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  • "Practicing Extravagant Generosity" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - October 14, 2018 A few years ago, I pulled up to a parking space.  The car in front of me had a vanity plate - the one in your bulletin - “WE TITHE.”  Honestly, my first thought was, “What, HUMBLE wasn’t available?” (Actually, I checked this week; and indeed, someone has the vanity plate “HUMBLE”.)And then, as I thought about my reaction, I realized it said a lot about our cultural attitudes about money.  Talking about money can be hard; and yet it’s what Jesus talked about the most. My first reaction to the vanity plate showed a common one: to project a boast, an unseemly pridefulness onto the owner of the car.  And that’s how we can often respond to ...
    Posted Oct 17, 2018, 1:22 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "St. Francis’ Lessons in Changing Lives" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - September 30, 2018 I always try to ask family members before telling stories about them.  Lucky for me, Duchess will agree to anything if she gets a treat. We love Duchess, our red lab.  But early on we realized Duchess didn’t care for water.  She’d freeze; legs locked, when we got close to water. She doesn’t even like a bath.  And if it’s raining outside, she’ll skip a walk rather than get wet. Serves us right for naming her after royalty; she’s a bit precious.I’d long given up hope she’d learn to swim.  But one day a friend suggested we walk our dogs; and as his loved to swim, we wandered down to the ...
    Posted Oct 1, 2018, 7:16 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "A Sound Spirituality" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - September 16, 2018 This past Spring, Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco made news with its Beyoncé Mass.  The cathedral used several of Beyoncé’s songs - such as “Freedom” and “I was here” - along with readings from the Gospels and Psalms to explore female-centered interpretations of scripture.  One of the organizers explained the spiritual import one of the Beyoncé’s songs. “We used ‘Flaws and All,’ a song maybe Beyoncé wrote for her fans or for Jay-Z.  But if you listen to the words in an ecclesiastical context, it’s a very faithful, honest, raw acknowledgment of the imperfect relationship we have with God.”  And of course, from clips on YouTube, it appeared to be very fun. About 900 people ...
    Posted Sep 17, 2018, 1:54 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Acts 25: Church and State" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC, September 9, 2018 Every February, politicians, lobbyists, and a few religious leaders come together in Washington for the National Prayer Breakfast.  The New York Times refers to the breakfast as “similar to the World Economic Forum, except that Jesus is the organizing principle.”  The prayer breakfast this last winter garnered more attention than most when it came to light that Maria Butina, the accused Russian spy, used the event as part of her recruitment of top government contacts (giving new meaning to the search for a Higher Power).  But even without Butina, we’d want to question this event and the ways in which Church and State interact in America today.Two moments this summer reminded me of the importance and disagreement ...
    Posted Sep 10, 2018, 11:33 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Acts 20: Leadership" by Rev. Andrew Warner - Plymouth Church UCC, September 2, 2018 Growing up, I spent much of my time in the Boy Scouts.  And at every stage I heard the motto, “Be Prepared.” So, I learned to have my emergency kit to start a fire whenever I went camping; to know how to turn clothes into an emergency floatation device.I thought of that motto when, over the weekend, Dakota texted that he wouldn’t make church today.  I was not prepared. And I heard the advice of my preaching mentor come back to me: always have two sermons ready, one in your back pocket and one on your heart.  Jay knows this too; so when he heard I was going to preach today, he wanted to know which sermon ...
    Posted Sep 10, 2018, 11:31 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Koinonia" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - June 3, 2018 Earlier this week something in the news caught my attention; no, not Roseanne Barr. The National Spelling Bee took place in Maryland, with hundreds of youth competing for the trophy of top speller. 14-year old Karthik Nemmani of McKinney, Texas, won the honors; but all the youth amazed me. As much as I like to read, they spelled words I didn’t even know.At the penultimate moment, a previous winner misspelled Bewusstseinslage. I had to look that one up; a loan word from German that means a state of consciousness lacking in sensory awareness. To use it in a sentence, “She claimed Ambien caused her Bewusstseinslage.”But other words were as difficult, like glossodynia, a “burning sensation ...
    Posted Jun 4, 2018, 1:49 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Joy and the Trinity" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - May 27, 2018 A while ago, I was talking with a friend about the work of our congregation to address white privilege and to work for racial equity and immigration rights.  The friend I talked with is white; and as we talked, her face became clouded, until she said, “I just find it so depressing to talk about this.” It made her feel ashamed to talk about issues of oppression and discrimination.  She wanted to talk about happier topics. “Why can’t people just be happy?” she wanted to know.The conversation stuck in my mind.  First, I know many people struggle with this sense that talking about white privilege is demoralizing.  But I also realize that these conversations and the work for ...
    Posted May 29, 2018, 11:15 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Listening, the Spirit’s Gift" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - May 20, 2018 I don’t do much on Twitter; but a few years ago I had set up an account.  And though I don’t follow many people and have even fewer followers, I did somehow end up getting notifications during the last presidential election from the Tennessee GOP.  @TenGop tweeted articles that pressed all my partisan buttons; aggravating tweets I completely disagreed with. And these tweets just hardened my heart against the GOP and made me feel like I had nothing in common with those across the aisle.Eventually I figured out how to clear @TenGop from my twitter notifications.  And I didn’t think about it again, until this winter when the Mueller investigation revealed @TenGop to be one of ...
    Posted May 22, 2018, 7:48 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Why I Support Immigrant Rights" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - May 6, 2018 I’m wondering: has anyone here visited the house where Anne Frank tried to hide from the Nazis? And how many more have read her diary? Thanks; but even if we haven’t seen her house or read her journal, almost all of us know the basics of her story. Anne Frank’s family sought refuge from the rising violence in Germany. They fled to Holland and were safe for a while; but when the fascists invaded, they hid in the attic of a house, the secret annex. But after two years in secret, they were discovered and sent to concentration camps, where Anne Frank and most of her family died.In recent years new information about Anne Frank’s ...
    Posted May 9, 2018, 1:44 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Watching Your Language: On Love" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - April 29, 2018 A writer I like once said, “theologians are people who watch their language in the presence of God.”  Normally people think of “watching their language” as avoiding swear words. And indeed, I regularly have people apologize for using an off-color expression.  People use a swear and then look at me, “Oh, sorry Pastor.” It happens so often that I’ve realized I never get called Pastor as much as when people swear. But swear words don’t really offend me.  And, honestly, I know how to use them too.  Still, I like the reminder to watch our language in the presence of God.  Yet what language ought we watch? Swear words? No, the words we ought to be careful ...
    Posted May 2, 2018, 8:15 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
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