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Dan's Musings

Latest thoughts from First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood Pastor, Dan Baumgartner

Dan Baumgartner
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Friday, 16 November 2018 Category Dan's Musings
So there I was, in line at Starbucks in Pasadena. The exact location changes but the routine is pretty much a daily occurrence. There were five people working, but just one cashier. With only a single customer in front of me, I knew I wouldn't have a long wait. And for once, I wasn't in a hurry. The young woman in front of me was clearly a regular at the shop because she was chatting up all five employees. At once.It took...a long time. But I wasn’t in a hurry. She updated everyone on her job, t...
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Thursday, 08 November 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“A sacrament is when something holy happens,” says Frederick Buechner. At the Deacons’ meeting this week we talked about the Lord’s Supper. We touched on scripture, delved into theology and covered the logistics of serving communion to our Hollywood Presbyterian family. I also shared a true story I wrote down a number of years ago in Seattle, because it seemed to get at the holiness of those moments.   Rest, Tom Kelly   “The invitation is from the Lord Jesus Christ, to come, eat...
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Friday, 26 October 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“It’s not rocket science.” I’m not sure who first said this, though I suspect it wasn’t a rocket scientist. We use the phrase all the time to communicate “this is really not complicated at all.” So last weekend, for the fourteenth time since I’ve been here, we held a New Members class. It’s for people who want to officially join the church, or just find out more about it. We do this twice a year, normally once in the fall and once in the spring. These times start with a potluck meal at our hous...
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Thursday, 11 October 2018 Category Dan's Musings
So, it’s October. Haunted houses spring up on empty lots. Pumpkins appear in stores. It is fall, and this week for the first time- I felt it. It’s harder to notice in Southern California. Just hints, really. The darker mornings. A bit of cooler breeze earlier in the evening. The quicker sunset. The grapevines on the garden fence actually showing a few colors.  Ernest Hemingway once wrote a eulogy for a friend, which some people speculate may have been for himself as well:    ...
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Thursday, 04 October 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Jesus is the answer!  Yes!  But it is increasingly important for followers of Jesus to reflect on this: What is the question?  The culture we live in today is not the same as it was 100 years ago. Or 50. Or 25. Or 10. There is  a certain resistance to faith- and particularly to faith in Christ.  Some days it seems as though holding absolutely any belief is okay, as long as it is not believing in Jesus. Additionally, people in our culture often resist anything that feels ...
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Friday, 28 September 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Hopefully you know by now that every topic for this weekly column reflects a work-in-progress. It’s not deep research or polished treatise. The title tells the truth: Musing. Rumination. Pondering. Reflection. Wondering. Recently I’ve been chewing on this: Has the word “evangelical” been ruined?  To be clear- I’m far from the first person from the evangelical tradition to wonder about this- books have been written, articles submitted, blogposts shared. The issue is that evangelical is per...
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Friday, 14 September 2018 Category Dan's Musings
 “Don’t look back, something might be gaining on you!”  Satchell Paige, the old Hall of Fame baseball pitcher, is credited with this sage piece of advice.  There’s some real wisdom here.  We have to look ahead, concerned with what God is putting in front of us and choosing the right route for the future. We can’t be stuck in the past. At the same time, however, we NEED to look back. Not in fear that something is chasing us, but to honor people who have mentored us, and learn ...
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Friday, 31 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Despite the fact that one can earn a graduate degree or PhD in Homiletics, preaching is more art than science. It is more mystery than formula. It is more Holy Spirit lighting up scripture than an entertaining public speaker. I’ve preached regularly, nearly weekly, for about 20 years now. I’ve figured out a few things over time, but mostly I’m still in awe over the mystery part. How is it that God can speak to the heart of a long-time Christian who has studied the bible for decades, a friend liv...
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Friday, 24 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“Have you ever done a blessing for an apartment building?”  The question from our friends who own such a facility here in Los Angeles, made me stop and think. Nope. I’ve done pastoral blessings over homes in Seattle and L.A. and Minneapolis. I once did a blessing over a restaurant in North Hollywood, but never exactly an apartment building. “Would you be willing to?”  Yes, of course. So, Wednesday morning Anne and I showed up at the building owned by our friends. A small group of peop...
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Thursday, 16 August 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Was it in my business years, trying to futilely juggle being a dad, husband, church elder, businessperson, family member and friend? Or was it in my first year of ministry, listening to someone pour out a heartbreaking situation in their life, and realizing there was nothing I could do to fix it?  At some point, I realized life is messy. It just is. I suspect you are like me. I have spent a great deal of effort trying to perfectly balance my time, clean-up messes, control outcomes and fix p...
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