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  • "Back Here, Again?" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - August 20, 2017 Last Saturday, as my family wound up our vacation in Spain, we decided to go hiking.  We try to get out hiking wherever we go.  And this last weekend, in the Sierra Nevada's, the compelling landscape of rugged mountains called to us.Without a car, though, getting to a trail-head can be complicated.  We took a taxi out to a small hill town called Cartajima - a village no bigger than our congregation.  The driver dropped us off at the bar, the only one.  In Spanglish he made sure we knew the bar was closed.  I think he doubted our plan to hike over the mountain.  But the map made clear the trail only took about three hours ...
    Posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:07 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "The Kingdom of God is Like?" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - July 30, 2017 The meals at my favorite restaurant begin with an amuse bouche, some special, small course meant to amuse the palate.  I’m always amazed at how small the chef can make these bites.  Tiny slices, just bits of food, yet packed with flavor, in combinations I’d never imagine; some small strange thing, like pickled sesame seeds on smoked quail tongue garnished with saffron-infused dust.I try to make these things at home.  But I find it hard to cut my vegetables small enough.  Chopped. Diced.  Minced.  What is the knife cut smaller than minced?  Atomized?Well this Sunday we get Jesus’ verbal equivalent of amuse bouche: finely cut, flavor packed parables.  One might wonder if Matthew, having ...
    Posted Jul 31, 2017, 1:07 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Wheat and Tares (or “Weed Sunday”)" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - July 23, 2017 Recently Crystal, in our church office, started posting on Facebook teasers about the focus of our upcoming worship services. This week she made a graphic about the parable of the wheat and weeds. I’ve always thought of this parable by the older title, “the wheat and the tares.” But I like this new name, “the wheat and the weeds.” As I saw it on Facebook, I began to think about how we might market it even better. What if we advertised, “Weed Sunday?”I do want to get into the weeds this Sunday. And to listen for what Jesus meant spiritually by his odd advice to “Let the wheat and the weeds grow together.”A deeper understanding of ...
    Posted Jul 25, 2017, 8:04 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Parable of the Sower" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - July 16, 2017 Over the last few weeks I walked my dog Duchess past a neighbor’s house, mostly to watch the progress of his garden.  My neighbor, who I only know well enough to nod at, is fixing up the house he recently bought. Fresh paint transformed it. But the work on the garden confuses me.My neighbor planted an ambitious number of shrubs and flowers.  But he didn’t make flower beds. No turning over the grass, laboriously knocking clods of dirt loose from clumps of grass. Instead, he just dug in a flower bed edge and dumped choco-shell mulch over the grass.It looks good for the moment, but I keep thinking the grass is going to pop ...
    Posted Jul 19, 2017, 2:18 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "A River Makes Glad the City of God" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - July 9, 2017 Last week I attended the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the bi-annual national gathering of our Christian movement.  Delegates and visitors came from around the country to listen to inspiring speakers like the Rev. William Barber, who is starting a new Poor People’s Campaign; to elect our national leaders like the Rev. Traci Blackmon, who was confirmed as our leader on issues of justice and transformation; and to pass resolutions expressing the witness and shaping the future of our movement.  This year I went as a visitor, which meant that I had more time to do what I like best at General Synod: catching up with friends from around the country.  All these things ...
    Posted Jul 10, 2017, 12:34 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Loving v. Bigotry" by Andrew Warner, June 11, 2017 Names can be such a funny thing; and sometimes a person turns out to be perfectly named for the controversy they cause.  We saw it earlier this month when the FBI arrested an NSA contractor for leaking sensitive information: Reality Winner.  There could be no more perfect name for someone who leaks information.  Especially since she leaked information about Russian interference to help a reality TV star become the winner. But lots of people have perfect names for their situations.  Who will lead Britain?  Teresa May?  Or as Jeremy Corbyn proved, Theresa May Not.  And one of the top picks for college football is a kicker named Chance Poore.  How do fans even root for Chance Poore?  Pittsburgh also ...
    Posted Jun 12, 2017, 8:18 PM by Andrew Warner
  • "Great Balls of Fire" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - June 4, 2017 This week, as I thought about Pentecost, I couldn’t get the old Jerry Lee Lewis song out of my head: You shake my nerves and you rattle my brainToo much love drives a man insaneYou broke my will, but what a thrillGoodness gracious great balls of fire Lewis wrote the song with romantic love in mind.  But the words also speak to the disruptive, overwhelming, life-altering experience of God’s spirit.  Certainly, the first disciples experienced the Holy Spirit as a force which shook their nerves and rattled their brains. But, if I’m honest, I can’t separate this song from the movie Top Gun, the eighties classic about Tom Cruise as an ...
    Posted Jun 5, 2017, 2:07 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Nothing Can Separate Us" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church - May 21, 2017 Recently I started thinking about doing one of those DNA tests which help you explore your ancestry.  But as soon as I started thinking about it, I heard stories of people surprised by the results.  Like the friend who thought of himself as Italian but found out he hadn’t inherited any of the Italian DNA from the family tree. The case of a cop in Michigan surprised me even more.  The cop, about my age, grew up thinking of himself as a white man with some Native American ancestry.  His father didn’t share much about his ancestors, only to say some of them belonged to the Blackfoot Tribe. Some people thought his name - Cleon - sounded black, but ...
    Posted May 31, 2017, 1:36 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "True Freedom" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - May 14, 2017 Too often we approach the Bible with such reverence - “God’s holy book” - that we miss how deeply the struggles of people in the Bible match our own.  The story may be two thousand years old; but we face the same dilemmas.  Just think about this story: it began with a girl ensnared in human trafficking who longed to be free; it concerned some outside agitators who arrived speaking about justice and got arrested by the authorities for disturbing the peace; and then it moved to a prison, where Paul couldn’t sleep and where a jailer attempted suicide.  I want to read this story of Paul in Philippi very closely because it's such a modern story.  We know ...
    Posted May 19, 2017, 12:39 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - April 23, 2017 If the first disciples listened to punk rock music, then they might have sung to themselves the hit Green Day song, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams.”  I can just see them singing, sorrowful after the death of Jesus: I walk this empty streetOn the Boulevard of Broken DreamsWhere the city sleepsAnd I'm the only one and I walk aloneGreen Day’s song comes as part of a trilogy on their album “American Idiot.”  Throughout the album, the main character is “Jesus of Suburbia.”  Earlier the album booms with the energy of Jesus being in the City through the song “Holiday.”  That song included the great chorus, I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies ...
    Posted Apr 24, 2017, 10:36 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
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