a reflection from Pastor Norm of Living Stones
Living Stones Christmas was both surreal and wonderful. We had three Christmas Worship Services scheduled the Saturday before Christmas. We had never performed any services for Units R4 and R5. The WCC Music Team had limited rehearsal times and they were scheduled to perform almost an hour of music and scripture readings for each service. They did a great service for God, those in attendance, and me. Afterward God’s word was proclaimed. God entered into the world, our world, in human form, in a way in which we could know the character and essence of God. God came in the form of a vulnerable baby, into the darkness, to bring light and love. God entered into the human suffering and pain, becoming God who is near. The Bread of Life, born in the city of the “house of bread” (Bethlehem), laid in a food trough (manger) for the world that we might be nourished.
The first two services were attended by Units R4 and R5 at a higher rate than any in recent history. Men turned their hearts, minds, and will toward God. An invitation for baptism was offered and 27 men were baptized during those two services. The angels were rejoicing as were we. We praised God through word and music, men fell on their knees and were washed in the waters of baptism, received forgiveness and became the children of God. The third service was postponed until the following week where another eight men were baptized. In total we had 35 baptisms!
Men are sharing the good news of Christ with others and even to custody officers. This week, I sat with a 65 year old man, who was baptized and may never experience physical freedom. He is LWOP (life without the possibility of parole). As he prepared to undergo very serious surgery, with tears running down his face, he declared he is free on the inside and knows he is “right” with God. I am excited for what God is doing through this ministry as I witness the change in men’s lives.
I ask you to pray for the following men, who were recently baptized. They have great challenges ahead of them, and God is able to meet those challenges. Pray that we may be bold in proclaiming God’s good news and that we all might grow in wisdom and spirit.
Christmas baptisms: J. Mathes, R. Wiltfong, K. Kennedy, R. Rogers, B. Phillips, W. Selfridge, S. Godwin, R. Charnell, M. Tsehaye, J. McElroy, C. Anseth, M. Young, S. Charlie, R. Reed, C. Coleman, I. McGanty, A. Bates, E. Tuomi, D. Winkler, J. Armstrong, A. Rosales, K. Turner, W. Gresso, Z. Campbell, J. Davila, F. James, J. Rocha, D. Smith, J. Barnes, B. Michael, L. Latta, A. Neill, F. Detwiler, M. Snyder, R. Kent.
Thank you for your support of Living Stones, a joint ministry of the Southwestern Washington Synod of the ELCA.