Soften Your Hearts
Repenting During Advent
Martin Luther began the Reformation with his
(1517) – the first of which says we are to repent our whole life
31:25). We need to repent and feel sorry for our sins and
ashamed of how we have dishonored God’s name, in order to soften
up our hard hearts so that we will want God’s blessings (LW
35:18). This may be painful, but it’s necessary, though odd –
since it makes life tough, demanding –
my silence will make me seem worse than I am, I should
be silent – for instance, giving alms in [secret; and
where] my silence will make me seem better than I am,
then I should speak – confession of sin” (Kierkegaard,
The last thing we need then during these days before
Christmas is to indulge ourselves with pleasant thoughts
and deeds about how good we are. That would only run
counter to repentance and hurt us in the long run.
So God is his mercy has provided both fasting and John
the Baptist for us during Advent – the few weeks before
Christmas – to soften up our hard hearts. The negativity
they both bring is just what we need to prepare
ourselves for Christmas. Thank God for both during
Advent this year – fasting and listening to what John
the Baptist has to say about you, against you (Matthew
What You Think About the Poor
Examining Your Mind
By Pastor Marshall
Christians are to care for the poor
because God says to (Proverbs 19:17; Acts 20:35). But
what crosses your mind when you think about them?
Do your thoughts hold you back
from helping them or send you on your way?
Here is a good test to take to see what you think. It comes from
Dr. Renee Wilson-Simmons, Director of the National Center for
Children in Poverty, Columbia University, New York City. She
says a large number of Americans think negatively of the poor.
They think they are “culturally deficient, criminally inclined,
reproductively prodigious, and financial inept” (National
“Here & Now,” October 18, 2016).
After studying the matter, Wilson-Simmons says that none these
accusations are factually true. But what do you think? She also
says that these negative thoughts, if held, keep us from helping
the poor. Has that ever happened to you?
So there you have it. You’ve just taken the test. However you
faired, check to see how you stand alongside those two Bible
verses cited above – Proverbs 19:17 and Acts 20:35.
Dr. Julia Watkin
The 12th Annual
Watkin Memorial Kierkegaard
Saint Olaf College
November 2, 2017
“The Confused Name of the
Luther’s Thought as the Matrix
for Kierkegaard’s Writings
The Rev. Ronald F. Marshall
First Lutheran Church of West
Marshall has been invited to deliver this prestigious lecture
because of his seminal work in Kierkegaard both at the annual
commemorations in Seattle, and in his many writings on
Kierkegaard. He is the first parish pastor to give this lecture.
Pastor Marshall’s Publications
Kierkegaard Comes to Seattle,”
Lutheran Forum 19
(Pentecost 1985) 15–16.
Heavenly Whores,” Dialog
31 (Summer 1992) 227–30.
Worshipping Geese,” The
Bride of Christ 17 (Saint Michael and All Angels, 1993)
“News From the
Graveyard: Kierkegaard’s Analysis of Christian Self-Hatred,”
Pro Ecclesia 11
Forum 35 (Christmas 2001) 51–52.
Cure for Divorce,” Søren
Kierkegaard Newsletter 44 (September 2002) 6–10.
Music Box,” Lutheran
Forum 39 (Fall 2005) 37–41.
Need for Kierkegaard,”
Lutheran Forum 40 (Summer 2006) 17–18.
Faith: A Sermon Inspired by Kierkegaard,”
Lutheran Forum 40
(Summer 2006) 18–19.
Preacher: Kierkegaard on Adversity and the Awakening of Faith,”
(Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2007) 219–49.
the Berserk: Kierkegaard on Adler and the Ideal Pastor,”
(Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2008) 35–66.
Doctor: Kierkegaard’s Dialectical Understanding of God’s
23 (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2009) 129–64.
God: Kierkegaard’s Parable of the Royal Coachman,”
Toward the Final
Crossroads: A Fest-
schrift for Edna & Howard Hong
(Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2009) 115–41.
Path: Kierkegaard’s Complex Way to Religious Simplicity,”
Commentary 22 (Macon,
Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2010) 117–56.
Self-Forgetfulness: Kierkegaard on Self-Denial,”
Why Kierkegaard Matters:
A Festschrift in
Honor of Robert L. Perkins
(Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2010) 179–92.
as Kierkegaard’s Master,”
Lutheran Quarterly 27 (Autumn 2013) 344–48.
Kierkegaard for the Church:
Essays & Sermons,
Forward by Carl E. Braaten, Epilogue by Robert L. Per-
kins (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2013) ii–xxiv, 1–369 pp.
Kierkegaard in the Pulpit:
Sermons Inspired by His Writings
(Yakima, Washington: Cave Moon Press,
2016) x–li, 1–428 pp.
Kierkegaard, Pietism and
Holiness (2011) by Christopher B. Barnett,”
Lutheran Quarterly 26
mer 2012) 195–97.
Discourses at the
Communion on Fridays, trans. Sylvia Walsh (2011),”
Quarterly 27 (Winter
The Emergent Prophet:
Kierkegaard and the Postmodern People of God (2013) by Kyle
Lutheran Quarterly 28
(Autumn 2014) 350–51.
From Despair to Faith:
The Spirituality of Søren Kierkegaard (2014) by Christopher
B. Barnett,” Lu-
29 (Winter 2015) 482–83.
Kierkegaard and the
Refusal of Transcendence (2015) by Steven Shakespeare,”
30 (Winter 2016) 491–92.
Kierkegaard and the
Paradox of Religious Diversity (2016) by George B. Connell,”
ly 30 (Winter
Existing Before God: Søren
Kierkegaard and the Human Venture (2017) by Paul R. Sponheim,”
Dreaming of Food; Trying to
It is that time of year
again. As I write,
Thanksgiving approaches, and then Christmas.
If Luther had celebrated American Thanksgiving, he surely
would have recommended it as an opportunity for fasting, or so I
gather from Pastor’s sermons!
But not so the culture that beckons to me from the
coolers at Costco, and the produce section at Haggen’s.
I have to concoct a suitable feast.
I do so love to share good food with the people I love.
The sentiment is completely natural, not at all uncommon,
and yet insufficient.
As self-indulgent as Thanksgiving can be, it sometimes seems to
me like a mere warm-up for the month of December, an appetizer.
How many Christmas parties will there be during Advent?
With God’s help, I may be able to resist some of the many
temptations about to come my way, and acknowledge the
seriousness of Christmas, its
God became man on
Christmas day to save our souls – by dying himself –
pleasure seeking, not to provide an occasion
Amidst the cheerfulness and the fudge, will I have an ear
to hear James’ stark words that the essence of the Christian
life is caring for orphans and widows, and keeping oneself
unstained from the world (James 1:27)? No glittering lights or
wrapping paper there, no sugar.
sound grumpy? Am I
already a Grinch even before Thanksgiving?
Is it offensive to refuse sweets at a Christmas party, or
does that make it a Christmas party?
I’ve never heard of a
With God’s help I will both refuse and accept, and not
appear to be fasting in public.
With God’s help I will honor the Savior’s poverty, even
in my abundance.
To mention Saint Nicholas Faire now is not
I look forward to helping, and to sharing food
with people I love.
I hear Larraine and her helpers are ahead of
schedule in the preparations, despite the abundance of
is an annual labor of love, which just gets better every
food and the wine are always good.
I hope you will come, and bring friends.
And speaking of feasts,
husband Andy gave us one the afternoon of All Saints’
think it was Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D-major at the
end. I look
forward to hearing Bach in church always: the solidity
and the yearning.
The choir always regales us in December.
I hope you will come and share Advent and
Christmas with us in church this year.
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
The holidays are here and Christmas is rapidly consuming our
thoughts. What to
give to the many people we love and hold dear in our hearts?
Who to add to our list and how much to spend?
How we love to bring joy to our loved ones because when
they are happy we are happy!
So it goes with God.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 we read: “He who sows sparingly
will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also
Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or
under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
So what does being a cheerful giver mean in relationship to the
church? For me it
is knowing that we are complying with God’s will that we tithe,
and knowing that God will turn our gifts of money to him into
many things for many people.
1. Maintaining God’s house, our place of
Supporting the leadership in our church.
Encouraging our music ministry.
Supplying education through Bible classes for the
Food for the hungry.
Clothes for the needy.
Shelter for the homeless.
How about you? What
does being a cheerful giver mean to you?
Bridget Sagmoen, Church Council
ST. NICHOLAS FAIRE
Sunday, December 6th
4:30pm to 7:30pm
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 generous 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.
Here’s a sampling of the gift baskets that will be available to
Warm Weather Gear
Beer & Wine
of W Gear
Pasta & Sauce
Plus gift certificates to many local restaurants and businesses
like JAKS, Elliott Bay Pub & Brewery, Caffe Ladro, Husky Deli,
NW Art & Frame, QFC, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, West Seattle
Nursery, Great Harvest Bakery, Starbucks, Barnes & Noble,
Target, Bartell’s, Panera Bread, Junction Hardware, Pagliacci
Pizza, Spiros, Amazon,
Beer Junction, ETC!!!
But in order for it to be a success, we need every member to
participate and commit to helping in some manner.
The sign-up sheets were in the hall between classrooms C
& D during the month of November.
missed them and still are able to help in some way,
please contact me (Larraine 206-937-6740).
We have tried to make contributing approachable
and within reach. There are still a few ways each of us
can help- make
money donations (make checks payable to First
Lutheran Church of West Seattle, and note it is to be
given to the St. Nicholas Faire),
and help during the Faire.
But the most important way
to support this event is to come and bring your family,
friends and neighbors, and do your Christmas shopping.
The St. Nicholas Faire has a dual purpose – it benefits
two very deserving extended ministries, and it allows us
to have a party together with family and friends – while
supporting our neighbors in need from our community.
Now that’s a WIN! WIN!
please plan to come and join in the celebration.
the Mind: Readings
in Contemporary Theology
pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, December 31st
The book for December is
The God We Worship: An Exploration of Liturgical Theology by
Nicholas Wolterstorff (2015). This book is about worshipping
rightly. And so he argues that when we “assemble to participate
in an enactment of the liturgy, we do so in order to worship God
– not to please God, not to center ourselves, but to worship
God. We may also do so because we expect or hope that we
ourselves will be altered in some way, guided and energized for
our life in the everyday, for example. But that’s compatible
with assembling in order to worship God; indeed if the
alteration in ourselves that we expect or hope for comes about,
it does so as a consequence of our engaging in worshipping God”
A copy of this important book is in the library. If you would
like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel
free to attend our meeting when we discuss the proper way to
next four week class on the Koran starts on Thursday, January
5th. Call the
office to register for the class.
FOOD BANK COLLECTION
suggested donation for December is holiday foods.
And, don’t forget to bring a can of food to the St.
SACRAMENT OF PENANCE:
Sat., December 17th, 3-5
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.
Everyone is welcome to come along.
Please sign up on the list that is posted in the lounge.
is in need of Christmas gift items for their housing
centers for both men and women. Listed here are the
items we will be collecting over the next couple of
weeks: gift cards in $5 to $25 increments for fast food
restaurants, coffee shops, Target and grocery stores;
sweatshirts (L, XL, XXL sizes with the tags on),
underwear, flip-flops, hats, scarves and gloves (in dark
toiletries in small sizes are always needed. Please
leave your donations at the office. The items collected
will be delivered after Sunday, December 11th.
2017 FLOWER CHART:
The new chart will be up toward the end of the month.
Sign up early for the best choice of dates.
Also, we still need a couple more people to sign
up for Christmas flowers.
to the November Service Team for organizing receptions
for 40th Anniversary Organ Recital and Pastor Marshall’s
Very well done!
Monthly Home Bible Study,
December 2016, Number 286
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
Read Romans 2.7 noting the phrase
eternal life. What is
it? On this read Revelation 21.2–4 noting the words
pain. Why is such a
place needed? On this read Hebrews 11.16 noting the word
better. Read also 2
Corinthians 4.16–18 noting the words
eternal. This better
life is needed because the ordinary, dying, transient, distorted
and wicked world cannot sustain the fulfillment, joy and meaning
we long for. What blocks that joy here? On this read Hebrews
2.15 noting the fear of
death and the
lifelong bondage it brings. What’s behind this fear? On this
read Romans 6.23 noting the phrase
the wages of sin. Why
does sin do this? On this read Isaiah 59.2 noting the words
hid. Why is this
distancing bad? On this read James 1.17 noting the line
every good and perfect
gift. It is this goodness and perfection that we hanker
after when we long for eternal life. Do you agree? Or do you
only long for this life,
as 1 Corinthians 15.19 puts it? If so, why? If not, why not?
Read again Romans 2.7 noting the word
give. Why is eternal
life something only God can give us? On this read Romans 3.24
noting the words grace,
Jesus. If it is a
gift, then we can’t do it for ourselves or earn it. That’s
because it is freely bestowed as a gift. But why’s that? Note
that it comes from Jesus whose death brings it about. Because
this agency is outside of us (and all people together), it is a
gift that only God can give. Read also Ephesians 2.8–9 noting
the word boast. In
order to ward off taking eternal life the wrong way, it has to
come from God, otherwise we’ll boast over having it, which would
be the wrong way to take it. That’s because of Galatians 6.14
which says that we should not
glory in ourselves or
become boastful. On this read James 4.16 noting how such
boasting is arrogant
and evil. Note also
the line do all to the
glory of God in 1 Corinthians 10.31.
Reread Romans 2.7 noting the line
by patience in well-doing
seek… immortality. What it is like to do that? On this read
Hebrews 6.12 noting the line
through faith and
patience inherit the promises. So if faith and patience are
equivalents, what does that tell us about getting eternal life?
On this read Psalm 62.1–8 noting the words
trust. We wait for
eternal life and salvation because they are a gift from God.
This waiting tempers our well-doing so that we do not think we
earn eternal life by our works. Is there nothing then for us to
do while we wait? On this read Philippians 3.12–14 noting the
straining. So those
deeds would be included in our well-doing which is ours through
waiting in patience on God. And what of the
On this read Romans 3.11 noting the line
no one seeks for God.
Read also John 3.19 noting the line that we
loved the darkness
rather than the light. What, then, if we do seek after the
immortality and eternal life that comes from God alone? On this
read Ezekiel 11.19 noting the line
I will… put a new spirit
within them. So even if we seek eternal life, the power to
do so comes from God and his very gift of seeking after his
blessings. That’s because Romans 7.18 teaches that
nothing good dwells in us.
Do you agree, or are you more optimistic about people? If so,
why? Would God approve of your view?
Read Romans 2.7 one last time noting the words
give. Why does God
only give eternal life to those who seek after it? On this read
Matthew 7.6 noting the words
swine. Who are these
dogs and swine? According to the end of Matthew 7.6, they are
the ones who don’t want what is holy but trample it down and
attack those who proclaim it. What is to be done for them? Argue
with them? Make concessions to ease it up for them? On this read
Luke 11.13 about asking for the
Holy Spirit. We need
to ask God for help to do for these dogs and swine what he did
for Paul in Acts 9.1–20. Amazing, don’t you agree?
Defending the Church
Professor Jenson’s Lectures
By Pastor Marshall
lectures on the Christian faith, delivered over a decade ago,
have now been published by the famed Lutheran teacher and
theologian, Robert W. Jenson, now in his 86th year –
A Theology in Outline:
Can These Bones Live? (Oxford, 2016). At the end of these
lectures, Jenson states with breathtaking daring and clarity:
|The question… now is
whether and how the church can respond to the challenges
posed to its message by the advent of Modernity.
[Helpful in this regard is Karl Barth (1886–1968) who]
attempted… to reverse the viewpoint from which the
relationship of the church and culture is seen. In
Modernity, everybody (including believers) has tended to
suppose that the gospel and its theology have to
establish their plausibility by securing a place within
the broader culture. Barth turned this on its head… [In
the Bible] he found [a] strange new world [that is]
all-encompassing…. National ideologies and secular
historiographies? Barth said that they have to establish
and justify their place within the world of the Bible,
not the other way around…. [So] theology responds best
by trusting in the gospel’s own interior rationality…
One point guard in this endeavor might be Wolfhart
Pannenberg (1928–2014), who has elaborated an entire
system of metaphysics (and indeed an entire philosophy
of science to go with it) on the principle that
traditional metaphysics draws its vision of what is,
from what has been, whereas a distinctively Christian
metaphysics must draw its vision from what will be (pp.
words to heart. Use them to help you recover what used to be
bold about our
Christian faith (Acts 4:13, 29, 31, 9:27, 29, 13:46, 14:4,
Join us for Advent and Christmas
8:00 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel
10:30 am Holy Eucharist,
in the nave*
8:00 pm Compline,
in the chapel
*Liturgy & Holy
Eucharist with Choir 10:30 am
THE NATIVITY OF OUR LORD
Celebrate with us the great Christmas feast of our Lord's
May these days fill your prayers with thanksgiving and blessing.
Saturday, December 24, 2016:
Liturgy of Lessons, Carols, & Holy Eucharist
11:00 pm Holy Eucharist, in the nave
Festival Liturgy & Holy Eucharist
10:30 am Holy
Eucharist, in the nave
St. Stephen, Deacon
11:45 am Holy
Eucharist, in the chapel
St. John, Apostle
11:45 am Holy
Eucharist, in the chapel
The Holy Innocents,
11:45 am Holy
Eucharist, in the chapel
To end the 12
days of Christmas be sure to join us on –
Friday, January 6,
The Day of Epiphany
11:45 am Holy
Eucharist, in the chapel
California Avenue SW
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), Cynthia
(1917-2010), and Willis (1921-2001) & Alida Rottman (1922-2011).
this occasion to consider
including 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.
Glory be to God!
George & Marion Colvin
Willis & Alida Rottman
Remember in prayer before God
those whom He has made your
brothers and sisters through
Leah Baker, Ken Sund, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Linda Olson, Mariann
Petersen, Evelyn Coy, Eileen Nestoss, Tabitha Anderson, Bob &
Barbara Schorn, Celia Balderston, The PLU Music Faculty, Mike
Harty, Leonard Richter, Heidi Anderson, Jordan Corbin, Matt
Anderson, Sheila Feichtner, Linda Anderson, Dorothy Chase,
Margeen & Chris Boyer, Linda Hagen, Lee Thoren, Karl Coy, Iris
Hansen Tate, Doug Rozmyn, Nell Sponheim, Susan Armbrewster, Stan
& Doreen Phillips, Linda Johnsen, those infants and families
affected by the Zika virus, the great migration from the Near
East into Europe and other parts of the world.
Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them
joy: Florence Jenkins, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma
Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora
Vanhala, Elmer & June Wittman, Bill Wright.
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 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
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
Heavenly Father, kindle the light of your Word in my
soul, that I, though in great weakness of faith, may
come to rest alone all my confidence in you. I do
believe, but help me in my struggle with my remaining
unbelief. Let not my little, weak faith be quenched. And
may I embrace you with a full heart, delighting in the
heavenly treasures of your grace, so that daily I may
find true joy in you, now and forever. In Jesus’ name I
All the Saints
(ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., II:134,