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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

BIG SKY FAITH... This Week at UCC Watertown

“But what is there to see? The answer, of course, is nothing. Land, sky, and the ever-changing light.” --Kathleen Norris (from Dakota: A Spiritual Biography)

Since moving to Watertown, I have spent a lot of time tooling up and down country roads. Sometimes I’m questing after a remote state park; sometimes I’m just enjoying the scenic route. Isn’t it amazing how different our corner of the state looks when seen from Highway 81, as compared to I-29? A road that follows the contours of the land makes all the difference in the world.

I grew up in the Black Hills, and despite living for six years in Vermillion, the plains still have a whiff of unfamiliarity to me. Like writer Kathleen Norris, who moved from the East Coast to the tiny town of Lemmon, SD, I have had to acclimate to their austere grandeur. It’s been well worth it though.

The poem below, which I wrote in 2016 in Faith, SD, captures for me some of the open-skied wonder of the Plains. In it, I don’t mean to erase the Native peoples who lived on this land long before European settlers arrived. But I’ve always wondered what it must have been like for people used to the crowds of Europe to wander through such a vast, unfamiliar prairie.

This week, as we come up on Native American Day, I pray that we might remember and honor the Lakota and Dakota peoples who were here before Europeans, and whose descendants are still here. I also pray that all of us, non-Native as well as Native, might see our prairie home as a land of sky and ever-changing light, a place of stark and startling beauty, worthy of our love and protection.

Blessin’s, --Tom

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: What landscapes do you find especially holy or awe-inspiring? Why is cultivating a spiritual connection to the earth important?


which is what you would need if you had come here in long years before internal combustion and Homestead Act a pilgrim propelled by sweat tears and apostolic conviction under covenant skies,

what you’d need to draw your line in this prairie sand and dare drought and blight and frost and fear to move you from your promised place at the very Middle of Nowhere,

what you’d need to fashion a world so huge and vulnerable and trust that your Creation would not perish but put down root to withstand wind and hail and disappointment recurring with each season’s turning,

trusting nowhere is godforsaken and especially not this Where for how could God ever forsake a Where so wide so dangerous so possible,

a Where so very like Herself?


Poem © 2016 by Tom Emanuel



This week's Reflection: "God’s Plan A" (Genesis 2:18-24)

Tuesday 10/2 - Saturday 10/6

· Pastor Tom will be out of the office

Wednesday 10/3 

· Women’s Fellowship leadership group, 12:30pm

· Women’s Fellowship will meet at 1:30pm. Jan Goldhorn will speak about the Rotary program she  participated in giving polio immunizations to children in India.”

· UCCW  Choir, 7pm

Sunday 10/7

· Adult Bible Study, 8:45am

· Communion Sunday Worship 10am, Neighbors in Need offering

· Book Study 4pm, (Tom’s Office)

Tuesday 10/9

· A group will be working in the kitchen Tuesday, Oct. 9 (Chop Day) preparing soup ingredients. We will start at 9 AM, if you can help please join us

Thursday 10/11

· Pilgrim Fair 9am – 1 pm, don’t forget your baked goods, cookies, pies, bars, etc.   We need 165 doz. cookies for the fair.

· Everyone is invited to an Open House from 3:00-6:00pm at Brent Zemlicka’s new swine feeding facility.  To get to the new barn go north on old Highway 81 to 160th Street and go east (Right) for 1-1/2 miles.  It is about 10 miles north of Watertown.  Lunch will be served.

Saturday 10/13

· Canvases for Christ, 1 pm, fellowship hall

Sunday 10/14

· Church Council Meeting following church service

· Prairie Lakes Assoc., Aberdeen, SD, 2:30pm, registration, supper meal $8.00.

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