August 6, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Dear LeBron . . .

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Dear LeBron:

I am a fan! I am a basketball fan, to be sure, but more specifically, I’m a LeBron James fan.

That’s never been more true than this week after hearing how you started a new school in your hometown of Akron, Ohio. To love enough, to care enough about kids to start your own school is amazing. To give back to your community is inspiring.

And now you have moved to Los Angeles and you’re going to wear the purple and gold of the Los Angeles Lakers! I want to say welcome. I want to say thank you for caring about the good things and the right things in life.

I want you to know that the doors of our church are open to you and your family. We’re a church that welcomes all people. We’re ecumenical. We’re loving and caring and accepting. We’re multi-racial and multi-cultural. We’re gay and straight and transgender and questioning. We think and feel and try to live into the beauty of the Christian faith. We’re young and old, and a little bit of everything in between.

We also try to engage the deeper conversations of faith and society. (How can we not engage the world?) In case you want to have a conversation with us, I’ll turn the pulpit over to you any Sunday. (And I don’t say that very often!) And if you insist, we would even read from the King James version of that Bible that day.

Take a Breath, LeBron, and welcome to Los Angeles!

August 2, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Good. As. Gold.

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I never met Jonathan Gold, the Los Angeles restaurant critic who passed away a few days ago, but I liked him. He was a larger-than-life presence in our city, but I liked him for a couple of different reasons. First and foremost, he loved food — h0w it looked and tasted, what it might mean for a family or group of friends, and he liked the people who grew it, harvested it, prepared it, and then cleaned up after it had been consumed. Food is not singular. It is a universe of connection, often involving a good bit of love and sacrifice. There’s a reason why people of faith often say a prayer of thanksgiving before consuming the first bite of their dinner — the universe of food is holy.

But I liked Jonathan Gold for another reason . . . he celebrated the democracy of food. He didn’t just review the most expensive, most beautiful restaurants in Los Angeles. He did that, of course, but he would also review a hole-in-the-wall taco joint or a little mom and pop ramen restaurant. When he published his annual “Gold 101,” many in our city, including me, used it as a dining road map. He always celebrated the cultural diversity of food, and thank goodness, a diversity of price points.

Take a Breath today. One thing I feel certain about — all of us will eat something today. Do it consciously. Do it gratefully. Do it joyfully. And if you go out to eat this weekend, give thanks for the many people who make our dining possible, including a critic, worth his weight in gold, who pointed us in the right direction.

July 31, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Missing. You.

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I haven’t preached a sermon since the end of July. I’m back in the pulpit at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles this Sunday, and honestly, I can’t wait! More than that, I’ve had one of those wonderful and rare feelings lately — I’ve missed my church!

I don’t mean “my” in the sense that I possess the church; but “my” in the sense that these are people I love and care about and long to see. It’s been five Sundays since I’ve been at First Church, and thanks to Laura Fregin preaching each week, I’ve not worried about anything. The same with my colleague Susan Leary who handles so much all the time. And all the other dedicated staff members and lay leaders of First Church.

That said, I’ve missed my tribe.

For the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of reading, writing, seeing family and friends, resting, thinking, feeling, painting, praying, meditating, walking, swimming, watching a few movies, and all in all, doing whatever I want to do when I want to do it. (That is the greatest luxury of all.) But this coming Sunday I’m back in the pulpit and will preach an August sermon series titled: “The Poetry of the Prophets.” I will start with Moses on August 5.

Speaking of sermons, I need to get busy writing one this morning, but for right now, I just want to feel it — really feel it — I’m grateful for that feeling of missing my church. It’s a good feeling. Take a Breath. I’ll see you Sunday!

June 27, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
2 Comments

Dear Sweet Girl . . .

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Dear Sweet Girl:

You don’t know me but I have been looking at your picture all week. You are from Central America. Your mother was trying to enter the United States. She wanted a better life for you. She was doing what any mother would do. She was trying to protect her daughter. Trying to help her daughter escape a world of violence. And poverty. And hunger. She was coming to the United States because she was desperate for you to have a better life. I’m a parent, and when you’re a parent, the only thing that matters to you is your child.

 

There are things happening to you right now that you cannot understand, things much bigger than your fragile existence in this world. It is unfair to you. But it happens everyday to children around the world. There are 28 million refugee children in the world. These are families fleeing a violent country for a safe country. There are 20 million migrant children in the world right now, boys and girls and families wanting a better life in a different country.

 

You deserve a better life. Many children have been separated from their parents over the last weeks. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Two wrongs only make one really big wrong. Many of us in our country know it is wrong when children are taken away from their mothers and fathers. We are outraged and embarrassed and anguished over what has happened. Some of us do not even recognize our own country, a country we love and a country we cherish. 

 

You might wonder – Why do I care? I’m a person of faith, and as a person of faith, I try to follow the teachings of Jesus. Many times I fail but I try. The Jesus I love once said, “Let the little children come unto me.” The Jesus I love once said, “It would be better for a person to drown in a river, than to cause a child to stumble.” That was his dramatic way of saying – All children deserve love and care and goodness. The Jesus I love once said: “To be one of my true followers, you must become like a little child.” The Jesus I love once said: “Anytime you help a child, you are helping me, and if you don’t help a child, you are not helping me.” 

 

I’m getting older now, but I was once a child. I used to sing a song in church titled – “Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world . . .” I still remember that song. I believe all children are God’s children. I believe you are a child of God. When I see you crying in this picture, I think that God is crying too. I wonder if anyone will sing to you tonight? I wonder if anyone will hold you tonight or read a story to you or say a prayer with you before you fall asleep?

 

You will carry this nightmare inside your body for the rest of your life. Some are trying to blame your mother. I cannot blame a mother or a father for wanting a better life for a child. My heart is breaking for you today. And not just my heart, but for many of us in the United States of America, we are shocked that we are in this situation.

 

All of this could have been avoided. What has happened to you and your mother this past week, and thousands of others, was not about the law; it was about a policy. There’s a difference between a policy and a law. There are many different ways of enforcing laws, but this particular policy is inhumane and completely unnecessary.

 

I’m in such turmoil over your plight that I can hardly stop thinking about what has happened to you. On the other hand, I am outraged, outraged like the great prophets in the Hebrew Bible, outraged over the moral injury that has been inflicted upon you, outraged that people are playing games with your suffering, outraged over the bigotry that I see in so many Americans, and outraged over the exploitation of human suffering. I think Jesus is outraged, at least the Jesus I love.

 

Oh sweet little girl . . . when I see you now I am not just seeing you. I am seeing the face of Jesus. Tiny and dirty and smudged with sweat and tears, that’s the face of Jesus I see today. When I hear you crying, I hear Jesus crying for help, Jesus crying for his mother Mary, Jesus bewildered over how cruel and calloused we can be toward one another.

 

It may not seem like much to you today, but if I could, my wife and I would bring you and your family into our home tonight. We would bathe you and feed you and put clean clothes on you. Our church would give you a clean bed and a quiet bedroom, and we would read stories to you until you fell asleep. But we cannot do that tonight. And so we are praying for you. And we are praying for America too. We are praying that our country will come to its moral senses and begin treating all people with dignity, love and respect, and especially all the children of the world. Praying may not seem like much to you, but some days that’s all we know to do. God bless you sweet girl.  

 

Sincerely,

Rev. Dr. R. Scott Colglazier

June 14, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Pride. Sunday.

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Join us this Sunday, June 17, 2018 for Pride Sunday! Worship at 11.00 AM. My sermon is titled – “As Wide as the Heart of God!” It’s going to be a spectacular Sunday, including inspiring music from the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. If you believe in an open, inclusive, welcoming, joyful, hospitable church, then show up this Sunday and make your presence known. Reach out and invite a friend this week, especially friends in the LGBTQ community. We’ll also offer an affirming nod to all our fathers and grandfathers, given that it is Father’s Day. I am so looking forward to celebrating with all of you. Take a Breath today and remember . . . First Congregational Church — Deeper Conversations, Community and Actions!

June 11, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Thoughts — For a Friend.

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A friend reached out to me yesterday, because she was friends with the chef and writer Anthony Bourdain. She reached out because she wanted to share some thoughts with her friends who were (and are) grieving over Anthony’s recent suicide. This is what I shared in a middle-of-the-night email with her . . . When someone takes his life it is shocking to us. It’s especially shocking when that person — at least on the outside — seems successful, happy and creative. It’s a sobering reminder that we know people, but we don’t really know people. At least we don’t know the depth of a person’s anguish or pain or brokenness. Creative people are often tortured people. That’s not always the case, but it is true for many. (I’ve felt some of this torture myself.) Anthony was such a bright light of talent, but every now and then the adage is true — the brighter the light, the darker the shadow. He was carrying some dark shadows inside his soul. I often think that people take their own lives because they know and feel that there is something they want to change, but they don’t know how to change it. They can’t figure out a pathway forward, and so they make an irrevocable decision by taking their lives. I also believe that if a person reaches an anguished point of suicide, the only one who can ultimately show compassion is God. I know that not everyone believes in God, but my understanding is that God is infinite love / compassion / understanding. I know that Anthony Bourdain, regardless of what was happening inside the depths of his mind, whether it was depression, anxiety or some combination thereof, I really believe he was surrounded by the love of God. I also believe that sometimes people transcend a rational decision in the moment, and that they take their lives, not so much out of a reasoned choice, but out of a physiological impulse. They can hardly be held accountable for their actions, because their actions transcend rational functionality. This is why suicide leaves behind a trail of questions. We don’t know. Sometimes we will never know. There are terrible ideas associated with suicide, such as people who commit suicide are selfish. This is not true. Selfishness has nothing to do with it. That people who commit suicide are guilty of murdering themselves and will live forever in hell. Again, this is not true. If a person’s anguish is that intense, then surely God and God alone can offer love and understanding. I don’t know what was going on in Anthony’s life, but I refuse to allow the ending of his life to define the goodness and creativity he shared for over sixty years. He was a blazing comet of irreverent creativity. So talented. So interesting. So engaged with life. He was a father. He had a life partner. He had friends. I will remember him for his skillful writing and the way he brought food and people together. Sometimes those of us left behind wonder: “Could I have done something? Did I miss something?” The answer is no. People who have decided to take their lives will take their lives. People who take their lives impulsively can rarely be stopped. Of course, seeing a therapist and working through some of our psychological challenges is important. But in the end, even a good therapist cannot stop such a tragedy. I’m so sorry for this terrible loss with Anthony Bourdain. I hope some of these thoughts are helpful to you. Most of all, remember him with compassion and gratitude. Encourage your friends to live as fully and as deeply as possible. And as often as you can, help people remember that there is always help, always hope, and that reaching out is not a sign of weakness but a sign of strength. I send you and your friends so much love today. I will Take a Breath for Anthony Bourdain, and for you, and for the many people around the world who need our help.
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June 1, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Proclamation vs. Conversation

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Early on in my ministry, I had the idea that the Christian faith needed to be proclaimed. I was wrong! I’m convinced that proclaiming religion hurts religion.

I now understand the journey of faith as a conversation. Ideas are presented. People are free to think about them. Most of all, people are free to ask questions!

That will happen in a very real way this coming Sunday, June 3. I have asked the graduating seniors of Pilgrim School, a college preparatory school on our campus, to ask me questions instead of me presenting a sermon. My challenge to them was simple: ASK ME ANYTHING!

I have not seen any of the questions. My responses will be completely extemporaneous. If you’re in the city this weekend — join me at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. It’s going to be a special Sunday.

Take a Breath today and I’ll take one too. I’ll especially take one on Sunday morning! Let’s have a conversation this week.

May 30, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
3 Comments

Beliefs. Matters.

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After reading and re-reading the racist tweet from Roseanne Barr yesterday, and after watching an amazing program on “Everyday Racism” last night on television, and after meeting my daughter’s wonderful boyfriend (who happens to be black) over the weekend, and after contemplating the bold step by Starbucks to do cultural bias training for all their employees, and after watching ABC cancel the Roseanne show because of her disgusting tweet, and after hearing our President use the word “animals” to refer to human beings in a speech last night . . .

It strikes me that a core belief within my faith might be worth contemplating this morning . . . namely . . .

That every human being is created in the image of God, and bears within herself or himself the imprint of God, and that people have value, not because of their wealth, not because of the color of their skin, not because of their gender, not because of their religion, not because of their sexual orientation, not because of their education . . . but because they are human beings created in God’s image . . . and this means that all the ways we “other” people, all the ways we de-humanize one another and ostracize others should be resisted, protested and condemned.

I’m Taking a Breath today. I hope you will take one too. When I see another human being, I am seeing a child of God. For me at least that’s a belief, and it’s a belief that matters now more than ever.

May 16, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
5 Comments

Friend.

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I lost a dear friend yesterday. Donald Battjes. He was my friend. We had been friends for ten years. Losing a friend, a real friend, is like a small fissure opening up inside your soul. And then it grows larger. And deeper. Pretty soon you feel the best part of yourself falling into a Grand Canyon of sadness.

Don lived in Los Angeles and Provence. He had struggled with some health issues over the past few years, and so he was diminished, at least bodily, but his spirit remained intact. Intact and strong. He was so happy to be in Provence this spring. I talked to him last week. He was happy. Alive with love and friendship and curiosity about life. He was enjoying his house, a house he had worked hard to restore and bring to life.

He was here and now he is gone. There is nothing sentimental about death. Nothing. The finality of it is sobering. Some people are comforted by the assurance of an afterlife, as if our absence from one another is only a temporary inconvenience. Maybe that is the case. I’m not sure. I want to believe that I will see my friend Don Battjes again, and that we will sit on a heavenly patio overlooking a heavenly field of lavender and drinking a heavenly glass of French rosé. If it is so, then it is so. Any discussion of an afterlife, in the end, is speculation. Yet, I’m acutely aware today that there is love after death, and love in the midst of loss, and friendship endures, not in the physical body, but in our spiritual consciousness.

I am feeling so much loss today. Loss and gratitude, gratitude for someone who loved me, listened to me, laughed with me, and on occasion, cried with me. I went through a divorce a few years ago and I lost friends. I don’t know any other other way of saying it. People I thought would always care for me disappeared. Maybe I deserved their scorn. I don’t know. But what I do know is this — there were a few people who held onto me and would not let go and who checked on me everyday and who could be happy when I was happy and sad when I was sad. That was a handful of people. One of them was Don Battjes.

Don and I talked a couple of times each week. When he was in Los Angeles, we got together once a week for a glass of wine or a cup of coffee or lunch in Pasadena. He was a friend. Doesn’t that word say everything? Friend. He was in my home. I was in his home. I visited him in France last year and had such a nice time. I made dinner one night for him and his friend Trinka . . . roasted salmon and shrimp on a bed of roasted vegetables. I started with a potato soup. Ended with cheese and baguette. It was a perfect evening. I had such fun shopping and cooking that day.

I’m not talking about Don in order for you to think about Don. Or for that matter, it’s not about thinking of me. I’m asking that you to think of people you love and people who love you. Cherish them. Give thanks for them. And if there is some blip between you and your friend, forget about it. Let it go. Forgive. Or receive forgiveness. Don’t wait. A real friend is so rare . . . like a perfect rose in a garden of roses . . . and if you have been blessed with a friend, count yourself lucky.

Take a Breath today. Remember a friend. Give thanks for a friend. Write a friend. Call a friend. Helen Keller once wrote, “Better to walk in the dark with a friend than in the light all by yourself.” It’s true. Every now and then we get both — walking in the light and walking with a friend. That’s what I had with my friend — Donald Battjes.

 

 

May 15, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Holy. Spirit.

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The Holy Spirit is energy! Flowing / Moving / Creating / Transforming / Beautifying / Mystifying / Redeeming / Forgiving / Inspiring / Enlightening / Judging / Lifting / Celebrating / Unifying / Cleansing / Burning / Flying / Floating / Engaging / Inciting / Indwelling / Satisfying . . . Energy! This Sunday at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, along with churches around the world, we will celebrate Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost Sunday is that annual day in the liturgical life of churches when Christians celebrate the power of God’s Spirit to transform human life. Take a Breath today — and get yourself to church this week! It’s Pentecost Sunday. William Blake once wrote, “Energy is eternal delight!” Couldn’t you use a little more energy?