November 15, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Sunday Is Thanksgiving!

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Not really. But if you are part of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, Sunday will be Thanksgiving. I’m preaching my sermon titled — “Stories of Thanks (giving) and Thanks (getting).” The music will be wonderful. And then afterward our church family will gather for a Thanksgiving luncheon. If you are in town, I want to see you in church this week!

It’s a reminder that that are many Thanksgiving meals this time of year. I’m meeting a friend for dinner tonight at Little Doms. That’s a kind of Thanksgiving. I’m going out with friends the night before Thanksgiving. We won’t have turkey, but trust me, it will be a night of Thanksgiving! I had coffee with the chair of my board, Julie Hogenboom, this week, and it was Thanksgiving over a latte and a maple glazed scone! I had lunch with my friends David and Linda this week. I left that lunch so uplifted and grateful.

Take a Breath today. Thanksgiving is a week away, but don’t be a turkey and let it be merely one meal. Celebrate many Thanksgivings — celebrating with people you love, people who love you, and people who remind you again and again that life is good. But especially this Sunday — if you’re around Los Angeles — let’s make it a day of Thanksgiving!

November 9, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
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Thoughts. And. Prayers. (Malibu)

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I know some people diminish the idea of “thoughts and prayers,” suggesting that it’s a lame excuse not to do anything, or worse, that it’s a tacit religious way of not addressing issues of justice. There’s a certain kind of arrogance in this criticism too, as if to say, “only naive and not-so-bright people pray.”

I see it differently.

I’ve been in the “thoughts and prayers” of others, and I can tell you, it makes a profound difference. It nurtures a human connection that is full of heart energy. It’s a feeling of not being alone. That someone is out there pulling for you. Praying for someone is beautiful. It’s humbling.

I’ve been watching the horrific fires in Malibu today. I am thinking of all those people in my “thoughts and prayers.” I’m feeling their suffering. I’m hurting for them. And yes, our church will make a response with donations. We must do that. But tonight I’m holding men and women and children and animals in my “thoughts and prayers.” It’s not lame; it’s real. It’s making a human connection.

Take a Breath with me today. Say a prayer for the people of California. It’s been a rough day. There are rough days ahead. All your “thoughts and prayers” are welcome.

November 6, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
3 Comments

This. Is. America.

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In honor of this great day of democracy, I offer you a photograph of the best of America. It’s an African American Christian minister who endured a church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina and a Jewish Rabbi who endured a terrible synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. When these two clergy leaders met — they didn’t have to say a word. They held one another. Supported one another. Wept together. And they reminded one another that in the face of their respective tragedies that neither man (and neither of their communities) is alone. Take a Breath today, dear friends. Take a Breath. The greatness of our nation (and humanity) is always measured by how we treat one another.

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

Let’s. Talk.

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It’s such a simple expression, isn’t it? “Let’s talk.” “Let’s talk” is about thoughts and feeling and ideas. Most of all it’s an invitation to share our experiences with one another. I’m happy to report that “Let’s talk” is happening at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. As most of you know, we are engaged in a year-long strategic planning process. Our “Road Ahead Committee” wants to listen to you. “Let’s talk” is happening in two different ways. First of all, if you haven’t done it yet, go to our website www.fccla.org and take the excellent survey that has been prepared by the strategic planning committee. And then participate in one of our Community Conversations. There will be one this coming Sunday, November 4 at 9 AM, and another after church at 12.30 PM. (The movie Coco will be shown to the kids during the 12.30 PM session so parents can participate.) There is another Community Conversation scheduled on November 11 at 12.30 PM. “Let’s talk” means we can learn together. “Let’s talk” means we can chart our future together as a congregation. And most of all “Let’s talk” means that you count!

Take a Breath today and “Let’s talk!”

October 29, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Dear Rabbi Leder:

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Dear Rabbi Leder:

The hearts of all of us at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles are broken over the events that took place in a Pittsburgh synagogue this past weekend. Yesterday in our worship service we lit candles in honor of all the victims of that senseless massacre. To say we are sorry is not nearly enough.

Wilshire Boulevard Temple is our dear neighbor. (Less than a mile from our church.) We love what you are doing in this community. The recent restoration of your beautiful temple and your commitment to serving our neighborhood inspires us. You personally have been a guest in our church, and you will be a guest in our church again.

There’s a long and ugly history of anti-Jewish thinking embedded in the Christian faith, but I am here to say that we reject all forms of it. We believe that there is a way to be Christian without a hint of anti-Jewish thought or feeling or practice. Moreover, our love for Judaism is essential to our Christian faith.

I’m writing simply to say that we are one with your community today. We are one in our grief. We are one in our hope for a better Los Angeles. Indeed, we are one in hoping for a better America. We are one in honoring the call to love our neighbor as ourselves. And we are one in our commitment to love justice and mercy and to walk humbly with God.

In these times of great challenge, let’s remind one another, my dear colleague, that we are not alone. You are not alone. I am with you. And Wilshire Boulevard Temple is not alone, because our church is a true friend and neighbor. We stand with you in these perilous times.

Sincerely,

Rev. R. Scott Colglazier, Senior Minister, First Congregational Church of Los Angeles

October 27, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
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Saturday. Night.

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A touch up on the sermon. Thinking about the week. Pipe bombs sent to harm so many public figures, including two former presidents. Has the world gone mad? And then the Dodgers go 18 innings for a win last night. The longest World Series game in history. Seven hours and twenty minutes. And then this morning. A synagogue is attacked in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I spoke to my friend Rabbi Steve Leder of Wilshire Boulevard Temple. My heart is broken for the Jewish community. Tomorrow morning at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles we will welcome everyone who walks through the doors with love, compassion and respect. We will explore one last sermon about our democracy titled — “Our Better Angels.” We will hear music that will bring tears to your eyes and make you feel human again. And then we’ll have a fall festival after church — fun for all — but especially the kids. Oh dear friends . . . if you are a church person . . . or if you would like to be a church person . . . don’t you need a church tomorrow?

October 25, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
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Compassion. (Boss Style)

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Oh how we need some compassion in the world! I think this is why I love Bruce Springsteen’s music so much . . . he brings us face to face, not only with our own suffering, but with the suffering of others. On November 4, at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, we’ll celebrate a service/concert celebrating Bruce’s music and its power to help us have more compassion for one another. I hope you’ll join me on the Forecourt at 6pm for drinks and snacks, and then be ready to rock the Cathedral at 7 pm. If you want to know what compassion is about, just read through the following lyrics from Bruce’s song “The Wrestler.” It moves me each time I hear it. This is only one of many songs we’ll feature on November 4. Take a Breath and join me on November 4. Let’s make it happen!

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free?
If you’ve ever seen a one trick pony then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one-legged dog making its way down the street?
If you’ve ever seen a one-legged dog then you’ve seen me

Then you’ve seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you’ve seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you’ve seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

Have you ever seen a scarecrow filled with nothing but dust and weeds?
If you’ve ever seen that scarecrow then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one-armed man punching at nothing but the breeze?
If you’ve ever seen a one-armed man then you’ve seen me

Then you’ve seen me, I come and stand at every door
Then you’ve seen me, I always leave with less than I had before
Then you’ve seen me, bet I can make you smile when the blood, it hits the floor
Tell me, friend, can you ask for anything more?
Tell me can you ask for anything more?

These things that have comforted me, I drive away
This place that is my home I cannot stay
My only faith’s in the broken bones and bruises I display

Have you ever seen a one-legged man trying to dance his way free?
If you’ve ever seen a one-legged man then you’ve seen me

 

 

October 22, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

For Your Consideration — Transgender

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Sexuality and gender identity is partly biological but not completely. When children are born they are “assigned” gender. Yet some grow up and discover that psychologically they are fundamentally something different. And while that might complicate things from time to time, the complication is embedded in the real experience of others. And so people transition. The last thing we need to do is marginalize transgender people. It takes enormous courage for a person to transition. I had hoped that we were well past this kind of demonization of the “other.” But clearly we are not. Transgender people cannot be erased from society. Nor should they be. Part of what it means to love our neighbor, something Jesus urges us to do over and over again, is to find a way to let people be authentically themselves. Besides, why would anyone really care? How is a transgender person going to hurt you or me? And the same could be asked of anyone who might be different — a gay person or a lesbian person or a bisexual person or a questioning person — why can’t we love others enough to let them be who they really are? Take a Breath with me today. What matters most is not one’s sexuality or gender identity; what matters most is the goodness that comes from the human heart. I am grateful to lead a church that tries every Sunday to open its doors as wide as God’s heart. I am grateful for the transgender people and their families who have found a home in our congregation. And forgive me for putting it this way . . . but I swear to God . . . I’ll go through hell and back on their behalf if anyone tries to diminish them.

October 11, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Not. A. Metaphor.

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The storms raged in Indonesia. The storms raged in South Carolina. The storms raged in Florida. Sometimes storms are not metaphors. Sometimes people are literally going through it. Literally hanging on by their fingernails. Literally losing loved ones and burying friends and living on the edge of life and death. People say: “I lost everything.” That is not a metaphor. It is literally true. When it comes to the Bible — I am not a literalist. The Bible must be interpreted to make sense for our age. But when it comes to life, sometimes the literal truth is the only thing that matters. Jesus once calmed the storm. I wonder if Jesus can help clean up after one? Take a Breath today. Say a prayer for the victims of these storms. Yes, literally, say a prayer.

September 25, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Art. Life.

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Years ago, when I had finished four straight years of graduate school, I was startled to discover that my soul was as dry as Death Valley. I knew a lot about history and theology and hermeneutics, but on the inside I was as empty as a paper sack. I started reading the poetry of Emily Dickinson. I could begin to feel something new happening inside my soul. Something started to flow again.

I was living in Indianapolis at the time, and so I flew to Boston, rented a car at the airport and drove to Amherst, Massachusetts. I visited the Dickinson home. I sat out in the garden and read her poems. I would stare at the house and imagine this amazing woman, diminutive but powerful, and I could see her writing away in her upstairs bedroom and hiding hundreds of poems in a wooden dresser, the way a prospector might hide nuggets of gold. Emily Dickinson saved my soul that summer.

But it doesn’t have to be poetry. It can be any art form. It can be film. Ask Martin Scorcese about how Italian cinema changed his life. It can be painting. Ask Picasso or Matisse or Jackson Pollock. It can be photography. Ask Edward Weston or Annie Leibovitz. It can be theater. Ask Sam Shepherd. It can be fiction. Ask Toni Morrison or Alice Walker. It can be jazz. Ask Coltrane or Dizzy or Mingus. The list goes on and on and on . . . the arts add depth to our human experience, and without them our humanity shrivels up and dies.

This coming Sunday we’ll open an art exhibition at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles titled “My Two Friends.” The work will feature Dan McCleary and David Mellon. They are extraordinary artists and it is an honor to have their work in our church. I will also feature them in our Sunday service at 11.00 AM. Come to church this Sunday. Please bring a friend. Stay for a great coffee fellowship and celebration of these two artists. I’ve been working a year on this exhibition, and not only do I think you’ll enjoy it, you might even have a peak experience!