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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

GOOD BOOKS... This Week at UCC Watertown

Vincent Van Gogh, "Still Life with Bible" (1885)

“I take the Bible too seriously to take it literally.” --Madeleine L’Engle

In our Gospel reading this week, Jesus asks Peter a question that Christians have been struggling to answer for centuries:

Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” And they answered him, “John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.” (Mark 8:27-30)

According to a 2007 survey there are as many as 33,000 different denominations of Christianity in the world today. That means there are at least 33,000 different answers to Jesus’ question, “Who do you say that I am?” I would argue the answer is closer to 2.42 billion, the number of Christians in the world. No, actually, it’s more like 7.44 billion, the number of people in the world. Christianity is so huge, and has played such a huge role in world history, that even non-Christians have to answer that question one way or another.

I would say the same about the Bible: “What do you say that the Bible is?” Is it the inerrant Word of God? An inspired but imperfect compilation of ancient stories? Sacred Scripture? A fairytale, interesting for children but not much else? An irrelevant relic of a bygone age? A weapon of the patriarchy? A handbook for liberation? At its most basic the Bible is a library of sorts, a compendium of ancient writings from different periods and genres; but even the number of books in the Bible differs by denomination and tradition.

“What do you say that the Bible is?” How we answer that question matters. It will determine whether we will reject science as incompatible with Biblical principles or look to the natural world as another theater of revelation; whether we will shun our LGBTQ neighbors as sinners or welcome them as brothers, sisters, siblings in Christ; whether we will exclude those who don’t believe the way we do or reach out in peace to those who think and live differently. You can use Romans 13 to counsel submission to the law of the land, or you can use it to resist policies that don’t conform to the Law of Love – it’s all about how you choose to interpret this pesky, powerful book.

Starting Sunday 9/16 at 4pm we kick off our study group on Rachel Held Evans’ newest book Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, & Loving the Bible Again(2018), reading the Introduction and Chapter 1. Evans, an ex-Evangelical who now finds a home in the Episcopal Church and one of the country’s most beloved Christian bloggers and commentators, invites us through poetry, prose, humor, and humility to consider that question anew: “What do you say that the Bible is?”

We hope you’ll join the conversation!

Blessin’s, --Tom

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: Who is Jesus to you? How about the Bible? How do your answers to those question impact your day-to-day life?


Helping with the Worship service on Sept. 16:

Ushers: Jim Clendenin, Jo Gardner, Frank and Pat Kitterman

Greeters:  all members are encouraged to join in visiting and greeting one another and sharing in a cup of coffee in the narthex prior to the service.

Coffee: Guild IV

Scripture Reader: Amber Nogelmeier

This week's Reflection: "Your Personal Jesus"

Wednesday 9/12

· Wednesday Church, 6pm (dinner followed by worship and classes for kids)

· UCCW Choir, 7pm

Thursday 9/13

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

Sunday 9/16

· Worship, 10am

· Special Meeting to vote on by-laws changes, 11am

· Church Council meeting, 11:30am

· Bible Study, 4pm (Tom’s Office)  I going forward

Monday 9/17

· Fermenting Faith: 7pm on, Dakota Butcher Beans n' Brew (1933 Willow Creek Dr.).

Wednesday 9/19

· Community Office Hours will take place Wednesday 9/19 instead of Thursday 9/20, as Tom will be attending a meeting of the Prairie Lakes Association of the UCC in Redfield on Thursday.

· Guilds I & II At 1:30pm Pastor Tom will lead us in Bible study titled “Scrappy Women in the Gospel of Mark”.  If that sounds interesting to you, join us, we welcome everyone. We also have coffee and treats.

Friday 9/21

· Prophetic Imagination Conference: Pastor Tom will be out of the office today, 9/21 attending the "Prophetic Imagination 2018" conference at Plymouth Congregational UCC in Minneapolis.

Monday 9/24

· Deadline for reports, messages, or news items for the newsletter

College Students who want to apply for the Betty Erling Scholarship here is the URL link,  It is a Google Form.  Applications are due by the end of September.  

It is a $500 scholarship which is renewable up to 4 years

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