September 10, 2017 . . . a Fall Kick-Off Sunday at First Church. A celebration of First Church and Pilgrim School. An introduction of a new Head of School at Pilgrim . . . Paul Barsky. A new Director of Music . . . David Harris. A new beginning for our Chancel Choir. And yes, I’m back in the pulpit at First Church after three — yes, count’em — three Sundays away! My sermon for this Sunday is titled: “A Year of Jubilee!”
I’m tan, rested and ready, jazzed and inspired as I look forward to this Sunday and a new fall season at the church. I’m also looking forward to beginning my tenth year as the Senior Minister of this congregation. I know organized religion can get some pretty bad reviews these days, but let me just say it . . . this community of faith, First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, is home to some of the most interesting, engaging, intelligent, kind, funny, joyful, loving, generous, and compassionate people you can ever hope to meet!
So much this summer has reminded me of why our city needs a community like First Church. A place of real openness. A place to share and learn and grow. A place where the issues of our world can be explored with the resources of our faith. And when fires rage, our church is there. And when floods rise, our church is there. And when our democracy teeters, our church is there. And when the least of these, such as immigrants and dreamers are pushed aside, our church is there. And when the gay community is persecuted yet again in the name of God, our church is there.
We are now beginning our 151st year as a congregation, and now more than ever do I see the need for our church in this world. We have a purpose! God is calling us to be a place that is open, loving, progressive, engaged, and most of all a community of faith that tries to embody the presence of Jesus in the world. My love for this church is not theoretical; I have discovered first-hand how good and beautiful and supportive First Church can be when one goes through a rough patch.
And so friends . . . all our friends and members and visitors of First Church . . . we will open the doors of our church as wide as the heart of God this Sunday . . . join us at 11 AM . . . let’s come back together after a summer of travel and vacations. Let’s celebrate together. Let’s make worship a priority together. And then let’s Take a Breath this coming Sunday morning as we seek the love of God and justice and mercy for one another!