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 November Message...
“And Give Thanks”
I was looking under the topic of thanksgiving in the back of a study Bible a few years ago and I saw this three word sentence: “And give thanks.” It was a reference to Colossians 3:15. I found this short sentence intriguing: What was it in reference to? What comes before it? What is going on in this verse? The sentence is the last part of a longer verse. Reading the entire verse, I discovered that the first part of the verse talks about how we should cultivate the peace that Jesus Christ provides in our hearts and minds. It’s interesting, isn’t it, that having peace of mind comes along with giving thanks?
Reading further of what comes before and after this verse, some more interesting things emerge. Prior to v. 15, the Apostle Paul wrote that we need to rid our lives of evil and ungodly habits and passions, encouraging us to “put off the old self” and to “put on the new self” (vv. 9 & 10) as we increasingly trust in God’s grace. In place of our old ungodly habits, we are encouraged to cultivate God-pleasing habits, such as kindness, humility and a forgiving spirit. Most importantly, Paul wrote, “put on love, which binds everything together” (v. 14). Following the verse that reminds us to be thankful, we are encouraged to be learning in the Scriptures and to be in worship together with thankful hearts (v. 16). The passage ends by once again reminding us to “give thanks to God” (v. 17). There seems to be a theme here! Everything we do as God’s people should be infused with a spirit of thankfulness.
Life often throws us problems, giving us many reasons to worry. This year seems to be working overtime to send us problems to worry about! When things go wrong, it’s tempting to fuss, complain and rant. Though it may feel good initially, doing these things ultimately do not help us with our problems. Often when we focus on our problems, we lose touch with the good things in our lives. This passage in Colossians 3, as well as in other places in the Bible, teaches us to live our lives within a continual sense of thankfulness.
Though God doesn’t expect us to be thankful for problems and tragedies, we are encouraged to give thanks for the blessings that we do have. Got a problem? Work on solving it, apply God’s grace – and give thanks. Worried about something? Seek a solution, follow God’s instructions – and give thanks. Feeling overwhelmed? Look to God, trust in God’s leading – and give thanks! When we live in thankfulness to God, our focus turns away from our problems and toward the One who is able to handle our difficulties. When we give thanks, we experience the peace that only God can provide. This month, we celebrate a holiday that we designate for giving thanks. This is well and good, but it implies that we only need to pause to be thankful – in between the light and dark meat, and the football game – once a year. What we see in Scripture instead is that we need to cultivate a lifestyle of giving thanks – all through the year. Let’s go beyond a one-month observance and instead grow habits of thankfulness that are part of our everyday habits throughout the year.
As you enjoy your Thanksgiving Day observance, take a long look at the good things in your life. Also, whatever you are dealing with these days, face it with God’s peace – and give thanks.
*For the whole passage where this verse is located, read: Colossians 3:1-17
Grace and peace, Pastor David