August 19, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Alignment.

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When something aligns it is true. It is real. It is the deepest truth of our existence. Alignment can be anything. It can mean resonance with work. Or you find yourself energetically creative about a project or idea. Or you feel a connection with another human being. You can’t quite explain it. It’s just right. It’s alignment. Friendship is alignment. You might have a hard time explaining why you’re friends with this person or that person, but you are, and the reason is simple — something aligns. Someone told me the other day, speaking about First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, that, “I’m not sure why I love this church so much, but I do!” When alignment happens we have to go with it. We should go with it. In a few days we will experience a total solar eclipse. It is rare. Rare and wonderful. The alignment of the moon and sun will be perfectly executed. Some people are traveling to special destinations in order to experience the eclipse in all its darkened glory. Alignment is a rare thing. A wonderful thing. Pay attention to alignment when it happens. Honor it. Alignment with friends or work or God is similar to a peak moment of experience. We feel ourselves at one with the universe. Connected to all that is. Another word for it is synchronicity — it’s when everything comes together in a remarkably beautiful way. Take a Breath today. When alignment happens, be ready to give thanks for it . . . and for goodness sake . . . go with it!

August 17, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Torches. Or. Candles.

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Two different nights in Charlottesville, Virginia, two groups of people marching, two groups of people carrying lights shining against the night sky, and two groups of people bearing within their souls strong feelings. The difference is this — one group carried burning torches and the other group carried flickering candles. If we cannot tell the difference between torches and candles (and these two groups of people and their intentions), then God help us, because I’m not sure anything, including Taking a Breath, can help us. One group has torn our country apart with their message of white supremacy and hate, and the other group carried candles to remember victims of a protest, using light to bring people together in their grief and hope and love. My faith moves me to always, always, always be a candle person.

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August 12, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Opposites.

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Tomorrow morning at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, I’m going to explore in my sermon a topic that for me has become a cutting-edge interest — the marriage of opposites.

Through my work with Parker Palmer a few years ago I learned that, “The contradictions in life are not trying to tear us apart but open us up.” Fair enough. But it’s not just the contradictions around us that we face; I’m interested in the opposites that dwell within us.

How do we balance masculine and feminine energies? How do we balance extroversion and introversion? How do we navigate our need for stability and adventure, the known and unknown, faith in God and doubt about God?

If you’ve ever struggled with some of the opposites within you — God knows I have! — then I hope you’ll join me at 11 AM tomorrow morning at First Church! Take a Saturday Breath and join me for what promises to be a very good Sunday morning.

August 10, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
2 Comments

Dear. Charlie.

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And so it begins . . . a birth . . . a grandson . . . Charles Mathew Colglazier . . . and the endless possibilities for the future. I step back and think about the kind of world I’m handing off to you, my dear Charlie . . .

Oh the challenges . . . the immense and complex challenges that plague our world. I wish Mother Earth were in better shape. I wish our country was in better shape, too. Nevertheless, a baby should not have to bear the burdens of the world. The world is my job, Charlie. Not yours. At least not yet.

I offer to you a world of stunning beauty . . . oceans that still shimmer with life and fog that continues to blanket the Big Sur coastland.

I give you a world of great tenderness . . . a lovely mother and father and big sister, and family members who hold you with awe and wonder.

I pass along to you a world of amazing knowledge . . . books that still make the heart race with joy and theater that still makes you think and poetry that can resonate inside the human soul for decades.

I remind you of a world of divine love . . . love that celebrates who you are and who you will become, the kind of universal love that sets us free to live fully and joyfully with one another.

Oh, Charlie . . . Charlie Colglazier . . . son of my son, grandson of my heart. I am Taking a Breath for you today and all the babies for the world. “For unto us a child is born . . .” and that means every child, every boy or girl born into this world, including you, dear Charlie, is a sign of God.

August 9, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
3 Comments

August 9, 1945

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On this date — August 9, 1945 — the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The bomb was the equivalent of detonating 22,000 tons of TNT. Over 80,000 people were killed, not counting those who for many years suffered because of radiation poisoning. Many theologians, including myself, have argued that the use of nuclear weapons is immoral and unacceptable to humanity. Furthermore, rather than using nuclear weapons as threats, we should move toward global nuclear disarmament. There are many sane reasons for this, including the fact that a nuclear weapon is qualitatively different from any other weapon, and therefore should never be used by a nation, and that these weapons, more than helping a nation win a war, actually have the power to destroy civilization. In other words, no one wins a nuclear war. To the surprise of some, I am not a Pacifist. I think — when a last resort — that there is a time and place when a nation must go to war. But as a person of faith, committed to the wholeness of the planet and wanting to honor Jesus as the Prince of Peace, nuclear weapons, in my opinion, run counter to everything I know to be true about God and everything I hope is true for the human family. We are living in a perilous time right now. I’m praying for peace. I am praying that our tension with N. Korea deescalates and stabilizes. But for now I am Taking a Breath and repeating my mantra — A nuclear “option” is no option at all.

 

 

 

July 24, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
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Monday. Morning. Thought.

IMG_0187Take a Breath today. If you hate someone, consider giving it up, getting over it, getting over yourself, or putting it on the back burner of your life. Hate hurts the hater more than the one who is hated. Hatred is exhausting. Hate is such a strong word, so much so that many of us think it does not apply to us. But if it’s not hatred, then think of words like resentment / anger / bitterness / grudge / jealous / vengeful / judgmental. Pick your word. Pick up your word and then put it down. It’s Monday morning. Let’s live a little lighter this week.

July 19, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Who. Owns. Healthcare?

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It’s worth remembering this week . . . that healthcare is about human dignity. How we take care of our bodies, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the exercise we enjoy, the work we can do, the way we can bathe and care for our bodies in the world . . . it is all about human dignity.

To be able to go to the dentist for a checkup is about human dignity. Seeing our physician or picking up a prescription at the pharmacy is about human dignity. Being able to manage a chronic illness is about human dignity. A parent caring for a sick child or a child caring for an aging parent is about dignity. Going in for chemotherapy once a week is about human dignity. Receiving palliative care from a nurse in our last days is about human dignity.

Jesus said, “When you visit the sick, you have visited me.” Translated: Healthcare is the work of God.

Question: Who owns healthcare?

Answer: We all do. We all should. We all must.

June 30, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Thinking. Of. Women.

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For some reason, I woke up this morning thinking about women. I thought of the women with whom I attended seminary. Strong, smart, insightful women — Diane and Mary and Barbara and Patricia and Joanne and Rene. I thought of Joan Bennett, an associate minister with whom I served in Indianapolis. I thought of Kathy, a ministerial colleague and Yale Divinity School graduate I hired at Beargrass Christian Church. I thought of Cyndy and Nita and Katie and Betty and Kristin, all amazing, wonderful, strong clergy colleagues I enjoyed at University Christian Church. I thought of Joan and Linda and Pat at The Riverside Church in New York City. Again, great colleagues who taught me to be a better person. I thought of Susan and Darice and Mona and Kim and Karina and Arta and Shanna and Laura and Sammi and Kate and Heather and Julianne and on and on the list goes, strong, caring, insightful colleagues, the kind of women that make First Congregational Church a better place. I woke up this morning thinking of past and current board chairs of the churches I’ve served — Geneva and Maryann and Becky and Julie — all talented and insightful leaders, each bringing to leadership a viewpoint that makes the whole organization better. I woke up this morning thinking of my daughter, Katie, who works for the YMCA in New York City, and someone who has faced male chauvinism in the workplace again and again. I think of my immensely talented daughters-in-law, Laurie and Marta, both so smart and caring and accomplished. I thought of my granddaughter this morning — my sweet Caroline — going into first grade this fall and so full of promise. I thought of my grandmother, Agnes, who worked side by side my grandfather to make a little grocery store successful. I woke this morning on this holiday weekend thinking that one thing that makes America great are the women of our nation, women who serve on boards and create companies and make art and movies and write stories, women who take care of children and volunteer in their community, women who bring their love for education to fruition in such important and essential ways. I woke this morning thinking about the women who serve in Congress and on the Supreme Court. I woke thinking about women who serve in our armed forces and who risk their lives in service to our country. I woke this morning thinking about women journalists, like Barbara Walters and Connie Chung and Jane Pauley, women like Andrea Mitchell and Robin Roberts. I woke this morning thinking that women don’t need men to take care of them, but to respect them and be honest with them and treat them in ways that are fair and kind and loving, in other words, like we all want to be treated. And should be treated. And must be treated. I woke thinking about Jesus, and how he had the courage to love women and welcome them into the inner circle of his spiritual life, and how he affirmed their worth and value as human beings. Yes, I woke early this morning, which I do most mornings, and for some reason today — Take a Breath — I woke thinking of Mika Brzezinski.

June 29, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

This. Is. America.

As we get closer to celebrating Independence Day — July 4th — I’m thinking about what it means to be the United States of America. Over the upcoming days I’ll offer a few images and thoughts and ideas about our country . . . but I begin this morning with a simple image.

I was on my walk a few days ago, and someone in my neighborhood had this sign in front of their house. I don’t know the people who live in the house, but I think they’ve discovered the essence of what I believe to be true — or at least should be true — about our country. It’s certainly resonates with my faith.

Take a Breath today. Take a deep breath and affirm again the humanity of all God’s children, the freedom to grow and learn, and the sheer joy in life that comes from welcoming the human family into our hearts.

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June 18, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
2 Comments

Father’s Day.

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Oh, I know today is the day when fathers around the country are treated to lunch and gifts from the kids. A card here. A new tie there. But I want to reverse the direction of the day and simply say . . . that I bless my children and give thanks to God for them.

  • For Matthew and his lovely wife Laurie, and their sweet Caroline (pictured above), I am so thankful. They have enriched my life in countless ways and I am so proud of them.
  • For Drew and his lovely wife Marta, I enjoy them so much and wish I could see them more often. They are both remarkable people and I am in awe of their goodness and creativity.
  • For Katie who makes every room she enters a better place, I am so grateful. Her work for the YMCA of New York City inspires me over and over again, and I love how she makes the world a better place.

Take a Breath today. If you’re a dad . . . consider reversing the day . . . and instead of waiting for you gifts . . . take a moment and bless your children, letting them know what they mean to you, how your life is better because of them, and give thanks inside the quiet of your heart for the many ways they make a difference in your life.