August 2021



Luther’s Spice


Martin Luther argued that John 16:33 was “the chief and foremost passage in all Holy Scripture” (Luther’s Works 5:18). In it Jesus says – “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” From this we first learn that “whoever wants the grace of God must have it spiced with the wrathful madness of the world, Satan and his own flesh” (LW 28:220).

     Then Luther goes on to note how Jesus overcomes the world and what difference that makes. He does so not by taking away “the danger, but by [our] hearts being [made] unafraid.” This happens when we’re “inwardly changed” and no longer care if our enemies “are still raging” (LW 77:127). Then we “renounce this world and await the kingdom of heaven” (LW 59:269). That’s because the death and resurrection of Jesus, when believed, gives our hearts “a good standing with God and [makes us] certain of His grace and of eternal life” (LW 77:357). So if God can “nourish Christ for forty days without any food, then He can also nourish His Christians” with this promise of eternal life (LW 76:367). “External things come and go. Therefore, Christ must be painted before the eyes of the heart so that we look not to ourselves but only to Him who stands in our midst, so that you may be among the disciples who forget their fear and look to Christ alone and hear Him speaking alone” (LW 69:342). For Christ’s words are “much greater” than any of those external things that come and go (LW 68:263). “What else do I need, if I possess God’s Son?” (LW 58:183). Amen!  

  Pastor Marshall 

Esther 4:14

by Pastor Marshall


The Book of Esther has been in the news: “I call it Esther 4:14: God made me for such a time like this, Adams said on CBS” (“Garcia and Wiley Concede in New York City Mayoral Primary,” The Seattle Times, July 8, 2021).

     But maybe that verse isn’t about how people win political campaigns. Maybe it’s about this instead: “Esther’s choice is… one between death and death: a death defined by courage and a willingness to sacrifice on behalf of others, or a death defined by numbness and withdrawal. Only one path – the path of risk – offers deep satisfaction and real life” (Mike Cooper, Faith Among the Faithless: Learning From Esther How to Live in a World Gone Mad, 2018, p. 126). I think Cooper is right about Esther 4:14.

     So while I’m grateful to Eric L. Adams, former NYPD police captain, member of the NY State Senate, and Brooklyn borough president, for raising up Esther 4:14, I disagree with the point he seems to be making by bringing it up.  

Luther on Ruth


by Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther saw great significance in Ruth 4:13 – “So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife.” Why? Because while Boaz was a Jew (Ruth 2:1), Ruth was a non-Jew, a foreigner, a Moabite (Ruth 1:4) – or, in Luther’s words, “the idolatrous Ruth” (Luther’s Works 7:201). Why is this important? It proves that the Jews are not of pure stock – for even “Abraham himself was a godless man” and “married Sarah of Ur of the Chaldeans, a wicked and godless city of the Babylonians” (LW 7:199).

     Luther goes on to say that this fact “should be opposed to the pride of the Jews, in order that they may know that they despise the heathen unjustly…. God regarded heathen women so highly in order that He might testify that He has not cast off the heathen nations as accursed, as the Jews… execrate them…. But Christ our Lord wanted to be born from the blood of various nations” (LW 7:200–201). Even so, the heathen are not fine just as they are. We learn this from Joseph when he married the godless woman, Asenath (Genesis 41:45). Although she was “not yet imbued with the pure knowledge of godliness, Joseph… later taught her about the worship and invocation of the true God” (LW 7:200). Therefore, conversion matters more than origin of birth. So when Ruth converts to Judaism (Ruth 1:16), that’s more important to Luther than that she was born a Moabite.



PRESIDENT'S Cary Natiello


Dear Friends in Christ,

God willing, by the time you receive this we will have conducted five indoor worship services.  Things have been going well.  We are singing hymns and receiving communion.  As before, there are still members not yet comfortable returning to an indoor setting, so Pastor Marshall will continue to put the service on-line (, as well as continue home communion distribution.



Based on our experience, we have been able to make some adjustments to our safety protocols.  At the July 13, council meeting we discussed making changes to our safe opening guidelines.  Some things were changed, and some were not. 

            1)     Masks are still required, per usual.

            2)     Temperatures will still be taken of each person entering the church.

3)     RSVP’s are no longer required.  We believe we can identify/recall who was at a service, but if someone arrives who we are not familiar with, we will still collect their contact information in case we need to contact them about a COVID-19 report at the service.

4)     We will no longer require assigned seats.  Seating will be open for attendees, but social distancing is still required.  More use of the seats along the walls may be necessary.  The ushers will ask families to separate a little bit more if they are too close to another family.

5)     The new limit for attendance is 50, not including staff.  Ushers will monitor the attendance and announce when we have reached capacity.

6)     There will now be two people at a time allowed up to the front for communion.  Children accompanied by parents are an exception to the 2 maximum.  Ushers will release people in a systematic order and control the flow.  There still is no kneeling at the rail.



Looking ahead, we will continue to monitor our services, attendance, and protocols and make changes as determined safe and appropriate.  We are planning a phased-in approach to get back to “normal”.  A possible order of things to come could look like this:

1)     Resume the 8:00 a.m. spoken worship service. 

2)     Resume the Sunday morning Bible class, and other classes offered by Pastor Marshall, although, some of these may continue to be conducted via ZOOM.

            3)     Resume the Wednesday and other worship services.

            4)     Resume the Sacrament of Penance.

We will keep you informed of any changes to our monthly calendar.



At a time when we are resuming indoor services, the death rate from COVID-19 in the U.S. is rising.  Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC's director, said at a briefing of the White House COVID-19 Response Team that, “this is becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated and the biggest concern is we are going to continue to see preventable cases, hospitalizations and sadly deaths among the unvaccinated.”  Reports are that the upward trend in national statistics is being driven almost entirely by outbreaks in places with low vaccination rates, such as the Ozarks, Florida and parts of the Mountain West.  Some counties in Missouri and Arkansas, are recording more cases now than they did during the winter.  King County on the other hand continues to remain in acceptable statistical territory.  Even so, we had an uptick in our numbers since we hit a low in June.  On 6/28/21 we were at only 17.4 new cases per 100,000 King County residents.  On 7/14/21 that number increased to 38.3.  But based on the most recent, albeit incomplete, data being reported, King County’s numbers are heading back down once again.  Let’s pray that the downward trend will continue and be sustained.



To date, through June, the church and our congregation have given over $27,000 in gifts to our extended ministries, but there are still many people in our area who continue to struggle to meet the basics of living.  Some organizations that continue to need our help and are part of our extended ministries are:  Foss Home (ELCA), Operation Nightwatch, Mary's Place, and Welcome Table.  If you would like to learn more about any of these organizations, please contact Pastor Marshall.  Thank you to those in our congregation who are able to offer some additional support to local community organizations that are dedicated to helping others on a daily basis.



We are continuing to evaluate options for implementing a long-term plan for replacing our windows and redoing the building roof.  These are very expensive projects and it is taking time to identify how best to proceed.  Our goals for the windows are to install new long-lasting low maintenance windows, maintain the beautiful building aesthetics, not cut any corners, and get all this from a reputable experienced company for an affordable price.  Not an easy task.  Hopefully, we can find a way to meet all our goals in the months ahead.


I hope you are all staying healthy and safe, and that you are able resume more activities that you once enjoyed.





     Pastor Marshall’s Summer Bible Studies:  The Wednesday Bible Study is 1st John, at 7 pm.  Thursday Evening Bible Study 7 pm, is a study on Proverbs.  “WITH THE MIND” book club (Hidden Valley Road by Robert Kolker , 2020) is planned for Sunday, August 29th, 3:30 pm. All of these classes are via ZOOM, please contact him so he can send you a link, then you can join in on them.

     Home Communion is still available for those who cannot attend church. Online Worship continues each Sunday on our web page And  the next Zoom Koran class will be (September 13, 20, 27, October 4).

     Please note: Last month’s Monthly Home Bible Study mistakenly reprinted the one for June.  The corrected version on Proverbs 21:1 is available online or through the office.   


A statue of Socrates in Parco Ciani, Lugano, Italy. Pastor Marshall’s high school friend, Dr. Mark Bertness, sent the photo in because the statue reminded him of Ron.  


Romans 14.8

Monthly Home Bible Study, August 2021, Number 342

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 Romans 14.8 noting the line we are the Lord’s. What’s that like? On this read John 10.29 noting the line no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. What guarantees that? Martin Luther believed it held as long as we don’t abandon Christ by running after new ideas (Luther’s Works 28:366). So as long as we are content in Christ we are safe (Philippians 4:11). What secures that contentment? Read Colossians 1.13 noting the words delivered and transferred. What happens then? Read James 1.21 noting the word implanted. What’s that like? Check out the phrase dwell in you richly in Colossians 3.16. Note also the phrase rule in your hearts in Colossians 3.15. Add to this the line the love of Christ controls us because we are convinced in 2 Corinthians 5.14. These solid verses explain the strength of the Father’s hand. Is there an example of this? Read Acts 9.22 about the converted Paul who increased all the more in strength and confounded his critics. No wobbling around here. Was the word implanted in him? How so? 


Week II. Read again Romans 14.8 noting the line if we live, we live to the Lord. What’s that about? On this read Revelation 3.16 about being lukewarm. Why is that criticized? Read about drifting away in Hebrews 2.1; that shipwreck in 1 Timothy 1.19, and falling away and choking in Matthew 13.21–22. When we’re lukewarm these three verses kick in. Do you agree? What then replaces being lukewarm? Read 2 Corinthians 10.5 noting the line taking every thought captive to obey Christ. That’s what it is like to live to the Lord. Do you agree? On this read Galatians 2.20 noting the line it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. Is that the new creation in 2 Corinthians 5.17? Ephesians 4.14 warns about being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine – but that new creation would not allow for this. Why? Is it that the eternal weight of glory in 2 Corinthians 4.17 is too heavy to be knocked around in this way? If so, why?


Week III. Reread Romans 14.8 noting this time the line if we die, we die to the Lord. What is that like? On this read John 11.25–26 noting the line though he die, yet shall he live, and… never die. Does that mean that death isn’t real? Check out 2 Corinthians 4.14 noting the line he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us… into his presence. That line only breaks the permanence of death – instead of denying it. How will that restoring of life happen? On this read 1 Corinthians 15.53 noting the verb putting on immortality and imperishability. But also note 1 Corinthians 15.50 and the phrase cannot inherit. Does the second verse block the putting on in the first verse? On this read John 5.26 noting the line has life in himself. This explains why we can’t overturn our own death even though God can. Therefore we can put on what we cannot inherit on our own. Do you believe that? Why or why not?


Week IV. Read Romans 14.8 one last time noting the line we are the Lord’s. Does that line also mean that death cannot separate us from God? What would that be like? On this read 2 Thessalonians 1.9 noting the  correlation between punishment and exclusion from the presence of the Lord. Against this verse read Romans 8.39 noting the line that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ   Jesus our Lord. So Christ’s love for us keeps us close to God – even,    according to Romans 8.35–36 – when death strikes. How does his love  do that? Check out Hebrews 2.14 noting how the death of Jesus destroys the power of death. In what way? His death destroyed the cause of death – which Roman 6.23 says is sin. How does his death do that? 1 Peter 2.24 says that Jesus bore our sins in his body on the cross. That suffering paid the penalty for sins so that sins no longer can cause death. Does that explain the phrase put away sin in Hebrews 9.26? If so, how so?

Treasury of Prayer


Heavenly Father, make the door of your church wide enough to receive all who need love and fellowship, and your tender care; but narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and hate. In your mercy make it a gateway to your eternal kingdom. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

[For All the Saints III: 1273, altered]




The Apostle Saint Paul


“I have learned, in whatever

state I am, to be content.”



by Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther believed that this verse was about being “cheered by hope” and not becoming “discouraged in adverse circumstances,” but also “when everything is serene” neither becoming exalted and “arrogant” either. This happens because God permits his saints “to sink so deeply in perils that they appear lost. Yet in the end they are delivered in a wonderful manner. Thus when the entire world is condemned, we who confess Christ and put our trust in His death will be saved like remnants.” So “when we are in a trial we may be strong, but when we are not in a trial we may be humble and grateful” (Luther’s Works 2:370). This is what Christian contentment is based upon. “Thus we learn to show patience in adversity, to trust in God’s goodness, and to hope for salvation, but in prosperity to humble ourselves and give the glory to God. For it is His custom to do both: to bring down to hell and to bring back, to afflict and to comfort, to kill and to make alive. This is the game, with its continual changes, that He plays with His saints. For there is no perfect joy in this life, as there will be in the life to come. Sometimes, like an angry father, He inflicts punishments; sometimes, like an affectionate father, He fosters and comforts His children” (LW 2:369–70). Living according to this divine game is what it’s like “to have the spirit of Christ” dwelling within you (LW 27:403).

     In all of this we must remember that “Christ does not want to urge continual… sorrow. He wants to warn against those who seek to escape all mourning and to have nothing but fun and have their comfort here. And He wants to teach His Christians, when things go badly for them,… to know that it is God’s good pleasure and to make it theirs as well, not to curse or rage or despair as though their God did not want to be gracious. When this happens, the bitter draft should be… made milder with honey and sugar…. Therefore say good-bye to the world and to all those who harm us…. And let us… be joyful in the name of God and Christ…. We shall live to see that at the last [the worldly] will have to howl and weep when we are comforted and happy” (LW 21:22).

     None of this comes “through heroism” on our part (Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians, 40th Anniversary Edition, trans. J. W. Leitch, 2002, p. 127). No, it’s rather “a matter of teaching, exercise and care…. It’s not a matter that’s easily effected but one that’s exceedingly difficult and new” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, trans. P. Allen, 2013, p. 301). And so “neither [our] serenity nor [our] rejoicing is a matter of self-reliance” (George Hunsinger, Philippians, 2020, p. 161). Even though this may all come off poorly, sounding “tense, detached, awkward, distant, and discourteous” – it’s only meant to show that Christians are neither “defined… by wealth nor poverty but by a contentment that transcends both and by a power in Christ which enables [the Christian] to live in any circumstance” (Fred Craddock. Philippians, 1985, pp. 76, 78). That’s because even though we endure “difficult circumstances, it is ultimately for the good” (Bonnie B. Thurston, Philippians, 2009, p. 157). So being content “with what you have (Hebrews 13:5) seems to have been a general precept in the early church. This attitude is the opposite of covetousness, against which both Jesus (Luke 12:15) and his disciples uttered solemn warnings, describing a ‘greedy person’ as ‘an idolater’ (Ephesians 5:5)” (F. F. Bruce, Philippians, 1989, p. 150). It’s not surprising then that Philippians 4:11 doesn’t stand alone in the New Testament. “Second Corinthians 4:8–9 is most similar [to it] – ‘afflicted in every way but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.’ Faith endures such situations and will triumph (Romans 8:35–39)…. In the divine scheme of things, [we have] a path ‘to the stars, through perseverance’ [ad astra per aspera],” which is also the “motto of the state of Kansas and the British Royal Air Force. The Russian dissident Andrei Sakharov printed them on the door of his study during exile in Gorky”(John Reumann, Philippians, 2008, p. 702). Amazing how this wisdom has spread!