Today’s Word from Pastor Jim…

On a beautiful Sunday morning in September, Blakely JoAnn Shelton, ten months old, was baptized in the courtyard at Trinity Lutheran Church. It was 8 a.m. on a Sunday, the sixth day of September. In times gone by the sanctuary would have been alive with the chatter of coffee-infused Lutherans enjoying the last holiday weekend of summer. In 2020, the sanctuary sat silent as Blakely’s immediate family gathered in the narthex, faces covered by masks.

Big brother Jackson, all of five years old, led the processional to the courtyard where he would light the baptismal candle. Gracing the courtyard were three flower stands, framed now by the bell tower and the graves of dear saints. The flower stands had been drafted into this socially-distanced service. The first flower stand held a beautiful handmade quilt. The women of the church make hundreds of quilts a year. The quilts end up in war-torn countries, regions ravaged by natural disaster, college dorm rooms, and home nurseries. Blakely’s quilt was soft with a gentle array of pastel fabrics. It is our hope that the quilt will spark conversation, lead to shared photographs, and assist her parents in telling her the story of a beautiful Sunday morning in September of 2020.

The two remaining flower stands held baptismal bowls. The baptismal bowls had very different histories. The first was handcrafted by local artist Peter Wolfe. It was dedicated when we moved into our new sanctuary on September 9, 2001. That was a glorious new day in the life of our congregation; the church was full that day with joyful worshipers. The very young and the very old had been baptized in the font that graces the entrance to our communion table. Now the earthen vessel where Jackson was baptized waited in the courtyard for his baby sister, Blakely.

The second bowl is very old, much of its history remains a mystery. No one seems to know exactly how it came to us. The bowl rested for 40 years or so in the wooden structure of the baptismal font in the little church on Highway 525 in Freeland. The bowl and font came to us from some other Christian congregation. If only it could tell us of the places it had been, the anthems it had heard, and the sleep-inducing sermons it had witnessed. On a spring day in 1991 our baby girl, Emily, was baptized with the water from that bowl.

Four generations. On November 1, 1953 Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland was born in the imagination of 39 faithful charter members. Among those charter members were Pete and Alice Peterson and their daughters Sharon, Sandra, and Susan. Our first Church Council President was Washington State Highway Patrol officer, Pete Peterson. Pete and Alice were Blakely’s great-grandparents. Charter member little Sandra, is now Sandy Nelson, Blakely’s grandmother. Sandy’s babies, Ron, Lisa, and Blakely’s mom Jamie, were all baptized in the old baptismal bowl which now stood proudly in the courtyard of Trinity Lutheran Church.

Most of this year I would like to forget. Wake me up; 2020 is a bad dream, a toxic brew of virus, political rancor, isolation, and now fires. I am ready for 2020 to slip into the pages of history books, I am more than ready to fill the sanctuary again with coffee-infused Lutherans. But I will never forget that beautiful day in September when I was blessed by Two Bowls, One Quilt, One Baptism, and Four Generations of Trinity saints.

One day closer!
Pastor Jim