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Dan's Musings

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

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Friday, 03 February 2017 Category Dan's Musings
So, the Annual Meeting of the Congregation has come and gone. Last Sunday, the Mears Center was full of round tables and people.  Elder Jack Hardgrave was a gracious host. The choir did a rousing spiritual, “Ride On, King Jesus!”  We celebrated the ministry of the Hartsock House in word and pictures. Special long-time service awards were given to Daisy Vollrath (Children’s Ministry) and Gene Wohlberg (visitation), who have blessed so many for so long. The positive financial end to 2016...
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Thursday, 26 January 2017 Category Dan's Musings
 I took a vacation day last Sunday morning. Anne and I ran the first ever Rose Bowl Half-Marathon. Thirteen-point-one miles (13.1), and don’t forget the point-one! We signed up for the race long ago and had plenty of time to up our normal running mileage to train. Although it drizzled while we were on the course, the monsoon rains blessedly held off until we were finished. Running for two hours gave me plenty of meditation time. I hummed a little, recited a few scriptures, prayed, and coul...
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Friday, 13 January 2017 Category Dan's Musings
I just finished a small book by David Ulin, a former book editor and critic at the Los Angeles Times. It’s called “The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time.” Ulin is not a Luddite, he does not think technology is evil or ruining the world. However, he makes the point that as a culture, our obsession with networking electronically is costly. While we communicate in increasingly rapid soundbites, we are losing the ability to immerse in deep reading. He asks, “How do we rumin...
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Thursday, 05 January 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Some of you were here for the Children and Family worship service on Christmas Eve at 5pm. The sanctuary was full of energetic kids of every age, visiting grandparents, slightly stressed parents and relieved college students home for the holidays. It’s a joyful and fun worship time. It includes Christmas carols, a story, special music, lighting candles (glow sticks, actually), an outreach offering...and the traditional Christmas pageant. A mix of youth, adults and children act out the nativity ...
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Friday, 16 December 2016 Category Dan's Musings
There are a great many reasons NOT to send out Christmas cards via postal mail. Saving trees. Reducing stress during December. Avoiding the expense. There are a great many reasons for keeping a mailing list in the computer, designing an online card and hitting the button for it to go out electronically. I am totally on board with people who choose this option, and I applaud it. Nevertheless... I once again found myself sitting in the living room with Anne this week, surrounded by cards that ne...
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Wednesday, 07 December 2016 Category Dan's Musings
This one comes to you from the road. Two of our kids live in NYC, so we try to get here for a few days each December. I'm writing this at 6pm from our son's apartment in Murray Hill. The traffic down below on Park and East 34th is snarled, full of honking cars and bright lights. We love coming here at this time of year- so much culture and character it practically knocks you over. Sidewalk Christmas tree stands on most neighborhood corners, nippy air, huge wreaths on many buildings, the elaborat...
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Friday, 02 December 2016 Category Dan's Musings
We live in an instant world. We drive-through for fast food or morning coffee, we buy gimmicky products that promise to get us in shape in just days, and we are frustrated if we can’t contact someone by email or text within seconds. We even trick ourselves into thinking we can grow deep spiritually by investing a few minutes a day. Bah. Humbug. We want to go deeper with Christ. A relationship with Jesus is cultivated piece by piece, scripture by scripture, prayer by prayer, day by day over a lo...
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Friday, 18 November 2016 Category Dan's Musings
The presidential election is over, but the cacophony is at fever pitch. The figurative sound of email, twitter, news shows, newspaper columns and facebook have many people foaming at the mouth. Everybody has an opinion which must be shouted. Some people want to gloat. Some want to cry. Some are afraid. Driving is never easy in LA, but now it seems that people are working out their political angst behind the wheel. I thought of ten different ways I could add my voice to the din. Then I thought ag...
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Thursday, 10 November 2016 Category Dan's Musings
I grew up watching the television gameshow Jeopardy! One category of knowledge often tested was “Potpourri.” It was a mishmash of miscellaneous questions that didn’t have a common theme. So with all due respect to hosts Art Fleming and Alex Trebek, here is today’s potpourri musing. Generosity-  As you’ve heard by now, Giving Sunday (Stewardship) is November 20th.  At all services, we will bring our financial giving estimates for 2017 forward so Session can construct a budget to f...
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Wednesday, 02 November 2016 Category Dan's Musings
“If we are honest, we often want judgment for other people, but grace for ourselves.” I said it in Sunday’s sermon.     So last week Anne and I went with a friend to the LA Philharmonic to experience Dudamel weaving his symphonic magic. We were seated.in the first row directly behind the orchestra, which is a wonderful spot to see the conductor at work and be close to the action. About halfway through the concert, at a poignant moment, a nearby cellphone went off.   Act...
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