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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, 25 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Once upon a time. That’s the classic way to begin a story, at least the fairy tale type. Once upon a time...something happened.  Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea that every one of us is living out a story. Our lives have beginnings, they have characters and plots and surprises and twists and turns and, of course, endings. It is true for every single one of us.  One of my favorite things about being a pastor is that I get to hear the stories of people’s lives. When I sit down w...
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Thursday, 17 May 2018 Category Dan's Musings
It’s funny how we can utterly ruin good words by distorting their meaning or just plain overuse. Our Christian vocabulary is littered with the corpses of words that have become so cliché as to seem meaningless. But oddly enough, one word we use quite a bit still retains something of its original power-  grace. Even the derivative words like graceful or gracious conjure up immediate images of beauty, gentleness or favor. Certainly, when grace is held in theologically adept hands like those ...
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Friday, 27 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
The title sounds like a tabloid headline near the grocery store check-out stand, doesn’t it?  But that’s not what I’m thinking about.  On Tuesday night our elders and staff met for our monthly Session meeting. As I plan the agendas for those meetings, the goal is to spend roughly half our time on “business”- looking at finances, talking about property issues, approving baptisms, hearing ministry updates. The other half is for what I call “content”- times for prayer, small group discuss...
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Friday, 20 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Anne and I hit a milestone this week- Wednesday the 18th of April marked the 43rd anniversary of our FIRST DATE!  We were sophomores in high school, and through the wily manipulation of a mutual friend, we ended up going to the Spring Barn Dance together. Yes, we both lived in urban Seattle, but the dance had a "barn" theme.  Go figure.  We both wore jeans and checkered shirts. The picture shows us standing awkwardly (we hardly knew each other) in front of a bale of hay, and me ho...
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Thursday, 12 April 2018 Category Dan's Musings
“Mom, I’m alive. Come pick me up.”  That message was the joyful finale to a story which began on Easter afternoon in Griffith Park. I told it at the Lord’s Lighthouse on Sunday.  Some kids were playing in the park, managed to enter an area that was fenced off and climbed onto the roof of an off-limits old maintenance building. Thirteen-year old Jesse Hernandez was jumping on some boards covering a large pipe when they gave way, and he fell twenty-five feet down into a large sewer syst...
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Tuesday, 27 March 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Carl Sandburg once said “Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.” The best poetry paints pictures, moves and stirs us even when we don’t totally understand it.  I don’t consider myself a poet, though I love poetry.  Two or three time a year I will scratch out a few lines or the outline of something to come back to later.  Occasionally a real poem emerges.  However, every year since 2001 I have “received” a poem during Lent. I never really sit down to think about it, but ...
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Friday, 23 March 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Life is full at Hollywood Presbyterian.  Having made it through the Westboro Baptist pickets, the Ides of March, the LA Marathon Sunday, Lenten Small Groups and Wednesday evening services in Wylie Chapel we find ourselves rather abruptly staring at Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week. This means that as next week unfolds, we will follow Jesus on the way to the cross. That journey is prayed through, studied and ruminated on in various ways in the worshipping life of our community....
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Friday, 16 March 2018 Category Dan's Musings
Sometimes when God speaks, I recognize his voice because the message gets repeated. And repeated. And repeated. It’s part of God’s pattern with me, no doubt because of my inability (or unwillingness) to hear things the first time. In the last couple of weeks the message coming through seems to be: trust. The topic has persistently surfaced in different settings. When Anne and I had a few days off, I heard it during a quiet time of prayer: Do you trust Me?  In two different conversations th...
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Friday, 09 March 2018 Category Dan's Musings
In the end, it was mostly a non-issue. When we heard last week that the Westboro Baptist folks would be bringing their abrasive and hate-filled picket signs to Hollywood, and to Hollywood Presbyterian specifically, we needed to do a number of things. Talk to our staff and elders. Do some research with other churches and pastors. Talk to an attorney. Pray- lots of prayer. Write a letter to inform the congregation. Communicate with the LAPD. Strategize. Pray- lots of prayer. We didn't really know...
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Thursday, 01 March 2018 Category Dan's Musings
The picture above shows me at the sanctuary I worshiped in last Sunday- a little unorthodox, I know. After returning from a very full week in Atlanta leading a conference, Anne and I headed to the desert for the weekend. Sunday morning found us hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, a place of stunning beauty. What an amazingly creative God we worship!             While Joshua Tree has many well-marked hiking trails, it is also possible to s...
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