December 2019


John 15:19


“There is no real joy in this world except that which the Word brings when it is believed.”

[Luther’s Works 4:4]  

This verse about being hated for loving Jesus has been on my mind since high school when I was president of the Voice of Christian Youth. John 15:19 warns of collisions with unbelievers over Jesus – and I saw that in high school. Years later, when listening to Bob Dylan’s song, “The Property of Jesus” (1981) – written against Mick Jagger for attacking his Christian songs (Oliver Trager, Keys to the Rain: The Definitive Bob Dylan Encyclopedia, 2004, p. 503) – I could sympathize.

     Luther warns in an early letter that if you’ve never felt such hatred, then you’re not lifting up Christ (quoted in James Kittelson, Luther the Reformer, 1986, p. 116). Luther called this hatred a “bitter and murderous hostility” (Luther’s Works 24:269). And I believe it! From the offended we dare not look, he adds, for any “mercy or friendship” (LW 24:268). That advice has stayed with me. Because we fear this bitterness, Christians regularly accommodate unbelief in hopes of avoiding the collisions. But against this, Luther says that nothing should sound more terrible to us than that we are “of the world” (LW 24:273). To ward off this accommodating, Luther tells us to “cultivate a contempt for this defiance [and] arrogance” from our critics – even if its makes them all the more “burst with malice” because of our fearlessness (LW 24:272). More good advice.

     If this verse makes you feel lonely (Psalm 102:7; LW 14:181) – so be it. Take comfort in John 15:19 anyway – and its cognate verse, Luke 16:15: “What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” May these verses be the motto of all Christians.    

Pastor Marshall









It was when I was preaching on 1 Corinthians 13:13 about love being greater than faith and hope – that I received the worst catcall I’ve ever had in church. Toward the end of my sermon, this young man stood up at the back of the church and yell at me with a loud and clear voice – “Your a liar!” He immediately stormed out. He and his wife had been worshipping with us for a couple of months and I knew that he was the son-in-law of a neighboring, hostile bishop. After that, I neither saw him nor ever heard from him again.


Your a Liar!


     What was he so upset about – that he wanted to interrupt the sermon? Well, we never found out because he never explained himself. But I have a guess.

     He hurled his epithet at the end of a rather spirited defense I was making in the sermon of Martin Luther’s statement – “A curse on a love that is observed at the expense of the doctrine of faith…. It belongs to love to bear everything and to yield to everyone. On the other hand, it belongs to faith to bear nothing whatever and to yield to no one. Love yields freely [and] is often deceived” (Luther’s Works 27:38). I then tied this in with 1 Corinthians 13:13 and tried to show that the faith spoken of there was not faith in Christ but loyalty – or faithfulness – to friends. In that case love is greater than loyalty because it is more fervent. Right at that point he exploded. He wanted love to push doctrinal fidelity aside – and I wasn’t buying it. I was saying that being right theologically mattered more than being friendly. I added in another Luther passage to finish off the point – “He who gives up the Word and hastens to put his reliance on persons ceases to be the church and becomes completely blinded…. [So] although both truth and friends are dear to us, preference must be given to truth…. Human beings can err, but the Word of God is the very wisdom of God and the absolutely infallible truth” (LW 2:101, 1:122). It would follow then that Christians should spend more time on the Bible than on nurturing friendships – but that rarely ever happens.

     There were probably other people in church that day who also wanted to yell at me, but didn’t have the guts. What I learned from this was that the secular and the sacred are in a big battle right in the church and that the secular is winning. That’s why more people make a point to attend congregational fellowship meals than Bible studies (see Harold Lindsell, The Battle for the Bible, 1976).

Pastor Marshall


 PRESIDENT'S Cary Natiello










Why was this space intentionally left blank?

To find out, please contact Cary Natiello.



Home Phone:     206-935-0129

Cell Phone:         206-779-7988

TEXT:                 206-779-7988

Or, feel free to catch me at church.



What is Pleasing to God

As Christians we are called to be good stewards of our time, talents and money. 

     I really like the positive and helpful message on the back of our offering envelopes.  It says: “A spirit of gratitude and generosity.”

     These are fine and worthy attributes that we need to embrace in order to become successful stewards so that we are doing what is pleasing to God. 

     I also love this prayer from the Lutheran Book of Worship that we pray together after the gifts of our tithes have been presented to the Lord.  We pray:  “Merciful Father, we offer with joy and thanksgiving what you have first given us, ourselves, our time and our possessions, signs of your gracious love.  Receive them for the sake of him who offered himself for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

     This is a powerful prayer that we need to hear frequently in order to be reminded of what the Lord God has done for us.  He loves us even though we are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. May God bless you in your giving.

                                                                                 ─Holly Petersen, Church Council


Exciting News!


For many years the West Seattle Food Bank (WSFB) and the West Seattle Helpline (WSH) have been strong partners.  Beginning in early 2019, WSH and WSFB came together to actively explore ways to better serve the West Seattle community.  These discussions led the Executive Directors and the boards of directors of each agency to the decision to merge the services into one organization. 

     In February 2020, the two boards will establish a new individual board for the merged organization.  The combining of the mission will streamline neighbor’s access to significant programs and services, while bringing two strong organizations together to become stronger in offering the community a more robust array of assistance. 



Secular Pastoral Qualities

The Rev. Ronald F. Marshall

December 2019


MARTIN LUTHER ARGUED THAT ABOVE ALL PASTORS must be faithful to the Lord Jesus – for “faithfulness is sought and demanded” of them (Luther’s Works 75:121). That alone, however, will not keep them in the public ministry. Every year many ministers drop out of the ministry at a high rate because they’re not suited for it (Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis, 2018; Brooks R. Faulkner, Burnout in Ministry, 1981). What could change that? What simple, secular, human traits would help pastors stay in the ministry?

Ideas. If you aren’t intellectual – having no interest in ideas or abstractions – then you aren’t suited to be a pastor. The Bible, after all, has over a thousand pages of ideas in it! So laboring over such things as the different nuances between justification and sanctification should be fascinating and invigorating. If not, stay out of the ministry. Preachers, after all, “work in words because God condescends to human speech” (Will Willimon, Accidental Preacher, 2019, p. 154). There’s no escaping this, since “the Word, the Word, the Word,… everything [in Christianity] depends on the Word” (LW 40:212, 214). A “love of words,” then, wouldn’t be inordinate for pastors (K. M. E. Murray, Caught in a Web of Words, 1977, p. 333). Before God’s Words preachers should stand “as wan and wild, as if they had seen a spirit” (A. Habegger, My Wars are Laid Away in Books, 2002, p. 312).

Bold. Pastors are expected to stand up in front of people and talk in public with confidence. If you’re too shy to do that, and it makes you sick even to try, go into something else. Jonah, remember, had the nerve to address the great city of Nineveh – and tell them God was going to kill them (Jonah 3:4) – an “extraordinary” feat (LW 19:49). And Saint Peter preached to thousands of Jews telling them that they were condemned for killing Jesus (Acts 2:14–36). Boldness has long marked the ministry (Acts 4:13, 29, 31, 9:27, 29, 13:46, 14:3, 18:26, 19:8, 2 Corinthians 3:12, Philippians 1:14, Ephesians 3:12, 6:19).

Multiplicity. Pastors do many things at once and are always being interrupted. If that drives you crazy – being pulled in opposite directions – then don’t be a pastor. But if you find that whirl of contradictory demands enriching and inspiring, then being a pastor could be the ticket – the taking up of “all things” (1 Corinthians 9:22). It’s humbling to know that the ministry doesn’t care about you focusing on one thing (Luke 10:42). The fact that “God is not a God of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), doesn’t mean your life won’t be.

Sensitivities. If your feelings are easily hurt, stay out of the ministry (I. Sand & E. Svanholmer, Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World, 2016). Pastors need to have thick skin. That doesn’t mean, however, that they ignore all the troubles around them. It’s just that they don’t take any of it personally – even when they are being attacked individually. They instead work to stay on topic. This means they have strong emotional intelligence – and so they don’t storm out of rooms and slam doors (D. Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, 2005).

Curiosity. If you don’t find people fascinating, the ministry will bore you. Learning about the people you work with should be exciting to you. That doesn’t mean that you’ll have to like everyone. No, the nasty you simply will “avoid” (Romans 16:17). Still, pastors should be people-persons. Loners have no place in the ministry – all it will do is suffocate them. Pastor are interested in people because their stories show “how this man or that woman whose public life interests us has negotiated the problem of self-awareness and has broken the internalized code a culture supplies about how life should be experienced” (J. K. Conway, When Memory Speaks, 1998, p. 17).

Conflict. The ministry is full of conflict, chaos and confusion (Kenneth C. Haugk, Antagonists in the Church, 1988). If this buzzing mess doesn’t intrigue you – find other work. Pastors have to want to enter into the fray – and stay there for the long haul like “bulls” (LW 10:320). One pastor reports: “My days… were typified by squabbling, disappointment followed by undeniable failure, fornication between an alleged soprano and a bogus baritone, [and a couple] duking it out in the parking lot before a wedding” (Accidental Preacher, p. 81). And another concludes: “[Regarding the pastor, he is] either coming out of a storm, in a storm, or heading for a storm” (H. Beecher Hicks, Jr., Preaching Through a Storm, 1987, p. 18). Ministry is a bumpy ride.

Writing. Writing down your ideas is important for pastors. So if you suffer from writers’ block, and it takes you forever to write out anything, you’ll quickly burn out in the ministry. Saint Paul is our example. He couldn’t have done his ministry without writing down his intricate letters – unlike Jesus who wrote nothing at all, except twice with his finger in the dirt (John 8:6–8). Nevertheless, Saint Paul’s letters “are the mountain the teaching of the carpenter of Nazareth congealed into,” which no one has been able to “scale” (Poems of R. S. Thomas, 1985, p. 162). They, indeed, are very challenging (2 Peter 3:16). So deft and challenging writing is also part of the ministry. Saint Paul therefore shows us that there’s a place for such complex letters and the like – to serve as analyses of, and elaborations on, the simplicity of faith and action. The same is expected of all pastors.




The Last American Church

The Rev. Ronald F. Marshall

First Lutheran Church of West Seattle

December 2019


Those who like our church tell me that it is the only one like it left in America. When I hear that I think of Larry McMurty’s famous novel, The Last Picture Show (1966) – which Peter Bogdanovich made into an award winning movie in 1971 by the same title. But what makes our church the last of its kind? I think it is because of these eight things that

we’re simultaneously working on constantly – unlike all other churches.


The Acerbic Word

God’s word is tough – and we don’t soften it. Martin Luther said it’s “Christian severity” – and is “harsh” to our hearing (asperam veritatem) (Luther’s Works 26:118, 11:58). We’re constantly striving for the Word that smashes us with a hammer, burns us up with fire, and cuts us into pieces with a two-edged sword (Jeremiah 23:29, Hebrews 4:12). We don’t try to run away from the Law that sends “the lightning of divine wrath,” nor from the Gospel that “suppresses” all the other salvations “of the flesh” (LW 26:310, 14:335). We need this dying (Galatians 2:20).


The Historic Liturgy

The ancient ordo of worship is best. So we don’t experiment. Neither do we entertain when we worship Almighty God (The Book of Concord, ed. T. Tappert, p, 378). We keep the old forms of ascending and descending (LW 36:56). We stand for the “true Christian mass according to the… institution of Christ” (LW 38:208). The Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) does this best. On how the ELW (2006) fails, see R. F. Marshall, “Evangelical Lutheran Worship and Universalism,” CrossAccent 2007.


Moral Convictions

Moral experiments don’t help. Ancient codes hold wisdom (see Connecting Virtues, ed. M. Croce & M. Vaccarezza, Wiley, 2018). Ethics designed to preserve favorable views of ourselves are wrong (as in K. Appiah, The Ethics of Identity, Princeton, 2005). Virtue exceeds identity.


Children as Apprentices

Children’s sermons and youth Sundays are wrong. The young are in training to become adult Christians. We don’t want a Christian version of William Golding’s novel, Lord of the Flies (1954). We follow Søren Kierkegaard (1813–55): “Christianity as it is found in the New Testament,… is impossible for children [for it holds to] a good which is identified by its hurting, a deliverance which is identified by its making me unhappy, a grace which is identified by suffering” (Journals, ed. Hongs, §4:5007). So we follow the critique of childish Christianity (1 Corinthians 13:11) in Thomas E. Bergler, The Juvinalization of American Christianity (Eerdmans, 2012). All of this is a massive undertaking because it includes Luther’s austere view that we need to train our children to “neither fear death nor love this life” (LW 44:85).


Complex Music

Church music is to challenge aesthetically and spiritually. So Luther admonishes: “Takes special care to shun perverted minds who prostitute this lovely gift of nature and of art with their erotic ranting; and be quite assured that none but the devil goads them on to defy their very nature which would and should praise God its Maker with this gift [of music], so that these bastards purloin the gift of God and use it to worship the foe of God” (LW 53:324). So the gold standard is Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (1528) – but new hymns like, “We Had to Have Him Put Away” (2014), also have a place in the church (listen to it at New music isn’t as important as what kind of new music it is.


Helping the Poor

Rather than seeking the favor of the wealthy and powerful, we strive to “associate with the lowly” (Romans 12:16). In most cases the lowly are the homeless and the hungry – but the sexually abused and politically oppressed cannot be left out (Luke 10:37).



In our architecture, gardens, vestments and paraments, we avoid mismatching materials, colors and shapes; poor construction; and using shoddy materials (Monroe C. Beardsley, Aesthetics, 1958, pp. 527–530). And we also favor the historic symbols of the church. We must never forget that God loves beauty (Psalm 27:4, Romans 10:15).


Small Quantitatively

Martin Luther is right that “size does not make the church” – and so “what matters… is not becoming great, but becoming small” (LW 2:101, 67:325). The church, then, should not conform to worldly majorities (Romans 12:2) – it’s a “little [μικρος] flock” (Luke 12:32): “The church in the next several decades is going to be a smaller, leaner, tougher company. I am convinced that the way for the church now is to accept the shrinkage, to penetrate the meaning and the threat of the prevailing secularity, and to tighten its mind around the task given to the critical cadre” (Joseph A. Sittler, Grace Notes and Other Fragments, 1981, p. 99).


Man is that thing of sad renown

Which moved a deity to come down

And save him. Lay not too much stress

Upon the carnal manliness:

The Christliness is better – higher;

And Francis owned it, the first friar.


[The Poems of Herman Melville,

ed. D. Robillard, 2000, pp. 246–47.]




Reason’s Failure

Offending Professor Burtness


By Pastor Marshall


This altercation taught me how little rationality held sway when I was at the seminary – in spite of its vaulted status. Professor James H. Burtness (1928–2006) was a prestigious professor at the seminary, a prized Bonhoeffer scholar, with a doctoral degree from Princeton, and very popular among the students. I wrote a term paper (November 25, 1974) for his seminar on Bonhoeffer which was critical of Bonhoeffer’s famous claim that only a suffering God can help (DBW 8:479). He didn’t much like the paper because he was a devotee of Bonhoeffer, and particularly that passage (1906–45) – even though he couldn’t fault my paper for any research errors. I showed my paper to another seminary professor and he thought it was good enough for me to present at the regional meeting of the American Academy of Religion – the leading guild on religious studies. I accepted the invitation (April 4, 1975). But when Burtness heard of this, he was enraged and wrote me this note (April 6, 1975), without ever talking to me in person: “It did seem strange to me that you wouldn’t consider any of my comments on your paper worth following up prior to facing that audience. Even if you didn’t think my opinion worth checking, it would have been a nice little courtesy…. If you can help it, you don’t want to give your professors the idea that you have nothing to learn from them… You did hurt me [and you might hurt others too] with similar sensitivities.” This was the first such case of irrationality in my life in higher education, but not the last – lamentably.



Sunday, December 15 from 1:00pm to 4:00pm


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.

This year we will be having 3 events at the Faire:

      P Basket Auction     P Live Auction     P Raffle


Basket Auction:  Here’s a sampling of the gift baskets that will be available to bid on…..

Children’s Books           Air Fryer        Children’s Science Gear

Beer & Wine               Gardening               Baked Goods

Seahawks Gear         Olive Oil/Vinegar         Framed Photo’s

Kitchen Gadgets                 Tools                      U of W Gear

  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, Junction Hardware, Spiros, Amazon, Spuds, Admiral Theater, Pegasus Pizza, Staples –

ETC!,  ETC!!,  ETC!!!,  ETC!!!!


Live Auction:  There will be 2 items offered at a live auction.

1.     One Night Stay at Leavenworth’s Abenblume Valued at $300, with $100 gift card for Restaurant.

2.     May 15-17, 2020 Two Night Stay at Lake Chelan Area Wapato Lake Waterfront Retreat (Maximum capacity 8 people).  Includes $100 Gift Card at Blueberry Hills Restaurant.  Total Value $600.


Raffle:  There are 3 items that will be raffled off at the Faire. 

1.     55” LG UHD TV.

2.     4 movie tickets.

3.     Basket of Gourmet Chocolate.

But the most important way to support this event is to come and bring your family, friends and neighbors, and do your Christmas shopping.




Sola Scriptura

A New Hymn on the Bible by Crosby & Schalk



On the occasion of my fortieth anniversary of ordination, I commissioned Carl F. Schalk (1929– ) to write a new tune for the Fanny Crosby (1820–1915) text, “Blessed Bible, Book of Gold” (1898). The tune name, sola scriptura, is Latin for “Word alone.” This hymn holds that we do not come to worship “to shape it to serve our ends. Rather, worship shapes and molds us to God’s ends and God’s purpose” (Carl F. Schalk and Paul Westermeyer, A Large Catechism: Understanding Church Music in the Lutheran Tradition, 2017, p. 10).

       Sola scriptura is a Lutheran slogan that has been very important to me over my forty years of ministry. It stands for the Holy Bible being the “only judge, rule, and norm according to which… all doctrines should and must be understood and judged as good or evil, right or wrong” [The Book of Concord (1580) ed. T. Tapert (1959) p. 465]. I have defended this embattled view in my booklet – Making a New World: How Lutherans Read the Bible (2003, 2015).

       Sola scriptura was Luther’s “watchword” – and he would “admit no other criterion, even as a corollary.” Sola scriptura says that we “must not rely on man [but rather] learn to adhere solely to the Word of God [since it alone is] the fountain of all wisdom.” For Luther “the priority of Scripture over the Church is everywhere stressed.” Therefore you “must plant yourself upon the clear, transparent, strong statements of Scripture, by which you will then be enabled to hold your ground.” The Bible didn’t “grow on earth [but came] from God.” So “to hear the Scriptures is nothing else than to hear God Himself” – making every word of Scripture “precious since it comes from the mouth of God.” Therefore the Bible is “divine” – making it “impossible that Scripture should contradict itself.” This is so even though “there is no outward attraction [to the Bible – looking like] a worm and no book” at all. Even so, “this simple basket of reeds, patched with clay, pitch, and such things [still holds the] beautiful living… Christ… who makes the Book unique to faith” (A. Skevington Wood, Captive to the Word: Martin Luther, Doctor of Sacred Scripture, 1969, pp. 120, 122, 123, 135, 139, 140, 142, 143, 151, 178).

       This hymn rests on five strong words about the Bible – “Lamp of faith my feet to lead” (Psalm 119:105); “Bread of heav’n my soul to feed” (John 6:51); “Living water, pure and free” (John 4:14); “Fire my zeal” (Jeremiah 23:29); and “Cleanse my heart” (Hebrews 4:12). They – along with this wonderful Schalk tune – are what exalts this Bible hymn. And that is why I have refurbished it on my anniversary.


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. 


Christmas Eve:  Tuesday, December 24, 2019 

Liturgy of Lessons, Carols, & Holy Eucharist

11:00 pm Holy Eucharist, in the nave

Christmas Day:  Wednesday, December 25, 2019: 

Festival Liturgy & Holy Eucharist

10:30 am Holy Eucharist, in the nave


St. Stephen, Deacon and MartyrThursday, December 26, 2019:

11:45 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel

St. John, Apostle and Evangelist:  Friday, December 27, 2019:

11:45 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel

The Holy Innocents, Martyrs:  Saturday, December 28, 2019

 11:45 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel


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

The Day of Epiphany:  Monday, January 6, 2020

11:45 am Holy Eucharist, in the chapel



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

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next four week class on the Koran starts on Thursday, January 9th.  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 21st, 3-5 pm.

CHRISTMAS CAROLING PARTY:  Thursday, 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.

2020 FLOWER CHART:  The new chart for 2020 will be up at the end of the month.  Sign up early for the best choice of dates. 

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 13th.

JOHNSON CN:  Our thanks to Ben Johnson and Johnson CN for the financial and technical support donated to the church office.  It is very much appreciated. 


For You


In celebration of the 40th Anniversary of my Ordination, I have a gift for you – in thanks-giving to God for your support over the years. I have collected my twelve one page sermons from this year into a booklet called, A Narrow Flood. Note the sewn binding – courtesy of Puget Bindery, Kent, Washington.


 –Pastor Marshall


 Saint Editha’s Church, Tamworth, England


A Baptism Poem


Today we wounded you with the wound that heals.

Waters of chaos break over your head

and you are drowned in Christ. You bear his seal.

Only the one who raises up the dead

can bear us on that devastating flood

which saves us from ourselves and makes us whole.

We watch you coming through, our flesh and blood.

One little word shatters and kills the old.

Upon your brow and on your breast you bear

a mark that neither life nor death can change.

Your grandfather was called to put it there

with words that will forever make you strange

and alien in a world that is too grave

to risk undoing in this chaotic wave.


[from Gracia Grindal, “Baptism (For Karl Theodore),”

A Revelry of Harvest: New and Selected Poems,

Lincoln, Nebraska: Writer’s Showcase, 2002, p. 60 –

reprinted by permission.]



2 Peter 2:10

Monthly Home Bible Study, December 2019, Number 322

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 2 Peter 2.10 noting the phrase defiling passion. Who suffers from this? On this read 2 Peter 2.9 noting the word unrighteous. Does their defiling of passion ruin all passions? On this read Psalm 69.9 noting the word zeal. Note also the same word zeal in Romans 12.11. Why are these positive uses of zeal or passion important? On this read Matthew 22.37 noting the three uses of the word all. What does that signify? On this read Philippians 2.12 noting the words obeyed, work, fear and trembling. Why is such arduous exertion needed? On this read Romans 7.24 noting the words wretched and death. What makes us so bad? On this read Ephesians 2.3 noting the line by nature children of wrath. What are the consequences of this origin? On this read Romans 1.31 noting the line faithless, heartless, ruthless. On this read John 3.19 noting the line loved the darkness. What does that do to us? On this read John 2.25 noting the distrust of people because of what was in man. Is that why such an urgent, diligent struggle is needed – because we are so untrustworthy?


Week II. Read again 2 Peter 2.10 noting the same phrase defiling passion. How does this bad passion differ from the good passion that fights against sin? On this read 2 Timothy 3.2–4 noting the phrase swollen with conceit that makes us inhuman. Why is this self-preoccupation so bad? On this read Isaiah 43.21 noting the line I formed for myself that they might declare my praise. How is this purpose at odds with self-absorption? On this read 2 Corinthians 5.15 noting the contrast and mutual exclusion between living for yourself and living for Christ. Why can’t these go together – loving Jesus and yourself at the same time? On this read Romans 7.18 noting the line nothing good dwells within me. Read also Mark 7.20 noting the line what comes out of a man is what defiles man. Contrast this with Hebrews 4.15 noting the line Jesus… in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Does this difference between Christ and us lead to no agreement between us, as stated in 2 Corinthians 6.16? If so, does that keep the mutual exclusion in place? If so, where does that take us? Could it be to Galatians 2.20? – it is no longer I who live.


Week III. Reread 2 Peter 2.10 noting this time the phase despise authority. Why do the unrighteous do this? On this read Galatians 5.19 noting the word licentiousness. Why do we prefer doing whatever we want – which is what being licentious means? On this read Romans 6.20 noting the line free in regard to righteousness. Why does that delight us? On this read Romans 6.17 noting the line obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching. Why do we reject this obedience in favor of being free? On this read Judges 17.6 and 21.25 noting the same line in both every man did what was right in his own eyes. Against this read Proverbs 3.7 noting the line be not wise in your own eyes. How can we break this evil spell – wanting to suit [our] own liking, as in 2 Timothy 4.3? On this read 2 Thessalonians 1.5–10 noting the righteous judgment of God, vengeance, and the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord. Add to this the four sore acts of judgment in Ezekiel 14.21. Do you think that’ll do it – to keep us from licentiousness?


Week IV. Read 2 Peter 2.10 one last time again noting the phrase despise authority. What is it like living with the authority of God rather than despising it? On this read John 10.9 noting the line go in and out and find pasture. We long for God’s authority because his wisdom feeds us. 1 Corinthians 2.6 says this authority goes well beyond what it calls the wisdom of this age. That’s the pasture we long for. On this read John 10.26 noting the word belong. When we obey God’s authority we belong to him. This gives us an identity and security found nowhere else. Is that enough to draw you to God’s authority – and forego your freedom? Why or why not? Read Hebrews 12.2 for help.



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Louis & Holly Petersen, The Tuomi Family, Bob Baker, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Pete Morrison, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Connor Sagmoen, Kyra Stromberg, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Howard Fosser, The Rev. Kristie Daniels, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Dave Monson, The Rev. Albin Fogelquist, The Rev. Chelsea Globe, Sheila Feichtner, Antonio Ortez, Richard Uhler, Yuriko Nishimura, Leslie & Mark Hicks, Eric Baxter, Deanne Heflin, David Douglass, Owen & Noreen Marten, Jim & Bonnie Henningson, Mary Ford, Nancy Wilson, Nell & Paul Sponheim, Mary Lou & Paul Jensen, Rubina & Marcos Carmona, Rosita Moe, Mary Blom, Claudio Johnson S, Bjorg Hestevold, Tatiana Ceaicovschi, Jim Thoren, Trevor Schmitt, Cathy Conord and Karen Mulcahy.  Also, pray for unbelievers, the addicted, the sexually abused and harassed.

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

     Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Shelley Bryan Wee, our pastor Ronald Marshall, our choirmaster 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


Forgive me, Almighty God, for camping on the periphery and living on the border, and never facing the central sins of my life. Made for truth, I am deceptive. Capable of deep caring, I’d rather be cared for. Created to live with you, I’m too busy to pray. Intended for the profound, I settle for the trivial. In your mercy, draw me to the center, through faith in you. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

                                                                [For All the Saints II:1262, altered]