December 6, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Praying. For. Firefighters.

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They are first on the scene and last to leave. They risk their lives every single day. They save people. They save houses and buildings. So many days they are the unsung heroes of our communities. But not today. At least not today in Los Angeles. The world is on fire. They are converging on fires on the westside of the city, north of the city, and all around southern California. I am praying for firefighters. I am praying for pilots in planes and helicopters dropping water inside canyons that are exploding with flames. We throw the the word “hero” around way too much, so far as I’m concerned. But not today. Today the heroes are driving red trucks, trudging up steep terrain, and they are risking everything to help those in need. Join me in Taking a Breath today. A breath for firefighters.

 

December 5, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Comfort (in the city of angels).

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This coming Sunday my sermon is titled “The Art of Christmas: Comfort in the City of Angels” I plan to explore the meaning of comfort — partly an experience that makes  us feel better and partly an experience of finding strength for our life challenges. I think many of us, myself included, turn to faith for comfort. U2 frontman, Bono, once said that his two favorite songs were — “Amazing Grace” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” (I can see how they go together.) This week I’m going to preach a sermon for everyone who has ever needed comfort, especially during a holiday season. I’m dedicating it to everyone who is hanging on to life by their fingernails, taking it hour by hour, and day by day. For my artistic reflection, I’m using a work by Picasso. It’s titled the “Weeping Woman.” Sometimes a painting is a painting. But sometimes a painting is a mirror. Regardless of what you see, I hope you’ll join me Sunday at 11 AM and embrace the gift of comfort.

 

November 23, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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When Thanksgiving Doesn’t Feel Like Thanksgiving.

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It’s over 90 degrees in Los Angeles and it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is supposed to be cold and blustery. Perhaps a snow flurry or too. But not today in California. The air conditioning is running. The calendar says it’s Thanksgiving, but sometimes what we feel is not the same as what the calendar says.

I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just saying that sometimes Thanksgiving is different. And as far as that goes, the same can be said for birthdays and Christmas celebrations and family reunions. What we think should be . . . doesn’t appear. What we once had . . . will never return. Some of people we once loved . . . are gone. My dad is gone.

Yet it is Thanksgiving. Not the same, perhaps, but Thanksgiving nevertheless. To be in the present moment is to surrender to God. There. I said it. God. Take a Breath today. Whoever you are. Whatever you are doing. Take a Breath. Be still. Be thankful for what is. It’s not that last year was better. There’s no a promise that next year will be any better. The only gift we have is today. Right now. It is Thanksgiving. Give thanks.

November 13, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
8 Comments

It’s Personal. (For. My. Father.)

He worked all day, and then came home and played pitch and catch in the backyard. I can still hear the pop of a baseball in my leather mitt or feel the cosmically round baseball in my hand. I would throw as hard as I could to impress him. I wanted his approval. He also coached my Little League Team.

In the fall and winter, even when it was snowing, he would come outside and we would play basketball out by the old white-washed garage. When I was playing basketball in school — ten years worth of teams — he would sit in the stands, watch the game, make notes, and then every night he would critique how I played. Never harshly. Always constructively. He understood the poetry of the game.

He was a good man, not just good to me, but to my friends. My dad was kind-hearted and generous. He was a good dad, but also a good son to his parents, Agnes and Gayle. He would sometimes work at their grocery store on the weekends to help them out. He had a good sense of humor too. He worked hard. He volunteered in the community and served on countless boards, and was elected to the City Council three times. And yes, he was a Republican. People knew him and respected him. I was proud to be his son.

He and my mother went through a terrible time after I was grown and out of the house. He eventually remarried and was happy. Very happy. He enjoyed going to church too. First when I was a small boy at First Christian Church of Salem, Indiana, and then at Southport Christian Church in Indianapolis. I have so many flaws as a minister, but he never saw any of them. He was proud of me. He was proud of my vocation. He always asked about my church and loved to read my sermons.

I grew up with a dad who told me that he loved me. Not every now and then, but every night before I went to sleep. My father blessed me again and again. Family vacations. Fishing trips. Camping trips. Out to dinner. Indiana basketball games. In the last years, I would call him almost every morning to say hi and check in on him. We would talk about Indiana University basketball. Or Major League baseball. He was a Cardinals fan. I’m a Cubs fan. Without fail he asked about my kids — Matthew and Drew and Katie. And when that was finished, we would talk about the weather.

My father didn’t know me the last two times I visited him in Indianapolis. That was hard. He had Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a terrible disease. Plus, his wife, Elise, had died, and he was tired and lonely and lonely and tired. It’s not that he gave up. He was just ready to go. I tried to say hi to him in August and he didn’t understand that it was me. He didn’t know me.

My father passed away this morning.

His name was Richard Lee Colglazier.

I am Richard Scott Colglazier.

I am forever his son.

 

November 9, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Thank. You. For. Your. Service.

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There are so many ways of serving the country, and more importantly, helping the human family. Teachers. Nurses. Doctors. Social Workers. Sanitation workers. Firefighters. But for the men and women who wear the uniform of military service, their sacrifices deserve special note. They leave behind family and friends to serve our nation. Many risk their lives and face unspeakable horror in service to the country. Supporting veterans is not the same as supporting war. One can disagree with a war, but the men and women who are asked to serve deserve our appreciation. Supporting veterans means helping them when they come home, many of whom are suffering from post traumatic stress, terrible depression, physical ailments, and deep moral injury. Take a Breath and thank a veteran this weekend. Make a contribution to a veteran’s organization. Say a prayer for a veteran. Hire a veteran for a job. It’s not easy for them to leave; it’s even harder for them to come home. To all our veterans I say: We honor you. We thank you for your service.

November 6, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
4 Comments

Thought. For. Texas.

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Prayer is about opening up and listening. We think it’s about talking to God. But it’s not about our talking; prayer is about our listening. In our prayers we listen to the brokenness of our fellow human beings.

Have you noticed how after every terrible tragedy in the world, politicians use the same clichéd line – “Our prayers are with the victims and their families?”

A Las Vegas shooting happens. “Our prayers are with the victims and their families.” A Texas church is the most recent scene of a mass shooting. “Our prayers are with the victims and their families.” But that phrase feels as hollow as an old soup can to me.

  • We can’t muster enough courage to outlaw assault weapons in America, but our prayers are with them?
  • We can’t begin to address the culture of gun violence in America, but our prayers are with them?
  • We continue to line the pockets of politicians with money from the gun lobby, but our prayers are with them?
  • We cut social services for mental health, but our prayers are with them?
  • We continue to give toy guns to children, but our prayers are with them?
  • Hollywood produces movies filled with gun violence, but our prayers are with them?

My dear dear friends . . . prayer is not about getting stuff from God; prayer is about getting in touch with the stuff within ourselves. And that means in touch with the deepest brokenness of our fellow human beings – and then trying to do something about it!

I’m trying to Take a Breath but I can barely do it today. Let’s pray. Let’s act. Let’s stand up. Let’s speak up. Let’s point fingers. Let’s speak up from our pulpits. Let’s write Congress. Let’s do whatever it takes to bring peace, peace, peace to our nation.

November 1, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Taking. A. Risk.

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This coming Sunday I’m inviting author, teacher, podcaster, neuroscientist and atheist — Sam Harris — to join me at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles for a Conversation of Faith.

I’m nervous about it.

Sam is a brilliant guy. I like his writing too. He wrote a book on spirituality a few years ago titled Waking Up. It’s a guide to the spiritual life for people who don’t believe in God. While I love his thoughts around spirituality, not surprisingly, I don’t share his perspective on the question of God. Nevertheless, I think people should be able to talk about differences without it looking like a winner-take-all wrestling match.

I believe churches should take risks, and I think this is a good one to take. I believe there’s a way to build bridges — people who don’t believe in God need to appreciate those who do and those who do believe in God should find a way to be respectful of those who don’t.

Yet, what if there is more common ground than what might appear on the surface of things? That is to say — What if by God I mean Depth? What if the scientist who wants to honor Depth is really in the territory of God? What if atheists talking about the need for community is similar to what people of faith find when they attend church? And what if atheists value meditation, while those of us in the church talk about the experience of prayer? Could it be that we’re closer than what we think?

I’m not sure what will happen this Sunday, but I’m asking all of you to make an extra effort to be with us this coming Sunday morning at 11.00 am. I could use your thoughts, prayers and attendance! (Don’t forget to change times on Saturday night too! We fall back an hour!)

So, did you hear the one about the minister and scientist who walked into the church?

Well, it’s no joke!

Take a Breath. It’s going to happen this Sunday!

October 3, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
2 Comments

Now. The. Stories.

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Yes, it was a “mass” shooting in Las Vegas, but the truth is there is no “mass” in what happened this week. Individuals were shot and killed and wounded. Each person had a story. A past, present and future. Each person had a distinctive laugh. Each person had shed tears over something in his or her life — the loss of a parent, a terrible break up, the family pet that died. Some were in love. Others were hoping to fall in love. They liked music and friends. Each person had a favorite meal they enjoyed. A particular brand of shampoo they used each morning. Each person lived in a house or apartment, and decorated a home in a style he or she enjoyed. And each person was looking forward to doing something on Monday morning. Monday morning never arrived.

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At least for a few days . . . I will try to keep it going for longer . . . but at least for a few days . . . I want to pay attention to my neighbor and know that every person on the face of the earth has a story. I don’t need to judge their story. I don’t need to feel superior to their story. I don’t need to point out the flaws of their story. I simply want to follow the lead of Jesus and love people for who they are and understand their story better. That’s it. That’s all. I’ve had to turn the television off this morning. I cannot bear the grief of hearing the specifics of these stories. Wives. Husbands. Golfers. Friends. Police officers. Musicians. Students. Medics. Cooks. Moms. Dads. Athletes. Artists. Their stories overwhelm me.

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So I will do what I can today — I will love my neighbor as myself; I will try to honor the story that lives inside every human being; and I will try to share as much love, compassion and kindness as I know how to do. Take a Breath today. I’m trying to take one too. We need one another, which is why we’ll remember the stories of these victims in our worship service this Sunday at First Church. We never live in “mass,” nor do we really die in “mass.” We are individuals. We are human beings. We carry within our bodies the stories of our lives. I want to remember that every single day of my life. I especially want to remember it today.

October 2, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Living. With. Heart.

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To live with heart means we live with courage. We live in an imperfect world. A frightening world. A world in which floods and earthquakes and shootings happen frequently. Too frequently. We live in a world of madness, where gun violence is decried, but nothing is done about controlling access to guns. I’m not talking about sportsman weapons, but automatic and semi-automatic assault weapons designed for one thing and one thing only — killing.

And so we can either shelter in place — doing nothing, enjoying nothing, reaching out toward nothing — or we can live with heart, knowing that every day is riddled with danger and risk, and yet, and yet, and yet . . . children will still play today, and fall leaves will turn gold and yellow, and poems will be read, and books will be written, and someone will fall in love, and songs will be sung, and art will still inspire and . . . and . . . and . . .

I am mourning this morning the single largest mass shooting in American history. I am praying for those who lost loved ones — over 50 killed. I am thinking of those who were wounded — more than 400 people. I cannot change what happened last night. And so today I plan to do the only thing I know to do — live with heart. Love my neighbor. Treat people more gently. Find beauty in unexpected places. Share the beauty I know and love with others. I’m Taking a Breath today. I know it’s not enough. But it’s the only thing I know to do.

 

September 25, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Charles. Bradley.

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An amazing singer, writer and musician has passed away . . . and I’m guessing most of you have never heard of him . . . Mr. Charles Bradley. He had soul. He sang soul. In his words, “He was a brother who came from the hard licks of life.”

When I heard of his passing today, I thought of his CD — Changes. Buy it. I think you’ll like it. His voice moved me. It might move you too.

Our nation is deeply divided right now, and we have forces at work in the world that are diminishing people of color and trying to reassert a culture of white supremacy. It has to stop. It must stop. It runs counter to everything I believe to be true about the vision of Jesus Christ, moreover, it runs counter to everything I believe to be true about humanity.

Have our better angels gone into hiding?

If only the whole country could listen to Charles Bradley for a few minutes today . . . it might just change us all. Take a Breath today. But don’t just take a breath . . . give thanks for Charles Bradley . . . musician, writer, and performer. Live with some soul this week. Oh how the world needs more soul!