Please come and join us every Sunday
Sunday School at 9am
Worship at 10am
First Congregational United Church of Christ, Watertown, SD Welcoming Statement
Based on welcoming statement from Prince of Peace Lutheran, Philadelphia, PA
Who is welcome here?
If you are Asian, Hispanic, Native American, Black, White, or multi-racial . . .
If you are three days old, 30 years old, or 103 years old . . .
If you are male or female or transgender . . .
If you are a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or not registered to vote . . .
If you are single, married, divorced, separated, or partnered . . .
If you are straight, gay, lesbian, or bisexual . . .
If you are Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, agnostic, or a life-long Congregationalist . . .
If you have never set foot in a church, attend only on Easter and Christmas, or attend every Sunday . . .
If you are fully-abled, living with a disability, or a person of differing abilities . . .
If you have or had addictions, phobias, mental illness, or physical illness . . .
If you own your own home, rent, live with your parents, or are homeless . . .
YOU ARE WELCOME HERE!
This congregation is committed to being a loving and welcoming community.
In faithfulness to God, and to the best of our ability, we work to provide programs, ministries, fellowship, and pastoral care to all who seek God in this place.
We dedicate ourselves to living the UCC church’s motto:
“No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here!”
“The Buts of It”
“The Dance of Life”
In the book Doctrine That Dances: Bringing Doctrinal Preaching and Teaching to Life, author Robert Smith wrote: “When I meditated on the word ‘Guidance,’ I kept seeing ‘dance’ at the end of the word. I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing. When two people try to lead, nothing feels right. The movement doesn't flow with the music, and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky. When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead, both bodies begin to flow with the music. One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back or by pressing lightly in one direction or another. Its as if two become one body, moving beautifully.” Smith continues: “The dance takes surrender, willingness, and attentiveness from one person, and gentle guidance and skill from the other. My eyes drew back to the word Guidance. When I saw ‘G’ I thought of God, followed by ‘u’ and ‘i.’ ‘God,’ ‘u’ and ‘i’ ‘dance.’ God, you and I dance. As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust that I would get guidance about my life. Once again, I became willing to let God lead.” How is the “dance” in your life right now? Is it jerky, with a lot of toes being stepped on? Or is it smooth and rhythmic and beautiful? Does the “music” in the background seem ominous and scary, or is it peaceful and confident despite the troubles we are facing in our world right now?
Continuing this image of dancing, the interesting thing is that in western style ballroom dancing, custom dictates that the man leads and the woman follows his moves. Continuing this analogy then, is what happens when we trust in God to guide us in the dance of life in all circumstances. When we let God lead the dance, then the dance will be smooth and beautiful. This is good news for us because if God leads, despite life’s circumstances, we will enjoy God’s blessings. Something often overlooked with the customs of ballroom dancing is that the purpose of the man leading in the dance is to highlight the movements of the woman. When a male dancer does his job well, he is not noticed, and all eyes are on his partner. The application of this can be that when we trust in God to lead us, we experience Gods rich blessings. God works in, through and around us in the circumstances of our lives. God often works in subtle and unseen ways, but what God does is for our blessing.
There are numerous passages in Scripture that teach us the benefits of allowing God’s guidance to lead and shapes us. A good one is Psalm 32. In this poem, King David reflects the instructions of God in verses 8 & 9, writing: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go, I will guide you with my loving eye upon you. Do not be like the horse or the mules which do not have understanding but must be guided by the bit and bridle…” In this psalm, David also encourages us to be faithful to God’s leading, instructions and guidance. If we don’t, trouble worse than having our toes stomped on by our dance partner will come our way. If we do follow God’s leading, we experience God’s unending love in all circumstances and all stages of our lives. Get into the dance of life! Allow God to lead and guide you and receive God’s rich blessings.
Grace and peace,
Read: Psalm 32
Click Here for Walking Suggestions
The Church Council at their May meeting gave me permission to inform you about the part of my ministry called the Satyagraha Institute, and to solicit your prayers and contributions.
Beginning in 2015, the Institute has been working to train participants in alternatives to violence as a "way of life". We want people to have the tools to change their personal way of being in the world as well as the social structures that continue to degrade and destroy.
We use the word Satyagraha coined by Mahatma Gandhi. Liberally translated, it means holding firm to God's truth. We recognize that none has the Truth with a capitol T. All fall short. It is only in seeking the resolution of conflict as if through the eyes of God, that we begin to see the way forward. Then we need the skills of conflict resolution to walk that path.
We rely on our faculty: Gandhian scholars, religious practitioners, peace and justice activists, artists, and indigenous elders, to lead us to new insights and commitments. We gather together long enough to build strong bonds of fellowship. We meet in a sacred and renewing place, our own camp Placerville in the Black Hills.
We understand there are two major threats today to the human family, indeed, to all of God's good creation. War and the threat of nuclear war is one. A changing climate is the other. Both are the consequence of our violence, against each other and the earth. The vision projected by Gandhi for a different way of being in the world is similar to Martin Luther King's "the Beloved Community," much indigenous wisdom, and the way of Jesus proclaimed in the Gospels. These are our deepest models and teachers at the Institute and our spiritual weapons against the violence of our time.
The Institute has been growing a little each year internationally. We just completed a program in Ghana with forty some participants, mostly college age. A second program in Nigeria drew over 500 applications, with several attending from other African nations. Our Mexico program will happen in late July. We will be at Placerville August 5-14 and are still accepting applications for that program. If you or someone you know is interested, applications are available online at: www.satyagrahainstitute.org
You are also able to donate on line. Or if you prefer, I will make a brochure and contribution envelope available in the narthex later in June. For members of the UCC, your contribution does double duty, as we will leave between $6,000 and $10,000 with the camp.
For me, the persons attending these programs strengthen my hope for a less violent, more just and peaceful world. One by one, we make a difference!