• Tom Emanuel

ALL THE WORLD'S A STAGE... This Week at UCC Watertown


“We must all do theatre, to find out who we are, and to discover who we could become.” --Augusto Boal, Brazilian theater practitioner & activist


In her book Hope in the Dark, Rebecca Solnit invites us to imagine history as a stage:


Imagine the world as a theater. The acts of the powerful and the official occupy center stage. The traditional versions of history, the conventional sources of news encourage us to fix our gaze on that stage… A lot of the fate of the world is decided onstage, in the limelight, and the actors there will tell you that all of it is, that there is no other place… [But] from the places that you have been instructed to ignore or rendered unable to see come the stories that change the world… You can see the baffled, upset faces of the actors on stage when the streets become a stage or the unofficial appear among them to disrupt the planned program.


This Sunday, the young people of UCC Watertown will take the stage (er, “take the chancel”?) to perform this year’s Christmas play “Everybody Is a Star!” We’ll hear again the story of Jesus’ birth, this time from the perspective of an unlikely protagonist. It’s a story that’s become so familiar, we hardly notice how strange it is. But it was, in fact, a profound disruption of the world’s “planned program.”


Jesus is born, not in Rome or Jerusalem, but in the backwater town of Bethlehem. His parents are people of little importance, a Palestinian Jew and his pregnant teenage fiancé. Jesus is born not in a palace but in a manger; his birth is not attended by kings and emperors, but by livestock and shepherds (or, in Matthew’s account, by three bizarre astrologers known as the Magi). He will go on to be murdered at the hands of the Romans, just another rabble-rouser, of no great account to the movers and shakers of the Empire. Not the kind of guy we would expect to change the course of history forever.


Yet, two millennia later, we recall Jesus’ odd and wondrous birth every year. In doing so, we wrench the limelight away from the powerful and turn it upon the oppressed, those who live offstage in the shadows, where forces more powerful than violence and domination are ever at work. Every Christmas pageant is a tacit affirmation that salvation springs forth, not from the halls of power, but from the most unexpected and subversive places.


As we laugh and sing along to this year’s Christmas play and tell yet again the strange and scandalous story of Christmas, may we remember that the drama being acted out on the world stage is not the only show in town. May we lift up the stories of those who are seldom cast in the leading roles, too often ignored and silenced. And may we wait in hope for the time when all our stories will be caught up in the Great Story.


Blessin’s, --Tom


QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: Do you enjoy live theater? What stories do you come back to year after year? What difference do the stories we tell make in how we lead our lives?


...


COMING UP


We will have our Christmas Eve candlelight “Lessons & Carols” service at 5:30 pm on Monday 12/24.


Wednesday 12/12

  • Tom at LATI community office hours 9am – 12pm

  • Wednesday Youth Church 6pm

  • UCCW  Choir 7pm

Thursday 12/13

  • Tom’s Community Office Hours, 9am-12pm @ Gather

  • Holden Evening Prayer at Trinity Episcopal Church, 6pm 

Sunday 12/16

  • Adult Bible Study, 8:45am

  • Sunday Worship 10am, Youth Christmas program, potluck meal to follow.

  • Book Study, 4pm (Fellowship Hall)

Wednesday 12/19

  • Guilds I & II, 1:30 pm

  • UCCW Choir 7pm

A new updated church directory is available, copies are on the table at the front of the church and in the church office if you would like to pick one up.

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First Congregational United Church of Christ

PO Box 111 - 121 1st Ave SE Watertown, SD 57201

605-886-6994

ucc1wtn@midco.net - Office Email

uccwatertownpastor@midco.net - Pastor's Email

Office Hours M-F 8am - Noon

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