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Musings

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

Dan Baumgartner
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Thursday, 18 April 2019 Category Musings
If Only   Channel 12’s reporter stands before the evening news van, mic in hand, stares into the camera’s bright light. Words roll out too smoothly: “Yes, Jim, I’m here on site at Golgotha, where days of rampant speculation pointed to some earth-shattering event taking place today, Friday. We’ve been here all afternoon with little to report, apart from an oddly early sunset. Besides that, just the usual creepy stuff from this particular neighborhood- funeral processions, weep...
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Friday, 12 April 2019 Category Musings
Many of the more liturgical traditions in the Christian Church, especially our Catholic brothers and sisters, have utilized a set of images called “The Stations of the Cross” for learning scripture, rehearsing the story of Christ’s passion and guidance for prayer and meditation. Christian retreat centers often feature a walk guided by paintings, engravings or symbols for the “stations,” or different moments on Jesus’ journey from his condemnation before Pilate through his burial.  The Catho...
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Friday, 05 April 2019 Category Musings
April 5, 2019 Dear Hollywood Pres community-It is with surprise, sadness and excitement that I write you this letter. There is no easy way to approach it: after 8 ½ years as the senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, my time here is coming to a close. Anne and I will eventually be moving to Santa Rosa, CA and I will serve as the pastor of The Cove (Covenant Fellowship Presbyterian Church), pending their congregational vote at the end of this month. I will finish ...
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Thursday, 21 March 2019 Category Musings
I have this place. I may have mentioned it once in a sermon. It’s a “thin place.” That is the ancient Celtic Christian terminology for a place where God’s presence seems especially poignant. Their belief was that heaven resides just 3 feet above the earth, a sort of parallel universe, but that there are special “thin places” where even that distance is much smaller and human beings can sense the nearness of God in a palpable way.            ...
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Friday, 15 March 2019 Category Musings
Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson- what do they have in common? I was pondering this on vacation as I read Doris Kearns Goodwin's book Leadership in Turbulent Times.  Kearns is a prize-winning and bestselling historian who has previously written separately on these four presidents. In this book she uses "leadership" as the lens to view each of them. It is a fascinating study in many ways, but the thing which caught my eye in the biographical ...
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Thursday, 07 March 2019 Category Musings
Note: Within our PCUSA denomination, Hollywood Presbyterian has belonged to The Fellowship Community (TFC) since 2012. It is a network of the evangelical churches and leaders who remain in the denomination. I serve on the Board. Pastor Joel and Elders Liz Smith and Mac Heald joined me on February 19-21 for the annual national meeting.   (Tulsa, OK)  Some people have said–rightly–that the name is utterly redundant: The Fellowship Community. That redundancy was on full display at the Feb...
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Thursday, 28 February 2019 Category Musings
“Share where you were born, and then the farthest you have ever been from that point.”  It was a simple assignment for dinner conversation when the Deacons and Elders met together for an hour this week.  It made me think about distant places I had been.  My first thought was “Inner Mongolia.”  Upon review later, I was actually much farther away from Seattle when I was on Lake Victoria in Kenya. But Inner Mongolia had occupied my thoughts, and I was remembering a trip in 2002....
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Tuesday, 12 February 2019 Category Musings
Next week I will be in Tulsa, OK for the National Gathering of The Fellowship Community (TFC). I’ll be accompanied by Pastor Joel and elders Mac Heald and Liz Smith. It promises to be a very engaging week with 225 people from around the country. For your review, TFC is the networking group of evangelical churches and leaders within the PCUSA. Hollywood Pres is a member, and I am on the Board. (For a reminder of the non-political use of the word “evangelical,” see my September 28, 2018 Musing her...
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Thursday, 07 February 2019 Category Musings
The eminent philosopher Dr. Seuss once said:       “The more that you read, the more things you will know.         The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Our staff at Hollywood Pres does a significant amount of reading and discussing. At pastoral staff meetings, all-staff meetings and staff retreats we are always reading something together. Often it is scripture, but magazine articles, poetry, theology, literature, histo...
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Friday, 25 January 2019 Category Musings
So the daughter asks her dad the question: “But Daddy, why do I have to keep doing the right thing when it doesn’t seem to make a difference?”  And Dad hems and haws and finally settles on “I’m not sure, honey, that’s just the way God set things up.”             Out of a child’s mouth comes the question that is not just cute, but quite theologically profound. And out of a father’s lips comes the answer that does not actually avoid the...
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