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  • Writer's pictureTom Emanuel

SACRED MUSIC... This Week at UCC Watertown

“God gave us music, that we might pray without words." (from an inscription on a German opera house)

At the Fall Meeting of the Prairie Lakes Association of the South Dakota UCC this past weekend, I worried that I was hearing things. During the middle of Communion, I swore I could make out Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” playing in the background! The pastor of Plymouth UCC in Aberdeen rushed to assure us that, no, we were not having auditory hallucinations. (Phew!) The church sound system just picked up a local radio station sometimes, injecting a little pop-rock into the sermon on occasion.

Thanks to my parents, I grew up on the rock music of the 60s and 70s. And I must admit, even as an adult who spends a lot of time in church, the music of a band like the Beatles is much more spiritually significant to me than most hymns! “Let It Be” has become a modern spiritual, but “Hey Jude” offers just as much hope and grace in the face of difficulty. “In My Life” is a perfect song for weddings and funerals alike, and I’ve always thought “Here Comes the Sun” would make a great Easter anthem. Then there’s “The End,” with its credo-like couplet: “In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Like the classic hymns for many of us, these songs are down deep in my bones. I don’t have them memorized so much as they’ve become a part of me. And they blur for me the distinction between sacred and secular music.

What makes a song “sacred”? The fact that it talks about God? I know plenty of songs that a) are all about God and Jesus and faith and b) do exactly zero for me spiritually. On the other hand, many “non-religious” songs give me faith in Hope and Joy and Light and Love, even in this world wounded by sexism and racism, exploitation and injustice, violence and cruelty, hatred and apathy. And that’s sacred music, as far as I’m concerned, no matter who’s making it – or whether it mentions God by name.

Blessin's, --Tom

QUESTIONS FOR THE WEEK: Do you have a favorite hymn? How about a favorite “secular” song? What role does music play in your spiritual life? How can music be an instrument of peace in a conflicted world?



Wednesday 10/17

• Guilds I & II will meet in the Fellowship Hall at 1:30 pm, Pastor Tom will lead us in a bible study entitled "Praying with Poetry." Bring a favorite poem to share! 

• Wednesday Youth Church, 6pm

• UCCW  Choir, 7pm

Thursday 10/18

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

Sunday 10/21

• Adult Bible Study, 8:45am

• Sunday Worship 10am

• Book Study 4pm, (Fellowship Hall)

Tuesday 10/23

• Newsletter deadline, please submit your reports, news items, messages or anything you would like to share.

Wednesday 10/24

• Wednesday Youth Church, 6pm

• UCCW Choir, 7pm

Friday 10/26

• Pastor Tom’s Installation Service, 5pm at the church with a dinner to follow. Music by Bruce Reinhardt. Official Prairie Lakes Association representative, Rev. Marjie Brewton.  Carmen Pacheco, friend and colleague of Pastor Tom, will preach.

Sunday 10/28

• All Hallows Sunday, children and adults are invited to come in costume!

Wednesday 10/31

• No Wednesday Youth Church

On November 4, Communion Sunday, we will honor those of our fellowship who have died during the past year by reading their names and lighting a candle in their memory.

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