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  • "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
  • "Re-accommodated vs Resurrected" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - April 16, 2017 Earlier this week, a full flight prepared to depart from Chicago to Louisville.  But United Airlines realized it had a problem: four of its own employees needed seats in order to get to their jobs.  First the airline tried to get volunteers; then, when that didn’t work, the airline chose to remove four passengers.  The airline didn’t take anyone from First Class nor from its other premier seats.  It forced people out of their seats from the back of the plane.  An Asian-American man named Dr. David Dao refused to give up his seat.   United called in the police.  And from there the situation got bizarre, with phrasing only George Orwell could write. Police observed Dr. Dao ...
    Posted Apr 18, 2017, 8:21 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "What Did You Expect? Reflections on White Jesus" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - April 9, 2017 I always wondered how to capture the meaning and energy of Jesus’ triumphal entrance into Jerusalem.  How does one tap into the excitement of a protest?  Make sense of purpose?  Capitalize on the uplift?  Well I certainly learned how not to do it.  This week Pepsi launched an ad featuring Kendall Jenner.  It opened with a young, vibrant, multicultural throng of protesters marching down the street carrying signs - Unity, Love, Join the Conversation.  Jenner, in the midst of a photo shoot, stopped what she was doing and jumped into the protest.  A few nods, winks, and fist bumps later, and Jenner led the march up to a line of police officers.  Mimicking a classic image from a Black Lives Matter ...
    Posted Apr 12, 2017, 4:59 PM by Andrew Warner
  • "Cleansing the Temple" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - April 2, 2017 I trust you made the connection between our scripture reading and the decoration of the communion table.  Not as dramatic as what Jesus did in the Temple, but still a jarring image of our status quo turned upside down.  And, if we wanted to summarize Jesus in the Temple then that might be it: turning the status quo upside down.This is one of the familiar stories of our Christian imagination.  We can’t have a bake sale in the church without at least one person reminding me of the “money changers in the temple.”  And yet: we hardly ever read it.  The story never appears on the lectionary for a Sunday.  And even less: we hardly ever press from ...
    Posted Apr 3, 2017, 2:50 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
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