April 18, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Barbara. Bush.

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I was a fan. A real fan of Barbara Bush. First Lady. Mother. Grandmother. Wife. Friend to many. Matriarch of a family. Philanthropist. Person of faith. I’m Taking a Breath today and thinking of the many reasons why I admired her so much . . . maybe you can Take a Breath in her memory today too . . .

  1. She loved her family and was fiercely loyal to them.
  2. She was a person of principle but not a political ideologue.
  3. She cared about her community and country.
  4. She spoke her mind, always feisty, but without being mean spirited.
  5. She was a person of faith and loved her church.
  6. She treated friends and strangers alike with dignity and respect.
  7. She maintained her personal dignity in the public arena.
  8. She cared about literacy and education for young people.
  9. She had an amazing wit and a mischievous sense of humor.
  10. And finally, she rocked gray hair and wore a strand of pearls like nobody’s business!

April 17, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Missing. You.

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I know it’s not that big of deal — it’s only been two Sundays — but I have missed you — First Congregational Church of Los Angeles! I have missed you and look forward to seeing you this coming Sunday. Thank you for the many expressions of concern and good wishes regarding my health. I’m doing well. I have follow up appointments this coming Friday, and until otherwise notified, I’m back to work!

This coming Sunday is Earth Day Sunday! We will celebrate the goodness of God’s creation, reminding one another that there is something profoundly sacred to Mother Earth. I would suggest that we think of the earth as the body of God — how we care for the earth is how we care for God. Want to love God? Great! Love the earth. I’ve been thinking a lot about my own body over the past weeks, and how caring for the body is a way of caring for the God that lives within us all.

Would you join me this week at First Church? Sunday morning at 11.00 AM. We will welcome our new Associate Minister for Children, Youth and Families — Wally (Cynthia) Hoeger. I would love to see the church crawling with babies, children and youth! It’s going to be a great Sunday at First Church. In the New Testament the Church is called the “body” of Christ. A reminder that another way we love God is by caring for our community of faith.

Take a Breath with me today. Care for the body. The body of the earth. The body of your community. Your personal body that so freely carries you through life. Take a Breath with gratitude and love for the ever in-fleshing / em-bodying presence of the divine.

 

 

April 7, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
12 Comments

Heart. Pause.

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I’m taking a heart pause. Literally. A. Heart. Pause. A few weeks ago I was experiencing a slight shortness of breath while exercising . . .

A trip to my doctor . . . Hmm . . .

An EKG . . . Hmm . . .

And then a CT Scan . . . Hmm . . .

And then a Stress Test . . . Hmm . . .

And then an Angiogram . . .

And then a complete blockage in a coronary artery. And then the hospital. And then two stents.

I am home now. I am fine. Compared to so many people in the world, I am a lucky man. A blessed man. It’s humbling, of course, when a medical team saves your life. It is humbling to know (really know) that every single heartbeat is a gift of God. I knew that. (Theoretically) Now I know it.(Experientially.)

I’m in recovery mode now. My body is a little sore. I’m feeling excited and thrilled in one moment, and then the next moment I find myself inexplicable depressed and somber.

Like many of you, when it comes to daily habits, I know what I want to do, I know what I should do, and I know what I need to do, but I don’t always follow through. And so, like many before me, I am trying to reboot my life — take better care of myself, find more balance with my work life and professional life, eat better, exercise more, and through it all try to live in a way that relishes life as a gift, but which recognizes that moderation is a good thing too.

I’m not sure why I’m sharing all of this tonight. It’s Saturday night. I’m not going to church tomorrow. I feel no pressure over a sermon. But if I were preaching tomorrow, preaching tomorrow on the Sunday after Easter, it would be something like this — Life is a gift. Friends matter. Family matters. Faith matters. Live fully. Live gratefully. Be brave. Be fearless. Love others.

Take a Breath with me today. I don’t often ask this, but if you’re so inclined, say a prayer for me today. I will say a prayer for you too. I look forward to being back in the pulpit of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles on April 22. Between now and then I’ll doing some thinking and praying and reading, and if I’m lucky a little walking on the beach.

April 4, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
2 Comments

50. Years. Ago.

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I was eleven years old when Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed. I was becoming aware of the world at age eleven. There was no such thing as “news” outlets or information choices. There was only the news — NBC, CBS and ABC. We were an NBC family, though CBS reigned with the avuncular presence of Walter Cronkite.

When Dr. King was assassinated, standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, I was very much aware of his national presence. He was in the news constantly and I was electrified by his speeches. I had a distinct feeling when I heard the news of his assassination that the world had changed.  Dramatically. Poignantly. Forever changed.

The two nearest cities of my hometown were Louisville, Kentucky and Indianapolis, Indiana. Robert Kennedy was in Indianapolis the day Dr. King died, and it fell upon his shoulders to announce, primarily to an African American audience, that Dr. King had been killed. If you watch a news clip of that day, you can hear the anguished grief in his voice. To the south in Louisville, a terribly segregated city and the hometown of famed boxer Cassius Clay / Mohammed Ali, the feeling was one of visceral rage.

In some small way, but in a way that was profoundly real to me, I knew that Dr. King’s struggle for America was a good struggle, the right struggle, and a struggle completely consistent with the message of Jesus. To this day I still believe in the fundamental human rights of all people — dignity, respect, compassion, opportunity, equality and justice. Like Dr. King, I anchor these values in the life and teachings of Jesus. But for me these values were also articulated by Dr. King’s message, and it’s why to this day I count him as one of the most important figures of my life.

Dr. King was killed 50 years ago today. In one way of looking at it we have made amazing progress as a society. But the work is not finished. Take a Breath with me today. On this 50th anniversary of his death I dedicate myself  again to Dr. King’s high purposes. Will you join me?

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

Yet. Not Yet.

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Oh how I am ready for Easter tomorrow morning at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. Joy. Music. Laughter. Enough fragrance from the flowers to open a perfume factory. We’re all in need of resurrection, and the eternal greening of our souls marked with the arrival of spring.

Yet . . . Not yet . . .

Yesterday was Good Friday and contemplating the suffering of Jesus, which is the suffering of God, was almost too much. Good Friday never stops, because human anguish never stops.

But what about Saturday? Most of us are living in between something. In between a relationship. In between jobs. In between pay checks. Tomorrow is Easter. But most of us live in the Saturday time of yet-not-yet.

And so we Take a Breath during the yet-not-yet times. We center ourselves with prayer. We remember again that we are daughters and sons of God. We Take a Breath, trusting that even breathing is a prayer. We trust the silent working of something in our lives. Like yeast in dough or like a pearl quietly forming within the darkness of an oyster shell.

We keep living and waiting. We keep waiting and living. It’s Saturday. And it’s okay.

 

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

Andy Warhol. And the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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I have pondered for many years the soup cans of Andy Warhol. I’ve always liked them. But I’ve been especially thinking about them this week as I’m preparing for the celebration of Easter Sunday. What is the relationship between Andy and Jesus? I’m not exactly sure, but I like the fact that Andy Warhol understood that the ordinary delivers to the world something that is good and true and beautiful. That is to say, common, ordinary, daily life is a sacrament of the holy. This, of course, is exactly what Jesus taught us. He compared the working of God to yeast quietly transforming dough, or a seed silently germinating in the ground, or birds singing in the trees, or a wedding party for a bride and groom. God is not found in the one great thunderbolt experience. (At least not usually.) God is found by paying attention to the ordinary things of our daily existence. If you really want to have an Easter experience — In addition to showing up at First Church this Sunday at 11 AM! — you might consider this: Just Take a Breath and then begin paying attention. Paying attention to what? Everything! Including soup cans.

March 23, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Courage. (To Be Religious)

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As I prepare for Palm Sunday, and then my Holy Week journey, I think of those ancient people who greeted Jesus along the roadside, crying out Hosanna and enthusiastically waving palm branches.

It strikes me that being religious requires courage. The kind of courage / heart that gets you out of the house, out of yourself, that moves you toward ritual and liturgy, communion and fellowship with others.

To say you believe in God, that you value faith and religion and community, to show up at a church or temple at the beginning of the 21st century, has become an act of protest. Protest against the secularism of our day. The rampant consumerism of our time. It’s a protest against the vulgarization of life.

This is only an invitation . . . but if you could find your way to a church this Sunday, and maybe a service or two during Holy Week, and then culminate your week on Easter Sunday, you might find what many of us find, namely, that to be religious is like taking a deep breath. And Taking a Breath is everything.

March 20, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
0 comments

Two. Days. Two. Marches.

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This coming weekend is a weekend of marches.

On Saturday, March 24, I am inviting friends to meet me at First Congregational Church of Los Angeles at 8.30 AM, and then we’ll head downtown to march, and with out marching we’ll be saying that enough is enough, and that it’s time to put an end to gun violence in our country, and that it’s time to make our schools safe, and it’s time to make easy gun access a thing of the past. I’m going to stand with young people all over the country who are sick and tired of being afraid. I’m going to stand with young people who do not understand why it is still so easy to buy an assault weapon in our country. I am nothing more than an imperfect follower of Jesus Christ, but I know enough about Jesus Christ to know that he is the Prince of Peace, and it is the Prince of Peace who inspires me to march.

And then Sunday morning, March 25, we’ll have another kind of march. A liturgical march. I’ll march down the beautiful center aisle of First Congregational Church with choir members and deacons and children, waving palm branches and remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem centuries ago. I will remember how much courage it took for people to celebrate the presence of Jesus that day and how much courage it took for Jesus to move toward his inevitable death. I will also encourage our congregation to find new courage for our time and day, courage to love and courage to live and courage to celebrate, even though some days it feels as if our world is falling apart all around us. My sermon is titled — “Braving the Wilderness: Courage is Everything!” I hope to see you this Sunday!

Take a Breath today. If you’re in Los Angeles this coming weekend . . . join me and march! March on Saturday if you are so moved. March on Palm Sunday if you are so moved. When it comes down to it, what is faith but mustering a little courage and putting one foot in front of the other.

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March 14, 2018
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Stephen. Hawking.

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Like many around the world, I mourn the passing of Stephen Hawking, and I share with you one of my favorite quotes from the famed professor, scientist and intellectual. Have suffered from ALS for years, he once said, “Spend more time looking up at the stars and less time staring down at your shoes.” Take a Breath, my dear friends, here’s to more stargazing!

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

This. Is. Democracy.

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This morning Pilgrim School students gathered to remember (a sacred act of honoring those killed in Florida one month ago today). They also gathered as a sign of protest (another sacred act of advocating for justice in our society). To see young people care about something other than their own adolescent needs is nothing short of inspiring. I love these students. I love their families. And I love that they are creating the kind of world that will be better for all of us. Enough is enough!