John chapters 18 and 19

In these two chapters, John summarizes Jesus’ arrest, trial, conviction, crucifixion, and burial.

Some cultures consider a rooster to be a Christian symbol.
How have you responded when “the rooster” called for you?

Psalm 22

Mathew and Mark record Jesus reciting the first verse of this Psalm as he hung from the cross. At that time, before chapter and verse numbers were invented, merely citing an opening verse indicated reading of an entire Psalm or chapter.
How does this Psalm offer hope in the face of trial?

Hebrews 10:16-25

Having gained complete restoration through Christ,
how have you encouraged one another?

Prayers From and For the People and The Lord’s Prayer

O crucified Jesus, Son of the Father,
conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of Mary,
eternal Word of God, we worship you.
You came into the world not to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through you,
so that all who trust in you
might be delivered from the power of sin and death
and become heirs to eternal life.

Hear our/my prayers for the whole Church:
for its witness and service wherever it is found,
for its leaders and the people whom they serve,
increase your love and preserve your peace in it.

Silence

Hear our/my prayers for all nations and all peoples:
for those in authority and those who seek office,
and for all who serve for the common good.
Assist them, O Spirit,
that they may seek your justice and truth
so all people may live in peace and harmony.

Silence

Hear our/my prayers for all who suffer in body, mind or spirit:
for the hungry and the homeless,
for the destitute and the oppressed,
for those suffering persecution, doubt, or despair,
for the sorrowful and bereaved,
and especially for …
Comfort and relive them, O Father,
grant them knowledge of your love,
stir up in us/me patience and desire to minister with them.

Silence

Hear our/my prayer for all who have not received your Good News:
for those who have never heard the words of salvation,
for those who have lost their faith,
for those who have become indifferent to Christ,
for those who are enemies of your cross and your disciples.
Open their hearts to truth, O Christ,
teach us/me how to lead them to faith and obedience.

Silence

Eternal God of unchanging power and light,
look with mercy upon your whole Church.
Bring completion to your saving work.

Hear us/me now O Lord as we pray the prayer you taught us/me to say:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.
Amen.

Shine for All to See

Darkness is coming. It always comes. It comes in many forms. You need only turn on the evening news to learn of the latest shadow to fall across your community: a robbery, a shooting, an accident, … If an incident effects enough people, you will also learn of   in far away places storms, wars, famine … Not only does it come to unknown strangers and nameless neighbors, darkness also comes into lives of friends and family members, even our own lives: illnesses, lost jobs, deaths … Darkness is surely coming.

However the light has come into the world and continues to shine into the darkest corners. As people of God, we are called to reflect God’s light which draws all people to the one True Light. We are not the light. When we can shine in the face of adversity, when we can point beyond the gathering darkness, the True Light shines in us and through us.

A laser works in this fashion: An external light stores up energy in a medium and when appropriately stimulated, that stored light is emitted in sync with and amplifying the stimulating light.

When the True Light shines on us we absorb some of that light helping us through moments of darkness. Then when appropriately stimulated, we can amplify the True Light becoming helpers dispelling shadows that fall across our community or nation.

Bring your dinner to our discussion of Isaiah 60:1-6 at 6 pm on Wednesday, December 30th. I will have more to say about this passage on Sunday, January 3rd, at Temple Terrace Presbyterian Church.
Robert Shaw, Pastor