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”
In English class we were admonished by our grammar teachers to never start a sentence with a conjunction. You remember that a conjunction is a word that joins together words, phrases, or clauses. The most common conjunctions are: if and, and but. The rationale for not using a conjunction to start a sentence is that a conjunction normally functions within a sentence, and if it is starting the sentence isn’t joining anything. But, there are times when this practice can be broken. When one wishes to make special emphasis on a particular point. And, one way to do that is to start the sentence with the word but. If, this is something you want to do, the emphasis becomes the counterpoint to what was said in the previous sentence. Using the word but serves to draw attention to the counter argument or opposite idea, and in fact joins the two sentences together.
This method of writing is powerfully demonstrated in certain passages of Scripture. In one verse, the emphasis is made as to how hopeless the situation is; then in the next sentence (but) everything turns around by God's power and grace. I was thinking about this turn-around concept when I was reading Psalm 130 in preparation for the message for March 29. In verse 3, it says: "If you LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?" That's a sobering question, isn't it? The answer is resoundingly clear: no one; no one could possibly endure before God's holy standard. Our sin is too profound, and God is too holy. A great chasm separates us and God. What are we to do? Here is where the use of the word but comes in: Verse 4 continues: "But there is forgiveness with [God]..." Where in one verse, we are in the most terrible fix - but - in the next verse, everything turns around!
Another amazing couplet of verses appears in I Corinthians 15. In chapter 1, the Apostle Paul is talking about the message of the gospel. As part of that discussion, Paul takes on the issue of whether or not there is a resurrection of the dead. He uses a logical argument that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Jesus Christ Himself has not been raised. If Jesus has not been raised from the dead, then all who died with their faith in Christ have also perished. In verse 19, Paul writes: "If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied." There we are, in total despair, in a totally hopeless – can't get out of it situation - then that beautiful word "but" comes along. In verse 20, everything turns around: "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died." When all seems irreversibly lost, God steps in and turns our hopeless situation around!
That is the message of the gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ. This is what we celebrate at Easter. With Easter, we discover the joyful message that there is forgiveness with God, and that there is victory over the grave, and power to live a righteous life. The gulf between sinful humanity and holy God is bridged through the saving work of Jesus Christ. With God and through God's grace everything turns around. That my friends, is the "buts" of it!
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!