December 21, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott
1 Comment

Christmas Want. Christmas Need. Christmas Get.


The Christmas we want is often idealized from our childhood. I want snow. (I’m not going to get snow in Los Angeles, but I want it.) I want kindness and tenderness, and I want everyone I know, including family and friends, to be happy. I want to have warm feelings and good memories, and I want to get a few presents under the tree too! I want the world to rest in peace on Christmas. That would be present enough.

And then there is the Christmas we need, and that is often very different from the Christmas we want. Sometimes the Christmas we need is not warm and fuzzy. It might not even be happy. Every now and then Christmas can be painful, but sometimes a painful Christmas is what we need. It becomes soul material for us. It changes us. Helps us grow and shapes our inner being.

And then there is the Christmas we get, and what we get is usually some combination of what we want and what we need. The Christmas we get invites us to be present with all that is — our happiness and unhappiness, our good memories and painful memories, the people around our table and the people not around our table.

Our wants becomes our prayers. Our needs become our soul material. And our gets become, simply stated, our real opportunity to embrace the God of the present moment. Take a Breath on this Winter Solstice day. Something is drawing close to us. I can feel it. It’s whispering our name. Breathing into our hearts. Christmas is coming, and if we’re lucky, we’ll get a little of what we want, a little of what we need, and we’ll get, well, we’ll get what we get.

December 20, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

Christmas. Simplicity.


To contemplate the Christ child is an act of simplicity. It is a pause. A break. A breath. To contemplate the birth of this child, recognizing again that God cracked open the world through is simple birth, is an act of faith. His message was love. His life was compassion. His teaching was wisdom. Oh how complicated it all becomes during this week of Christmas. Traveling through busy airports and driving down crowded freeways and shopping for one more gift. Families are still torn apart by ambiguous feelings and relationships remain unresolved for yet another holiday. But today, a few days before Christmas, a day that leads us to Christmas, I invite you to Take a Breath. Contemplate the bare bones of the story of a mother and child and a birth. Simplicity but never simplistic.

December 19, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

Try. Church.


Try church. Sunday is Christmas Eve. Try church. All around the world congregations will hold services this coming Sunday. There is not a more sacred, beautiful, and meaningful day in the life of a church than Christmas Eve. Try church. If you’re in Los Angeles, I hope you will try First Congregational Church. We will have a service at 11 AM. We will celebrate the Christmas Story through the eyes of children. Our Chancel Ringers will play. We’ll have a baptism. I’ll preach (a very short) sermon incorporating art work by Henri Matisse into our service. Try church. In the evening we’ll have two services of Lessons and Carols and Candlelight at 8 PM and 11 PM. I’ve had a sneak preview of the music. It will be lovely. Christoph Bull, one of the great musicians in the country, will play a 30 minute concert before each service, 7.30 PM and 10.30 PM respectively. My homily is titled “The Human Touch of God.” We will sing “Silent Night” and raise our flickering candles into the air, a ritual affirmation of God’s light in the world. Try church. Take a Breath this week. Plan your menus. Wrap your presents. Be safe if you are traveling. Attend your parties. But do yourself a favor this Christmas. Try church.



December 18, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

A. Little. Christmas.


And so I put aside for a few days my big dreams, my large plans that this Christmas will be better than ever. Instead, it’s a little Christmas I want this year. Like this Renaissance painting that hangs in a gallery at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, a small Christmas, a quiet Christmas can be a good thing. That’s what I want. This painting is measured only in a few inches. It’s tucked away into an obscure corner. There are more impressive paintings in the same gallery, to be sure, the kind that attract the attention of scholars and visitors alike. But this small painting of Mary and the child, flanked by two angels, is a vision of quiet and calm. A petite Christmas. That’s what I want. A few carols. A few prayers. Time with friends. A call from my granddaughter. I want to hold a single candle on Christmas Eve, believing again that light still shines in darkness. I want to know that I have loved this past year. I want the simplicity of Taking a Breath. And then another. And then another. Aware that every breath is a gift. I want that for you and me, and I want it for all God’s children around the world. A little Christmas.

December 6, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

Praying. For. Firefighters.


They are first on the scene and last to leave. They risk their lives every single day. They save people. They save houses and buildings. So many days they are the unsung heroes of our communities. But not today. At least not today in Los Angeles. The world is on fire. They are converging on fires on the westside of the city, north of the city, and all around southern California. I am praying for firefighters. I am praying for pilots in planes and helicopters dropping water inside canyons that are exploding with flames. We throw the the word “hero” around way too much, so far as I’m concerned. But not today. Today the heroes are driving red trucks, trudging up steep terrain, and they are risking everything to help those in need. Join me in Taking a Breath today. A breath for firefighters.


December 5, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

Comfort (in the city of angels).


This coming Sunday my sermon is titled “The Art of Christmas: Comfort in the City of Angels” I plan to explore the meaning of comfort — partly an experience that makes  us feel better and partly an experience of finding strength for our life challenges. I think many of us, myself included, turn to faith for comfort. U2 frontman, Bono, once said that his two favorite songs were — “Amazing Grace” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” (I can see how they go together.) This week I’m going to preach a sermon for everyone who has ever needed comfort, especially during a holiday season. I’m dedicating it to everyone who is hanging on to life by their fingernails, taking it hour by hour, and day by day. For my artistic reflection, I’m using a work by Picasso. It’s titled the “Weeping Woman.” Sometimes a painting is a painting. But sometimes a painting is a mirror. Regardless of what you see, I hope you’ll join me Sunday at 11 AM and embrace the gift of comfort.


November 23, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

When Thanksgiving Doesn’t Feel Like Thanksgiving.


It’s over 90 degrees in Los Angeles and it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is supposed to be cold and blustery. Perhaps a snow flurry or too. But not today in California. The air conditioning is running. The calendar says it’s Thanksgiving, but sometimes what we feel is not the same as what the calendar says.

I’m not complaining, mind you, I’m just saying that sometimes Thanksgiving is different. And as far as that goes, the same can be said for birthdays and Christmas celebrations and family reunions. What we think should be . . . doesn’t appear. What we once had . . . will never return. Some of people we once loved . . . are gone. My dad is gone.

Yet it is Thanksgiving. Not the same, perhaps, but Thanksgiving nevertheless. To be in the present moment is to surrender to God. There. I said it. God. Take a Breath today. Whoever you are. Whatever you are doing. Take a Breath. Be still. Be thankful for what is. It’s not that last year was better. There’s no a promise that next year will be any better. The only gift we have is today. Right now. It is Thanksgiving. Give thanks.

November 13, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

It’s Personal. (For. My. Father.)

He worked all day, and then came home and played pitch and catch in the backyard. I can still hear the pop of a baseball in my leather mitt or feel the cosmically round baseball in my hand. I would throw as hard as I could to impress him. I wanted his approval. He also coached my Little League Team.

In the fall and winter, even when it was snowing, he would come outside and we would play basketball out by the old white-washed garage. When I was playing basketball in school — ten years worth of teams — he would sit in the stands, watch the game, make notes, and then every night he would critique how I played. Never harshly. Always constructively. He understood the poetry of the game.

He was a good man, not just good to me, but to my friends. My dad was kind-hearted and generous. He was a good dad, but also a good son to his parents, Agnes and Gayle. He would sometimes work at their grocery store on the weekends to help them out. He had a good sense of humor too. He worked hard. He volunteered in the community and served on countless boards, and was elected to the City Council three times. And yes, he was a Republican. People knew him and respected him. I was proud to be his son.

He and my mother went through a terrible time after I was grown and out of the house. He eventually remarried and was happy. Very happy. He enjoyed going to church too. First when I was a small boy at First Christian Church of Salem, Indiana, and then at Southport Christian Church in Indianapolis. I have so many flaws as a minister, but he never saw any of them. He was proud of me. He was proud of my vocation. He always asked about my church and loved to read my sermons.

I grew up with a dad who told me that he loved me. Not every now and then, but every night before I went to sleep. My father blessed me again and again. Family vacations. Fishing trips. Camping trips. Out to dinner. Indiana basketball games. In the last years, I would call him almost every morning to say hi and check in on him. We would talk about Indiana University basketball. Or Major League baseball. He was a Cardinals fan. I’m a Cubs fan. Without fail he asked about my kids — Matthew and Drew and Katie. And when that was finished, we would talk about the weather.

My father didn’t know me the last two times I visited him in Indianapolis. That was hard. He had Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s a terrible disease. Plus, his wife, Elise, had died, and he was tired and lonely and lonely and tired. It’s not that he gave up. He was just ready to go. I tried to say hi to him in August and he didn’t understand that it was me. He didn’t know me.

My father passed away this morning.

His name was Richard Lee Colglazier.

I am Richard Scott Colglazier.

I am forever his son.


November 9, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

Thank. You. For. Your. Service.


There are so many ways of serving the country, and more importantly, helping the human family. Teachers. Nurses. Doctors. Social Workers. Sanitation workers. Firefighters. But for the men and women who wear the uniform of military service, their sacrifices deserve special note. They leave behind family and friends to serve our nation. Many risk their lives and face unspeakable horror in service to the country. Supporting veterans is not the same as supporting war. One can disagree with a war, but the men and women who are asked to serve deserve our appreciation. Supporting veterans means helping them when they come home, many of whom are suffering from post traumatic stress, terrible depression, physical ailments, and deep moral injury. Take a Breath and thank a veteran this weekend. Make a contribution to a veteran’s organization. Say a prayer for a veteran. Hire a veteran for a job. It’s not easy for them to leave; it’s even harder for them to come home. To all our veterans I say: We honor you. We thank you for your service.

November 6, 2017
by Dr. R. Scott

Thought. For. Texas.


Prayer is about opening up and listening. We think it’s about talking to God. But it’s not about our talking; prayer is about our listening. In our prayers we listen to the brokenness of our fellow human beings.

Have you noticed how after every terrible tragedy in the world, politicians use the same clichéd line – “Our prayers are with the victims and their families?”

A Las Vegas shooting happens. “Our prayers are with the victims and their families.” A Texas church is the most recent scene of a mass shooting. “Our prayers are with the victims and their families.” But that phrase feels as hollow as an old soup can to me.

  • We can’t muster enough courage to outlaw assault weapons in America, but our prayers are with them?
  • We can’t begin to address the culture of gun violence in America, but our prayers are with them?
  • We continue to line the pockets of politicians with money from the gun lobby, but our prayers are with them?
  • We cut social services for mental health, but our prayers are with them?
  • We continue to give toy guns to children, but our prayers are with them?
  • Hollywood produces movies filled with gun violence, but our prayers are with them?

My dear dear friends . . . prayer is not about getting stuff from God; prayer is about getting in touch with the stuff within ourselves. And that means in touch with the deepest brokenness of our fellow human beings – and then trying to do something about it!

I’m trying to Take a Breath but I can barely do it today. Let’s pray. Let’s act. Let’s stand up. Let’s speak up. Let’s point fingers. Let’s speak up from our pulpits. Let’s write Congress. Let’s do whatever it takes to bring peace, peace, peace to our nation.