This past January, my son and I were back in Los Angeles for a father / son weekend to celebrate his 16th birthday. We took time to explore places he remembered from growing up in L.A. - and check out a few new things as well.
Sunday morning, one of those "new places" was Reality Los Angeles - a large, growing non-denominational church meeting in Hollywood.
.... the Days Inn, Hollywood. Nice place, reasonable rates (for Hollywood). This is the view from our room Sunday morning just before checking out.
As we drove down Sunday Blvd, we saw a sign for Saddleback Church, Los Angeles. I just checked their website. Apparently, Saddleback L.A. is meeting a few miles away in Studio City.
Sunset Blvd, Hollywood, Sunday morning in the rain.
Reality Los Angeles - or just Reality LA - meets Sundays at Helen Bernstein High School 1309 N Wilton Place, about a block from where Sunset Blvd crosses over the Hollywood Freeway.
This being Los Angeles, nearby Paramount Studios has used Helen Bernstein High School as a filming location the TV show Glee.
Los Angeles, like most other cities, rents out school facilities during "off hours" to groups and organizations - including churches and other religious organizations.
Reality LA meets 9am, 12noon, and 5pm.
People hangout out in the courtyard - staying out the rain.
Every Sunday, dozens of volunteers work to set up (and, of course, tear down) everything involved in church services for a thousand or more adults, teens, and kids. Booths were up for opportunities for involvement during the week - including a dozen different service opportunities in the local community.
Just before we went into the auditorium, I notice off in the distance, the distinct onion domes of Holy Transfiguration Russian Orthodox Church - located half a mile away. Here's a link with a few photos from a previous blog post.
The sentiment that Angelenos don't go out when it's raining certainly wasn't true Sunday morning at Reality. The church service was packed. The service starts out with music and singing. The contemporary worship band was great.
“I wish I’d partied a little less. People always say ‘be true to yourself.’ But that’s misleading, because there are two selves. There’s your short term self, and there’s your long term self. And if you’re only true to your short term self, your long term self slowly decays.”quote from Humans of New York
Great opening to an outstanding, engaging and - yes - challenging message. We loved the fact that lead pastor Tim Chaddick embraces the church's role and responsibility in a city like Los Angeles.
The passage that morning was from some of the most challenging words of Jesus - found in Luke 9:23-25:
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?
If you're looking for some sort of "me centered" religious experience - I wouldn't necessarily recommend Reality LA. But if you're looking for an authentic community of men and women committed to loving God, each other, and the wider community - this is the place to be.
Final quote from Oxford University professor and author C.S. Lewis:
“Your real, new self ... will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
Great, challenging sermon. Even if you're not necessarily religious, or even a Christian, this church is still a great place to visit.
People hanging out afterwards. Lots and lots of USC, UCLA, and other are university students. If my kids, now ages 16 and 14, end up at a university in Los Angeles - I'd hope they be involved in a church like this.
Here's a link to the church's website.
I'm taking a break from posting for a couple of weeks - more towards the end of next month.
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