December 2018


Hang Your Head


Denying yourself in December isn’t easy, I know. Everything around us leads to self-indulgence during this month. But Jesus is emphatic that we are to deny ourselves if we are to follow him – and to do that even on a daily basis (Luke 9:23).


Have no fear, however. The church will help you do this – with the words of confession and forgiveness at the beginning of the Sunday morning liturgy. Look forward to them during Advent. Prepare for them before you come to church. And also find strength to fulfill this obligation by learning to hang your head with Luther.

Yes, for it was Luther who stressed confession and self-denial. He knew that our holiness was in rightly striving to be faithful – and not in being fully “rescued from… all wicked opinions and errors.” Therefore the church ought always “confess its sin and pray that its trespasses may be forgiven.” That’s because Christians don’t want “to deny Christ, to lose the Gospel, [or] to cancel their Baptism.” So fight with Luther against the continuing “uncleanness” of our flesh. Don’t be “puffed up” by a “fictitious” holiness. Let us “hang our heads [and refuse to] trust in our own good works [and run instead] to Christ the Propitiator, who… has an altogether pure and holy flesh, which He gave for the life of the world” (Luther’s Works 27:85–86). Hang on to all of this during December — while hanging your head with Luther.

Pastor Marshall


on Luke 19:17


“Washington couldn’t bear anything slovenly, ‘I shall begrudge no reasonable expense that will contribute to the improvement and neatness of my farms’…. No detail was too trivial to escape his notice, and he often spouted the Scottish adage ‘Many mickles make a muckle’ – that is, tiny things add up’ [see Luke 19:17].


[Ron Chernow, Washington: A Life

(New York: Penguin, 2010) p. 119 –

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize.]



Join us for the Four Sundays of Advent


Sundays:    8:00 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel

  10:30 am Holy Eucharist, in the nave

 8:00 pm Compline, in the chapel




Celebrate with us the great Christmas feast of our Lord's Nativity. 

May these days fill your prayers with thanksgiving and blessing. 


Monday, December 24, 2018:

Christmas Eve

Liturgy of Lessons, Carols, & Holy Eucharist

11:00 pm Holy Eucharist, in the nave

Tuesday, December 25, 2018:

Christmas Day

Festival Liturgy & Holy Eucharist

10:30 am Holy Eucharist, in the nave

Wednesday, December 26, 2018:

St. Stephen, Deacon and Martyr

11:45 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel

Thursday, December 27, 2018:

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist

11:45 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Holy Innocents, Martyrs

9:00 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel



To end the 12 days of Christmas be sure to join us on –


Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Day of Epiphany

8:00 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel

 10:30 am Holy Eucharist, in the nave

8:00 pm Compline, in the chapel





In January our book discussion after the Liturgy on Sunday the 20th will be Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson. It features an account of Stevenson, an attorney, meeting and working with Walter McMillian who was put on death row even before he was tried for the murder of Ronda Morrison. Morrison was killed while McMillian and a friend worked on his truck and other friends and family enjoyed a fish fry at McMilliam's home to raise money for church (p. 50f.). The setting is Monroeville, Alabama, made famous by Harper Lee's novel To Kill a Mockingbird. What does Stevenson mean by 'mercy' and 'redemption', and how does his use of these words compare with ours? What motivates and drives Stevenson to "serve the least of these" (p. 318)? What are the implications for how we live obediently (Romans)? Join us to discuss this award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller. Sandwiches from Husky Deli are available for $10, or you may bring your own lunch. Bu

    An interesting note: the world premiere of Academy Award winner Aaron Sorkin’s new play, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher (Oslo, The King and I), opened on Broadway this November in a production starring Jeff Daniels, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Will Pullen, and Gbenga Akinnagbe. Published in 1960, Harper Lee’s debut novel To Kill a Mockingbird was an immediate and astonishing success. Now, for the first time ever, Harper Lee’s open-hearted dissection of justice and tolerance in the American South has been brought vividly to life on the Broadway stage.

     Also, our thanks to those who helped once again with the Saint Nicholas Faire. 

     Thanks to those who helped with the 100th Anniversary celebrations.

     Thanks to those who sacrifice their time and talents on the day to day, month to month, year to year duties of the workings of the church. 

     And not least of these, thanks to those who support our congregation with their regular tithing and financial gifts.  All these blessings!  We have been so fortunate to be able to share.

Merry Christmas!!




Gentling the Horse: a Stewardship Reflection

I once saw a horse being “gentled” rather than broken.  Little by little he was made accustomed to human touch until he took a bridle and reins, and consented to being guided.  Then little by little he was made accustomed to weight on his back, until he did not object to a saddle.  Finally he tolerated the weight of the rider.  Giving a little more and a little more to the Church to reach the level of tithing is like that.

     The necessity of tithing is not hard to understand.  If we believe and expect to worship, want to hear the Word ourselves, and want for others to hear it, then we must give – and give enough – of both our possessions and our time, to the Church.  This is harder to do than to understand, because it involves us in a struggle against the world and ourselves.  That no doubt is part of its purpose.

     The world teaches us to think in certain ways about money, and we are apt learners.  Since it is hard to earn in the first place, it is hard to part with.  We readily think that it is we ourselves who produce the money.  The world thinks more highly of us if we have more money than others.  We have more money because we deserve it, from our hard work and our talents.  We are like wild ponies when it comes to our hard-earned money. 

     Giving to the Church involves us in a different mentality.  No matter how hard it was to earn, my money isn’t my own in God’s eyes.  According to the world, by working I take resources into my own control – justifiably because I worked for them – but in God’s eyes they are all His, just as I am His creation.  He makes all Creation from nothing – which really means that He provides it out of Himself – and asks only a small portion in return.  From that point of view, it is the best “deal” going.  God gives everything we are and have, everything that is, out of Himself, and expects us to give back only a relatively small part of our possessions.  This we still find hard to do.

     The weakness for most of us starts not in financial circumstance but the strength of our belief in an unseen Creator God.  It is not the only way we find our faith to be weak.  So let us look to the Word and the sacraments in our weakness. 

     Do we also sense that on his terms God does not honor us for sacrificing from ourselves?  In the first place, one cannot sacrifice what is not even one’s own in God’s eyes.  So why should He think highly of us for doing it?  We are like the servants in the parable in Luke 17.9-10, “when you have done all that is commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”  So in obedience we are not heroic in God’s eyes.  We are simply honoring God as we should.

     Sometimes the Church (not FLCWS) itself forgets this, and turns giving to the Church into a worldly seeking after personal honor.  So-and-so is a “great patron” of the Church, because he gave such-and-such.  But that is a terrible deformation of stewardship.  Stewardship is only about God’s worth, not our own. 

     There is actually great freedom in doing God’s will and not being noticed in the world’s eyes.  It frees us from our own vanity, and self-centeredness.  Martin Luther – is it any surprise? – tells of this paradox in The Bondage of the Will. 

                                                                                 ─Earl Nelson, Church Council


Let It Be

On Luke 1:38


By Pastor Marshall


Here are some representative lines from Gracia Grindal’s new set of sonnets, The Sword of Eden: Eve and Mary Speak (2018) (page 42):


Suddenly my destiny was not my own.

Knit to another by natural bonds of flesh

Whose ends loomed in the distance, bright, unknown.

Fear and hope dazzled me, far ahead.

Ancient prophecies in me fulfilled:

A force from Eden whose end I could not see

As a donkey carried me up over the hills

To Bethlehem, Egypt, Gethsemane…



Sunday, December 9 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm


In a week or so we will be gathering in the “transformed” Parish Hall to celebrate Saint Nicholas Day by hosting an event to commemorate the generous spirit of Saint 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 bid on…….

Children’s Books                 Car Washing Gear              Children’s Science Gear

Beer & Wine                    Gardening                          Baked Goods

Seahawks Gear                 Olive Oil/Vinegar                      Ceramic Items

U of W Gear                           Handmade Quilt                Walking/Trekking Gear

Pasta & Sauce              Outdoor Accessories                  Linens/Pillows      

Kitchen Gadgets                   Tools                                 “Hello Kitty”

Holiday Items                   Barware                             Baking Tools

Storage Containers                Art Supplies                       Tea & Coffee Items

ETC!                            ETC!!                                  ETC!!!

     Plus gift certificates to many local restaurants and businesses like Elliott Bay Pub & Brewery, Husky Deli, Trader Joe’s, West Seattle Nursery,   Barnes & Noble, Target,  Bartell’s,  Junction Hardware, Spiros, Amazon,  West Seattle Wine Cellars, Admiral Theater, Pegasus Pizza, Salty’s, ITunes, Staples, ETC!,   ETC!!,    ETC!!!,     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 will in the hall between classrooms C & D until Sunday, December 2nd.  If you missed them and still are able to help and/or contribute in some way, please contact me (Larraine 206-937-6740).  We have tried to make supporting the Faire 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 Saint 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 Saint 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!

So please plan to come and join in the celebration. 




                                                                                               Larraine King


DECORATING SIGN UP LIST:  Please sign up if you are able to help with decorating this year.  The sign up sheet is posted in the hallway by room C.

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next four week class on the Koran starts on Thursday, January 10th.  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 couple of cans of food to the Saint Nicholas Faire!

SACRAMENT OF PENANCE:  Saturday., December 15th, 3-5 pm.

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.  Everyone is welcome to come along.  Please sign up on the list that is posted in the lounge.

Compass Housing Alliance is in need of Christmas gift items for their housing centers for both men and women. Please leave your donations at the office. The items will be delivered before Friday, December 14th.

2018 FLOWER CHART:  The new chart will be up at the end of the month.  Sign up early for the best choice of dates. 


Dr. Nestingen


A new book is out honoring the life and work of Dr. James Nestingen. The collected essays in this book covering his influence are “probing and questioning in nature, and at the same time expositional and proclamatory.” Here is a passage from a lecture by Dr. Nestingen from the appendix to this book:


“Jesus said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I can’t help myself. I mean, if there are just two or three we can start a conversation. I’ve got another chance to give myself away.’ That’s Him, spilling over with goodness, gracious beyond any measure, giving Himself. ‘Two or three, that will do. Just give me a couple. I’ll take two. If you can get three, so much the better.’ Of course, you know what would happen if Chicago [and the ELCA leadership] got a hold of that. Well now, two or three. Let’s see. There’s the president and there’s the vice president, and there’s the secretary. And of course the president better be in succession, because I mean, we don’t want the gospel getting loose. Faith might happen. Come on! You have to do all properly and in good order. The anal retentive’s view of the Kingdom of God. You just wish somebody would break loose like Jesus did at the Temple and bust something. Just for the joy of a little chaos” (261–62).


[Handing Over the Goods:

Determined to Proclaim Nothing But Christ Jesus and Him Crucified –

A Festschrift in Honor of Dr. James Arne Nestingen, 2018.]




In Martin Luther’s Small Catechism (1529) he teaches us to pray in the morning and evening that the wicked one have no power over us. That is about the devil. But what do we know about Satan or the devil? Here is a passage that may be of some help – which appears to be an elaboration on Revelation 12:12; 2 Corinthians 4:4; 1 John 5:19; 1 Peter 5:8; and 1 John 3:8:

Why is it so difficult for us now to pronounce the name of Satan? Are we thereby… most distant from the Bible?…. While seldom noted, Christianity is most unique in its ultimate emphasis on Satan, and if this is only true of premodern Christianity, at no other point is modern Christianity so distant from its origin. [It’s] as though silence is the only proper response to Satan,…. but a silence that speaks whenever an ultimate crisis occurs, or an ultimate breakdown and disintegration. Hence Satan has innumerable names [and William] Blake’s [1757–1827] naming of Satan is most revealing, for it is the most universal of all naming of Satan… as our Lord and Creator…. In realizing the universality of Satan it realizes a wholly fallen universality, a universality that is the very body of Satan, and is so as the universality of a totally fallen world…. Satan is a primal name of the ultimate ground of that fallen totality [which] is truly necessary for its absolute liberation. [This] absolute Satan… is perhaps the decisive signature of modernity itself. It is often remarked that our very ignorance of Satan is a primal way by which we are bound to Satan, and if no world is more ignorant of Satan than our own, no world is more unawakened than ours, or more ultimately unawakened.


[Thomas J. J. Altizer, Satan and Apocalypse

and Other Essays in Political Theology (2017) pp. 16, 17, 24.]



Rejecting Ezekiel 33:11 and Following Job 2:9


By Pastor Marshall


Mary Shelley’s (1797–1851) classic horror novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818), turned two hundred this year (see Rebecca Brown, Frankenstein 200, 2018). But why should the church care about that? Robert M. Ryan, longtime professor at Rutgers University, answers that question with his chapter 6, “The Christian Monster,” from his book, The Romantic Reformation (1997). While it is well known that Frankenstein is the scientist who assembles a human from dead body parts and enlivens him with some sort of electric shock – it’s less well known that the monster becomes a Christian (Vol. 2, ch. 7) and Frankenstein doesn’t (Vol. 3, ch. 7). Plus when the monster, out of frustration over being rejected by his fellow humans becomes violent, he repents (Vol. 3, ch. 7). But all Frankenstein wants to do is kill his creation. Pointing out this less well known contrast is the burden of Ryan’s chapter 6. But he is quick to say that what this all stands for isn’t very clear. He does argue, however, that the kindness toward sinners in Ezekiel 33:11 is rejected by Dr. Frankenstein, and the monster takes up the recklessness in Job 2:9 toward Frankenstein. All that leads me to think that Shelly was hinting at the goodness of Christianity in the face of the attacks leveled against it by science, as well as the failure of science, with its pride in itself, to adequately consider the moral risks of its work.


Pastor Marshall’s Tribute

to Robert L. Perkins



(reprinted from the 2018 annual report of the Søren Kierkegaard Society)


“I admired Bob Perkins and thanked God for him because he maintained the quid nimis or extreme Christianity that keeps it rightly enthroned; as well as promulgating its augustiae or narrowness in order that its essential rigor may upend us – as it rightly should” (Kierkegaard’s Journals, ed. Hongs 2:1617, 4:4700).

 Dr. Perkins, former senior professor of philosophy at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, was the celebrated editor of the 24 volume set – The International Kierkegaard Commentary (1984–2010). “The full collection contains 283 essays written by 123 authors from 14 countries representing 71 institutions on three continents, and is written across thousands of pages of texts. The collection of essays is the largest critique of Kierkegaard ever produced. Each volume of essays corresponds to one of Kierkegaard’s own writings. Generally, each submission would be returned to the author to be revised and resubmitted. Perkins also had a team of readers and appointed a volume-consulter for each volume to read and critique every submission – a process which insured that only the best essays would be published” (James Albright, SUM). Pastor Marshall, the only minister included in these volumes, published four essays in the commentary – something only twenty of the other authors did (half of whom published more than four each). Pastor Marshall’s four essays were republished as the backbone of his book, Kierkegaard for the Church (2013).


Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church

275th Anniversary

By Pastor Marshall


As we celebrate our 100th Anniversary, we also give thanks for the 275th Anniversary of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church in Womelsdorf, Pennsylvania (75 miles west of Philadelphia). They are a small congregation, but they have had a full year of festivities including presentations on the Dutch dialect their early members spoke, and viewing a movie (Alone Yet Not Alone) made about Regina Leininger who was captured as a girl and raised by local Indians between 1755–1763. They have only had nineteen ministers serve their congregation over these nearly three hundred years in the Stouchsburg historic district of Marion township.



Jonah 1.15

Monthly Home Bible Study, December 2018, Number 310

The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall


Along with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as a congregation in this home study. We will study alone then talk informally about the assigned verses together as we have opportunity. In this way we can "gather together around the Word" even though physically we will not be getting together (Acts 13.44). (This study uses the RSV translation.)

We need to support each other in this difficult project. In 1851 Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is "an extremely dangerous book....[because] it is an imperious book... – it takes the whole man and may suddenly and radically change... life on a prodigious scale" (For Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved in the Bible" (Opening the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans, however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW 30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW 29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW 25.261). Before you study then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall, Making A New World: How Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12). And don’t give up, for as Luther said, we “have in Scripture enough to study for all eternity” (LW 75:422)!


Week I. Read Jonah 1.15 noting the line the sea ceased from its raging. How did the mariners know that drowning Jonah would stop the storm? On this read Jonah 1.12 noting the words throw, then, quiet, know and because. But how did Jonah know that? On this read Leviticus 4.31 noting the words burn, pleasing, atonement and forgiven. Read also Leviticus 4.27 noting the phrase if any one… sins. But how does killing an animal please God when someone has sinned? On this read Numbers 25.1–15 noting bowed, Baal, anger, slay, weeping, pierced, turned, wrath and jealousy. Why does this death turn God away from his wrath and toward mercy and kindness? On this read Leviticus 24.20 noting the line as he has disfigured a man, he shall be disfigured. Why is this establishing of balance required? On this read Isaiah 61:8 noting the line I the Lord love justice. And it is justice that requires this balancing. But why does God love justice? On this read Matthew 20.10–15 noting the words more, equal and allowed. How is this fair since there isn’t any balancing out – as in equal pay for equal work? On this read 1 John 1.9 noting the word just – and the balance between sin and confess, as well as, confess and forgive. Why do we favor 1 John 1 in our church confession instead of Matthew 20? Note the line the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself in Ezekiel 18.20 – unlike Exodus 20.5. Do you agree? Why or why not?


Week II. Read again Jonah 1.15 noting the same line the sea ceased from its raging. What did the mariners think of that? On this read Jonah 1.16 noting the words then, feared, sacrifice and vows. Why were they so positive? On this read Psalm 119.45 noting the words liberty and precepts. How is that so? On this read Luke 13.3 linking repenting or perishing. How valuable is being free from dying? On this read Psalm 146.2 noting the word praise. Is that sufficient reason for staying alive? On this read Philippians 1.22 noting the word fruitful. How important is it to help others? On this read 2 Timothy 1.7 noting love and self-control. How much do they help? Are they very important because of the word heartily in Colossians 3.23?


Week III. Reread Jonah 1.15 noting again the line the sea ceased from its raging. What made this sacrifice work? On this read Jonah 1.17 noting the line Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three night. How did this sacrifice work if Jonah didn’t die? On this read Jonah 2.3–6 noting the words deep, flood, billows, presence, closed, wrapped and bars. Were these horrors equal to dying? On this read Jonah 2.6 noting the line yet thou didst bring my life from the Pit. This deliverance sounds like the opposite of dying – so those ocean horrors would be like dying since they were bad enough to escape from. And that’s why being thrown into the ocean worked to appease God’s wrath.


Week IV. Read Jonah 1.15 one last time noting that line the sea ceased from its raging again. Why was Jonah being punished in the belly of the fish? On this read Jonah 2.8 noting idols. Had Jonah worshipped idols? On this read Jonah 1.3 noting the line but Jonah rose to flee… from the presence of the Lord. Was that disobedience like worshipping idols? On this read Luke 11.28 noting the words hear and keep. Jonah heard the command to go to Nineveh but he didn’t keep it and obey. Why did God forgive Jonah and tell him to do the same thing a second time? On this read Jonah 3.3 noting the line so Jonah arose and went. How did God know that Jonah would go the second time? On this read Jonah 2.9 noting the line I… will sacrifice to thee. Is that contrition enough to get God to give Jonah a second chance? On this read Jonah 4.2 noting the line thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and repentest of evil. What does that add to Jonah’s confession? Why does it tip the scales to mercy?



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Bob & Barbara Schorn, Eileen Nestoss, Marlis Ormiston, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Kyra Stromberg, Melanie Johnson, Matt Anderson, Jeannine & Gregory Lingle, Tabitha Anderson, The PLU Lecturers, Celia Balderston, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. John Hinderlie, The Rev. Dan Peterson, The Rev. Mary Rowe, Jim & Hillary Thoren, Sheila Feichtner, Deanne & Lucy Heflin, Rubina & Marcos Carmona, Richard Uhler, Yuriko Nishimura, Marylou & Paul Jensen, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Antonio, Mary Hanson, Jessica, Jeff Walkenhauer, Rebecca Brown, Jean Middleton, Mary Leskovar and pray for the Central American refugees on the Mexican border.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy: Bob & Mona Ayer, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Joan Olson, Chuck & Doris Prescott, C. J. Christian, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Anelma Meeks, Mary Goplerud, Martin Nygaard.

     Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Brian Kirby Unti, for 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 God, I do not rely on my own good deeds but on your great mercy. What am I, after all? What can I say before you? — for my power is nothing, and my learning is without insight. To you my life is shallow and my superiority over the animals is nothing. In your mercy, make me pure, O Lord, that I may one day live eternally in your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

                                                                          [For All the Saints II:1262, altered]