February 2015



Cheerful Fasting


 Lent is the time when we are called to sanctify and intensify our fast – beginning this year on Ash Wednesday, February 18th. Furthermore, Jesus taught that when we fast we should not look dismal or complain about how it isn’t any fun (Matthew 6:16). No, we should instead, as Luther wrote, “be merry, happy and cheerful, like a person on a holiday.” Luther, who opposed monastic fasting, thought that if we did it cheerfully, our fasting would then be right and “pleasing” to God (Luther’s Works 21:156). Without this merriment, fasting is “worthless” – “a mere human plaything” (LW 21:157).

     So fast – depriving yourself during Lent of those foods which you ordinarily and regularly like to eat. That’s because, as Luther noted, fasting fits in with living “a moderate, sober, and disciplined life, not for one day or one year, but for every day and always,” which is “the same thing that faith does inwardly in the heart” (LW 21:162). But which foods you eliminate, “should be left up to the discretion of every individual” (LW 21:162).

     And also note Luther’s bold extension of your fast: “Real fasting of Christians means that you punish your whole body and compel it, as well as all five senses, to forsake and do without whatever makes life comfortable.” So fasting “pertains not only to eating, drinking, and sleeping, but also to you leisure, your pleasure, and to everything that may delight your body.” Even so, “fasting is directed only against the lust and the pleasures of the flesh, not against nature itself” (LW 21:161, 160, 162).

     So take up your fast – remembering that all days during Lent are included in it, except for Sundays.

Pastor Marshall







Pope Francis


On the God of Perpetual Surprises

By Pastor Marshall

In his first major writing, or encyclical, The Light of Faith (Lumen Fidei, 2013), Pope Francis says that “religious man is a wayfarer; he must be ready to let himself be led, to come out of himself and to find the God of perpetual surprises” (§2:35). One of those surprises is that “faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer,” the Pope adds, “God does not provide arguments which explain everything, rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every sort of suffering and opens up a ray of light” (§4:57).

     That same year, Pope Francis also wrote his first apostolic exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium, 2013). In this exhortation “on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world,” he writes a prayer that could well be used to help believers struggling with the troubles of life: “Lord Jesus, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace” (§1:3). There is a shame and freshness of expression in this prayer than commends it – but also an over-dependence on human volition that weakens it.   

     On January 18, 2015, Pope Francis celebrated an outdoor Mass in Manila, Philippines. There were an estimated 6 million people in attendance – the largest Mass ever celebrated anywhere. Pope Francis is probably the most influential Christian living today. We need to know what he is thinking, saying, and writing . . .






Preparing for Our 100th Anniversary


By Pastor Marshall


What was “in the air,” so to speak, around the time that our church was started? What were people thinking? Regarding religion there wasn’t much good during the years of WWI, 1914–1918. This put our early congregation at a distinct disadvantage when inviting people to come to church. The country wasn’t in any mood for it. That was because of what happened during WWI. What we have learned about religion during those times was that “the stress of war [doesn’t] produce orthodox believers [but] religious and spiritual interests… on the fringes [with] freely integrated elements of both Christian and occult beliefs. [Soldiers in WWI] became wanderers in both worlds. Soldiers encountering violence on such a scale resorted to… fate or destiny…. Divorced from any orthodox Christian belief [they followed] superstitions [and] talismans [believing that] in the trenches… anything might be true, except what was printed” [Philip Jenkins, The Great and Holy War: How World War I Became a Religious Crusade (2014) pp. 120–21.]

     So being a Biblical – “what was printed” – Christian community wasn’t very popular back in 1918 when our church was set up. And the effects of that demise in religion are long-lasting. Now we suffer from a “new immature adulthood” in the churches [Thomas E. Bergler, The Juvenilization of American Christianity (2012) p. 6]. This comes from those religious wanderings a hundred years ago. May God’s grace help us combat this terrible legacy.





PRESIDENT'S REPORT....by Larraine King





                                    WHERE BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN HE GLOWS!  (Hymn #80 v1)


The Transfiguration is an amazing description of the power of the light of Christ.  It illumines everything!  It must have been quite terrifying for Peter, James, and John, especially when they saw Moses and Elijah.  Then they heard the voice of God proclaiming God’s son among them.  It is beyond our human ability to visualize such a sight.  But then we are talking about the Almighty God.  What can He not do?

     January was my final month as president.  Thank you to the congregation for giving me this chance to serve First Lutheran in this capacity.  It is a wonderful opportunity for both personal and spiritual growth, as well as a great way to get to know members of our church.  However, I am looking forward to a much needed rest from so many responsibilities and to being able to get my own house back in order, plus giving the St. Nicholas Faire a little more well deserved attention.

     I also want to thank everyone who serves on the church council.  It is a commitment, but it has rewards as well.  Earl Nelson will be moving into the president’s office, with Bob Baker accepting the vice presidency.  Gina Allen will continue as secretary as will Janice Lundbeck as treasurer.  Maxine Foss will be retiring from council.  Both Melanie Johnson and Jeff Sagmoen have accepted another 3 year term as council members.  We welcome Carol Nelson for a 3 year term and Janine Douglass for a 2 year term.  Thank you all!!!

     We ended the year about $11,000 short of our projected budget.  However, except for the exterior restoration loan (which will be paid off this summer), we have no indebtedness.  Expenses in several areas of the budget were less than projected, which made it possible to end the year with no outstanding bills.  That is good news!  But we still need to be vigilant about our stewardship.  Our church finances are based on the membership giving regularly what they have pledged to give.  If the membership fails to give, the church is left without sufficient funds to pay bills.  Our stewardship should be a reflection of our love of Jesus Christ and what he has done for us.  The prayer a few weeks ago in the St. James Daily Devotional Guide (available on the narthex table) expresses it this way, “…that what shines by faith in our minds may also blaze out in our lives….”   What a descriptive way to say that every aspect of our lives should be “on fire” for the Lord.

     Upgrades and repairs at the parsonage continue, with every attempt being made to take care of some long overdue issues.  Remember the West Seattle Food Bank when you go grocery shopping and make a purchase to donate to them.  Hunger takes no vacations and the months of January and February are usually very lean months for them.  The Agape Fund (an extended ministry that is in our budget and funded by member donations) is in need of rebuilding.  Give a little extra for that purpose.  Let the light of Christ’s transfiguration transform your life!




                         FOR WHICH IN JOYFUL STRAINS WE RAISE

                                     THE VOICE OF PRAYER, THE HYMN OF PRAISE.  (Hymn #80 v4)






Following Through


We are one month into the New Year and some of the resolutions we made last month are now history.  Good intentions are just that – good intentions.  However, we need to follow through with action.  We have just had our Annual Meeting at which time we approved the budget for the new year here at First Lutheran Church.  This is our plan of total expenses for the next twelve months based on anticipated income.  As individuals, we cannot always control the bills but we can help to control how much is received to cover them.  It is now our turn to follow through with action.  As any non-profit organization will tell us, even small amounts help.  Our funds are used not only for the expenses of the church, its building, and its programs but also as an outreach to help others through our Extended Ministries Programs.  As we are reminded in the Bible, all amounts are gratefully received just as Jesus accepted the widow’s mite when she gave the little she had.  More important is our attitude (God loves a cheerful giver) and if we will share what we have willingly.  Then we can be ready to follow through with action.  Then we are ready to do our part.   


Janice Lundbeck, Treasurer, Church Council




February Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, February 28th.

The book for February is Iscariot: A Novel of Judas (2013), by Tosca Lee, winner of the 2014 Christian Book Award for fiction. This book explores why Judas betrayed Jesus – a question not fully answered in the New Testament. Consequently, Lee takes up the form of a novel to imagine why Judas did what he did – even though she does a fair amount of historical research to help her (p. 330). At the end of the book in a note, Lee says she hopes that the reader will see how much he or she is like Judas (p. 331). What she hopes to accomplish in the novel is “a story of divine and human love – a story of you and me” (p. 333).

     A copy of this intriguing, imaginative study of Judas, is in the church library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we take up the betrayer of Jesus – and why he did what he did.




NEW MEMBER ORIENTATION will start on Sunday, February 1st immediately following the 10:30 am liturgy, in room D.  If you know someone who is interested in the class, suggest they talk with Pastor Marshall. 

Music Northwest Presents:  Exotic Places featuring “Europa,” with Mara Finkelstein, cello & Jane Harty, piano, also guest artists, Megan Chenovick, soprano & Merrie Siegel, flute.  This music is from Brazil and Hungary, also featuring Ravel’s subversive Songs of Madagascar which caused a walkout at the premiere.  Join us on Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 2:00 pm.  Discounted tickets ($10) for members of the congregation can be prearranged by calling 206-937-2899.  Regular tickets ($18) can be purchased at the door on the day of the concert.

ASH WEDNESDAY Imposition of Ashes & Liturgy is Wednesday, February 18, at 7:00 pm. 

FOOD BANK COLLECTION suggestions for February are canned fruits & vegetables. 

SUNDAY EDUCATION:  The Key to the New Testament: A Study of the Book of Romans.  In this eight week class we will study the Book of Romans that Luther thought was the most important book in the New Testament or its “chief part” (Luther’s Works 35:365). He also thought it was worth memorizing!  

PASTORS’ MEETING:  Thursday, February 19th, chapel at 11:30 am with lunch at noon.

A NOTE OF THANKS to the people who helped decorate the church for our Christmas celebration:  Gina Allen, Cristian Clemente, Sonja Clemente, Ted Foss, Dean Hard, Jane Harty, Larraine and Andrew King, Ron Marshall, Steve McCord, Dana Morrison, Jeff Sagmoen, Scott and Valerie Schorn, Tyler Schorn, Kathrine Young. 

SCRAPPERS will meet Wednesday the 25th of February.  If you are interested in helping, stop by to see what they do.    

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.


EXTENDED MINISTRIES…..for the month of February would like everyone to consider making a donation to the AGAPE FUND.  This fund is part of our regular extended ministries budget, but it depends on individuals making specific designated contributions to the fund.  In December, there was an extreme need for a single mother of 11 children, and the church helped pay her utility bills so her water would not be shut off.  As a result, very little remains in the fund.  The money from the Agape Fund is used to help people who come to the church or people we learn about that have an urgent need.  Each need that comes to our attention is carefully considered before any money is given.  Recipients are then encouraged to seek help from organizations that can be of more service to them on a regular basis.  Please consider supporting the AGAPE FUND by writing a check to First Lutheran Church of West Seattle and indicating on the memo line the Agape Fund.  We will then have money to help others who are in dire straits.           

 ̶  Larraine King for Extended Ministries


Remember the Food Bank when you shop for groceries.








Proverbs 1.33

Monthly Home Bible Study, February 2015, Number 264

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).


Week I. Read Proverbs 1.33 noting the phrase dread of evil. What is this? On this read Proverbs 1.19 noting the word violence. Read also Proverbs 1.24-32 noting the words calamity and complacence. Where do these horrors come from? On this read Proverbs 1.24-25 noting the words refused and ignored. Does this mean that God is punishing us with these horrors because we refused to listen to wisdom? On this read Proverbs 1.31 noting the words eat and sated. Does this mean instead that we punish ourselves by suffering the consequences of our own wicked behavior? On this read Proverbs 28.10 noting the line will fall into his own pit, as well as Psalm 57.6 noting the line they dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. Does this mean that we are not immune from our own wickedness? On this read Proverbs 1.19 noting the line it takes away the life of its possessors. Why do we think we can escape this? On this read Proverbs 23.29-35 noting the words wine and hurt. How long will that solution last?


Week II. Read again Proverbs 1.33 noting that same phrase dread of evil. So do we only have ourselves to fear? On this read Proverbs 14.9 noting the line God scorns the wicked. So if God also punishes us, how does he do it? On this read Ezekiel 14.21 noting the words sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence. Read as well Numbers 11.1 noting the word fire; Numbers 16.31-32 noting the line the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up; Isaiah 30.30 noting the word hailstones; Ezekiel 13.13 noting the two words stormy wind; and Ezekiel 30.12 noting the two words dry up. Does God only punish by way of natural disasters? On this read Joshua 2.8-11 noting the words fear, hearts, melted, and courage. This psychological punishment is devastating and can happen invisibly, and at anytime and anyplace. And does God only punish because he is angry? On this read Hosea 6.1 noting the line he has torn that he may heal. Do you agree? Is there any other way for God to heal sinners?


Week III. Reread Proverbs 1.33 noting the word listens. Why would we not listen to God? On this read Psalm 81.8-11 noting the line Israel would have none of me. What does that mean? On this read Proverbs 1.24-31 noting the two lines none of my reproof and none of my counsel. Why wouldn’t one want God’s reproof and counsel – but instead refuse to listen to him? On this read Isaiah 30.9-11 noting the words smooth and illusions. Why do we have this aversion? On this read Luke 12.19 noting the word ease. Note also lazy gluttons in Titus 1.12. Why do we gravitate in this direction? On this read 2 Timothy 3.2-5 noting the two phrases lovers of self and lovers of pleasure. Love, then, can be good or bad depending on what we love. On this read 1 John 2.15-16 noting the contrast between loving God and loving the world – which includes pride and lust. Where does this bad love come from? On this read Mark 7.20-23 noting the word licentiousness. Do you agree?


Week IV. Read Proverbs 1.33 one last time noting the word ease. What is this ease like if not like being lazy? On this read John 14.27 noting the words peace and world. How is this godly peace different from the worldly ease criticized above as laziness? On this read John 16.33 noting the word tribulation and the line in me you may have peace. How is the awkward combination of peace and tribulation balanced? On this read Romans 5.1 noting the words peace, with and through. Does this include worldly peace? On this read Luke 12.49-53 noting the word fire, division and against. So how is this outer turmoil combined with this inner peace? On this read Romans 8.18 noting the line not worth comparing; and 2 Corinthians 4.17 noting the word slight and the line beyond all comparison. Is the balance even? On this read Hebrews 11.16 (and 13.14) noting the word better. This means that the inner peace outweighs the outer difficulties. Do you agree?



The Presentation of Our Lord

Monday, February 2, 2015

11:45 am Holy Eucharist, chapel


The Transfiguration of Our Lord

Sunday, February 15, 2015

8:00 am Holy Eucharist, chapel

10:30 am Festival Eucharist, nave






Ash Wednesday

February 18th, 7:00 pm

   At this Holy Eucharist we observe the ancient liturgy of the Imposition of Ashes.  On this day the Great 40 Days of the season of Lent begins.





of Penance


On the third Saturday of each month, between 3 and 5 pm, the Sacrament of Penance is offered in the Chapel.  This brief liturgy enables people – one at a time – to confess their sin and receive the blessed assurance of forgiveness.

     This liturgy is similar to the Roman Catholic confessional, but unlike it, in that it is done face to face with the pastor.  Copies of the liturgy are available in the church office.

     This individual form of confession is more forceful than the general form used during Advent and Lent in the Communion liturgy and at each Sunday evening Compline.  It allows for, but does not require, listing of specific sinful burdens. 

     Martin Luther's critique of confession never included the elimination of individual, private confession.  His critique instead only corrected the way it was being done.

     So we continue to honor his words in his Large Catechism:  “If you are a Christian, you should be glad to run more than a hundred miles for confession.” (The Book of Concord, p. 460).  Plan to come – Saturday, February 21st,  3 to 5 pm in the Chapel.  Blessings await you. 




Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Bridget Sagmoen, Janine Lingle, Dorothy Ryder, Evelyn Coy, Kevin Lawson, Jim Coile, Nora Vanhala, Mary Goplerud, Michael Nestoss, Cynthia Natiello, Clara Anderson, Leah Baker, Peggy & Bill Wright & Wendy, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Cameron Lim, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha Anderson, Kendel Jones and her Family, Rosita & Jim Moe, Kristine and Ové Varik, James Stojack, Dee Grenier, Carol McCord, Larry Johnson, Kathy Heynes, Jill Johnson, Stephen Holliwell, Mario De Jesus, Lori Hovorka, Priscilla Santee, The PLU Faculty and those suffering from and fighting the Ebola virus. 

    Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Clara Anderson, Donna Apman, Pat Hansen, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Vivian Wheeler, Peggy & 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 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


Father in heaven, let your peace rule in my heart and become my strength and my song. Let your grace be mighty in me that I might will and do what pleases you. Give me the rule over my own spirits so that I can deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., II:278, altered] 

Please note:  The Music Northwest Concert time was changed to 2:00 pm.
Sunday February 1, 2015.