December 2011





Those Two

December Boys



John & Jesus

Together – and

in that Order

by Pastor Marshall

(portrait by Jeanne Hedington)

Jesus dominates December worldwide. Even though there’s no consensus on who he is, the church confesses that he is the incarnate Son of God, the Word made flesh, the one who came to sacrifice himself on the cross so that whoever believes in him may be saved on Judgment Day from their sins.

But the lion’s share of days in December goes instead to his cousin, John the Baptist. Jesus said that he was very great – even though he couldn’t help us with our worst problem (Matthew 11.11, 2.11).

But he could scare us straight by condemning us and warning us of our impending doom if we don’t repent in the name of Christ and trust in him.

The Lutheran Confessions call John that “fiery angel – the preacher of true repentance” [The Book of Concord (1580), p. 308]. Let him dominate your lives in December by repenting and fasting until the 12 Days of Christmas kick in on December 24th. Amen.

X  X  X


PRESIDENT'S REPORT.... by Matthew Kahn



Advent has always been important to my family. The breezy short days make way to the warm glow of the fire in a cozy house; lighting the four candles on successive weeks and recalling THE story, the story of God’s love for His children.  We have been recalling this story for thousands of years, about a small family from some backwater burg in the far flung reaches of the empire going to pay their taxes. We who have been blessed to believe know that the story, His story, is so much more than a simple journey.

   We set aside this portion of the year to prepare for the humble coming of Christ. This act gives us structure so we may find it easier to welcome the message of Christmas.  Unfortunately, this structure has been lost to much of the Western Church. People are too busy, or don’t know how to observe Advent. I am confident that Pastor Marshall will give us a few pointers in the weeks to come.

   Make sure that everyone spreads the word about the wonderful St. Nicholas Faire to be held in the Parrish Hall on December 4th 2011. It is a great event that makes a fun evening but it also helps great West Seattle charities, the West Seattle Food Bank and the Helpline. Please tell all your friends and family about this event. We want to make sure we can surpass last year’s generous totals! Get piece of mind knowing you are helping those who are less fortunate while saving time shopping for unique and interesting Christmas gifts. It is a “win-win” situation!

   With all the financial discord in the general economy and in the Lutheran Church, Pastor Marshall reminded me to be thankful that we are better off than some churches. While this is true (many churches are facing a 25% year on year decrease in giving), I am always a bit nervous whenever we do not meet our giving goals for the month. October saw Total General Budget Receipts of $19,709.70 as compared to a budget of $21,600.00. This is an additional $3,000 shortfall that compounds the ongoing budget deficit. So far this year we have had $187,829.58 in Total General Budget Income as compared to a budget of $199,364 making us about $12,000 short on the year. December is generally one of our biggest giving months and I pray that we are able to make up some of that budget deficit so that we can continue to spread His word here in West Seattle.

   I hope that with all the hustle and bustle at the end of the year, that we do not lose sight of the structure of Advent, a dedicated time to prepare for the coming of Christ.  I hope you light the candles at home and recall with your loved ones the meaning and stories of Advent. Let us continue to observe and teach these rituals that help bind us together as Christians, so that we may be faithfully recalling His story until He comes again.


Stewardship                          Budget                Received

Month (October)                  $21,600              $20,000

Year to date (Jan-Oct)         $199,364            $190,186





    Pledge Cards for 2012


The Council would like to thank each of you who returned your pledge card and making a commitment to the work of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.  For the 2012 year, 42 pledge cards were returned so far and 38 pledges have been made.  The pledges give the Budget Committee a figure of $144,168 to work with for 2012.  And if you haven’t turned your pledge card in, it isn’t too late.  Put it in next Sunday’s offering plate so that your pledge will be a part of our budget making process.

   Since 1993, close to 20 years now, we have been very successful with our pledge card drive.  This process enables our Budget Committee to work out a realistic budget for the coming year.  And for our members it is a conscious commitment of your financial resources to the church. 

   Thanks again, and keep the pledge cards coming.

                                                                                                                        - Church Council





Sunday, December 4 from 4pm to 7pm

In a less than a week we will be gathering in the “transformed” Parish Hall to celebrate St. Nicholas Day by hosting an event to commemorate the spirit of St. Nicholas.  His many acts of charity are legendary.  All proceeds from this Faire will be donated to the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline. 

    But in order for it to be a success, we need to have every member participate and commit to helping in some manner.  The sign-up sheets are in the hall by the Library and they are in need of your name, etc!  We have tried to make contributing approachable and within reach. There are a variety of ways each of us can help, from money donations (make checks payable to First Lutheran Church of West Seattle, and note it be given to the St. Nicholas Faire), homemade baked goods, apple cider, and help during the Faire. Please come and bring your family, friends and neighbors.

      The St. Nicholas Faire has a dual purpose – it benefits 2 very deserving extended ministries, and it allows us to have a “party” time together with family and friends – while supporting our neighbors in need in our community.  Seems like a “win-win” situation.  So please plan to come and join in the celebration.  It’s going to be a great time.  Don’t miss it!

-Larraine King, Church Council


December Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Friday, December 30th

The book for December is Eli: A Novel (2000) by Bill Myers. It is a fantasy about Christ becoming incarnate in a different parallel universe but not 2000 years ago as the Bible teaches. This time he – Eli Shepherd by name – becomes incarnate in our time period, as a modern man. This novel is an important study about how Christ conflicts with whatever world he enters into, and how people of any strip respond to him most often with unbelief and anger.

   But Myers also makes some changes. In his retelling of the disciples’ promise that they wouldn’t abandon Jesus at the end (Matthew 26:33-35) he has this difference: “Jake [Peter, responded], ‘I can speak for all of us,… that… we’ll be right by your side. We’ll help you through it’…. Sadly Eli [Jesus] shook his head. ‘No, Jake. Each of you will abandon me. To save your own skins, you’ll run away. But that’s okay. I’ll still have my Father’” (p. 334)!

   A copy of this interesting novel is in the church library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss this retelling of the life of Jesus in a very different setting.


ANNOUNCEMENTS:  GOLDEN FELLOWSHIP annual Holiday Luncheon is planned for Tuesday, December 6th.  Sign up on the sheet that is posted in the lounge.

NEW MEMBERS will be received on Sunday, December 11th.  There will be a cookie reception in room C & D following the liturgy.  The December Service Team will be host.

COMPASS HOUSING ALLIANCE CHRISTMAS GIFTS:  Suggested items:  gift cards in $5 increments for fast food restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores, and new sweatshirts and socks for men and women.  Please leave your donations at the office.  Items will be delivered to the Compass Center December 13th. 

FOOD BANK COLLECTION suggested donation for December is holiday foods. 

YOUTH CAROLING PARTY:  Monday, December 26th, meet at Christo’s on Alki at 5:00 pm for a no host meal.  Then go caroling, to shut-ins in the congregation.  Anyone is welcome to come along.  Please sign up on the list that is posted in the lounge.

2012 FLOWER CHART:  The new chart will be up toward the end of the month.  Sign up early for the best choice of dates.

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next Koran Class starts on Thursday, January 5th.  Call the office if you plan to attend.

HOLY EUCHARIST – Communion:  Those who are baptized in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and believe are welcome to receive the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. If you are not able to walk up to communion but would like to receive, contact the Parish Deacon before the liturgy.

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

The King James Version of the Bible:

Its 400th Anniversary, 1611-2011

By Pastor Marshall


I have been observing this year the anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. In my last column on this anniversary, I want to draw your attention to Robert Alter’s fine study, Pen of Iron: American Prose and the King James Bible (Princeton University Press, 2010). His thesis is that of all the English speaking countries in the world, “it was in America that the potential of the [KJV] to determine the foundation language and symbolic imagery of a whole culture was most fully realized” (p. 1). That sweeping claim almost takes your breath away! Alter defends his thesis by exploring the writings of Abraham Lincoln, Herman Melville, William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, and Ernest Hemingway. Alter notes the influence of the KJV’s style – its “use of cadence, repetition, antithesis, and… the cinching effectiveness of a periodic sentence” (p. 11). But in end he concludes that the Bible’s point of view has also been influential:

Clearly, not all, or even most, American writers were drawn to biblical diction, syntax, and cadences, but there is a distinguishable biblical line in American writing that has not yet entirely broken off. What [has been] called the concise solid stamp of the language of the Bible continues to appeal to some American writers, and inseparable from the stylistic traits is a whole world of values with which both writers and readers have to contend – a demanding, often stern morality; a ringing promise of redeemed history in which it seems increasingly hard to give credence; a contrasting  vision of the horrors to which life in history is exposed; a penetrating sense of the unfathomability of human nature; the belief in a benevolent, providential deity and a vehement challenge to that very belief (p. 181).




A Forgotten But Powerful Voice:

Dr. Kent S. Knutson, 1924-1973

By Pastor Marshall


Dr. Knutson was the presiding bishop of the ALC from 1971-1973. This fall I have been offering up passages from his most famous book, The Shape of the Question: The Mission of the Church in a Secular Age (1972) for our contemplation. Here is what he says about the power of the Bible:


The Bible is the Word of God not because men have been able to describe it by profound words and thereby made it powerful. It is the Word of God because that Word exerts a power which it possesses by its own nature…. The Bible is the Word of God and exerts its own power in strange and wonderful ways, in ways we do not expect, and at times when we do not want it. Yet God controls that Word and it is his Word because he has made it his Word. If you want to find out what the Bible is like, you have to study it. You cannot find out about the Bible by just talking about how it ought to be…. Sometimes when we do that we are surprised…. We may discover that it is not the way we used to think it was…. [Also] God sometimes withholds things from me [in the Bible], he sometimes fans my curiosity and he sometimes makes me angry because he forces me to trust him and he will not submit himself to my demands as to how he ought to speak to me…. And because of this I know the Bible is inspired – God-breathed. It means the Bible has power to speak what God wishes to have spoken,… no matter what form the Bible is in…. The perfection of the Bible is not related to its inspiration. The Bible is what it is because of its power (pp. 42-44).

Enjoy the convenience of electronic giving!





Thank you to those members that have signed up for giving electronically.  If you have thought about it but are still uncertain, I can answer any questions.  Just call or email me. 

    The process is completely safe – it is the same as having your mortgage payment or insurance payment automatically deducted from your checking account.  I handle all the paperwork locally so your authorization form never leaves my possession.  If at any time you want to change or cancel the automatic transactions, let me know and I will immediately process the change. 

    Giving can also be done through our web page now!  Look for the blue button at the bottom of the first page that says “Donate”. 

(Teri Korsmo, Financial Secretary, 206-932-7914,


Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.


Vera Gunnarson, Dorothy Ryder, Richard Hard, Agnes Arkle, Alan Morrison, Clara Anderson, Pete Morrison, Mary Goplerud, Teri Korsmo, Bob Baker, Peggy Wright, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Margaret Hard, Theresa Malmanger, Jennie Jaramillo, Chardell Paine, Craig Purfeerst, Rolf Sponheim, Don Evenson, Dorothy Randall-Wood, Kurt & Jennifer Alfano, Mary Uhler, Robin Lantzy, Mona Elliot, Bob Smith, Jacob & Samuel Strehl, David & Kay Thoreson, Jeanne Hedington.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Clara Anderson, Agnes Arkle, C. J. Christian, Vera Gunnarson, Pat Hansen, Margaret Hard, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Vivian Wheeler.

     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 families and friends of Emma Lofgren, and Lee Warbington.

     Pray for our bishops Mark Hanson and Chris Boerger, 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 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, and homeless this November.  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 it's ministry.

     Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints:  Saint Andrew, the Apostle.



A Treasury of Prayers


Merciful Father be with me at all times to comfort, strengthen, and preserve me, so that I may remain steadfast until my life’s end. Bless your holy church in all the world; save, deliver, and preserve it from all evil. Take away from it all unfaithful pastors and false teachers, who, like devouring wolves and roaring lions, lamentably scatter and ravage your slender flock; send forth and give faithful pastors and honest laborers into your harvest. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


                                          [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., 1:57, altered]




The Nativity of Our Lord


Celebrate with us the great Christmas feast of our Lord's Nativity.  May these days fill your hearts with thanksgiving and praise.  This year we will have the following schedule:

Christmas Eve

     On Saturday evening, the 24th of December we will offer the Liturgy of Lessons, Carols, and Holy Eucharist.  This traditional candlelight liturgy will feature the singing of carols; a procession; and anthems sung by the Deo Gloria Cantores.

Christmas Day

   Sunday morning, December 25th we will offer a single Festival Liturgy and Holy Eucharist in the nave, at 10:30 am. 

Saint Stephen Deacon & Martyr

   Monday morning, December 26th

            Holy Eucharist in the chapel, 11:45 am

   Monday evening 5:00 pm, Caroling to shut-ins.

       Saint John, Apostle & Evangelist

   Tuesday morning, December 27th  

            Holy Eucharist in the chapel, 11:45 am

       The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

   Wednesday morning, December 28th,

            Matins in the chapel, 9:30 am

            Holy Eucharist in the chapel,  10:30 am

            Vespers & Reserved Sacrament 7:00 pm.