December 2012

Advent & Christmas


God’s Unbalanced Ratio of Law & Gospel

 Most 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.

    Why do 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?

   The 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).

   So 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 you! 

                                                                Pastor Marshall

                    PRESIDENT'S Matthew Kahn


It 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!

   CNBC 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 has already 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!

As Luther said in his 4th Sunday in Advent sermon on Philippians,

“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.”

   We 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 season.

   This 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. Please consider an extra Advent or Christmas donation so that we may replenish our savings accounts.

   This 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.

   I 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!


1Berk, Christina C., "Consumer Nation,", 19 Nov. 2012.


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 church.  My wife and I had been looking for a church we could live with, and found an extraordinary gem of a church we could love.

     I don’t think I am exaggerating how special this church is.  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 in history.

     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 this church.  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 we leave.  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 Church itself.  May we be tireless and fearless in supporting and growing these traditions, which are no less than the body of Christ in this world.

─Earl Nelson, Church Council



Sunday, December 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.

   We 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 contributions. Visit 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 happening today. 

    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 experience. 

    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 Spirit.

    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 faith.

    I remember and give thanks to God for the ministry of the Reverend Norris Halvorson, Pastor 1946-1959.  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 teenager.  He asked if I would be interested in a study of the church and its history.  I agreed.  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 its detail.  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 Pastor Marshall.  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 overwhelmingly approved. 

    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 years. 

    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 parish.  Thank you, and may God continue to bless each and everyone.

    I am eagerly looking forward to many more years of service if it is God’s will. 

    In His Service,  Dean

The Endowment Fund

Putting the Church in Your Will

By Pastor Marshall


Our church 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). 

    One 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.

    Our 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 church (pp. 124-25).

December Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 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).

    A copy 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 Bible.

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 16th.  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 17th. 

FOOD BANK COLLECTION suggested donation for December is holiday foods.  Don’t forget to bring a can of food to the St. Nicholas Faire!

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.

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.   

2013 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 10th.  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.


Job 30.22

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 (Acts 13.44).


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).


Week I. 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 racks, bones, pain, no and rest. Why would God inflict such devastating pain on Job? On this read Job 1.10-11 noting the words hedge, every, blessed, possession, increased, touch and 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 lips and heart. Apparently it isn’t possible to be sincere without a good heart. On this read Romans 10.9 noting the correlation between believe and heart. How do storms help us get a good heart?


Week II. 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 Lord, roar, voice, against, indictment, judgment and 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 wait and 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 meekness and lowliness with 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?


Week III. 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 gird and 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 crush, cruelly and 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?


Week IV. 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 when, storm, asleep, afraid, faith, calm and 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 hope and 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 fight and 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 work and fear. Does that seem reasonable? If so, why?





Celebrate with us the great Christmas feast of our

Lord's Nativity.  May these days fill your prayers with

thanksgiving and blessing.  This year’s schedule is: 



On Monday evening, the 24th of December – we will offer the Liturgy of Lessons, Carols, & Holy Eucharist in the Nave, beginning at 11 pm.


Tuesday morning, December 25th we offer a single Festival Liturgy & Holy Eucharist in the Nave, at 10:30 am. 



Wednesday, December 26th, in the chapel 

     Matins 9:30 am

     Holy Eucharist 11:45 am

     Vespars 7:00 pm


Thursday morning, December 27th, in the chapel –

     Holy Eucharist, 10:30 am.


On Friday 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, Peggy Wright.

     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 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 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.


                                                                          [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., III:184, altered]