Luther famously said in a letter dated August 1, 1521, that we
should “sin boldly” (Luther’s
48:282). Lutherans, down through the generations, have thought
this means that we shouldn’t be afraid to sin because there is
forgiveness by way of the sacrifice of Jesus always there for us
(“Only the Remorse of Judas,”
The Bride of Christ,
vol. 19, Pascha 1995, p. 29).
This opinion, however, is all mixed up and flies in the face of
Romans 6:1–2, which tell us precisely to be very careful not to
Why then did Luther say this?
The best understanding is that sinning boldly [pecca
actually means admitting that we are horrible sinners [fortissimus
Because we couldn’t stomach this far more severe understanding
of what Luther wrote, we have distorted and twisted his words on
purpose in order make them easier to live with.
To guard against this misunderstanding, take Romans 7:13 to
heart during these days of Lent (which begin on Ash Wednesday,
February 10), and ponder how your sin should be made sinful to
you – “beyond measure” [supra
X X X
In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul encourages the Church and reminds us
of its purpose, “that [we] may know what is the hope to which he
has called [us], what are the riches of his glorious inheritance
in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his
power in us who believe, according to the working of his great
might which he accomplished in Christ when he raised him from
the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly
places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion,
and above every name that is named, not only in this age but
also in that which is to come.”
We don’t always feel that such power is with us when we sweep
the floors here at church, or fix a switch, get the paraments
right, meet our pledges in a timely fashion, or do any of the
seemingly mundane tasks we perform here as a congregation.
But we do work in the service of such a Lord as Paul
describes “far above all rule and authority and power and
dominion,” no matter how small our tasks may seem.
At First Lutheran Church of West Seattle, I have
confidence that when I do some small task, it is for a church
that preaches the Cross, through which Christ accomplished God’s
work of salvation, in a world which denies the Cross.
The little work I do in support of my Church is more
important than the job and career which take most of my time and
energy. Without the
Church, my job and even my family life would ultimately have no
purpose or meaning.
Elsewhere Paul says that we live by faith and hope and that we
only see the glory of the Lord that is to come dimly, as
“through a glass darkly.”
Living by faith and hope means that we do not know
through our own faculties how our little efforts serve our
Lord’s larger purposes.
We have to trust the Lord, and do what he tells us to do,
though we cannot ourselves clearly see the purpose of it.
Perhaps it is meaningful to those who read this to hear
that First Lutheran is a light unto my eyes and lamp unto my
feet, for which I am deeply, if insufficiently, thankful.
Worship and fellowship at First Lutheran increases my
faith and strengthens my hope, and this is made possible by all
the acts of faithfulness of my fellow parishioners.
As we begin the 2016th year of our Lord at First Lutheran
Church, we can be thankful that we met our financial obligations
last year and both maintained and improved the church buildings
and the parsonage.
Historically our giving lags at the beginning of the year and
Church Council has to turn to extra cash left over from the
previous year to meet our payroll and pay the bills.
We enter this year having used up our rainy day fund and
the cash left over from the previous year. This means that this
year we do not have any cushion to meet our needs when our
giving lapses, as it regularly does in January and February.
Timely payment of our pledges will be of great value for
the life of the church in the months to come.
For some reason, we seem to lose our footing as a
congregation in this regard at the beginning of the year.
Let us remember our pledges, and how important they are
in continuing to bring God’s Word to a fallen world.
Always Do More
It is important to take time to
really think about all of the work that goes on behind the
scenes to make our church function on a daily basis for so many
decades. Though our
members seem to be few, they are clearly the cream of the crop.
Everyone has something to contribute.
What I do know, is that we can
always do more.
Just when you think you’ve hit your maximum giving threshold or
have donated every hour that you have free, is when you need to
push yourself to do a little more. This is the sage advice that
was shared with me in the past.
There are times when I personally thought I would fall
apart if I added one more item to my to-do-list.
I realized that when I started to do less in church, I
felt more guilt. I
felt like I was cutting back in the wrong area.
I needed to undo other parts of my hectic schedule to
free up more time to dedicate to church.
I know firsthand I only do a
fraction of what I am truly capable of!
There are times when we all feel like we do so much but
then we should look around at the people who
keep the church operating day to day, decade to decade, and tell
ourselves “Wow…I really don’t do much at all compared to
Giving is not a contest between each other.
I guess it is a contest with yourself.
How much more can you push yourself to do?
When you step back from the church to free up time, is
when you will miss it the most.
Don’t step back….step up.
When you are busiest is when you are most productive.
Take a look at your giving.
Whether it is time,
money, or a skill you can share… always know that the church
needs more of you.
Don’t give because you think it will make you feel good.
Give because you know it is the discipline that is good
Allen, Church Council
The Endowment Fund
Putting the Church in Your Will
Our church endowment fund
continues to grow.
We thank God for all who have made a gift to this fund and the
support it provides.
One significant way to support the
fund is to include the
church in your
will. If you
would like to do this and have not done so already, think of
giving 10% of the
residual value of your estate to the church.
In this way you will be able to tithe the income the
investments of your estate has earned over the years.
This is a fitting way to thank God for the blessings of
prosperity we have been granted.
Our endowment fund was established
in January 1996.
The gifts made to the fund are
The interest earned is added each to year to help meet
our budget. In this
way you can go on supporting our church long after you have
departed to join the church triumphant.
Praise be to God!
Putting a Cockerel on Our Church
Pondering the Decree of Saint
By Pastor Marshall
Pope Nicholas the Great (d. 867)
issued a decree mandating all churches to have a rooster or
cockerel on their steeples. He did this to remind us of our
Lord’s warning in Luke 22:34 that before the cock crowed, Peter
would deny him three times (Luke 22:61; J. N. D. Kelly,
The Oxford Dictionary of
Popes, 1986, pp. 107–109; Eric Sloane,
Our Vanishing Landscape,
2004, p. 96).
This reminder is filled with
dread because it tells us how even the best among us can fall
from grace. Not one of us is immune (1 Corinthians 10:12). And
we need this warning because we have a far too positive view of
ourselves. All of us suffer from what Luther called “inflated
Works 52:208). That’s because we deny there’s “a deep,
wicked, abominable, bottomless, inscrutable, and inexpressible
corruption” in us from birth (The
Book of Concord, ed. T. Tappert, 1959, p. 510).
This denial piles up “more
atrocious sins” in our lives, and renders any restoration a
matter of great “difficulty” (LW
8:325). Let us then take up this ancient decree – if not on our
steeples at least in our hearts – and ponder Luke 22:34. Let us
dwell on our wretchedness that we might be driven straight to
Christ for mercy and salvation (LW
16:232). Let us quit defending ourselves by trying to show how
we aren’t so bad after all. Defending ourselves in this way has
rightly been called devilish (LW
New Luther Writings
By Pastor Marshall
Another volume in the new series
(volumes 56-82) of
Luther’s Works has been published. This volume,
LW 78 (2015), is a
new translation of some of the old J. N. Lenker translations of
Luther’s sermons (mostly from vols. 4 and 8), plus a first time
translation of Luther’s 1 John sermons from 1532–1533. Here are
some of my favorites from
on earth can teach this except the one Word and Scripture given
by God Himself,… that He sent His Son into the world to redeem
it from sin and God’s wrath” (8); “God has not created the world
in the same way that a carpenter builds a house and then goes
away, leaving it to be however it is” (15); “The Father alone is
[not] the Creator, or the Son alone the Redeemer, and the Holy
Spirit alone sanctifies” (26); “We do not make a heap or only
one person out of [God]. That is why three distinct works are
added, so that the ordinary Christian will make a distinction
among the persons and yet not divide the nature” (29); “Nothing
[should] be taught in Church other than what we are certain is
God’s Word, not what human reason and wisdom think is good and
right” (47); “If anyone is to enter heaven,… there must first be
the sort of person who has… in Himself eternal righteousness and
life, so that He can reconcile God’s wrath and blot out sin and
death” (48); “The only Son of God had to take our place and
become a sacrifice for our sin, through which God’s wrath would
be appeased and satisfaction would be made” (50); “There is in
[Christ] a salutary sin by which He delivers us, who truly are
sinners, from the deadly poison. So He condemned sin on the
cross, for sin wronged Him when it condemned Him and put Him to
death” (52); “This form of a dead serpent [in Christ] is a
saving death and a living medicine for all who have been
poisoned and ruined through their sins to eternal death” (53);
“Whoever feels God’s goodness also feels his neighbor’s
misfortune” (57); “Faith saves and unbelief damns” (61); “We
should despise [the rumbling spirits] with a cheerful faith, as
if they were nothing” (66); “The world is such a brat (in the
matters in which God has to deal with it)” (70); “No
unity or agreement is ever to be hoped for” (74); “Faith [never]
lies there completely empty and dead, [but] must always
demonstrate its power” (77); “All people are by nature children
of this fratricide Cain” (78); “Christ… called preachers
‘farmers’ who sow the Gospel” (88); “Everything that was wise,
holy, rich, and powerful in the people was rejected by God”
(90); “A soon as a person is born he belongs to the devil and is
condemned, no matter what he does” (93); “Compulsion is
necessary for the preaching of both repentance and the
forgiveness of sins” (94); “Wrath and repentance force us to run
after and cry out for grace” (95); “What the devil wants makes
progress…. What God wants… makes progress nowhere and faces
innumerable obstacles” (96); “Pride and arrogance are everyone’s
enemy” (98); “Leave to the Lord… what will happen to the Church”
(108); “Human intelligence does not have power over the future….
Everything turns out differently [than] imagined” (109); “God….
does not want worries in our hearts (since they… were put there
by the devil)” (111); “The world is nothing but the devil’s den
of robbers” (113); “If the body lies in drunkenness, the soul
must already be a drunkard, not paying attention to God’s Word
and prayer” (114); “We must separate the Word far from all
reason and wisdom” (119); “The Church has been put into the
world so that it must constantly run the devil’s gauntlet and
without ceasing be sifted and winnowed” (127); “[Christ] is just
like a unicorn, about which people say that it cannot be
captured alive, no matter how much it is hunted and chased”
(130); “Christ can make out of us such people as He Himself is”
(132); “When you should praise Christ, you prefer to drain a mug
of beer” (136); “We must always preach according to how the
people are” (145); “The true sheep (unlike the wild goat) sighs
and cries for its Shepherd and wants to be delivered” (146); “It
is improper for a Christian to want to complain much and cry out
about injustice” (156); “I endure [reproach] for God’s sake, who
lets it happen” (168); “Our faith is not to serve us in
acquiring money and goods in this life, but so that we come into
a different life” (171); “I am afraid that most among us are
heathen under the Christian name” (181); “Honor [God’s] Word and
let it rebuke you” (193); “If Christ is to help, we must first
despair of all human help, comfort, and ability” (205); “God
wants just the opposite: that we keep the work and leave the
worry to Him” (210); “You are to do the work, but not to rely on
what you do, as if you had accomplished it yourself” (210); “How
often it has happened that the best calculation [is] the worst
in harm and ruin!” (211); “[We must not] reverse the two
points,… as if we should first preach and give consolation about
grace, and only then frighten with wrath” (215); “No greater
torment and feeling of God’s wrath [comes to us] than from
looking at the dying of the Son of God” (216); “Those who are
still without any fear of God’s wrath… must only be admonished….
No Gospel, but only pure Law…. is to be preached to them” (217);
“The teaching of the Law must… not… be done away with among
those who are Christian” (217); “The fact that Christ Himself
had to die for sin points out the great, serious wrath of God
against sin” (224); “There is no one so perfect that he does not
feel [the] dread of death and the grave” (230); “When we
preach…. that no one should be angry with his neighbor,… then
everyone wants the preacher to shut up” (242); “No one grants
[true preachers] anything…. As a result, many… very capable
people are being ever more frightened away from becoming
pastors” (254); “God lets us… suffer,…. otherwise we would
imagine that we do not need Him” (263); “We who believe in
Christ are… to be… heirs. Who can finish praising this?” (276);
“[Christians] should… become hostile to this sinful life on
earth and to strive against it” (277); “One must struggle with
Scripture against Scripture” (287); “If someone is so
stiff-necked… that he will not accept directions, then let him
go his own way” (292); “There are still many evil, unthankful,
and false Christians among us” (299); “If we are to do [God’s]
will, then we must know for certain what it is and how it is
done” (300); “Do not trust your works even a hairbreadth” (302);
“Christ [must not be] loosened, that is, the knowledge of Him
[must remain] complete and firm” (304); “From time to time [God]
allows His saints to stumble and suffer [so that] their faith is
strengthened” (305); “Out of boredom with the grace and kindness
of God [Christians] seek something new” (311); “[Christians] are
still on the road, where we must always continue in the struggle
we have begun against all the dangers and hindrances we meet”
(315); “Something greater… than all good works must be present…
before he does any good. Similarly, he must first be healthy in
body before he can… do beneficial work” (320); “Faith is… a very
powerful… thing, which at once… leads him into a completely new
way of life” (322); “Scripture attributes both faith and good
works not to our strength, but to God alone” (322); “If faith is
true, then it does good” (322); “Let your eyes simply look at
the good life and care nothing about the reward” (326); “I am
not praising prostitution but the diligence it applies to
wickedness” (328); “You will never find a church which teaches
everything or believes and lives in perfect harmony without any
dissension” (329); “The world is nothing but a great pigsty”
(343); “[Suppressing] God’s Word… is the true chief sin” (357);
“The old [sinful flesh] pulls me back like mud on a wheel”
(368); “Even [God’s] wrathful works toward us who believe in Him
must be called nothing but love” (373); “There is no wrath in
[God’s] nature” (374); “It does not take great skill to begin
the Christian life and love. However, it does take skill and
effort to remain in it” (377); “We do not pay attention to what
we owe God and to how we have thanked him so poorly for His love
and kindnesses” (380); “Even God… cannot give to those who do
not want to have it” (382); “It takes skill to lay hold of
Christ in his last hour” (385); “If people thank me, good; if
not, then it is all the same, for I am unwilling to have things
better than my God and my Lord Jesus” (394); “I would long ago
have stopped preaching and teaching,… if I did not do it only
for God’s sake” (395); “It grieves me more than anything else on
earth that I must see and feel such shameful ingratitude” (395);
“If you have only a spark of grace and faith, that will be
enough for salvation” (398); “Make sure [you] are serious”
(400); and “Fear of the world…. is the greatest cross on earth”
Monthly Home Bible Study, February 2016, Number 276
The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall
Along with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as
a congregation in this home study. We will
study alone then talk
informally about the assigned verses together as we have
opportunity. In this way we can "gather
together around the
Word" even though physically we will not be getting together
(Acts 13.44). (This study uses the RSV translation.)
We need to support each other in this difficult project. In 1851
Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is "an extremely dangerous
book.... [because] it is an imperious book... – it takes the
whole man and may suddenly and radically change... life on a
prodigious scale" (For
Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we
all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved
in the Bible" (Opening
the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because
we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans,
however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's
Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW
30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW
29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW
25.261). Before you study, then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused
all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so
to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that
we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of
everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus
Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall,
Making A New World: How
Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12). And don’t give up,
for as Luther said, we “have in Scripture enough to study for
all eternity” (LW
Read Matthew 26.75 noting the word
remember. What does
this refer to? On this read Matthew 26.34 noting the word
deny. Why does Jesus
warn Peter instead of keeping him from betraying him? On this
read James 1.12 noting the words
crown. Why does God
test us instead of keeping us from failing? On this read Matthew
22.37 noting the words
God and the three occurrences of the word
all. Why do we have
to prove this to God? Doesn’t he already know how we’ll do? On
this read Philippians 2.12 noting the words
salvation. Why does
God want us to work so hard on our salvation? On this read
Romans 5.3-4 noting the words
hope. Isn’t there any
other milder way to build character and have hope? On this read
2 Corinthians 4.16-18 noting the words
eternal. Do these
verses say that the only way we will ever look at what can’t be
seen is if we have what can be seen, waste away right before our
eyes? What if it does. Then what?
Read again Matthew 26.75 noting the same word
remember. How did the
cock crowing jog Peter’s memory? On this read Matthew 26.41
noting the line the flesh
is weak. If that’s so, how did Peter remember the Lord’s
warning from earlier that night? On this read John 15.5 noting
the line apart from me
you can do nothing. So how did God help Peter remember? On
this read James 1.21 noting the words
the implanted word.
So if God implanted the words of that warning in Peter, how
did they jog his memory after he had sinned by denying Jesus? On
this read Acts 9.3-16 noting the words
fell. Could it be
that there was some sort of flashing and falling inside Peter’s
head that jogged his memory? What would that have been like? On
this read Acts 2.37 noting the words
cut to the heart.
What is that like? On this read Psalm 51.17 noting the words
happens to us when that occurs? On this read Luke 15.17 noting
the words came to himself.
What do we see in ourselves when that happens? On this read Luke
11.35 noting the word
darkness. What is this darkness? On this read Galatians
5.19-21 noting the works
of the flesh. What then do we know about ourselves? On this
read Romans 7.18-23 noting the words
war. How bad is that?
Reread Matthew 26.75 noting this time the word
bitterly. How ashamed
is this? On this read Romans 7.24 noting the words
deliver. What does it
mean to think we are wretched? On this read Mark 7.20-22 noting
the word defiles.
What is it like to be defiled from within? On this read Romans
3.12 noting the line no
one does good. How can that be? On this read Isaiah 5.20
noting how the two words,
good and evil,
get reversed. Why do we do this? On this read Luke 12.19 noting
the word ease. Read
also Amos 6.1 noting the admonition,
Woe to those who are at
ease in Zion. Why does the Bible condemn ease and comfort
and nonresistance? On this read Matthew 7.13 noting the line
the way is easy that
leads to destruction. What do you make of that?
Read Matthew 26.75 one last time noting the word
wept. Did this
weeping save him? On this read Matthew 27.3-5 noting the words
hanged. Why didn’t
Peter also hang himself? Was it because he wept? On this read 1
John 3.19-20 noting the words
everything. Is this
assurance what Peter had and Judas didn’t? If so, why? Why
didn’t Judas believe that God was greater than his
self-condemnation and suicidal plans? Could Peter’s tears also
have been tears of joy over the grace and mercy of God? On this
read Ephesians 1.7-8 noting the words
lavished. What about
that excess and surplus? Did Judas believe in that? Did Peter?
Is 1 Peter 1.8 with its
unutterable and exalted joy what made the difference? If so,
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
liturgy is similar to the Roman Catholic confessional, but
unlike it, in that
is done face to face with the pastor.
Copies of the liturgy are available in the church office.
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
Luther's critique of confession never included the elimination
of individual, private confession.
His critique instead only corrected the way it was being
So we continue to honor his words in his
“If you are a Christian, you should be glad to run more
than a hundred miles for confession.” (The
p. 460). Plan to
come – Saturday,
to 5 pm in the Chapel.
Blessings await you.
Remember in prayer before God
those whom He has made your
brothers and sisters through
Nancy, Sam, Kevin and Kim Lawson, David, Eileen and Michael
Nestoss, Leah Baker, Kyra Stromberg, Peggy & Bill Wright, Bob &
Barbara Schorn, Luke Bowen, Ion Ceaicovschi, Tabitha Anderson,
The PLU Faculty, Robert Crowmartie, Celia Balderston, Mike
Harty, Shirley Eaton, David Gehring, Angel Lynn, Asha Sagmoen,
Dean Cheney, Stephanie Hoikka, Brayton Decker, Kevin James,
Nancy Wilson, Gregg Carter, John Bechtholt, Rick Sitts, Ken
Sharp, Dorothy Chase, Bruce & Margaret Kirmmse and the great
migration from the Near East into Europe.
Pray for those who have suffered the death of a loved one: Pray
that God will bear their grief and lift their hearts:
Pray for the Natiello family on the death of
Natiello, Cary Natiello’s wife.
The funeral is planned for Sat., February 27th at 11 am.
Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them
joy: C. J.
Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian
Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Vivian Wheeler, Peggy &
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
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.
Treasury of Prayers
Lord of lords, I
do not rely on my own good deeds, but on your great mercy. In
your presence are not the powerful as nothing, the famous as if
they never had existed, the learned as if without knowledge, and
the intelligent as if without insight? So teach me to number my
days that I might gain a heart of wisdom. In Jesus’ name I pray.
All the Saints (ALPB,
1994-1996) 4 vols.,