Our Lenten Fast


As is our custom we will read Joel 2:15 on Ash Wednesday, February 14 this year, and declare a fast for the days of Lent. We do this to prepare for our celebration of the death and resurrection of Christ on Good Friday and Easter. We also find this fasting to be in keeping with Matthew 6:16 and 9:15.

      But how do we do it? Martin Luther in his 1520 Treatise on Good Works notes that “it was solely to kill and subdue

the pride and lust of the flesh” that fasting was instituted (Luther’s Works 44:75). Therefore he concludes that each person is free to  choose “which food and how much of it” to give up. That is because of our varying lusts and likes. So pick the foods that you especially like and give them up during Lent, to one degree or other. But be sure that your fasting causes you some displeasure. That’s the point of it. Lent is not the time to “pamper” our flesh, as the Lutheran Confessions put it (The Book of Concord, ed. Tappert, p. 221). Rather it is a time for self-denial and confession. So use fasting to that end.

      Since all of this is mandated in Holy Scripture, God will bless you when you do it.  


Pastor Marshall



100 Years Ago


Our Parish Centennial


By Pastor Marshall


Our centennial celebration will be on September 23. Well before our church was established in 1918, missionary pastors worked in West Seattle to form a church community. One of those pastors was the Rev. Olaf Holen (1889–1988).

        In 1982 he sent us his memoirs of his time with us from 1915 to 1917. Were those days the good old days for him? Not according to Pastor Holen (even though his work eventually led to the founding of our church):

I would call on people during the week and kept records of all my visits. But the people with few exceptions, manifested little interest in our services,… and very few showed up…. I was very disappointed when after calling on about 35 families during the week only a handful showed up. Some of then told me when I called on them that if they did not stay up too late Saturday night, they would come, or might come. I was under the impression that many of these Norwegian families were more interested in exercising their feet with dancing on Saturday night than to use them walking to church on Sunday. At one time I had only two present – and once I had none showing up…. I wrote to the Home Mission Board in Minneapolis that I wanted to be relieved of my responsibilities for the work in West Seattle. I wrote, among other things, that you may just as well throw the money you spend on this project into Puget Sound. (from R. F. Marshall, Deo Gloria: A History of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle from 1918 to 1988, 1989, p. 34).

       Well, how about that? Many are called but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14)? No one seeks after God (Romans 3:11)? Could it be a miracle that our church ever came to be in the first place?




Nurturance for a Faithful Journey


What is Needed? “Dear friends, you know how earnestly God has commanded everyone to hear and to learn his precious Word, for it cost him much to bring [His Word] to the world. He hazarded his prophets for this purpose, indeed, he even sent his own Son into the world and allowed him to be crucified and to die for [His Word]. He permitted all the apostles to be persecuted and all Christians to be afflicted for this purpose, and commanded the former faithfully to administer [His Word] and the others diligently to hear [His Word]. . . . [A]s creatures we owe it to our Lord and Creator to be obedient to him and do this with all willingness as to him who has given us and every day continues to give us so many good things that we shall never be able to thank him sufficiently” (Luther, Sermon on the Sum of the Christian Life, 1532).

         How May I Do This? I’m glad you asked! Fortunately for you, right now, there is a convenient opportunity diligently to dig into the Word of God. Pastor Marshall’s Sunday morning adult class is studying Paul’s Letter to the Romans during the months of February and March. Then in April and May we will study the Gospel of John. What an opportunity! How convenient!

         Are you in the choir, serving on Altar Guild, tied up in traffic, or need to work or go out of town some Sundays, etc.? No problem. Arrive when you can and depart when you need to. I want to be there for the whole class, but I find that five minutes of the class gives me more than enough to ponder for the whole week, or beyond. In my personal experience, given a choice between a seminary class and Pastor Marshall’s class, Pastor Marshall’s classes are easily the more informed with Luther’s insights, more pungent with Luther’s challenges, and more biblical with biblical cross references! Your plate will be overflowing!

         Why Bother With the Bible? I knew a pastor who was criticized for preaching on biblical texts and teaching classes on the Bible. The criticism was, “We’ve heard all that before. Tell us something new: a new story, something different, something more fashionable and interesting.” Luther replies to these “shameful spirits who take hold of God’s Word with their own wisdom and likewise soon allow themselves to think they know it well and that they no longer need to listen to it or learn from anybody else. They turn to unprofitable talk about whatever is new or strange and [what] the mob likes to hear” (Luther, same sermon).

         FLCWS Follows God’s Command. Interestingly, an emphasis on study of the Bible is rather congruent with part of the Purpose of FLCWS according to our Constitution: “To participate in God’s mission, this congregation . . . shall: . . . Nurture its members in the Word of God so as to grow in faith and hope and love, to see daily life as the primary setting for the exercise of their Christian calling, and to use the gifts of the Spirit for their life together and for their calling in the world.” “To fulfill these purposes, this congregation shall: . . . Teach the Word of God” (C4.02.e, C4.03.d).

         Yes, while on the journey through this life, you are invited and welcome to this oasis for nurturance, renewal and rejuvenation!




The Principle of Ownership


“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing; not knowing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3)


Why is it so difficult to raise money to both support the church and to help those in need? Is it because we have this idea that we deserve our wealth (if we have it), that it is gained because we worked hard for it, and we want to control how it is spent? Do we only want to give it away if there is something in it for us?

     Let me talk about my own case:  I was born into a family that valued education, and encouraged me to get a good one. I was born with certain mental, physical, and musical capacities, not perfect by any means, but capacities that I did not choose. I did try to develop those capacities and have used them to support myself and my family. Does that mean that I “own” whatever wealth I have earned, or does that wealth actually belong to the One who created those capacities in me? Have I achieved because of my own will and determination, or is it because of the gifts I was given? I would submit to you that it was the latter, and the requirement to return 10% of “my” income to the church is really quite small.

     What about helping those in need over and above that 10% to the church? Why can’t they support themselves, why should I (and others similarly blessed) have to do that? Perhaps it is because God assigns us different capacities—that is His holy freedom to do so—and it is our test to see if we will try to balance things out in this fallen race. We are all “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked” until God gives us capacities to help ourselves and our brothers and sisters on this planet. We can not think we deserve all the riches and capacities we have been given, and the poor do not. We are created to be One People under God, not just a bunch of self-serving individuals.                        

-Jane Harty, Church Council

Stewardship 2017


                                            Month (December)          Year to date (Jan-December)

Budget                                       $31,339                                     $259,003

Received                                   $39,483                                     $266,351


Our Sincere Thanks to God
for those who responded at the end of the year with either catching up or coming up with extra donations that surpassed our budget!



February Book


With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, February 24th.

The book for February is Entertaining Judgment: The Afterlife in Popular Imagination (2015) by Greg Garrett, professor of literature at Baylor University. In this book Garrett covers diverse sources on the meaning of the afterlife (p. 15). He also points out how they diverge from Biblical teaching (pp. 28–29, 32–33). Throughout his key theme is purgatory (p. 191). At the end of the book he lists seven pages of sources including art & architecture, comics, computer games, drama, movies (over 110!), music, nonfiction, novels, radio, TV and poems (pp. 193–99). Ghosts and angels get extra attention.

     A copy of this illuminating 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 afterlife in popular culture.

ANNOUNCEMENTS:  NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION will start on Sunday, February 4th immediately following the 10:30 am liturgy, in room D.  If you know someone who is interested in the class, ask them to talk to Pastor Marshall. 

FOOD BANK COLLECTION:  Suggestions for February are canned fruits and vegetables. 

SUNDAY EDUCATION:  Memorizing Scripture: Reading Romans. In this eight week class we will study The Book of Romans. Luther thought it was so important that all Christians should know it by heart, word for word. Each class session will be based on a worksheet of questions handed out the week before.

WEB PAGE ADDRESS:  www.flcws.org.

ASH WEDNESDAY this year will be on Wednesday February 14th with the Imposition of Ashes liturgy at 7 pm.

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.


Lead Us Not Into Temptation

Pope Francis’ New Translation

Pope Francis is leading the way to change a part of the traditional translation of the Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation,” to “do not let us fall into temptation.” The advantage in this change is to note that “God does not lead people into temptation; Satan does” (“Pope Hints at Update of the Lord’s Prayer,” The Seattle Times, December 10, 2017). But this doesn’t work in two ways. First, if God lets us fall into temptation, then he has led us there in effect, so the change of words doesn’t get God off the hook. And secondly, the original word in Matthew 6:13, εισερχομαι, means lead and not fall (as piptw in 1 Corinthians 10:12), so his retranslation also doesn’t work. Besides, 1 Corinthians 10:13 says God “will not let you be tempted beyond your strength” to endure, which implies that God regulates the temptations that badger us. For these three reasons then, it’s probably a better idea, to stay with the traditional line, “lead us not into temptation” and simply hope God answers it.



Deserving Punishment

Attacking Lutheran Teaching


By Pastor Marshall

 Lutheran Bible Professor Norman Habel (b. 1932) writes that he would have liked to “punch that pastor in the gut” when he implied that his mother got what she deserved when her favorite piano was burned up in a house fire. Habel insists the truth instead is: “All too often, those who have been afflicted ask the question: What did I do to deserve this? The answer of Job is unequivocal: Nothing!.... When we are so afflicted, we can cry with Job and Jesus, Why? And no Lutheran needs to be ashamed of that cry! Senseless suffering happens. Bad things happen!…. In the end, scream at God, forgive, and then move on! That’s Lutheran!” (Why on Earth are You Still a Lutheran? Memoirs of a Heretic, 2016, pp. 88, 89). Really? Here’s what Luther says in his beloved Small Catechism we teach our children: “We sin daily and deserve nothing but punishment.” And here’s what he says in his magisterial Large Catechism from the same year, 1529: “We get what we deserve: plague, war, famine, fire, flood, wayward wives and children and servants, and troubles of every kind.” And “as a rule, these troubles,” says the Apology of the Augsburg Confession (1530) “are punishments for sin” (The Book of Concord, ed. Tappert, 1959, pp. 347, 372, 206). I guess Habel thinks his mom was free of all wretchedness (contra Genesis 8:21, Isaiah 30:9–11, Jeremiah 17.9, Mark 7:21–23, Romans 7:24, Revelation 3:17). Whew!


Genesis 8.21

Monthly Home Bible Study, February 2018, Number 300

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 Genesis 8.21 noting the word evil. Martin Luther thought this referred to no “mild disease” in us, but rather to an “utmost lawlessness” in us, making us “exceedingly depraved” (Luther’s Works 2:119). But was he right? On this read Isaiah 30:9–11 noting how rebellious we are. Read also Jeremiah 17.9 on how desperately corrupt we are. Check out also Romans 7.18 about nothing good dwelling in us. How do we get off on the wrong track like this? On this read Ephesians 2.3 noting the line we are by nature children of wrath. Where does that leave us? On this read Mark 7:21–23 noting how we are defiled from within by such things as slander, pride, foolishness and murder. How deep is that corruption in us? On this read Romans 7.13 noting how we are sinful beyond measure. Where does that lead? On this read 2 Timothy 3.2–5 noting how we become lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Sound like anyone you know?


Week II. Read again Genesis 8.21 noting that same word evil. How are we to deal with this? Isn’t it amazing that the flood did not wash it all away? On the solution to our problem, read John 3.3 noting the line unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Does that mean we need to start all over? On this read John 3.6 noting the contrasting phrases flesh is flesh and Spirit is spirit. Is there no penetration of the good into the bad? On this read 2 Corinthians 6.14 noting the question what fellowship has light with darkness? Note also the stark opposition between Christ and I in Galatians 2:20. How does that work since Saul and Paul were of the same body? On this read 2 Corinthians 5.15 noting the line they live no longer for themselves. It that the new birth; the light; and Christ living in us? What does it mean to live no longer for yourself? How is that possible? On this read Matthew 22.37–39 noting the two targets God and neighbor. Does that leave us out?


Week III. Reread Genesis 8.21 noting again that same word evil. Is the only way to deal with this evil, to leave oneself for God and neighbor? On this read Galatians 6.14 noting how we are to be crucified to the world. Read also I Corinthians 15.31 noting the exclamation I die every day! And check out Luke 9.23 noting the line deny himself and take up his cross daily. Finally read Luke 14.26 noting the tough line even hate his own life. Is there then no attention to ourselves at all? Is that because we are so evil that we can’t be repaired? On this read 1 Corinthians 10.31 noting the line do all to the glory of God. Read also 2 Corinthians 3.5 noting the line nothing coming from ourselves. And check out 1 Corinthians 3.7 noting the line neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything. How then should one manage going around in his or her body? On this read James 4.14 noting the line you are a mist. Read as well Psalm 39.5–6 noting the words nothing, breath and shadow. Does that settle it?


Week IV. Read Genesis 8.21 one last time noting again that word evil. Does this mist, from last week in James 4.14, leave us with no real body then? On this read 2 Corinthians 4.16 noting the contrast between the inner nature and the outer nature. Is the outer nature done for? Wasting away? Is our inner nature that mist? Are our bodies only good for pummeling and subduing as in 1 Corinthians 9.27? On this read Romans 8.23 noting the redemption of our bodies. Read also 1 Corinthians 15.44 noting the category spiritual body. What would that be – an oxymoron? On this read 1 Corinthians 15.52 noting the line raised imperishable. Is that the spiritual body – one impervious to decay and death? What would that be like and does it matter? On this read 2 Corinthians 4.18 noting the correlation between the eternal and the invisible or incorporeal. Are we then disembodied in heaven? Would that make our spiritual bodies more spiritual than material? Is James 4.14 about my life right, then, that it is only a mist? What does it matter? On this read Matthew 26.41 noting the line the flesh is weak. Does that favor spirit over body – the strength to do all things as in Philippians 4.13? Is this the effect that evil has on us?

The 300th Bible Study!

Since March 1993 our church has been provided a Monthly Home Bible Study focusing on one Bible verse, with questions on it spread out over four weeks. May these 300 studies help reverse the thesis of James Smart’s seminal and chilling book, The Strange Silence of the Bible in the Church (1970).


The Presentation

of Our Lord

Friday, February 2nd we celebrate The Presentation of our Lord at 11:45 am in the chapel with Holy Eucharist.  This feast day revolves around a prophecy in Luke 2:34-35 that relates a stirring story about Christ’s ministry.  It says he will be spoken against, and that he will cause the rise and fall of many.  Honor God this day for the wisdom of this prophecy.

The Transfiguration

of Our Lord

The Last Sunday in Epiphany, Sunday, February 11th, is the Transfiguration of Our Lord when we behold the splendor of Christ surrounded by the Glory of God. 

      Study Mark 9:2-10 to learn more about the time when Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, and the mysterious cloud from which God’s voice tells us, “This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!”



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Sam & Kevin Lawson, Kyra Stromberg, Pete Morrison, Mia Schorn, Aasha Sagmoen, Melanie Johnson, Marlis Ormiston, Eileen Nestoss, Emma Sagmoen, Celia Balderston, The PLU Lecturers, Tabitha Anderson, Jordan Corbin, Nell & Paul Sponheim, Lee & Lois Snook, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Joanne Brown & Kristie, The Rev. Howard Fosser, Ion & Galina Ceaicovschi, Nathan & Les Arkle, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Elizabeth Banek, Jeanne Pantone, Diana Walker, Jack & Sheila Feichtner, Joann Beckman, Bob Coburn, John Quinn, Lawrence Johnson, Deanne Heflin, Dennis & Diane Hall, Julie & Diane Sauter, Joann & Mary Jane Lakie, the people affected by the Southern California mud slides.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy: Bob & Barbara Schorn, Chuck & Doris Prescott, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Mildred Nikula, Mary Goplerud.

     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 February. 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: Martin Luther, Renewer of the Church, 1546; Saint Matthias, Apostle.


A Treasury of Prayers


Grant me mercy, Lord: for sloth that wasted the hours or for haste which outran its benedictions; for fear that frustrated bold hopes or dullness that took everything for granted; for anger that burst forth destructively or indifference that smothered the soul; for suspicion wrongly held or for trust cheaply betrayed; for indecision which enabled evil or for compromise which disguised it. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., III:1167, altered]