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  • "Spark Blessing" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - February 17, 2019 This Winter, on New Year’s Day, Marie Kondo released a new series on Netflix, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”  The series features Kondo arriving at the home of Americans bewildered by their belongings - their stuff. Sweeping in like a modern-day Mary Poppins, Kondo helps the families face their mountains of materialism, tossing and organizing and tidying her way through the chaos.In the show, Kondo regularly introduces her hapless Americans to her trademark question, “Does this item spark joy?”  The central practice of her method involves holding up an item - say, the Hawaiian shirt your husband got for a party with friends back in 1988 (hypothetically) - and asking, “Does this spark joy?”  Kondo wants to know if ...
    Posted Feb 18, 2019, 3:39 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Disciples of Hope" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - February 10, 2019 Years ago, one of my friends bought his first house, a small place in the suburbs, the perfect place for him and his wife to raise the child she would soon give birth to.  The house seemed a steal to them, but others would note the rundown character, the result of long neglect by the cankerous previous owner. They knew his reputation – the suburban sidewalk didn’t run down his side of the street because he had made such a ruckus in the New England town meetings, libertarian rants about stopping government encroachment on his land.  With the curmudgeon gone, neighbors welcomed my friends with great excitement, a burden lifted on the street. Soon my friend started fixing up ...
    Posted Feb 11, 2019, 12:32 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Being the Church in this Moment" by Rev. Andrew Warner - Plymouth Church UCC, January 27, 2019 Sometimes new occasions bring out new skills, hidden aspects of ourselves we didn’t know.  Certainly, that’s what happened to me as I left Israel a few weeks ago.Friends in Israel hired a taxi to pick me up after our dinner to drive me to the airport.  Many taxis charge 300-400 shekels, but this service would only ask 200 of me. So, I went to dinner with friends.  Kosher Chinese. During dinner, the driver called a few times because he had trouble finding the restaurant; then finally, he called to say he’d arrived.I went out with my friend Jody, who talked to the driver in Hebrew, confirming the ride to the airport.  I had carefully ...
    Posted Jan 28, 2019, 3:22 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "My Jerusalem Moment" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - January 20, 2019 Earlier this month I visited Israel.  I’m still reflecting on what I learned and experienced on the trip because in so many ways it touched on questions of spirituality.  Which is not surprising - one can’t go to the birthplace of three major religions and not think about spirituality.But beyond the overt spiritual moments, many mundane things about Israel struck me too.  I knew enough about Israelis and the Middle East to expect the drivers to be aggressive. But it’s one thing to expect it, and another to feel like your taxi driver wants to personally see if a camel can go through the eye of a needle.  Drivers gave no quarter when it came to the ...
    Posted Jan 23, 2019, 12:20 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Hope, Satisfyingly Unfulfilled" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - December 30, 2018 A number of years ago our congregation held a special service on the Saturday before Easter - Easter Eve.  The worship for the service reflected some of the oldest traditions in Christianity. We gathered outside of the church, around a fire burning in a wrought iron pit.  Our prayers lifted up the hope for the light of God to guide us. Then we used the fire to light the Christ Candle - the Paschal Candle - and each of us lit our own candles as well.  We brought the candles into the church. (This particular service happened in the gym.)Once inside, we read many of the great stories of God’s work in the world - at the beginning, creation; then, the promise ...
    Posted Jan 23, 2019, 12:05 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Prepare the Way" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - December 16, 2018 Those of you connected with me on social media have seen a lot of pictures this fall of my baking.  I’ve always baked a lot, but this fall I started using Instagram to share photos and then post them on Facebook.  Just this week: an eggnog cake with white chocolate ganache and a hot red high heel shoe made from vanilla flavored candy and filled with a peppermint buttercream.This fall, someone I didn’t know started to follow me on Instagram.  Flattered by the attention, I looked at his Instagram account: hoping for a fellow cook, maybe a chef even; no luck, a dentist.  So basically, he saw all these posts of surgery desserts and thought, “potential ...
    Posted Dec 24, 2018, 9:03 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Holy Hopes" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - December 9, 2018 Years ago, I adopted a rule for movies: I don’t watch films in which the gay guy dies.  I decided on this rule years ago after watching one particular movie, Yossi and Jagger, a 2002 film by Israeli director Eytan Fox about soldiers on the border with Lebanon.  Jay and I started watching it late one night, but he’s not one for subtitles after a long day at work. But somehow the subtitles had the opposite effect on me; reading also concentrated me on the visuals of the film, drew me deeper than if I only half listened to the dialogue.  So while he went to bed, I kept watching as this amazing story unfolded of these soldiers ...
    Posted Dec 24, 2018, 8:38 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Anchored in Hope" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - December 2, 2018 This morning we start a new spiritual season - Advent.  Advent anticipates the birth of Jesus. It waits for the coming of joy.  Often in our cultures and homes, Christmas overwhelms the season of Advent.  And I confess I started listening to Christmas music before I’d even bought my Thanksgiving turkey.  But this season of anticipation and waiting can teach us much about ourselves and the power of hope.While Christmas warms our heart with a baby, Advent’s sacred stories talk about more troubling ideas and issues - apocalypse and fire, an endangered teen mother running to the hills, and terrifying angels who burst onto the scene.  A thoughtful person once said: “The stories of Advent are dug from the ...
    Posted Dec 24, 2018, 8:04 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Thanksgiving Day & Native American Justice" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - November 18, 2018 On a small rise in Lake Park sits a marker; it looks like a forlorn grave stone.  And in a way it is, for it marks one of the last Indian Mounds in Milwaukee. A cultural group called the Woodland Indians lived throughout Wisconsin from about 500 BC to about 1200 AD.  They built mounds throughout the state - conical ones like in Lake Park but also ones shaped like animals or lines. Sometimes the mounds included tombs, sometimes just objects; their purpose remains elusive.Milwaukee once had numerous Indian Mounds - 200 - but now only two remain, the one in Lake Park and one more on the State Fair grounds.  White settlers to Milwaukee quickly destroyed the vast majority of ...
    Posted Nov 21, 2018, 10:33 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Joseph" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - November 11, 2018 I love the way some people have names which perfectly fit them.  The other night I went to see a gay comedian who adapts famous musicals into political commentary.  Last Spring, with President Trump visiting Kim Jong-un he drew on the Sound of Music to produce “How do you solve a problem like Korea.”  He goes by the name “Randy Rainbow.”  Could there be a more perfect name for a gay musical theater comic?  At first, I thought this must be a stage name; but no, his parents named him Randy Rainbow.  Or I think of a gifted and organized wedding planner we sometimes work with here at Plymouth, Tiara.  Yes, that’s right, when she was born the ...
    Posted Nov 21, 2018, 9:52 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
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