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  • "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
  • "Two Men Who Were Blind" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - March 26, 2017 Every year the kindergarten children at the Milestones Daycare in our building open an art gallery.  Heidi, the lead teacher, shares famous art work with the children.  And then they make their own versions of the paintings.  The halls outside their classroom - the same hallway as the choir room - are filled with their work.  I particularly like the works inspired by a Pablo Picasso’s “Blue Period.”  The children make paintings of their own blue moments and then narrate explanations.  Sophie painted her blue mood and added the caption, “One time Lani pulled my hair so hard it come out a bit.”  Zora’s noted, “Me and my brother get in fights and call each other names - potty names.  Then ...
    Posted Mar 31, 2017, 8:29 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Wee Little Big Man" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - March 19, 2017 Zacchaeus was a wee little man.  Many of us, even if we know nothing much of the Bible, can connect Zacchaeus with that familiar ditty; we know about the wee little man.  The song helps us remember the basic outlines of the story: Zacchaeus, the little man, couldn’t see Jesus, so he ran ahead, climbed a sycamore tree, and got called out by Jesus who planned to stay at his house.This morning I want to think with you about this story but to ask a different set of questions then we normally pose.  And I want to do so because I wonder about this story.  Why did the crowd ridicule Zacchaeus as a wee little man?  What did ...
    Posted Mar 20, 2017, 3:57 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Temptations or Distractions?" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - March 5, 2017 We begin the season of Lent every year with the same stories: Adam and Eve succumbing to temptation in the Garden and Jesus resisting temptation in the desert.  These stories frame the whole season, a time of introspection and reflection as we prepare for Holy Week, the death and resurrection of Jesus.  Our Christian tradition, in beginning the season with these stories, wants us to look at the role of temptation in our own lives.  The message: repent of your temptations so you can be ready when Jesus comes.  And yet, I’ve come to wonder, is temptation the best way to understand our spiritual struggles in life?  Is temptation the problem?After Fat Tuesday, I might say temptation is ...
    Posted Mar 13, 2017, 10:01 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Facing the Ugliness of Hate with Salt and Light" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - February 19, 2017 On Friday, as I mentioned in our weekly email, Crystal and I hung new signs outside the church, “Jesus Didn’t Reject People. Neither Do We.”  The slogan comes from our Christian movement, the United Church of Christ, as an expression of our commitment to inclusion.  We felt good about the message we hung up.  A neighbor walked by and said how much she longed to see such signs everywhere.  It seemed as if earth itself, on that beautiful Friday, shared our sense of joyful purpose.  Afterwards, back in the office, Crystal played a voicemail message that came in while we were outside.  A hateful message.  I debated whether or not to share it this morning. But as I ...
    Posted Feb 21, 2017, 7:48 AM by Andrew Warner
  • "Into the Lions' Den" The Gospel of Double Consciousness by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church - February 12, 2017 Recently I turned back to one of my old books.  David had a project for school and it led me to pick up W.E.B. duBois’ The Souls of Black Folks.  In that book, written over a century ago, duBois described a “double consciousness.”  duBois’ phrase spoke to the way he experienced the world both as an American and as someone who felt oppressed by America; a double conscious born of living as a racial other in a country dominated by whites.He powerfully described this sensation of doubleness when he said: One ever feels his twoness, -- an American, a Negro; Two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; Two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength ...
    Posted Feb 13, 2017, 12:12 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "This Is My Body" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - February 5, 2017 A few months ago a friend and I talked about the ethics of abortion and reproductive freedom.  And as we talked, he pressed me, “Where in the Bible do you find support for the pro-choice position?”  The question came from a sincere place, a real desire to know.And the question made me think.  I realized that in twenty years as your pastor, I have not talked about the spiritual or theological reasons I’ve come to be pro-choice.  And so this morning I want to think with you about our faith and what it teaches about moral questions like reproductive choice.At the beginning I want to say that abortion - like questions about homosexuality and racism and ...
    Posted Feb 6, 2017, 10:49 AM by Andrew Warner
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