April 2019


Romans 7:13

“There is no real joy in this world except that which the Word brings when it is believed.”

[Luther’s Works 4:4]  

Romans 7:13 is another verse that has significantly shaped my work as a pastor. It was pressed upon me by Luther’s great Lectures on Galatians (1535). The verse says that the law of God is to make sin sinful “beyond measure.” Luther elaborates this startling point saying that sin must be “increased, inflated, inflamed, and magnified” (Luther’s Works 26:314). But who wants to do that? Once over lightly is best, if not at all. But why? Is our sinfulness so harrowing that no one can bear having it inflamed before our very own eyes?  

      Well, yes, that’s clearly the case. And so we substitute this verse with the home spun wisdom that the difficulties of this life reveal our sin to us and so we don’t need to have the law preached to us on Sundays to make it real. Life does that, and it’s already painfully clear enough.

      Well, this wisdom isn’t divine at all. No, it’s in fact wrong. It’s a bum steer and a dodge. The Lutheran Confessions (1580) make this clear. There we’re told that the Law, along with the Gospel, “must be urged constantly and diligently in the church of God until the end of the world,” so that “the law and its threats will terrify the hearts of the unrepentant and bring them to a knowledge of their sin” (The Book of Concord, ed. T. Tappert, p. 562). Why? So that sinners, on “the brink of despair,” may be comforted – being impelled and “driven to Christ.” Anything milder will not work. Anything else leaves us without “access” to grace; and no “place” for the Gospel (Luther’s Works  26:315).

      Where does that then leave me? Romans 7:13 and Luther have pushed my sermons into the land of terror and threats – that all may come to Christ.

Pastor Marshall


President’s Report…by Cary Natiello


I subscribe to a news source on my smartphone.  This article caught my eye: 

     A Muslim man in Egypt set out to kill his cousin who had reportedly converted to Christianity.  He followed his cousin to where he worshiped and quietly sat behind him during a service.  The article says that the Muslim man was so deeply touched by the songs and worship service and that once he saw the way his cousin was living his life through the salvation of Jesus Christ, the man's life was changed forever – he too converted to Christianity and was baptized like his cousin.

     The article was published by OPEN DOORS USA, a non-profit organization that works in the world's most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs.  Based on some limited research, I believe OPEN DOORS is a legitimate and reliable non-profit organization.

     Intrigued by this article I started digging a little further.  It is easy to admire the apparent devotion of Muslims to their religion and Allah because of their public display of devotion.  With their daily group prayer and living in a society with one religious belief it is hard to think otherwise.  It may even make devoted Christians appear less so by comparison.  But after doing some research on this subject I now understand that the lack of freedom of religion is a center driving force among Muslims.

     Through a little more reading I found there is a consensus that Muslims are becoming disillusioned with their religion and converting to Christianity in record numbers across the globe.  One article I read surmises it is because of the violence of Islamic terrorists.  That seems logical to me.  Further reading of other opinions is that in almost every Muslim-majority nation, the authoritarianism, violence, bigotry and patriarchy all in the name of Islam is alienating people.  In these Muslim-majority nations oppression and violence is perpetrated all in the name of religion.

     Maybe you are aware that converting from Islam to Christianity is seen as a betrayal of their family and heritage. In Muslim families, any member who leaves their Muslim beliefs and upbringing subjects themselves to tremendous pressure from their immediate and extended family to renounce Christ and return to Islam.  Some are locked up, others are isolated, tortured or even killed.  It is no wonder that Muslims are becoming disillusioned.  Especially when they are exposed to Christianity, the words of the Scriptures, the forgiveness of sins through Christ, and the love of their neighbor.

     I wondered if I lived in a country where there was no freedom of religion and I was prohibited from being a Christian, would my faith be strong enough for me to face the possibility of being locked up, isolated, tortured or even killed, all in the name of Christianity. 


     Please consider remembering in your prayers the persecuted Christians around the world that they may be protected and continue to have the strength to continue the good fight of faith in Christ.  And give thanks to God that we live in a country where freedom of religion is a right of the people. 
FINANCES:  YTD February our giving units have contributed $40,200 to our church against a budget of $34,800.  Our total expenses are basically on budget at $44,000 against a budget of $43,300.  Thank you to everyone keeping up with their giving.  We are on a good trajectory with regards to our giving. 

Blessing to you all.


Holy Week

and Easter


April 14       Sunday of the Passion

                     8:00 am      Holy Eucharist - Chapel

                     9:00 am      Church School Passion Faire

                    10:30 am      Holy Eucharist – Procession with Palms

                     8:00 pm      Compline

April 15       Monday in Holy Week: Jesus’ Cleansing

                         of the Temple

                    11:45 am      Holy Eucharist - Chapel

                      7:00 pm     Vespers

                                       The Great Litany - Chapel

April 16       Tuesday in Holy Week: Anointing Jesus for Burial

                    11:45 am      Holy Eucharist - Chapel

                      7:00 pm     Vespers

                                       The Great Litany - Chapel

April 17       Wednesday in Holy Week: The Betrayal of Jesus by Judas

                      9:30 am     Matins - Chapel

                    11:45 am      Holy Eucharist - Chapel

                      7:00 pm     Vespers

                                       The Great Litany - Chapel

April 18       Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper

                    11:45 am      Holy Eucharist - Chapel

                      7:00 pm     Solemn Eucharist

                                       Stripping of the Altar

April 19       Good Friday: The Crucifixion of Our Lord

                    11:45 am      Holy Eucharist - Chapel

                                       (Reserved Sacrament)

                      7:00 pm     Office of Tenebrae

                                       A Liturgy of Lessons, Hymns and Prayers

April 20       Holy Saturday: The Burial of Our Lord

                    11:45 am      Liturgy of the Burial - Chapel

                    Easter Vigil

                      7:00 pm     Liturgy of Light, Readings, Baptism

                                       and Holy Eucharist

April 21       The Resurrection of Our Lord – Easter

                      9:00 to 10:00 am   Easter Brunch in the parish hall.

                    10:30 am      Festival Eucharist

                      8:00 pm     Compline




Stewardship Opportunities

We are to be good stewards of the earth, our church, and our community.  Stewardship is not only tithing to the church, but it is also about giving our time, knowledge, and effort.  To learn how to be a good Christian steward also requires that we are devoted to the word of God.  I have been thinking about all the various stewardship opportunities right here at our church and community.  I have listed a few ideas below that I thought I would share with you:

·     Participate with your assigned service team (and help out for big events like the Easter brunch even if it is not your assigned team)

·     Signup for flowers on the church flower chart

·     Ask Dean if there are any chores around the church or grounds that you can help with (e.g. pressure washing, weeding, cleaning, washing, etc.)

·     Volunteer your time at the West Seattle Food Bank or the West Seattle Helpline

·     Bring the suggested food donations to the church, or directly to a food bank

·     Participate in St. Nicholas Fair

·     When buying something from Amazon, do so via Amazon Smile and designate First Lutheran Church of West Seattle as your charitable designee so a percentage of your purchase goes to the church from each purchase

·     Donate clothing to the West Seattle Helpline’s Clothesline.  To donate clothing, you can drop items off at The Clothesline (4401 42nd Ave SW, Seattle) on any Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday between 11:30 am – 1:00 pm.

·     Take care of the earth.  One idea is to learn how to reduce your carbon footprint by going to: https://www.carbonfootprint.com/measure.html

·     Tithe (10% of your income) to our church – I recently read that Christians are giving at 2.5% of their income to their church; during the Great Depression it was 3.3%.  How are you doing?

·     Add our church to your estate planning and/or give designated gifts to the church above and beyond your regular giving

·     Give money to other charitable organizations, especially ones in our extended ministries that you give to directly through our church

·     Complete your pledge cards each year for the church

·     Attend the different church services like Matins, Vespers and during Holy Week

·     Attend the Wednesday evening Bible class and/or Sunday Adult education

·     Serve on the church council

I found it a good exercise to remind myself where I could do more to be a good Christian steward and that there is always room for improvement.  If you have other ideas for stewardship at our church or community, I would enjoy hearing from you.

Cary Natiello, Church Council President 


God & Keeping Track


by Pastor Marshall


We have not always kept track of our spending. Neither have governments. In his book on this story, The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (2014), Jacob Soll says that book-keeping started around 1300 in northern Italy (pp. xiv, 12–13). This transformed Christianity, as well, seeing faith and math to be partners, according to John 19:11, which has the secular being empowered by God (pp. 39, 23, 74). Now being good at business was goodness itself (Proverbs 22:29) (p. 151). Indeed, the road to “trust and goodness was through the clarity of mathematics and how data were recorded in books” (p. 51). Now you could read the books and not have to “rely on the treasure’s word” (p. 78). “Open good books were open good government” (p. 139). That keeps profit and loss “known at all times” (p. x). Accounting gave reason a place in Christianity!

      But since “good accounting meant facing the truth when the news was bad” (p. ix), we have looked for ways to cheat in book keeping. The easiest way was to “keep two sets of books,… showing one to the buyer and the other to the seller” (p. 53). The other way was to make things so complex and difficult that the truth could be hidden in the very accounting itself (pp. x, xvi, 48, 205–6). Think of the Pentagon. It was given thirty years to prepare an audit and then it failed – all because it is too big to keep track of (“The Pentagon Doesn’t Know Where Its Money Goes,” The New York Times, December 1, 2018).  But then it’s also the case that figures lie and liars figure (p. 180).

 – saying something close to what Thomas Carlyle said back in 1839 (p. 180). Therefore every accounting reform that tries to make book keeping better is “resisted,” due to our sinfulness (p. 206).

     What is the way out of this mess? Soll says by seeing “the numbers of accounting as an integral part of society and culture” (p. 208). That, unfortunately, is only the aspiration but not the means to get there. And that brings us back to faith and Christ, in Soll’s history (pp. 38, 53).


Thank you

to the


for the



From the Senior Staff




Sign up for the Bartell Drugs loyalty card program and designate First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.  4% of your purchases will be automatically donated to the church. 

Also Amazon.com has a program called Amazon Smile that one can sign up for that works in a similar fashion. 

WEST SEATTLE HELPLINE:  Get your tickets ASAP on the W.S. Helpline web page to the very popular Taste of West Seattle.  This annual event planned for Thursday, May 23rd, is in its 14th year.  This is a true taste of what West Seattle has to offer in food, wine and brews.  Must be 21.

SUNDAY EDUCATION:  A Fast Gospel: Reading Mark, the Shortest Gospel.  In this eight week class starting April 7th, we will study The Gospel of Mark.  Mark’s Gospel has the latest beginning in Jesus life (with no birth or infancy stories).  It also has a strange ending that will be explored.

WEST SEATTLE FOOD BANK BENEFIT:  The 12th Annual Instruments of Change Benefit Dinner is planned for Saturday evening, May 11th, this year.  There will be a Happy Hour with games, Liquor Tasting and great items in our Silent Auction.  Then enjoy a 3-Course dinner by Tuxedo and Tennis Shoes with a dessert dash.  This fundraising event is at the Seattle Design Center, 5701 6th Ave S.  Tickets: $125 or $1,250 for a table.  

Lifetouch Church Directories:  We now have the new church directories in the office.  On Sundays there will be a stack available on the Narthex table at the back of the church.  Please take one copy per family.  Those who are not able to pick up their directory in person will have theirs mailed.  Thanks to Sonja for a beautiful directory!

SERVICE TEAMS:  The Service Team Lists are going to be updated soon.  The office will be working on a few suggested ideas.  Please note that if one team is not supplying the number of helpers needed requesting help from another team can be useful.  The next event is Easter Brunch and Service Team 3 will be on duty.

HELP NEEDED LIST:  Please note that the following jobs need regular or at least yearly attention:  Pressure washing the outside walkways and steps, Memorial courtyard clean up and weeding, south courtyard clean up and weeding, cleaning out of the four window wells, cleaning of the outside stairwells, washing and sanitizing of the nursery and church kitchens.

A dessert wagon on the streets of Austin, Texas, March 2019.


That Terrible Storm

December 26, 2004


by Pastor Marshall


Fifteen years ago one of the worst disaster ever, struck coastal lands on the Indian Ocean, after an earthquake unleashed a terrible tsunami. A survivor of that storm, Sonali Deraniyagala, has written about it in her award winning book, Wave, 2013. She lost her husband and four children that day – when more than 250,000 people died altogether! “The wave was more than thirty feet high here. It moved through the land at twenty-five miles an hour. It charged inland for more than two miles, then went back into the ocean” (p. 71). The loss she has had to live with has often been “too potent” for her (p. 227). A year after the deaths she writes: “I walked down to the ocean alone. It was June, when the surf here is wild. I stared. These waves, this close. I stood there taunting the sea, our killer. Come on then. Why don’t you rise now? Higher, higher. Swallow me up.” (p. 72). Survivor’s guilt plagued her: “I recoil at my desolation. How I have fallen. When I had them, they were my pride, and now that I’ve lost them, I am full of shame. I was doomed all along, I am marked, there must be something very wrong about me. These were my constant thoughts in those early months. Why else did we have to be right there just when the wave hit? Why else have I become this shocking story, this wild statistical outlier? Or I speculated that I must have been a mass murderer in a previous life, I was paying for that now. And even as I have discounted each possibility over time, shame remains huge in me” (p. 112).

While reading this book and thinking about the horror of it all, I kept going to back to Matthew 8:17, which was not included in this book but could have made all the difference – “Jesus took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”


Isaiah 8.13

Monthly Home Bible Study, April 2019, Number 314

The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall


Along with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as a congregation in this home study. We will study alone then talk informally about the assigned verses together as we have opportunity. In this way we can "gather together around the Word" even though physically we will not be getting together (Acts 13.44). (This study uses the RSV translation.)

We need to support each other in this difficult project. In 1851 Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is "an extremely dangerous book.... [because] it is an imperious book... – it takes the whole man and may suddenly and radically change... life on a prodigious scale" (For Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved in the Bible" (Opening the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans, however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW 30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW 29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW 25.261). Before you study then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall, Making A New World: How Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12). And don’t give up, for as Luther said, we “have in Scripture enough to study for all eternity” (LW 75:422)!

Week I. Read Isaiah 8.13 noting the words fear and dread. Why are we to stand in fear and dread of God? On this read Isaiah 8.12 noting the phrase what they fear. And what is it that they fear? On this read Isaiah 41.8–13 noting the words incensed, strive, contend and war. Why are we to fear God instead of those who make life so difficult for us? On this read Matthew 10.28 noting the contrasting words kill and hell. What so scary about hell? On this read Luke 16.19–31 noting the double use of the word torment. What’s so tormenting about hell? On this read Mark 9.48 noting the words fire and worm. Why should we be so tormented in hell? On this read 2 Thessalonians 1.8 noting the line do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (See also John 3.36.) Why is disobedience such a terrible infraction? On this read John 3.30 noting the stark contrast between our decrease and Christ’s increase. Our obedience and praise enthrones Christ – says Psalm 22.3. This explains why our disobedience is so severely punished. What do you think of that?

Week II. Read again Isaiah 8.13 noting those same words fear and dread. Why is it that we don’t fear God then? On this read Psalm 90.11 noting the question Who considers…thy wrath according to the fear of thee? What’s behind this neglect? On this read 1 Timothy 1.17 noting the word invisible. How trenchant is this? On this read Exodus 33.20 noting the correlation between seeing God and dying. Read as well John 1.18 and 1 John 4.12 noting the line no man has ever seen God. Does God’s invisibility make it tougher to obey him? On this read Psalm 10.11 noting the phrase hidden his face. Is it that what’s invisible can’t measure up the visible? ‒ so they’re cut off from one another? On this read Proverbs 5.21 noting the line he watches all his paths. How does the invisible, incorporeal One have eyes to see to do that? On this read 1 Samuel 16.7 noting the line the Lord sees not as man sees. Does that mean that God sees us but without having anything like our eyes? Is that why the Bible speaks of God’s eyes but not of his eyebrows? (Ludwig Wittgenstein, Lectures & Conversations… on Religious Belief, 1972, p. 71). So do we only fear what we can see ‒ and not “things that go bump in the night” (1926 litany)?

Week III. Reread Isaiah 8.13 noting again the words fear and dread. Why does Psalm 34.11 tell us that we must be taught to fear God? Is it because what is visible about God is what he does and not himself? On this read Ezekiel 14.21 noting the words sword, famine, beast and pestilence. Are we to fear God because of these terrible things that he sends our way? On this read Numbers 16.32 noting the words opened and swallowed. What person could do that? Did God do that in Korah? On this read Number 16.20 noting the line that I may consume them in a moment. Read also Numbers 16.30 noting the word creates. Does that settle it? On this read John 12.28–29 noting the play between the two words voice and thundered. Why the ambiguity? On this problem read also 1 Samuel 3.8 noting the words then and perceived. Was this based on a process of elimination? If so, why were the only two choices Eli or God speaking? Could Samuel have been delusional? Could there have been another person sleeping there? On this problem read 1 Corinthians 13.12 noting the line now we see in a mirror dimly. Does that apply to everything or just religious phenomena?  Do we have built in limitations?

Week IV. Read Isaiah 8.13 one last time noting again the words fear and dread. With these impediments, how can we switch from fearing visible things and people to the invisible God? On this read Isaiah 43.5 noting the words with, bring and gather. Is that enough? On this read Isaiah 29.13–16 noting the words fear, commandment and rote. What’s wrong here? On this read Isaiah 66.2 noting the word trembles. Without this affective element our fear is insincere. Such fright and trembling is what carries us from the wrong fear to the right one. Do you agree? If so, why?



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Garth Olson, Chuck Prescott, Pete Morrison, Emma Sagmoen, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Connor Sagmoen, Matt Anderson, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Dan Peterson, Sheila Feichtner, Deanne & Lucy Heflin, Jim & Hillary Thoren, Marylou & Paul Jensen, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Antonio, Jessica, Jeff Walkenhauer, Rebecca Brown, Randy & Mary Leskovar, Jim Trotter, Adam & Jennifer Jones, Mike & Kathy Harty, Sharon Cooper, Viki Horat, Cydney Stockton, Kim Hiorth, Margaret Johnson.  Also, pray for unbelievers and that the USA be righteous and caring.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy: Bob & Mona Ayer, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Joan Olson, Chuck & Doris Prescott, C. J. Christian, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Mary Goplerud, Anelma Meeks, Martin Nygaard, Gregg & Jeannine Lingle.

     Pray for those who have suffered the death of a loved one:  Pray that God will bear their grief and lift their hearts:  Pray for the family and friends of Kenneth Sund who died at Providence Mount St. Vincent’s in West Seattle, March 19th.  A graveside liturgy with Pastor Marshall will be on March 28th, 1 pm, at Washelli.

     Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Brian Kirby Unti, our pastor Ronald Marshall, our deacon Dean Hard and our cantor Andrew King, that they may be strengthened in faith, love and the holy office to which they have been called.  Pray for our synod elections of a new bishop. 

     Pray that God would give us hearts which find joy in service and in celebration of Stewardship.  Pray that God would work within you to become a good steward of your time, your talents and finances.  Pray to strengthen the Stewardship of our congregation in these same ways.

     Pray for the hungry, ignored, abused, addicted, and homeless this Easter.  Pray for the mercy of God for these people, and for all in Christ's church to see and help those who are in distress.

     Pray for our sister congregation: El Camino de Emmaus in the Skagit Valley that God may bless and strengthen their ministry. Also, pray for our parish and its ministry.

     Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints: Albrecht Dürer, painter, 1528; Dietrich Bonhoeffer, teacher, 1945; Saint Mark, Evangelist; Catherine of Siena, teacher, 1380.


A Treasury of Prayers


O God, heavenly Father, I cannot live without your blessing. Life is too hard and my duties are too great. I come before you with meekness asking for your help and strength. Give me good cheer. Help me encourage others. May I always be a benediction to all I meet – giving Christ all the glory. In His dear name I pray. Amen.

                                          [For All the Saints I:998, altered]