Proverbs 28:23

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

[Luther’s Works 4:4]  

In recognition of 40 years in the ordained ministry, I want to cover the Bible verses that have especially helped me. I know this is against the dominant experiential strain of American Christianity (see Harold Bloom, The American Religion 1992). But I nevertheless insist with Luther on “the Word, the Word, the Word…. everything depends on the Word” (Luther’s Works 40:212, 214). Therefore I don’t want to cast God’s Word behind me (Psalm 50:17). 

             My first verse, then – Proverbs 28:23 – comes from Ruby Leenerts (1901–1994), a beloved member of our church. Early on Ruby affirmed my admonishing and rebuking – knowing with Luther that without it the Gospel runs aground (LW 78:217). She was sick of liberal Christianity which takes up a “God without wrath brought man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of Christ without a cross” (H. Richard Niebuhr, The Kingdom of God in America, 1937, 1988, p. 178). Ruby liked me stressing the hard Biblical texts – agreeing that this is what “learned pastors” should do (R. F. Marshall, “In Between Ayer and Adler: God in Contemporary Philosophy,” Word & World (Winter 1982) 69–81].

And so Ruby gave me Proverbs 28:23 to encourage me – fearing that I would wear out and cave in to the pressure to sugar coat everything. I thank God to this day for her help. Here is Proverbs 28:23 – “He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor than he who flatters with his tongue.”  

Pastor Marshall





Just Getting Started?


This year we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Pastor Marshall’s ordination. He has served all 40 years at First Lutheran Church of West Seattle. Thanks be to God!

        This reminds me of the Rev. C. F. W. Brecht who, in 1888, came right out of seminary to be the pastor of Saint Paul Lutheran Church, Chicora, Pennsylvania. The liturgy, hymns and sermon were in German. The church records were in German.

        Having arrived in 1888, Rev. Brecht retired in . . . 1958. Yes, he was pastor there for 70 years! He was in his 90s when he retired, and it was the only congregation he served.

        When I arrived in Chicora, 20 years and three pastors after his retirement, Pastor Brecht was still talked about as a remarkable game hunter. People said his initials, C. F. W., must have stood for Center Fire Winchester. There were no stories about powerful sermons, nor about perceptive Bible classes, nor about vital community service.

        Although the Rev. Marshall’s 40 years as Pastor are just a few more than half of Pastor Brecht’s 70, Pastor Marshall’s sermons are so engaging that a typical response is, “He was preaching to me.” While visiting in the Seattle area, not a few people from other parts of the country make a point to visit FLCWS to hear Pastor Marshall preach Christ centered Law and Gospel sermons and to worship where he presides with attention to liturgy that matters.

        Pastor Marshall teaches three to five adult classes weekly throughout the year. His classes on the Bible and on the writings of Luther are more informed, perceptive and relevant than any class I remember having had at Luther Theological Seminary. His classes also include a wide range of topics such as from Lincoln, the World Wars, to Supreme Court rulings. Whatever the topic, theological issues are always front and center and informed by Luther and the Bible. For a theological sampler, see his many articles in The Messenger.

      Pastor Marshall is well known for his service in the local community and beyond. He is instrumental in encouraging, hosting, and challenging gatherings of clergy in West Seattle, as well as the local cluster of ELCA clergy.  He is a vital and long serving board member of the West Seattle Food Bank. Roll in with this the West Seattle Helpline. Then there are the countless ways under the radar that he serves “the least of these” (Mt 25:40).


     Obviously Pastor Marshall is not just getting started. He has established what many consider a faithful yet rare Christ centered ministry. Note how many drive a long distance to worship at FLCWS. We pray for many years of this yet to come.

     Thanks be to God!


Stewardship 2018


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

Budget                                     $19,447                          $234,332

Received                                  $19,087                          $232, 683








Taking Care of Our Gifts


Stewardship is a big word with lots of meanings.  It refers to how we take care of what we have been given.  Do we even realize all we have is from God and he expects us to use it according to his teachings?  This is true whether we are dealing with possessions, time, talents, money, and even our families.

     When it comes to our financial obligations, he has given us specific guidelines:  The use of the tithe helps us calculate how much to give and to do it freely.  This should remind us that what we have is originally his and he has directed us to take care of it for him.  I am reminded of the parable of the talents where three workers were given various amounts of talents to care for – two of them used it to increase their value for the owner; the third one buried it where it just got dirty and did not grow.  We are to use what he allotted to us in the best way possible and for his glory.

     After serving as your treasurer for the last few years, it is time for me to move on and use my talents elsewhere.  January is my last month of duties and it has been quite a ride.  When I started, I knew nothing about the computer program nor could I understand the financial reports (still not sure if I do).  I wasn’t sure I could do the job but with lots of support and help, it became easier over time.  Some months were harder than others.  Just like our personal finances, if the money is there, the bills are easily covered.  If not, it is a challenge.  I have confidence your new treasurer will do a great job and I will be able to help as needed in the beginning.  This means I will not be leaving the church or its programs but will continue to serve as long as I am able. 

     I will always be grateful for the opportunity I was given and for the support and encouragement of others that went with it.  It helped me to be able to understand the financial records of the church and to realize what I could do with God’s help.

Janice Lundbeck



After 40 years in the parish ministry, I want to recall Saint Paul’s warning that parish pastors will suffer (2 Timothy 4:5). We normally don’t think about this. In the seminary we were told that everyone would love us. But now we know that there is a shortage of pastors precisely because of all the nasty resistance pastors get (Larry A. Witham, Who Shall Lead Them? The Future of Ministry in America, 2005). Luther therefore was right – “every preacher… is a man of strife [vir rixorum]” (Luther’s Works 2:20).

        Now I don’t want to cry in my beer. The towering Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917–1980), being shot dead while serving at the altar by a rifleman from the back of the church, makes my suffering look paltry (James R. Brockman, The Word Remains: A Life of Oscar Romero, 1982). But I still want to tell what I’ve encountered – and also counter those who think the ministry is a cushy job.

Screaming Aaaah!

        My first case involves a young single mom. We started out friends but soon my Law and Gospel sermons drove her crazy. She refused to talk to me about this. So she asked three of her friends to meet with us so she could safely read me out – making me agree to keep quiet. So we got together and she criticized me for telling her to hate herself, give 10% of her income to the church; think better of others than herself, and believe in Jesus or God’s wrath would damn her. Once finished, she asked me what I thought. I said I wasn’t supposed to talk. She however felt her case was so strong that she wanted to see me squirm trying to answer it. So I said it sounded like her beef was with the Bible and not with me (John 12:25; Matthew 23:23; Philippians 2:3; John 3:36). Immediately she blew her stack and stormed out of the room screaming – “Aaaah!” Her friends just shook their heads. Up to the day she died, she refused to talk to me again. So I learned that some church problems are never resolved, and that the messenger can be damned for the message.

Pastor Marshall









The Epiphany

of Our Lord

On Sunday, January 6, 2019

The Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord
will be celebrated at our 8:00 am chapel & 10:30 am Festival Eucharist liturgy in the nave. 

     Only Matthew's Gospel remembers this event.  Celebrate the magi's coming to worship and bringing gifts to the Christ child. 


The Baptism

of Our Lord

 First Sunday After the Epiphany

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord

Sunday, January 13, 2019.

In Matthew 3:15 Jesus tells John to baptize him in order "to fulfill all righteousness."  Luther teaches: 

Baptism was instituted by God primarily for Christ's sake and then afterwards also for the sake of all men.  For first he must sanctify baptism through his own body and thereby take away the sin, in order that afterwards those who believe him may have the forgiveness of sins
(Luther's Works 51:318).



Our earnest thanks to Larraine King, her family and the many volunteers for all of the work they did to organize and put on the Saint Nicholas Faire!   

Once again an exceptional event, bringing in

$10,000.00 for our local

West Seattle Food Bank and

West Seattle Helpline.



FOOD BANK COLLECTION suggested donation for January is pasta, noodles and sauces, but any non-perishable foods are fine.

OFFERING ENVELOPES for 2019 are now available on the office window counter. 

2019 FLOWER CHART is available for sign up.  Sign up early for the best selection!

ANNUAL REPORT for 2018:  Staff, officer and committee reports are now due. 

SUNDAY ADULT EDUCATION:  In January the class will be A Conflict of Rights & the Cake Baker’s Freedom.  In this four week class we will study the recent US Supreme Court decision, “Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission” (June 2018).

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next Koran Class starts on Thursday, January 10th.  Call the office if you plan to attend.  Pastor Marshall has been teaching this four week class four times a year, or more, since 2003.

Many Thanks to those who put together Christmas gift bags to cheer the elderly who are not able to make it to church.  Pastor Marshall delivers the bags when he makes his regular visits; including Lillian Schneider who turned 100 in 2018.  Also our THANKS to all those who helped with decorating the church. Once again, it was beautiful!  And Thanks to those who brought in Christmas gift items for Compass Housing Alliance.  This year Pastor Marshall was able to deliver five sweatshirts, two sweatpants, two packs of briefs, three packs of socks, four hats, four pounds of personal size toiletries, and four $10 gift cards to Starbucks for men and women to the Compass Center downtown.



What a wonderful time was had by everyone who attended & helped make this event such a big success!  We raised $10,000 for the West Seattle Food Bank & the West Seattle Helpline, & filled a number of shopping carts.  Way to go!  Plus we had a fabulous time in the process. Thanks to all of you loyal Faire goers who came & brought friends and family.  Many of our attendees were not members of First Lutheran. What a great way to reach out to our community.

     The event would not have been a success without the many helpers & contributors.  The parish hall was transformed into a sparkling fairyland of lights by Andy & Larraine.  It is always a sight to behold. Thanks to Dale and Teri Korsmo for helping with the room set up, security, and being suppliers & executors of outstanding & artistic ideas to make the Faire a success. The kitchen helpers were indispensable.  Thank you to Lynn Hopson, Bridget Sagmoen, and Rollie Storbakken for their help in the kitchen before, during and after the event.  A very special THANK YOU to Dana & Matthew Kahn, and their super assistants, Samantha & Max, for donating, preparing, and serving such a sumptuous feast!  Feedback from those in attendance said it was the best spread they’d ever had at the Saint Nicholas Faire! 

     Thank you to Liz Olsen, and Jennifer & David King, for managing the “Ring Toss” game and the “Mystery Beverage Chance”.  A special thank you to Richard Marshall & Maryhill Winery for providing the wines to taste.  Thanks to Pastor Marshall for adding indispensable commentary during the Silent Auction, announcing the drawing winners, and helping with the wine orders.  Teri Korsmo, Andy King, Dale Korsmo, & Janice Lundbeck served as cashiers; not an easy job.  We are extremely appreciative of their hard work that goes on until all the dollars have been collected.  Thanks to Maxine Foss & Sonja Clemente for contacting winners of items who were not present when the event closed.  All those little loose ends getting tied up make a huge difference.

     Finally, thanks to everyone who donated items from the sign-up sheets – Holly & Louis Petersen, Kathrine Young & Steve McCord, Phil & Natalie Nesvig, Sonja Clemente, Gina Allen, Lynn Hopson, Jim Coile, David King, Steve Liang, Michael Thompson, Bridget Sagmoen & West Seattle Helpline for wine & cider. Our table closers this year did an awesome job.  Thank you to Carol & Earl Nelson, Liz Olsen, Phil & Natalie Nesvig, Tim, Gina, Lily, & Chester Allen, Scott Schorn, & Peter Douglas.  Janine Douglass & Gina Allen did a super fantastic job of manning the storage of auction items, & the distributing the baskets to the winners.  Plus we had some great bakers who prepared dessert for us – Gina Allen, Connie Baker, Sonja Clemente, Maxine Foss, Natalie Nesvig, Holly Petersen, Holly Finan, Kathrine Young, Carol Nelson, & Rollie Storbakken.  The desserts were delicious & extremely popular!

     I also say a huge “THANK YOU” to everyone who took ornaments off the Saint Nicholas Tree in July & August” and donated those ornament items for the gift baskets.  Without your contributions we would have had very little to sell!

     As is evident by the length of this list, a lot of people helped & donated time, talents, & treasures that helped make this event a huge success.  It takes many people contributing in their own way to accomplish what we do at the Saint Nicholas Faire.  Thank you all for your generosity & commitment to our church & our extended ministries.  It could not have been done without you.

 ─Larraine King


2 Corinthians 7.1

Monthly Home Bible Study, January 2019, Number 311

The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall


Along with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as a congregation in this home study. We will study alone then talk informally about the assigned verses together as we have opportunity. In this way we can "gather together around the Word" even though physically we will not be getting together (Acts 13.44). (This study uses the RSV translation.)

We need to support each other in this difficult project. In 1851 Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is "an extremely dangerous book....[because] it is an imperious book... – it takes the whole man and may suddenly and radically change... life on a prodigious scale" (For Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved in the Bible" (Opening the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans, however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW 30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW 29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW 25.261). Before you study then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them, that we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall, Making A New World: How Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12). And don’t give up, for as Luther said, we “have in Scripture enough to study for all eternity” (LW 75:422)!


Week I. Read 2 Corinthians 7.1 noting the line let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit. Why is this needed? On this read Mark 7.20 noting the words out and defiles. How is it so that we are all wicked within? On this read Psalm 51.5 noting the line brought forth in iniquity. How is that possible? On this read 1 Corinthians 15.22 noting the line in Adam all die. How can Adam, long dead and gone, still do this to everyone who is born up to, and including, this very day? On this read Romans 8.7 noting the words hostile, submit and cannot. How does Adam so distort all human willing? On this read Revelation 3.17 noting the line I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing. How can we have such a narrow view of ourselves? On this read Luke 12.15 noting the truncated line life… consists in the abundance of our possessions. How can we have such a rank materialistic view of life? On this read Romans 8.6 noting the line the mind set on the flesh is death. So we get in this fix by setting our minds on the wrong thing. Do you agree? If so, why?


Week II. Read again 2 Corinthians 7.1 noting the same line let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit. Following from last week, what is this setting of the mind like? On this read Ephesians 5.18 noting the line do not get drunk with wine,… but be filled with the Spirit. Is this setting, then, like an addiction? On this read Romans 12.11 noting the words zeal and aglow. Can we control this fervor? On this read Romans 6.16–22 noting the six occurrences of the word slave. Also read John 8.34 noting the word slave. Does this addiction help explain the new heart in Ezekiel 11.19? How dangerous, then, is the disposition of our hearts? On this read Luke 8.15 noting what the honest and good heart produces. What happens if such a heart is missing? Read Luke 8.11–14 noting the words fall and choked. Is that falling and choking out of our control? On this read Romans 9.16 noting the phrase depends not. If you disagree, why is that?


Week III. Reread 2 Corinthians 7.1 noting this time the word holiness. Why should we be holy? On this read 1 Peter 1.16 noting the phrase because I am holy. But isn’t God’s holiness non-transferable? On this read 1 Samuel 2.2 noting the line there is none holy like the Lord. Then what’s the use in trying? On this read Philippians 3.12 noting the contrast between the words perfect and press. Why is the pressing on important? On this read Romans 12.2 noting the line do not be conformed to this world. Why is that? On this read John 15.18–19 noting the sharing of being hated with Jesus. Why does this solidarity matter? On this read Galatians 2.20 noting the connection between the words faith and live. Read also 1 Peter 2.21 noting the line in his steps. Note also that Jesus asks us to be like him in Luke 6.40. This leads to the word imitation in 1 Corinthians 11.1. Where does this lead? On this read James 1.27 noting the phrase unstained from the world. What does that include? On this read 1 Peter 1.13–15 noting the words sober, hope and obedient. Note also the word love in 1 Thessalonians 3.11–13. Does that cover being holy? Why or why not?


Week IV. Read 2 Corinthians 7.1 one last time noting the word fear. Why and how should we fear God, and how does that make us holy? On this read Matthew 10.28 noting the words not and hell. Read also John 3.18 noting the connection between the words believes and condemned. On how this fear drives us to holiness, read Jonah 2.4–3.4 noting the movement from the weeds wrapped around his head to preaching the assigned message. This is like being scared straight. How can we embrace this pedagogy? On this read Psalm 34.11 noting the words teach and fear. What is included in this instruction? On this read Ezekiel 5.13 noting the word fury. Why stress this severity? On this read Psalm 90.11 noting the question Who considers the power of thy anger? Do you like this curriculum? Why or why not?



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Sam Lawson, Valerie Schorn, Janice Lundbeck, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Emma Sagmoen, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Marlis Ormiston, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Kyra Stromberg, Melanie Johnson, Jeannine & Gregory Lingle, Matt Anderson, Celia Balderston, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. John Hinderlie, The Rev. Dan Peterson, Jim & Hillary Thoren, Sheila Feichtner, Deanne & Lucy Heflin, Rubina & Marcos Carmona, Richard Uhler, Yuriko Nishimura, Marylou & Paul Jensen, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Antonio, Mary Hanson, Jessica, Jeff Walkenhauer, Rebecca Brown, Jean Middleton, Barrett Dunn, Mary Leskovar, Hal & Carol Shaerkley and pray for the Central American refugees on the Mexican border.

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

     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 Christmas & New Year. 

     Pray for our sister congregation:  El Camino de Emmaus in the Skagit Valley that God may bless and strengthen their ministry.  Also, pray for our parish and it's ministry.

     Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints: Saint Peter; Saint Paul; and Martin Luther King, Jr., martyr, 1968.



A Treasury of Prayers


Heavenly Father, infuse your grace and descend plentifully into my heart. Enlighten its dark corners and scatter there your cheerful beams. Glory and Crown of the living, and only Safeguard of the dying – make me fit to receive you. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints , III:192, altered]