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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, 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 ...
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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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Friday, 24 February 2017 Category Dan's Musings
The little screen on the seatback in front of me tells me we are cruising at roughly 400 miles per hour. I’m returning to LA from Lakeland, Florida (halfway between Orlando and Tampa).  Elder Mac Heald and I traveled to the National Gathering of The Fellowship Community. The first morning we were there I woke up early and went for a run around Lake Hollingsworth, one of the many nearby lakes. When Mac and I reconnected later that morning, he informed me that his brief research had identifie...
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Friday, 17 February 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Joseph. The 11th son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham. Though he dominates the biblical narrative from Genesis 37-50, he preaches no sermons, makes few speeches, leads no bible studies, we don’t see him in prayer or worship. At first glance Joseph offers us little in the way of faith...until. Until long after he was abandoned by his brothers and sold into slavery, long after his family has believed him dead, long after his unjust jail sentence, long after he rose to the top of Pharaoh’s ad...
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Friday, 10 February 2017 Category Dan's Musings
Some months back a friend dropped off a small package for me. Inspired by my office bookshelf full of comedic religious junk items, she gave me an 8-inch doll of Pope Francis, dressed in a white robe and wearing glasses. But this isn’t just ANY doll. The base has a small solar panel which moves the doll’s right hand back and forth in a papal blessing when the sun hits it (for the record, similar solar dolls of Einstein, Napoleon and Queen Elizabeth-and her corgi- are available). I propped Franc...
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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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