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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, 19 May 2017 Category Dan's Musings
If you know me at all, you know I love to read- widely, deeply, critically. And I tend to read several books simultaneously, from a variety of genres. The author Diane Duane once wrote “Reading one book is like eating one potato chip.” If I have several books going, it means that I have one for whatever mood I’m in- theology, novel, poetry, history. It also means that a few times a year I finish a number of books all at once. So here’s the recently completed list:The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steve...
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Friday, 12 May 2017 Category Dan's Musings
I mentioned a novel by Steven Galloway called The Cellist of Sarajevo in a sermon a few weeks ago. It is based on a true story which occurred during the Bosnian War of the 1990’s. Unfortunately, many of us barely remember that war, which happened after the dismantling of Yugoslavia. It was awful. Any war is terrible, but this one included the killing of thousands of civilians, mass rapes and pillaging that went unchecked, ethnic cleansing and concentration camps. It was confusing because of the ...
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Thursday, 27 April 2017 Category Dan's Musings
This week seven young pastors in their 30’s or early 40’s will be with me in Los Angeles for 3 ½ days. They will come from Missoula MT, Milwaukie OR, Petaluma CA, Grand Junction CO and three from WA: Spokane, Aberdeen and Tacoma. It is an annual retreat group that started in 2009 with a trip to a cabin Anne and I once owned on Whidbey Island’s Useless Bay. Accordingly, we referred to the group as the Useless Bay Pastors.  Eventually, we sold the cabin, so the group shortened its name to sim...
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Thursday, 13 April 2017 Category Dan's Musings
I don’t consider myself a poet, though two or three time a year I will at least scratch out a few lines or the outline of something to come back to later. But every year since 2001 I have “received” a poem during Lent. I never really sit down to think about it, but inevitably an idea gets my attention and it feels like...a poem. A poem for Good Friday. It just happened this week for the seventeenth time, and I’ll read it tonight as part of our Good Friday worship service at 7pm. Attached is the ...
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Thursday, 06 April 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Imagine this- fifteen people sitting in a large dining room area eating breakfast together. Not so hard to picture, right? Now imagine this- no one says a word the entire meal. Everyone slowly eats, looks out the window or smiles if someone catches their eye...but in silence. Our pastoral staff took a quick 24-hour retreat at the Mt. Calvary Holy Cross Benedictine Monastery in Santa Barbara this week. The Monastery is Episcopal in affiliation, with four older monks who live and work the retreat...
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Friday, 31 March 2017 Category Dan's Musings
It’s inevitable. You go to a party, and while making small talk with people you don’t know well, the question comes up in the first two minutes- “What do you do?” The inquiry, of course, is about your occupation. What do you do for work? There’s nothing wrong with the question, although it does reinforce an erroneous assumption that our identity is primarily about function. Occasionally I change the question slightly to acknowledge that some people homeschool kids, others volunteer full-tim...
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Friday, 24 March 2017 Category Dan's Musings
The sermon text from last week is still rolling around inside of me.  If you missed it, we looked at the two short parables in Mark 4:26-32. It was all about small things, tiny things which may seem insignificant but end up being big Kingdom of God events. Both parables involved seeds which were planted in the ground. In one case, the seeds were found to be growing all by themselves, even when nothing was visibly happening on the outside. In the other story, a seed so small as to be nearly ...
H2O
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Friday, 17 March 2017 Category Dan's Musings
For the last six years, I’ve flown up and down the Pacific Coast many times between Los Angeles and our hometown of Seattle. Since our parents, siblings and one child are all in Seattle, that 2 ½ hour flight is very familiar. For six years, the pattern has been identical: Take off from brown, dry, dusty Southern California. Land in the green, damp, mildew-y Pacific Northwest. Then take off from evergreen-dominated Seattle and arrive in parched Burbank. Repeat. Many times. Brown to green and back...
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Thursday, 09 March 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Olivia was a wee bit older than some infants we baptize, having just celebrated her 21st month of life. Her family is awaiting the arrival of twins, so her life will soon change dramatically. As we stood at the front of the sanctuary, Olivia’s parents answered questions about their own faith in Jesus, and desire to raise Olivia to know the Lord. Our gathered community pledged to support this little girl and her family. We prayed, and then her dad handed her to me.  There is always a moment...
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Friday, 03 March 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Wylie Chapel was full.  Longtime Hollywood Presbyterian members, newcomers, part of the choir, neighborhood people and some of our friends staying at the winter shelter began the Lenten journey in worship. We sang, prayed, sat silently, listened to scripture, reaffirmed our baptism and talked about the sign of ashes placed on our foreheads. The candles placed all around the Chapel brought light into the dark corners.I’ve been an ordained pastor for 21 years now.  Rather than becoming m...
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