Please come and join us every Sunday
Sunday School at 9am and 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!”
Pastor's September Ponderings
“The But-First Syndrome”
If you’re like me, you probably suffer from the “But-First Syndrome.” This is the condition that keeps us from doing the things we should be doing. You know how it is, you decide for instance, that you will do the laundry this morning. So, you start gathering up the laundry, but you see yesterday’s newspaper on the table. You intend to do the laundry – but first – you stop to take the newspaper to the recycle bin. While taking the newspaper to the recycle bin, you notice the mail. Sure, you will take care of the newspaper – but first – you stop to pay the bills. While getting the checkbook to pay the bills, you find the long-lost TV remote (now how did that get there?). Yes, you will pay those bills – but first – you need to put the remote back where it belongs. On the way to put the remote away, you trip over the cat. Argh! The cat needs to be fed. Right, you definitely will put the remote away – but first – you go to feed the cat.
And so it goes. At the end of the day, you scratch your head wondering why nothing got done because you know you’ve been busy all day!
Jesus told a parable about people who suffered from the “But-First Syndrome.” In Luke 14, Jesus told of a rich man who wanted to throw a lavish party. He sent out numerous invitations. The RSVPs the rich man got in return contained a lot of excuses from those he invited about why they couldn’t come to the party. One person claimed that he could not come because he had just purchased a field and had to go inspect it (‘I’d like to come to your party – but first…’). Another person said that he had just acquired five yoke of oxen and was going to try them out (‘I’ll be there – but first…’). A third reply came from a man who had just gotten married and so he couldn’t come (‘Love to – but first…’).
With all of his friends making excuses, the rich man instead opened the party to others. All the original invitees had legitimate excuses but in the end, they were still excuses, and so, other people got to enjoy the party. The point of Jesus’ story was to illustrate how we often miss out on God’s blessings because we become too busy for God.
We are tempted today to use similar excuses that the invited guests used in Jesus’ story. The first person missed the party, you see, because of business concerns (‘Yes God, I know I need to go to church, but I have extra work to do.’). The second person missed out because he was distracted by his possessions (‘It’s strange, we used to be involved in church, but since we bought our boat, we spend all our weekends out on the lake.’). The third person didn’t come because of family concerns (Oh, I’d like to help with the mission project, but our kids have sports practices, plus 4-H, instrument lessons, PTO meetings, Scouts, and we’re planning our next vacation!’). It’s the – but first – of a different color. It’s so easy to get involved in working extra hours, building our dream house, taking on another hobby, etc., that the things of God become a lower priority.
In all of our lives, within all of our schedules, we have to de-emphasize one area to give attention to another. Sometimes this means we may on occasion need to miss worship because of a conflict. Sometimes we may to step off a committee because of other things going on during this season of our lives. We need to say no to one thing so we can say yes to another.
This means both saying no to a church activity to say yes to a non-church activity and likewise saying no to a non-church activity to say yes to the needs of the church. How we answer the ongoing question on what to do is based on the quality of or relationship with God. We give priority to what we believe is most important. Let us neve allow church and the things of God become a low priority!
Through prayer and discernment, let us always be asking how we can serve our Savior. Prayerfully consider how we can be used by God in some way to support the needs of our church to the glory of God. Let us avoid the “But-First Syndrome,” and not miss out on God’s great blessings.
Grace and peace,