Advent & Christmas
God’s Unbalanced Ratio of Law & Gospel
of December is made up of the season of Advent. The last eight
days are taken up with the bulk of the season of Christmas. So
the ratio between the two is about two-to-one.
we have twice as much of Advent in December as of Christmas? And
if Advent is for repenting, and Christmas is for rejoicing – why
do we have twice as much repenting as rejoicing? Why do we have
twice as much law as gospel? Why do we have this imbalance?
reason for this is that we are cockeyed and we need
twice as much Advent, repenting and law as we do
Christmas, gospel and rejoicing. We need twice as much
time for preparing as we do for celebrating. In short we
need the opposite of what we want.
And what is it that we want? It’s right there in
Luke 12:19 – take your ease, eat, drink, and be merry!
Repenting – or feeling sorry for our sins and the shame
and dishonor we have inflicted upon God and his dear Son
– that’s for the birds! Who wants to the wallow in the
muck? But because the light of Christmas only comes to
those who sit in darkness (Luke 1:79) – we have to spend
time sizing up that darkness in us – lest the light turn
to darkness in us (Luke 11:35).
take these first few weeks of December to contemplate
God’s unbalanced ratio of law and gospel. Feel the
burden of repenting during most of December – and do
that so the Christmas light may shine more brightly upon
is December in Seattle. The rain descends like a shroud
enveloping all with a dampness that will not dissipate
until July. The days are noticeably short. The kids go
to school when its dark and I watch the sun set as I
wait for their returning bus.
However the drab dreary sky should not depress
us, because in December we also celebrate the light of
the world, God’s gift of His only Son!
just published an article about how 45% of Americans
would rather skip Christmas.1 The headline is
intentionally provocative. The issue the author brings
up is one of skipping the stress related to the rampant
consumerism surrounding Christmas rather than a
wholesale abandonment of Christ.
(Although it could be argued that the consumer
abandoned Christ.) Regardless what side of the 45% one
falls on, my advice is the same; put down the credit
card and come to church. I guarantee that people would
be a lot happier. Come to church and pray that your sins
will be forgiven and that your faith be strengthened!
Luther said in his 4th Sunday in Advent sermon on
“When faith is lacking,
man is filled with fear and gloom and is disposed to
flee at the very mention, the mere thought, of God.
Indeed, the unbelieving heart is filled with enmity and
hatred against God. Conscious of its own guilt, it has
no confidence in his gracious mercy; it knows God is an
enemy to sin and will terribly punish the same.”
are not only fighting the gloom of December’s weather,
but also the faithlessness in ourselves and in our
fellowman. The somber rains are a gift from God AND so
is faith. Here in Seattle many hearts are “filled with
enmity and hatred against God.” We must pray for those
people that they might find salvation and His love this
Advent and Christmas
fall the Parish has been able to keep our bills current
and meet its financial obligations.
However we are
still $7,600 behind in monies normally set aside in our
saving accounts. The largest portion of which is
owed to the Major Maintenance Reserve fund. We have not
made any contribution to the fund since July! October
saw Total General Budget Receipts at $21,374 compared to
a budget of $21,588. Our expenses are also higher than
expected in October with Total expenses coming in at
$21,260 versus an expected amount of $21,010. Year to
date we are at $194,617 of Total General Budget Receipts
compared to an expected $199,262.
an extra Advent or Christmas donation so that we may
replenish our savings accounts.
December fight the gloom of the rain and of
faithlessness! Come hear the Word and join us as we
celebrate our salvation though the sacrifice of Christ.
Bring friends and family. Gain peace and joy as you turn
away from the rat race and turn towards God. Pray that
the love of God will conquer the hate in men’s hearts
this Christmas season.
pray that this December finds you and your family
healthy and happy, and that peace may come upon you
though the grace of God.
Happy Advent and Merry Christmas!
Christina C., "Consumer Nation," CNBC.com, 19
Its Most Important Part
When I first began to visit FLCWS I could hardly believe
my ears and my eyes.
The pastor was sparing no effort and taking real
risks to preach the Word in its purity, and a
responsive, engaged congregation listened.
Very evident was an intentional and purposeful
devotion to the liturgy, beautiful sacred music
carefully and skillfully performed by the organist and
the choir, and all in a beautiful, yet unpretentious
wife and I had been looking for a church we could live
with, and found an extraordinary gem of a church we
I don’t think I am exaggerating how special this
I’ve been in a lot of churches over the years, big and
small, liturgical and modern, in the South and in the
North, but none like this.
When I enter the sanctuary, I feel that I am in
the presence of God and want to respond accordingly.
Based on two years of experience now, I never
fear that the service will compromise that desire but
know that it will heighten and sharpen it, challenge it.
Thanks to the historical liturgy and music, I
feel that I am in communion with the saints who have
gone before, not just those living in this brief moment
I am supposed to be writing about stewardship,
and I probably am, but first I feel the need to thank
God and those who have worked so hard and contributed so
much over many years, both the active members and staff
of the church and those who have gone to a better place
before us, for building this specific and unique church
in West Seattle.
Feeling this way about FLCWS, I want also to
share it with others.
Yesterday, I took bulletins from the service on
the occasion of the Kierkegaard statue and shared them
with colleagues at work.
They’re brainy, philosophical types like me over
in Redmond at the Bear Creek School.
Several of them are used to that sort of thing
now. I have
sometimes been awkward about it, but they notice that I
don’t stop doing it.
I would really like to bring more members into
I suspect in the long run
it is the most
important thing we can do as stewards: help more
people to become a part of this church’s traditions, to
carry then on, sustain them, and finally transmit them
to others again, so that they are there for others when
There are people here and there in this area who would
quickly come to love it, and others who could learn to
love it. They are not legion, but they are out there.
The commute into West Seattle is merely a little
effort for something worth a great deal more effort.
I don’t know if it will bear any fruit, but I
plan on continuing to be persistent in suggesting to
others that they need to check this church out.
The traditions of FLCWS are not just
its own traditions, but a precious
inheritance from the past which is
everywhere under assault, not just from the
world with its unceasing hatred of, or
indifference to the truth, but even from the
May we be tireless and fearless in
supporting and growing these traditions,
which are no less than the body of Christ in
─Earl Nelson, Church Council
2nd from 4pm to 7pm
The feast day of St.
Nicholas is almost here and preparations are almost completed.
All we need is
YOU!!! And your
friends and family to come and enjoy the festivities.
The cookies are baked, the pies are prepared, the cakes
look scrumptious, and we will all have to walk just a little
farther the following week, but it will be such delightful fun.
So plan to join in the celebration.
have gift baskets to bid on – breakfast, coffee, tea,
ice cream, boy and girl activity books, puzzles,
Italian, wine, baking – just to highlight a few.
Plus a wine toss game and wine tasting.
Admission is $5 per person or $15 per family if
each attendee brings a can of food, and $10 per person
and $25 per family if you do not contribute a can of
food for each person.
Remember this is a fund raiser for the West
Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline.
Every dollar that is contributed will be given
directly to these two deserving extended ministries.
But it will not be a success unless
you come and
have a good time.
Larraine King, Church Council
The season of giving
This holiday season, we thank everyone who has supported
First Lutheran Church of West Seattle this past
year with their time, talent and financial contributions
and look forward to support from all of our members in
the year ahead. If you need a convenient way to make
regular offerings or if you plan to make an additional
gift before the end of the year, we encourage you to
check out our electronic giving options. As the pace of
life speeds up, especially around the holidays, you may
find electronic giving a most welcome way to make
or contact the church office for more information.
Dean’s Anniversary Speech
I am keenly aware that one does not come to a moment in
life like this by standing on one’s own merits or
accomplishments without recognizing that if it were not
for the support and encouragement of many other people,
this recognition would not, indeed, could not be
First Lutheran church of West Seattle became and
continues to be the singularly most important event in
my life… after my birth of course.
It is here that I was baptized.
It is here that I was confirmed.
It is here that I was taught, and it is here that
I work, serving as deacon and choirmaster, sacristan,
property manager and parish archivist.
When I walked through those large oak doors at
the front of this church on Reformation Sunday 1955 (not
long after my 15th birthday and the beginning of my
sophomore year at West Seattle High School) I was
instantly struck and overwhelmed by the awesome beauty
of this house of worship with its pillars, arches,
vaulted beamed ceiling, breathtaking stained glass
windows, and the music.
It was an immense, spirit-filled moment that I,
all these years later, vividly remember and continue to
What initially brought me here was an invitation
to sing in the church choir by Paul Fosso, the Choir
Director; but I believe it was the work of the Holy
I am honored and blessed to serve as a part of
the ministry team of First Lutheran Church of West
Seattle; a church whose purpose is foremost to worship,
confess, witness and serve the Triune God – Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit; proclaimed in Holy Scripture by
honoring the historic liturgies; upholding the Apostolic
faith and practice; by celebrating the seasons and
festivals of the liturgical year; and by honoring the
music and great hymnody of the church, seeing in it a
richness that properly matches the grandeur of our
I remember and give thanks to God for the
ministry of the Reverend Norris Halvorson, Pastor
A distinguished looking man with a military officer’s
formidable presence, and a voice of a Shakespearean
actor; he saw something in this young precocious
He asked if I would be interested in a study of the
church and its history.
He set up a study program of discussions and
books to read that eventually would cover a two year
period, meeting twice a week after school.
We covered church history, liturgies,
architecture, vestments, and the sacraments.
He trained me to be an acolyte.
He taught me the work of the Altar Guild in all
He took time to tell me about the building of this
beautiful church and the stories behind those
magnificent stained glass windows.
It was a tutorial that was life changing for me.
I also give thanks for the faithful ministry of
It is because of his working tirelessly over
several years that the historical office of Parish
Deacon was created.
It was presented to the Executive Committee, the
church Council, and then to the congregation and was
I give thanks for sharing in the ministry with
Sonja Clemente, Parish Secretary; Andrew King, Cantor;
Larrine King, Subdeacon; the choir members over the last
57 years; the Altar Guild: Evelyn Coy, Maxine Foss, and
Janice Lundbeck; and the 126 Acolytes over the last 43
And lastly I give thanks for the faith, courage
and vision of those who worked so hard and sacrificed so
much to build this church.
And to all of you, the faithful and godly people
who continue to support, encourage and labor in this
Thank you, and may God continue to bless each and
I am eagerly looking forward to many more years
of service if it is God’s will.
In His Service,
Putting the Church in Your Will
By Pastor Marshall
endowment fund continues to grow.
We thank God for all who have made gifts to this fund and
the support it provides our church. Especially we thank God for
the major donors to our endowment fund – George (1925-2003) &
Marion (1929-2005) Colvin, Lila Granaas (1913-2002), Orma
Nesheim (1917-2010), and Alida Rottman (1922-2011).
significant way to support the fund is to
include the church in
your will. If
you would like to do this and have not done so already, think of
giving 10% of the
residual value of your estate to the church.
In this way you will be able to tithe the income the
investments of your estate has earned over the years.
This is a fitting way to thank God for the blessings of
prosperity we all enjoy.
endowment fund was established in January 1996.
The gifts made to the fund are never spent.
Most of the interest earned is added each year to help
meet our budget. In
this way you can go on supporting our church long after you have
departed to join the church triumphant.
Praise be to God!
A Forgotten But Powerful Voice:
Dr. Kent S. Knutson, 1924-1973
By Pastor Marshall
In this last
column on Dr. Knutson’s
The Shape of the Question: The Mission of the Church in a
Secular Age (1972), I leave you to contemplate what he has
to say about human sinfulness:
What the Reformation theology said was that total
depravity [of mankind] is a term which should be applied
as the understanding of reason was applied. Man is
totally depraved in the sense that he does not have
within himself, within his own nature, the power to save
himself…. This… has several effects. First… it excludes
sentimentality from religion…. [So] a man should not be
surprised at evil…. Man should rather take the stance of
preparing himself to battle evil in order to free
himself from its consequences. The second effect is that
this kind of understanding develops virile people [who]
do not succumb to the irrationalities of life. They are
redeemed for a purpose. And it means, thirdly, that man
dealing with realities, with the world as it is, does so
with the understanding that this dealing requires moral
judgments. The world is not a neutral entity…. It
requires more than serene analysis and eloquence. It
requires engagement. I don’t know of any better single
reason for our existence or for the mission of the
the Mind: Readings in Contemporary Theology
pm in the Church Lounge, Friday, December 30th
The book for
December is Evidence for
God: 50 Arguments for Faith from the Bible, History, Philosophy,
and Science (2010), edited by Dembski & Licona. This book
presents fifty short, four-page arguments for the truth of
Christianity by over thirty-five authors in the areas of Bible,
history, philosophy and science. The last two are the most
unlikely. One of the arguments from the philosophy section is
that we can’t be good without God. That’s because without God
existing we cannot show that humans “have intrinsic value,
rights, and moral obligations” (p. 23). And as for science, one
of the arguments notes that “the simultaneous evolution of
several elaborate and complex protection mechanisms that are
required to protect cells from some of the very basic
necessities of life (namely, water, oxygen, and light) certainly
complicates the origin-of-life problem” and even points to the
reality of God (pp. 62-63).
of this collection of arguments for the reality of God 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 the various reason for believing in the God of the
is planned for Tuesday, December 6th.
Sign up on the sheet that is posted in the lounge.
will be received on Sunday, December 16th.
There will be a cookie reception in room C & D following
the liturgy. The
December Service Team will be host.
ALLIANCE CHRISTMAS GIFTS:
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
suggested donation for December is holiday foods.
Don’t forget to bring a can of food to the St. Nicholas
CHRISTMAS CAROLING PARTY:
Thursday, December 27th,
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.
for the Bartell Drugs Scrip
and designate First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.
4% of your purchases will be automatically donated to the
2013 FLOWER CHART:
The new chart will be up toward the end of the
up early for the best choice of dates.
next Koran Class starts on Thursday, January 10th.
Call the office if you plan to attend.
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
Monthly Home Bible Study, December 2012, Number 238
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
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).
Read Job 30.22 noting the
word storm. In what
way does God throw Job into a storm? On this read Job 30.21
noting the word cruel.
Read also Job 2.7 noting the phrase
loathsome sores. Is
the storm then from the cruelty inflicted by his sores? On this
read Job 30.17 noting the words
rest. Why would God
inflict such devastating pain on Job? On this read Job 1.10-11
noting the words hedge,
curse. What is the
test in this infliction? On this read Genesis 4.13 and Psalm
13.2 noting the same word
bear in both. Why do we have to show God that we can bear up
under calamity? On this read Luke 8.16 noting the line
an honest and good heart.
Why is a good heart important to have? On this read Matthew 15.8
noting the contrast between
heart. Apparently it
isn’t possible to be sincere without a good heart. On this read
Romans 10.9 noting the correlation between
heart. How do storms
help us get a good heart?
Read again Job 30.22 noting this time the word
roar. Why note this
noise? On this read Jeremiah 25.30-31 noting the words
wicked. This noise is
about God going against us. But why would God be against Job? On
this read Job 6.11 noting the words
patient. Is it
blasphemy to say that God isn’t worth waiting for because he is
unfaithful? On this read Psalm 31.5 noting the phrase
faithful God. Does
Job deny this? Why would he? Does his denial come from his
impatience? On this read Colossians 3.12 noting the linkage of
patience. Do these
words describe Job’s psyche? On this read Job 14.14 noting the
words all and
wait. Here Job sounds
close to lowliness and meekness. But read also Job 23.6 noting
the words contend and
heed. This verse says
the exact opposite. As Job’s illness drags on he seems to get
more and more impatient. What is there about illness that makes
it so difficult to put up with it?
Reread Job 30.22 noting the word
storm again. Does God
have any other uses for storms when dealing with Job? On this
read Job 38.1 noting the word
whirlwind. Why does
God speak to Job in a storm when he finally takes up Job’s
concerns with him? On this read Job 38.3 noting the words
question. Why does
God turn the tables on Job? On this read Job 42.3 noting the
line too wonderful for me.
Does that mean Job was out of his league to question God? Read
also Job 39.13-18 noting the words
God. Job accused God
of being cruel and God says he force the ostrich to act cruelly
– does that mean God is like the ostrich? On this read Job
41.1-10 noting to positive comparison of God with
Leviathan. If God is
like that crocodile (Leviathan), couldn’t he also be like the
ostrich? What would this mean? On this read Hebrews 10.31 noting
the words fearful and
God. Will the Bible
allows us to domesticate God by turning him into a soft,
purring, pussy cat? If not, how shall we then live with God?
Read Job 30.22 one last time noting that same word
storm. How did Jesus
relate to storms? On this read Matthew 8.23-27 noting the words
obey. Did Jesus both
cause the storm to erupt and also calm it down? Why is his
calming of the storm clearer than his bringing of it about? On
this read John 12.29 noting the dispute over whether the sound
came from thunder or
an angel’s voice.
Does this ambiguity make room for faith over against doubt? If
so, is that because risk-taking is a part of faith? On this read
Hebrews 11.1 noting the two negatives revolving around the words
seen. If faith cannot
hold on to what it believes in, nor even see it, then there’s
risk that what’s believed in isn’t there at all. Is that
acceptable? On this read 1 Timothy 6.12 noting the words
faith. Does this
verse require faith to embed risk right into its heart? If so,
then what? On this read Philippians 2.12 noting the words
fear. Does that seem
reasonable? If so, why?
OF OUR LORD
Celebrate with us the great Christmas feast of our
May these days fill your prayers
thanksgiving and blessing.
This year’s schedule is:
evening, the 24th
of December – we will offer the
Liturgy of Lessons, Carols,
beginning at 11 pm.
morning, December 25th
we offer a single
STEPHEN DEACON & MARTYR
in the chapel
Matins 9:30 am
Holy Eucharist 11:45 am
Vespars 7:00 pm
JOHN, APOSTLE & EVANGELIST
morning, December 27th,
in the chapel –
Holy Eucharist, 10:30
THE HOLY INNOCENTS, MARTYRS
morning, December 28th,
in the chapel –
Holy Eucharist, 11:45 am.
Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your
brothers and sisters through baptism.
Teri Korsmo, Evelyn Coy, Nora Vanhala, Ed Olson, Carmen
Malmanger, Luke Douglass, Connor Bisticas, Agnes Arkle, Clara
Anderson, Bob Baker, Peggy Wright, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Rosita
& Jim Moe, Jim Cunningham, Susan Lyon, Lee Neuman, Amy Tabor,
Louisa Eden, Annie Crutchfield, Kelsey Ensey, Cameron Lim,
Maureen Baris, Connie Pinter, Chris & Margeen Bowyer, John
Wallace, Paul Sampson, Yuriko Nishimura, Pete Williams & Family,
the Balbin Family, Charles McVee, Karin Keith, Al and Robin
Berg, Karen Granger, Ron Combs, Ion Ceaicovschi, Dorothy Pinney.
Pray for the shut-ins that the
light of Christ may give them joy:
Clara Anderson, Pat Hansen, Donna Apman, Agnes Arkle, C.
J. Christian, Vera Gunnarson, Anelma Meeks, Olive Morrison,
Dorothy Ryder, 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 family and friends of
Richard Hard on his death.
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
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 Advent & Christmas.
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 Thomas, Apostle; Saint Stephen, Deacon and Martyr; Saint
John, Apostle and Evangelist; and The Holy Innocents, Martyrs.
A Treasury of Prayers
O Lord, my God,
whose patience I have too long tried, after so many
ineffectual vows, I almost fear to repent, lest I only
add one unfaithfulness more. Increase my faith that I
may no longer lean on my broken will, but watch your
guiding light and follow where you lead me. In all
things atune my heart now and for all time to come to
the holiness and harmony of your kingdom. In Jesus’ name
I pray. Amen.
All the Saints
(ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols.,