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  • “On Martin Luther King’s Insight on Love” by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - January 14, 2018 I remember when my school system began observing Martin Luther King Day.  In Virginia, where I grew up, the state had long celebrated “Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson Day” in January.  Virginia legislators decided to merge the two holidays together, giving us “Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Martin Luther King Day.”  Need I say, this made for a confusing school assembly.In the Virginia of my youth and elsewhere people struggled with how to remember and honor Martin Luther King.  We might take guidance from the remarks of President Ronald Reagan when he signed legislation creating Martin Luther King Day as a national holiday.  Reagan had long opposed the holiday, but he decided to support it once the ...
    Posted Jan 16, 2018, 2:18 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Reflected Light" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - Christmas Eve - December 24, 2017 I treasure the Christmas Eve Vigil because of the ritual that comes next: singing “Silent Night” as we each light our candles in a darkened sanctuary.  We stand there, the glow of a hundred candles dance across our faces; a moment of profound beauty.Silent nightHoly nightSon of GodOh love's pure lightAt the ordination of Josh Simon a few weeks ago, the preacher commented on that sacred moment.  She said preachers and choirs - who face the congregation at the candlelight vigils - have the best view of the service.  And it’s true: seeing the congregation lit this way is stunning.Her comment prompted me to think about why this moment stands out as enchanting.  Why ...
    Posted Jan 5, 2018, 8:31 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "A Word of Prayer: Prophetic Perfect" by Rev. Andrew Warner - December 24, 2017 Sometimes as a preacher I’m asked to offer “a word of prayer.”  I find that phrase so interesting: the invitation not just to pray but to give a word of prayer.  Where did this phrase come from?  Do people ask preachers to give a word of prayer, because preachers have a reputation for being long winded?  For using a thousand words when one would do?  As if the request for prayer comes with the plea, “please, preacher, just one word.” I’m thinking of words this week for many reasons.  We’ll gather tonight to hear the famous opening lines of the Gospel of John, “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and ...
    Posted Jan 3, 2018, 9:50 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Joy is our True Home" by Christine Wilke, Plymouth Church UCC - December 17, 2017 I want to begin by telling you the story behind today’s sermon. Shortly after I accepted Andrew’s offer to preach today I started thinking about what to preach. But at the time I was in the midst of filling in for a colleague who was out of town so I didn’t give it too much thought because I was preparing those sermons. Yet on the overnight between Friday, December 8 and Saturday December 9, I woke up in the middle of the night from a really sound, peaceful, relaxing, non-dreaming, sleep with an idea. It came to me more like an image, so maybe it was a vision from the Holy Spirit. Or maybe it was ...
    Posted Jan 3, 2018, 9:25 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • “Buttercream Bigotry and the Spirituality of Advent” by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - December 10, 2017 Earlier this week the Supreme Court heard arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop vs. the Colorado Civil Rights Commission.  In the case, baker Jack Phillips refused to make a cake for the same-sex wedding reception of Charlie Craig and David Mullins.  Phillips claimed baking a cake for gay people violated his rights: the cakes were protected free speech which could not be compelled.  He claimed the freedom of buttercream bigotry.   Lively discussion ensued in the court about what exactly counted as protected artistic expression and what did not.  Phillip’s lawyer held firm to the idea that baked goods were a form of speech.  Justice Elena Kagan pressed the lawyer to find out what other creative professionals ...
    Posted Jan 3, 2018, 10:00 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Finding our North Star on Immigration" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - December 3, 2017 This past Friday I gathered with teens from our congregation and other UCC churches for a retreat called “What Star Is This?”  After some games at the church, we went over to the UWM Planetarium for a show.  Dr. Jean Creighton, the director, spoke to our youth about the stars we can hardly see because of the city lights.  The planetarium ceiling came alive with thousands of stars we can’t normally see.  Of course, the stars always shine in the sky; we just can’t see them.  Dr. Creighton helped reveal what was already there, present throughout our lives, but often hidden from our view: a sky of stars.  Which seems to be an apt description of spirituality ...
    Posted Dec 12, 2017, 8:06 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Christ the King" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - November 26, 2017 I’ve come to realize that my dog Duchess isn’t a Christian.  No, instead, Duchess worships the waffle iron.Every Sunday morning Jay makes waffles for the boys.  Duchess learned early on that Jay makes too many waffles.  Actually, as a precise engineer, he makes exactly one and a half extra.  When everyone eats their waffles, there’s always a half left on someone’s plate.  She gets that one before church.But the whole waffle gets left on the waffle iron.  I don’t think she can see the waffle, but she smells it, right there, temptingly close, just out of reach.  And so she sits in the kitchen, a respectful distance from the counter, in the middle ...
    Posted Dec 12, 2017, 8:04 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Others Praise God" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - November 19, 2017 I’ve noticed a shift in how strangers react to my family.  And it happened in ways I didn’t expect.  When our boys were little, Jay and I easily stood out as gay dads.  We didn’t need to say anything.  Just showing up, one of us carrying a kid and the other toting a diaper bag announced to the world: “Gay Family.”Sometimes being a gay family led to unexpected benefits.  This especially happened when flying.  Years ago, back when Midwest Express baked cookies on flights, we couldn’t get off the plane without flight attendants sending us home with extra cookies.  And Disney World; we took the boys there, two dads with their two sons, in an ...
    Posted Nov 20, 2017, 12:24 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Cloud of Witnesses" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - November 5, 2017 On All Saints Sunday we celebrate the truth proclaimed in the Letter to the Hebrews.  “For we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.”But this Sunday, amid ever new revelations of sexual harassment and abuse of power, it seems like we are surrounded by a great cloud of creeps.  Harvey Weinstein seemed a cliche of Hollywood misbehavior, but former President George H. W. Bush and the chief of the NPR newsroom?I took special note of the accusations against Kevin Spacey, the lead actor in House of Cards.  People long rumored about Spacey’s sexuality but he always demurred when asked if he was gay.  Then another actor came forward with a story of Spacey assaulting him ...
    Posted Nov 8, 2017, 4:37 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Reformation 500th" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - October 29, 2017 Recently the New York Times reported on something many of us see in youth we know: the rising rates of anxiety.  It affects people like Jake, one of the teenagers the Times interviewed.  Jake’s anxiety hit him in his junior year.  As a bright student, high school involved three AP classes, competing athletically, and traveling with his model UN club.  It seemed like a lot, but “he’d never really failed at anything.”  And yet fear of failing ate at him, at first motivating him to push himself and then immobilizing him with stomach pains, headaches, and a crippling fear.  His mother described it, “[he] ran 150 miles per hour into a brick wall.”  The Times article went ...
    Posted Oct 30, 2017, 1:09 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
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