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  • "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
  • "Where Your Heart Is" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - October 15, 2017 The other week a Slate Magazine headline surprised me, “NFL Dishonors the Nation.”  Slate trumpeted it as a national disaster, adding foreboding international implications.  You know I can’t look away from politics.  Even if it was just another opinion piece about flags and anthems.But then I read, “The New Orleans Saints beat the Miami Dolphins 20-0 in London today, effectively killing the idea of American exceptionalism for good. The drab, penalty-marred affair at Wembley Stadium caused irreversible damage to the Special Relationship, and America’s strongest ally has no choice now but to abandon her floundering former colony and avoid embarrassment by association.”I had missed watching this game - I know that surprises you - but ...
    Posted Oct 16, 2017, 8:42 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "St. Francis Day" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - October 8, 2017 On Monday morning before he left for school, David asked if I’d heard about Las Vegas.  His phone gives him breaking news updates.  He was the first of us to know what happened; the gruesome count of 58 killed and five hundred wounded from a shooter perched on the 32nd floor of a hotel.  I started reading about Las Vegas as soon as my guys headed out the door.  I wanted to understand what happened, of course; but also, why?  Why did this happen?Much of what I read felt familiar.  I’d read similar stories after similar shootings, more times then I care to remember: the slowly emerging details, the gripping firsthand accounts, the calls for gun ...
    Posted Oct 9, 2017, 11:36 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Food Allegories" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - October 1, 2017 I belong to a cooking club that meets several times a year; something we’ve done for nearly two decades.  We pick themes for the meals.  Inspiration can come from a country’s cuisine, a particular food, a special season.  And over the years a few recipes became trademark favorites.  We can’t gather in the fall without sharing an Apple Tart Tatin, the French dessert of caramelized apples baked underneath a flaky crust but then, when served, dramatically flipped, which can leave an uncareful novice covered in hot apple caramel.But of all my favorites foods, pride of place goes to Irish Soda Bread.  In my mind, nothing beats a freshly made Irish Soda Bread; still warm from the ...
    Posted Oct 4, 2017, 1:08 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Vocation in Life" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - September 24, 2017 This summer much of our family conversation centered around colleges.  Tomas and I toured many different schools and in-between talked about what he wanted to do.  It’s one of the big questions of his senior year. In our church tradition, we often frame these questions as questions of “calling” and “vocation.”  What is God calling you to do with your life?  What’s your vocation?One of the most succinct definitions of calling and vocation comes from Frederick Buechner.  He said, “Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.”  Buechner’s definition suggests that we find our calling at that place where our joy and the world’s need intersect ...
    Posted Oct 4, 2017, 1:11 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Killing on the Commode" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - September 10, 2017 I find myself increasingly drawn to art museums and especially contemporary exhibits. This means I’m always dragging my family to “interesting” shows, ones where the art doesn’t always seem like art. They make predictable comments. Standing in front of a massive white canvas with what looks like a single dot of paint from a spray can, someone will invariably say, “How is this art?”So, I learned to turn this into a game. We see which of us can find the most bizarre example of art in the museum. Top honors goes to Jay, who was first to see a porcelain urinal displayed on its backside underneath glass. “How is this art?”The piece on display was actually ...
    Posted Sep 25, 2017, 8:40 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "#godspriorities vs. #pompositygospel" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - September 3, 2017 A few weeks ago, I looked ahead at the calendar and realized that on Labor Day Weekend I wanted to preach about the meaning of work, about the Christian concept of vocation, the spirituality and purpose of labor.  I picked our reading from the Gospel of Matthew based on recommendations for Labor Day readings.  Everything seemed set.And then, over the course of August, a number of things happened to change what I heard in the Gospel of Matthew.  I began to pay more attention to the way Jesus talked about wealth.  “You cannot serve God and wealth.”This change from a focus on work to wealth (or from labor to capital) started with the amusing disaster of Louise Linton ...
    Posted Sep 25, 2017, 8:31 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "Back Here, Again?" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - August 20, 2017 Last Saturday, as my family wound up our vacation in Spain, we decided to go hiking.  We try to get out hiking wherever we go.  And this last weekend, in the Sierra Nevada's, the compelling landscape of rugged mountains called to us.Without a car, though, getting to a trail-head can be complicated.  We took a taxi out to a small hill town called Cartajima - a village no bigger than our congregation.  The driver dropped us off at the bar, the only one.  In Spanglish he made sure we knew the bar was closed.  I think he doubted our plan to hike over the mountain.  But the map made clear the trail only took about three hours ...
    Posted Aug 23, 2017, 11:07 AM by Plymouth Church UCC
  • "The Kingdom of God is Like?" by Rev. Andrew Warner, Plymouth Church UCC - July 30, 2017 The meals at my favorite restaurant begin with an amuse bouche, some special, small course meant to amuse the palate.  I’m always amazed at how small the chef can make these bites.  Tiny slices, just bits of food, yet packed with flavor, in combinations I’d never imagine; some small strange thing, like pickled sesame seeds on smoked quail tongue garnished with saffron-infused dust.I try to make these things at home.  But I find it hard to cut my vegetables small enough.  Chopped. Diced.  Minced.  What is the knife cut smaller than minced?  Atomized?Well this Sunday we get Jesus’ verbal equivalent of amuse bouche: finely cut, flavor packed parables.  One might wonder if Matthew, having ...
    Posted Jul 31, 2017, 1:07 PM by Plymouth Church UCC
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