February 2019


1 Corinthians 14:8


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

[Luther’s Works 4:4]  

Here is another Bible verse that I want to cover that has been important to me as I continue to give thanks in 2019 for my 40 years in the ordained ministry. This one comes from the Rev. Dr. Martin J. Heinecken (1902–1998), long time professor of theology at the Lutheran seminary in Philadelphia. He told me he that he kept it on his desk and would contemplate it daily before going to lecture to the seminarians. The verse is 1 Corinthians 14:8 and it says “if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who can get ready for battle?”

      This verse is about not beating around the bush or mincing words or “mumbling” – as Luther put it (Luther’s Works 21:9). It’s about diligently fighting the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12).

      Luther once wrote that preachers are afraid to be clear – especially about what’s contentious in Christianity. It’s too dangerous. They’re afraid of offending people and getting fired. So they prevaricate instead of blasting forth on their bugles – or as Luther said, they “put their whistles into their pockets” (LW 21:63). After quoting this in a sermon, Alida Rottman (1922–2011) gave me a whistle on a cord to hang around my neck, charging me – “Don’t put it in your pocket!” When preaching at my home congregation in college, Professor Roger C. Larson (1918–1980) told me to quit saying from the pulpit – “it seems to me likely that this might be worth considering.” “You have to be certain!” he admonished – and Luther would agree (LW 58:211, 67:419, 78:47, 76:409, 26:387, 40:240, 78:300). So thanks be to God for this text – and for both Martins, Alida and Roger!

Pastor Marshall



by Pastor Marshall


More happened in 1979 than my ordination into the Christian ministry on June 25, and the first Mad Max movie coming out – although that movie had its own significance. It marked the beginning of four films on the collapse of civilization and a life of vengeance. “My name is Max. My world is fire and blood” (Soren Anderson, “Latest ‘Mad Max’ Hits on All Cylinders,” The Seattle Times, May 15, 2015). More weighty, however, was the appearance on March 4 of the first encyclical from the new pope, John Paul II, called Redemptor Hominis. In my review of it I noted that it was the Pope’s vision of how to steer between “Marxist and Capitalist solutions” (The Messenger, October 1981). This note sounded a revolt against the supposed evils of capitalism and the imagined redemption in Marxism. It was stemming the tide of 1960s liberalism. Joining in with the Pope – unwittingly, for sure – were the new prime minster of England, Margaret Thatcher, the new Communist Party leader, Deng Xiaoping, and the new leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini. In a disconnected way, they all together changed the direction of the world in 1979, seeking “to restore values to a world… deeply altered by revolution” (Christian Caryl, Strange Rebels: 1979 and the Birth of the 21st Century, 2013 p. 358). In my own way, my ministry has been devoted to stemming the liberal tide too (see my online manifestos, “Somber Lutherans,” 2004, and “Deathly Evangelism,” 1994–95) – even though I favor Richard John Neuhaus’ (1936–2009) more nuanced formulation – “I am religiously orthodox, culturally conservative, politically liberal, and economically pragmatic” (The Messenger, September 2016).






At the book group meeting (“With the Mind”) last moth we discussed Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014) by Bryan Stevenson, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, “a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system” (backcover).

      The book is largely devoted to the story of Walter McMillian, who was wrongly condemned, and what Stevenson had to do, through the courts, to set him free. It is a harrowing story of cruelty, injustice, personal fortitude and bravery. At the end of the book, Stevenson takes up the story of the woman accused of adultery in John 8 – with Jesus saying, whoever is without sin, cast the first stone. Stevenson then adds: “The woman’s accusers retreated, and Jesus forgave her and urged her to sin no more. But today, our self-righteousness, our fear, and our anger have caused even the Christians to hurl stones at the people who fall down, even when we know we should forgive or show compassion…. We can’t simply watch that happen…. We have to be stonecatchers” (p. 309). I like that. I encourage you to read the book and learn more about being stonecatchers. May we all find ways to become stonecatchers.

      This is my last column as your president. Thank you for entrusting me with this responsibility. I’ve enjoyed working on the church council the last four years as your vice president and president. May God bless First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.



We need someone to take on the leadership of

The Saint Nicholas Faire.

Larraine King has done it for the last ten years and is stepping down.

Would you like to do it? There is a great team of people from last year still willing to help you. Let us know by March 1st so we can get the ball rolling. Call the church office if interested (206) 935-6530.





Pledging and Tithing


Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for

your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink;

nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not

the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? (Matthew 6:25)


Each year at the annual meeting, the congregation approves a budget for the coming year.  The pledges are tallied and expenses are approved. Although Mathew 6:25-34 tells us not be anxious, we have commitments to the staff and to the church building that rely on the congregation to keep their pledge & tithing forefront in their minds.  We have been blessed with a congregation that is dedicated to First Lutheran Church of West Seattle. Pray that 2019 will be another year that we are able to keep our monetary commitments to the church by regularly tithing.  

—Valerie Schorn, Church Council







Stewardship 2018


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

Budget                            $28,684                          $263,016

Received                         $36,061                          $268,744






The Apple of the Eye



by Pastor Marshall


This is a favorite verse for the protection God provides (Ps 17:8 – and also in Dt 32:10, Prov 7:2, Lam 2:18, Zech 2:8). It’s even in the Compline liturgy – but modified as “keep me as the apple of your eye” (Lutheran Book of Worship, 1978, p. 157). The apple of the eye is an odd expression that goes back to the King James Version of the Bible (1611), which was borrowed from Shakespeare (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1596, III.ii, 106). But the Hebrew word translated as apple actually means dark spot (ﬠין) – which is simple observational science; that’s the way the center of the eye looks. But that word also is similar to the Hebrew word for man (איש), and so the Latin translation misconstrued it as little man, pupilla, from which we get the word pupil – as in the pupil of the eye. Luther saw this verse as speaking about what God cared for because it was so valuable and vulnerable (Luther’s Works 48:379). That gets to the heart of it – in spite of these later translation problems. Thanks be to God!


Abigail Blesses King David

“The Lord will certainly make my lord a sure house, because my

lord is fighting the battles of the Lord; and evil shall not be

found in you so long as you live.”

(1 Samuel 25:28 –- and its echo in Acts 5:39)


Columbarium:  The Chapel of the Resurrection


The columbarium chapel was dedicated on November 25, 2001 with forty-nine niches installed on the north wall.  All 49 of the north wall niches have been sold. 

      The second phase of construction was dedicated on February 22, 2009, which added another forty-nine niches to the south wall of the columbarium.  Monies for this project have never come out of the church budget but have been raised through the pre-sale of the niches and special donations.  The cost of a niche is $800.  If you are interested in purchasing a niche, a payment plan may be arranged with the church office. 

      We believe that this form of burial provides comfort to the members of our parish family. By being able to inter their ashes in the church, a sacred resting place is provided. Burial in the columbarium of our church is a glorious way to care for the remains of loved ones.

      If you have not yet made burial plans for yourself we encourage you to consider a niche in the columbarium, The Chapel of the Resurrection. Forms are available on the Narthex table and in the church office. Call us if you have any questions.





No Bird Soars in a Calm


by Pastor Marshall

A large part of the Wright brothers invention of the airplane had to do with studying birds. “The reality of what birds could do – the miracle of birds – remained a subject of continuing importance and fascination” to them (David McCullough, The Wright Brothers, 2015, p. 51). Wilbur Wright was especially interested in how birds used the wind to fly, but mostly to soar. His breakthrough moment came when he realized that “no bird soars in a calm” (McCoullough, p. 52). Their wings need that blowing wind to keep them – effortlessly – aloft. From that insight eventually evolved the jet engine and wing flaps. It also ties into Romans 5:3–5 about needing suffering to build character. Character is the flight; suffering is the blowing wind. This is yet another reason to pay attention to Matthew 6:26 – “Look at the birds.”

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

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

SUNDAY EDUCATION:  Religious Horrors: Eight Rejected Psalms.  In this eight week class we will study eight psalms most Christians don’t know about, and if they do, they’re outraged over – Psalms 9, 39, 55, 58, 107, 109, 137, 139 and 144. 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, March 6th 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.










Another difficult story from my forty years in the ministry has to do with a vice president of our church. He married into a prominent, long standing family in the congregation. He was a very successful business man. I knew him for years and he liked joking around with me. I spent a lot of time with his two children in confirmation and the youth group. He had a big laugh and a broad smile. Over the years his comments grew more negative. At one point I said we should get together and talk about it. I said this with other people around at a council meeting. He responded that it wouldn’t do any good because I always won arguments. I let it go, but later asked him again and he said yes.


I Hate You That Much!


     I treated him to desert one Sunday evening at a local restaurant. The deal was that I would listen and not comment on anything he said. He liked that. So off he went, over coffee, pie and ice cream, listing one horrible thing after another that I supposedly had done. Soon a pattern emerged. After each charge he would conclude – “But, of course, that isn’t true. You never did that.” And he looked me right in the eye when he said that. This went on for the better part of an hour. He probably went over a dozen charges against me. He then concluded by saying: “Well, I guess I really don’t have anything against you.” I was surprised and wondered how this was going to end. Then he said, before getting up and leaving – “But I still hate you. In fact, I hate you so much,” he said, looking me right in the eye, unflinchingly – “that I wish I could catch you in an act of incest so I would have evidence for it. I hate you that much.” Some ten years later he left the church. I rarely see him anymore. And we never talked about that conversation again.

     This story reminds me of two statements from Luther – “No wrath in the entire world is more cruel that that of [the] church,” and, “There is almost nothing more unlike the church than the church itself” (Luther’s Works 1:260, 27:397). I learned from that evening never to let my guard down in church. Why? Because the devil is always roaming around in it looking to devour someone (1 Peter 5:8). What he said that night was the meanest thing anyone has ever said to me – and I haven’t lived a sheltered life.

Pastor Marshall



 Job 10.8

Monthly Home Bible Study, February 2019, Number 312

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 Job 10.8 noting the line thy hands… made me. What shall we make of that? On this read Genesis 1.31 noting the line everything that he had made… was very good. Read also Genesis 1.27 noting the line God created man in his own image. Read as well Genesis 2.15 noting the line God… put man in the garden… to till and keep it. What shall we make of these verses? On this read Psalm 17.8 noting the line keep me as the apple of the eye. Read also Psalm 8.5 noting the line God… crowns him with glory and honor. Are we therefore made for greatness, above all the rest of creation? Is this build into our being? On this read Isaiah 43.21 noting the line the people… I formed for myself, to declare my praise. Does this verse set us back a notch? On this read Job 42.3 noting the line too wonderful for me. Read also Psalm 131.1 noting the line things too great… for me. So being made in the image of God doesn’t make us equal to God. On this read Hosea 11.9 noting the line I am God and not man. Does that get us all the way to the word worm in Psalm 22:6? If not, how about the word breath in Psalm 39.5, or the word dust in Genesis 2.7? How do these three verses make you feel? Do they seem belittling? If so, why?

Week II. Read again Job 10.8 noting the same line thy hands… made me. What has God made in us? On this read 1 Kings 2.3–4 noting how the words keeping and commandments define the word man. In this way humans differ from God – we are to obey him – God is not to obey us. On this read Judges 17.6 and 21.25 noting the phrase right in their own eyes. Contrast that with Psalm 115.3 noting the line God does whatever he pleases. Why can’t we do that? On this read Isaiah 5.20 noting how we can’t keep good and evil straight. Being made to obey God puts us at a much lower level than God. By how much? On this read Isaiah 55.9 noting the distance between the heavens and the earth. Could that be any larger?

Week III. Reread Job 10.8 noting this time the phrase destroy me. What happened? Has God forgotten how great we are? Or has our diminished status caused our ruin? On this read Genesis 3.24 noting the words drove, sword, and guard. Why were Adam and his family driven from paradise, never to be allowed to return again? Was it because he was less than God? On this read Genesis 3.11 noting the words commanded and not. Is there any other punishment beside this banishment? On this read Genesis 3.3 noting the phrase lest you die. So death is not natural – because we wear out or weaken or slip and fall? No, on this read Leviticus 26.14–16 noting the line cause life to pine away. Read also Jeremiah 2.9–17 noting the question Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the Lord your God when he led you in the way? Do you agree?

Week IV. Read Job 10.8 one last time noting again the phrase destroy me. Is destruction then all that’s left? On this read Jeremiah 3.17 noting the line they shall no more stubbornly follow their own evil hearts. How does one so escape by doing that? On this read Jeremiah 3.10 noting the line return to me with her whole heart. Read also Jeremiah 4.14 noting the question Wash your heart [and] be saved. How long shall your evil thoughts lodge within you? What happens if this is done? On this read Jeremiah 4.27 noting the line yet I will not make a full end. What would a full end be? On this read Jeremiah 8.22 noting the phrases no balm in Gilead and not be restored. Such hopelessness would be a full end. Why does God block such an end? On this read Jeremiah 31.20 noting the words dear, often, against, remember, yearns, surely and mercy. Why does God so yearn and keep from bringing a full end? On this read Jeremiah 31.3 noting the line I have loved you with an everlasting love. In what way is this good news?


The Presentation

of Our Lord —

      On Friday, February 1st 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 in this prophecy. These words from Martin Luther will be included in the sermon for the day:

      “If a person is unwilling to accept this child, Jesus, we must simply close our eyes and ears and proceed as though we did not see him fall. For this child’s significance will be that his gospel shall be defamed as heresy; this is one of his trademarks, that many will stumble and take offense because of him" (Luther's House Postils 1:160).




Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Sam Lawson, Janice Lundbeck, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Emma Sagmoen, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Marlis Ormiston, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Connor Sagmoen, Matt Anderson, Celia Balderston, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Dan Peterson, Jim & Hillary Thoren, Sheila Feichtner, Deanne & Lucy Heflin, Rubina & Marcos Carmona, Yuriko Nishimura, Marylou & Paul Jensen, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Antonio, Jessica, Jeff Walkenhauer, Rebecca Brown, Barrett Dunn, Mary Leskovar, Hal & Carol Shaerkley, Leslie Johnson, Qibei Chen, Daniel Rottman and pray for safe traffic in Seattle and the Central American refugees on the Mexican border.

     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, 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


Dear Lord God, teach me to stand more boldly on your side, to face the world and all our adversaries more courageously, and not let myself be dismayed by any storm of temptation; may my eyes be steadfastly fixed on you in fearless faith; may I trust you with perfect confidence that you will keep me, save me, and bring me through by the power of your grace and the riches of your mercy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., I:262, altered]