February 28, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

A Minister and a Rabbi Walk into a Bar . . .

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Well, not exactly a bar, but to be sure, a Minister and a Rabbi will walk into First Congregational Church of Los Angeles this coming Sunday morning at 11 AM! It’s going to be a great discussion with one of the nation’s great rabbinic leaders, Steve Leder. We’ll be discussing, among other things, his new book on how suffering transforms us into full human beings. I’m so excited to welcome you this week. Plus, my friend Christoph Bull will be back in the service after being away for two months. In other words, the music will be spectacular! Take a Breath and join us this Sunday, March 3, at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. We’re a community of faith committed to deeper conversations, community and actions.

February 27, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
4 Comments

United. Methodist. Church.

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I’m not a member of the United Methodist Church and they don’t need me to weigh in on the their debate and recent vote about gay and lesbian persons, but I want to say I am grateful to be part of a church that affirms, welcomes and celebrates all people as God’s children, and that includes all those children living under the rainbow flag of diversity.

I am grateful that I live in a state where people are allowed to marry those whom they love, whether they be gay or straight, because I’m guessing that God is happy when we anyone loves anyone.

I am grateful that the Jesus I know and read about in the Bible lifted people up, especially those who were  marginalized by the narrow prejudices of others.

I am grateful that I have colleagues who are gay and straight and transgender.

I am grateful that my church promises to love the children I baptize, whether they turn out to be gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, heterosexual or questioning, because if we’re going to love them as babies, we better love them as adults.

I am grateful that my faith in Jesus Christ calls me to relate to people, not on the basis of  the color of their skin or the gender of their sexuality or the sexual orientation they engage, but because of what is inside their hearts.

I am grateful that I have board members and deacons who serve our church, and some are straight and some are gay, but all are beautiful human beings, and they make this world a better place.

I am grateful for a Bible that reminds me to love my neighbor as myself, and that especially includes those who might be different from me, and if that’s not enough, we’re suppose to love our enemies too, so that about covers it.

I’m praying for the United Methodist Church today.

Yet I am especially grateful for First Congregational Church of Los Angeles and the openness of our community, and I am grateful for the United Church of Christ with which we are affiliated, and I am grateful for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), my denomination of birth and ordination.

Let’s Take a Breath, dear friends, and let’s love one another.

February 26, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Hole. In. My. Sidewalk.

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Take a Breath today for your life. Not someone else’s life but your life. Consider the following poem . . . a life in four acts . . . by Portia Nelson . . . consider what you are doing today . . . consider what you are feeling today . .  . just consider . . .

I.

I walk down the street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I fall in.

I am lost . . . I am helpless.

It isn’t my fault.

It takes forever to find a way out.

II.

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I pretend I don’t see it.

I fall in again.

I can’t believe I’m in the same place.

But it isn’t my fault.

It still takes a long time to get out.

III.

I walk down the same street.

There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.

I see it is there.

I still fall in. It’s a habit.

My eyes are open.

I know where I am.

It is my fault. I get out immediately.

IV.

I walk down another street.

February 21, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Movies. For. You.

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I haven’t seen all the movies that will be featured at the Academy Awards ceremony this coming Sunday, but I’ve seen a few of them and I offer my quick summaries . . .

A Star is Born . . . A very human story about love and longing, and how addiction can sink its claws into our lives. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper are amazing. Cooper’s directorial debut is first rate. It’s not enough that he’s handsome and a good actor, he can also sing and direct! (Life is not fair.) I liked it.

BlackkKlansman . . . Congratulations to Spike Lee for another wonderful film! This is a movie with powerful social relevance, as well as telling a comical, sad, and suspenseful human story. I loved it. I would love to see Spike Lee win an Oscar. This film is just another in his growing collection of important movies.

The Favourite . . . I wanted to like it. I could not stay awake.

Roma . . . I loved this film. It is a human story of love, heartache and compassion. After I watched it I thought to myself that it’s a movie about life. Real life. Real, ordinary, genuine life that unfolds slowly and deliberately. This is one of the most beautiful films I’ve ever seen. (Spoiler Alert: It will make an appearance in my sermon this Sunday!)

The Wife . . . It’s not an epic film. In fact, it’s small and quiet, but at moments it explodes  like a wildfire with long-smothered rage. I liked it. It’s about feminine power, but also an exploration into the secret agreements couples make with one another. There’s a nice suspense factor too. Glenn Close, one of the great actors of our time, offers a stellar performance.

At Eternity’s Gate . . . I wanted to love this film, a bio-pic about the painter Vincent Van Gough. I liked it, but it didn’t really move me. I’m not sure why. Willem DeFoe offers a terrific performance, and if you are an art lover, then I would say it’s certainly worth watching.

Bohemian Rhapsody . . . Yet another music-centered film, this time featuring the story of Freddy Mercury and his band Queen. I loved it! The music of Queen was everywhere when I was in high school and college, so it was a nostalgia trip for me, too. I didn’t really know Mercury’s story, but I found it moving and sad and beautiful.

The Green Book . . . Okay, maybe it doesn’t have the edge of a Spike Lee film, but I enjoyed this movie. There are many ways of addressing racism in our world, and this movie portrays two men — a white man and a black man — finding new levels of understanding, appreciating differences and breaking through old prejudices. It’s more than a road trip story. It’s a reminder that change happens in our world one heart at a time.

Okay, the big show is this Sunday afternoon. (AFTER CHURCH!) Take a Breath and root for your favorite movie. Although the world of cinema has changed dramatically in recent years, there’s still magic in the movies.

 

 

 

 

 

February 19, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Grateful. Heart.

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I’ve been working this afternoon on my sermon for this coming Sunday — “The Grateful Heart” — and it has come home to me yet again that at the heart of my faith, as well as how I understand the human journey, is the experience of gratitude. You cannot live with a full heart until you live with a grateful heart. (Why is it that I tend to type “greatful” heart instead of “grateful” heart?) There is no greatness without gratefulness; and there is no fully alive vibrant heart without an attitude of surprise, wonder and thanksgiving. Join me Sunday as I share what is the most important message inside my heart . . . from my heart to your heart . . . a message about gratitude!

February 14, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

I. Love. You.

IMG_1792To affirm that God is love is to affirm that the most important experience in our humanity is receiving love and giving love, so much so that it has been said — If we love others, we know God, and if we don’t love others, we’ll never know God. Or it could be translated like this: If we love others, then we have discovered the essence of the universe, and if we don’t love others, we’re wandering the earth like lost souls until we do. Today is Valentine’s Day. But love is more than romance. It is that, to be sure, but it is so much more. It is friendship. It is family. It is community. Take a Breath today. I took this photograph a few years ago, while out for a walk in my neighborhood. The utility box becomes a canvas. Today I celebrate it as a message from God. Maybe it’s what you need to hear today. i. love. you. And maybe it’s what you need to say today, too.

February 1, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Theology of the Los Angeles Rams . . .

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They started out as the Cleveland Rams in the 1930s.. And then they became the Los Angeles Rams. And then they became the St.Louis Rams. And then the became the Los Angeles Rams again. The Rams have had a peripatetic journey. Starts and stops. Circuitous at times. But through it all they were always the Rams. As for the theology of the Rams, well, it’s pretty simple — Rarely do I meet people these days who attended church as children, and then advanced to Sunday night youth groups, and then onto adulthood and participation in the life of a faith community. What I see at First Church are people who haven’t been part of a faith community. Or people who were once Catholic, but dropped away from it, and now want something in their spiritual lives. Or people used to be part of a fundamentalist type of Christianity, and they are looking for something more open. Or people who were hurt by another congregation, and they need healing and space. Or people who arrive at our church, and they don’t even know why they are coming through the doors, but the come because they feel their soul needs it. It’s one thing I love about our congregation — there is not one pathway to our community. The spiritual life has lots of circles. Lots of starts and stops. Lots of trying this or that. But that’s all right because, when it comes to God, the journey is much more important than the destination. So Take a Breath today. Thanks to the Rams for the theology lesson. And remember . . . worship is Sunday morning and the game is Sunday afternoon!

January 30, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Season. for. Heart.

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Beginning this Sunday I’m going to share a February sermon series titled — A Season for Heart. The heart is our center of consciousness. It is thought and feeling. The totality of our being. To live with heart means to live with love and passion and a sense of adventure. Moving more and more into the heart region of our humanity takes faith. And courage. And a good bit of openness. This is especially true when our heart has been broken. But it’s worth it. I would love to see you this Sunday as I talk about the Heart of a Friend. I’m interested it what it means to be a friend. Have a friend. Nurture a friendship. I’m also interested in thinking about God as friend. Join me this Sunday and every Sunday during the month of February. Let’s find a way to open our hearts together.

January 17, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

MLKWEEKENDATFIRSTCHURCH

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How right Dr. King was . . . caring about things that matter is what it’s all about! Will you join me this Sunday morning at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles — 11.00 AM — as we celebrate Dr. King’s legacy? It is going to be a special morning. And then Sunday evening at 7.00 PM we’ll enjoy an amazing MLK Concert in the beautiful sanctuary of First Church. Join us. Bring friends. Share this post. Let’s Take a Breath together and celebrate the things in this country that really matter.

January 15, 2019
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

MLK Sunday — First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

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I hope to see you Sunday morning at 11.00 AM as we celebrate the legacy of Dr. King in our morning worship service. My sermon is titled — “The Jesus Agenda.” And then on Sunday night we are going to have a landmark concert at 7.00 PM. In addition to over 200 people in our mass choir that night, we’ll also welcome Rev. James Lawson to share some remarks about his historic work in the Civil Rights Movement. Each week at First Church we try to create deeper conversations, deeper community and deeper actions to make a better world. Join us this Sunday!