January 2016


Invisible Christmas


When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth, most missed it. “Isn’t this just the carpenter’s son?” they asked (Matthew 13:55). Nothing special about him . . .

Why did so many think that? 2 Corinthians 4:18 explains that when one is settled into the eternal, as Christ was (Colossians 2:9; Hebrews 13:20; 2 Peter 1:11), the invisible takes over – at least in respect to one’s eternality. Therefore what makes Jesus uniquely divine isn’t obvious to any one.

How many then might believe? Not many – for indeed only a few will ever come to him and follow him (Matthew 7:14; Luke 12:32). Do you agree? Or are you more optimistic?

Well, if you think this is too dark an assessment during the jubilation of Christmas, then ponder our Lord’s question: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8). When Luther sized this verse up he concluded that it will be “unsurprising” if God keeps “scarcely one man on earth godly” (Luther’s Works 76:124 – 1:336, 36:143, 39:280). Yikes!

Pastor Marshall



PRESIDENT'S REPORT....by Earl Nelson

Saint Nicholas was very generous this year.  Larraine King and her helpers put on a remarkably smooth event, and the West Seattle Food Bank, the Helpline, and all the people these charities serve, are the beneficiaries.  Larraine will compile a report when she can catch her breath but the early indications are that this year’s event brought in more than any other year to date!

     Some of the extra proceeds will go to a new “Backpack” project sponsored by the Food Bank.  Students who qualify for free lunches at school can take food home for the weekend in backpacks.  Every year the proceeds from this event are divided between the Food Bank and the Helpline.

     Matthew, Dana, Samantha, and Max Kahn presided in the kitchen, providing delicious appetizers.  Rollie Storbakken and Bridget Sagmoen helped with the hot spiced cider and wine.  Richard Marshall was again present with his prize-winning wines from one of the Northwest’s best wineries, Maryhill.  The gift baskets featured Seahawks and Mariners memorabilia, fine food items, gift cards, gardening implements, kitchenware and a variety of other gift ideas.  My wife Carol and I just happened to get some baby books (with the thick, chewable pages) in the hope of soon becoming grandparents (we did). 

     One of the hardest and most nerve-wracking parts of the St. Nicholas Faire is the distribution of the gift baskets to the auction winners.  From my point of view, this year went exceptionally well.  Larraine made a number of changes to the process that gave each volunteer a clear and relatively limited responsibility. While Teri Korsmo, Janice Lundbeck, Andy and Larraine were handling the accounting side of things, Gina Allen, Janine Douglass and Taylor Smith were doing something like the employees in the Amazon warehouses: using a “pick-list” to get all the gift baskets belonging to each winner.  They were very busy.  Larraine’s daughter Elizabeth and son David, as in previous years, were everywhere lending a hand.  All these things seemed like a heavy responsibility to me and we should thank these volunteers for their hard work in a charitable cause.  Several others of us were involved as “Santa’s helpers.” I’m sure I have omitted someone, and I apologize.  I am simply going from memory. 

     Finally thanks to all those who purchased items!  The buyers were the last, but most important of St. Nicholas’ helpers last Sunday night.  May we be mindful this Christmas season and always of the words of the Psalms: “May the hope of the poor not be taken away (9:18, 72:4).”


Stewardship 2015


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

Budget                            $19,296                          $223,170

Received                         $21,367                          $220,522




Tithes, Offerings and Gifts


After the highlights of the Christmas season, it’s the new year, 2016, and time to settle in and think about the year to come. As we do so, it’s also a moment to think about our support of the church. As members of the congregation, we pledge to support it with “our gifts, our offerings and our tithes,” but what do we mean when we say this?


I think of our tithes as our pledge card giving. These planned gifts form the basis of the church’s budget for the year. The budget lays out the ministries and programs of the congregation, as well as the care of this very special building. When we fall short of our pledges, the budget falls short and maintenance get delayed and projects get put on hold. Let’s all try to meet our pledges throughout 2016.


When considering our offerings, I think of these as less-planned giving. These “offerings” support specific projects: the Agape fund, Altar Flowers, the W. S. Food Bank and Helpline, and the Compass Center, Compass Housing Alliance. We have opportunities throughout the year to provide special support to the ministries of our church. I hope we can all find something we will enjoy supporting and find a way to give generously.


What about your “gifts”? You have talents and skills that can contribute to the life of our congregation. Have you been sharing them? We have a wonderful staff here at First Lutheran Church but it takes a lot of volunteers to make the congregation hum. Have you found a way to help out? This, too, is supporting the church.


I am so thankful for the many people who have chosen to serve First Lutheran Church, both on the staff and as volunteers here. We serve as we are able, of course, but I hope that in the new year, we can all find a new opportunity to share our gifts of time and service with our brothers and sisters in Christ.



─Carol Nelson, Church Council



What a wonderful time was had by everyone who attended and helped make this event such a big success!  We raised over $8,000 for the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline, and collected over 240 pounds of food, filling many shopping carts.  Way to go!  Plus we had a fabulous time in the process. We think that over 100 people attended, many of whom were not members of First Lutheran Church. 

     The event would not have been a success without the many helpers and contributors.  Thanks to the decorating expertise of Liz Olsen and Larraine King with their helpers, Justin and Andy, the parish hall was transformed into a sparkling fairyland of lights.  It was a sight to behold.  The kitchen helpers who worked, were indispensable.  Thank you to Bridget Sagmoen and Rollie Storbakken for their help in the kitchen before and during the event. And a special THANK YOU to Dana and Matthew Kahn, for donating, preparing, and serving such a sumptuous feast! 

     Thank you to David King for managing the “Wine Toss” game.  A special thank you to Richard Marshall and Maryhill Winery for providing the wines to taste.    Thanks to Pastor Marshall for adding commentary for the Silent Auction and helping with the wine orders.  Jane Harty put together the bid information for the Silent Auction forms.  Thank you for taking on that job.  Teri Korsmo, Andy King, and Janice Lundbeck served as cashiers; not an easy job, so we are extremely appreciative of your hard work – that goes on until all the dollars have been collected.  

     Finally, thanks to everyone who donated items from the sign-up sheets – Matthew and Dana Kahn, Bob and Connie Baker, Rollie Storbakken, Liz Olsen, Larraine King, Phil and Natalie Nesvig, Kari and Alex Ceaicovschi, Sonja Clemente, Gina Allen, and Bridget and Jeff Sagmoen for donating wine, beer and/or cider for the “Ring Toss” prizes.  Our table closers this year, did an awesome job.  Thanks to Carol and Earl Nelson, Liz and Justin Olsen, Jane Harty, and Kathrine Young.  Gina Allen, Janine Douglass, and Taylor Smith did a super fantastic job of manning the storage and distribution of baskets to the winners.  Plus we had some great bakers who prepared dessert for us – Kari Ceaicovschi, Jim Coile, Carol Nelson, Maxine Foss, Sonja Clemente, Connie Baker, and Gina Allen.  They were delicious!

     Plus a huge “THANK YOU” to everyone who participated in the “Christmas in July and August” ornament donations for the gift baskets.  Without your contributions we would have very little to sell!

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

─Larraine King



By Pastor Marshall

In September 1998 I began an eight week Sunday morning class on Aesop’s (d. 564 BC) fables – using the new paperback collection of over 350 of his fables, Aesop: The Complete Tales trans. Olivia & Robert Temple (Oxford, 1998). I did this because Luther thought that “next to the Bible” (Luther’s Works 54:211), Aesop’s fables were the best.

        Now a new study has come out by Carl P. E. Springer, Luther’s Aesop (Kirkville, Missouri: Truman State University Press, 2011), which analyzes these fables in light of Luther’s many comments on them. According to Springer (pp. 38, 44, 51, 52, 54, 55, 70, 124–28), Luther’s favorite one was “The Dog Who Carried the Meat” (Temple, p. 137):

       A dog was crossing a river holding a piece of meat in his mouth. Catching sight of his reflection in the water, he believed that it was another dog who was holding a bigger piece of meat. So, dropping his own piece, he leaped into the water to take the piece from the other dog. But the result was that he ended up with neither piece – one didn’t even exist and the other was swept away by the current.  

       Luther liked this fable because it “compares faith to the meat in the dog’s mouth, while likening reliance on good works to the meat’s reflection in the water.” Furthermore, it’s “most general application… in positive terms [is] the importance of contentment.” If contentment [Philippians 4:11] is rejected, then arrogance takes over, and what you first had is lost (Springer, pp. 124, 126, 128). Not bad advice [see Luther’s Works 21:320].



Einstein’s Discovery


Revealing Mistakes at His Centennial


By Pastor Marshall


Albert Einstein (1879-1955) caused a revolution in thought when he discovered relativity. According to Hans C. Ohanian’s book, Einstein’s Mistakes: The Humans Failings of Genius (2008), “relativity asserts that uniform, un-accelerated motion is always relative” (p. 16). The theories Einstein invented for relativity, built upon the work of Galileo, Newton, Maxwell and Lorentz (pp. 37, 85). But in formulating those theories, the little known fact is that he made “so many mistakes” that it’s “hard to keep track of them.” Even so they did not prevent him from “making his groundbreaking discoveries.” “In fact, many of Einstein’s mistakes were amazingly fruitful – they played a seminal role in leading Einstein to his revolutionary theories” (pp. 330–31).

       Therefore the 1979 bronze sculpture of Einstein as a gigantic child by Robert Berks, “captures the essence of Einstein. Because a genius has much in common with a child. The genius – like a child – has a rebellious, questioning attitude and also an uncanny ability to look at things from a fresh perspective to achieve unexpected insights…. And, of course, children make mistakes” (p. 338).

       Could it be that Einstein, then, helps us better understand the words of Jesus that the kingdom of heaven belongs to children (Matthew 19:14) – especially given that Ohanian thinks Einstein's relativism doesn’t extend into theology (p. 300)?



OUR MANY THANKS! to Larraine King and family for all of the work they did to organize and put on the St. Nicholas Faire!  This year it was a remarkable event bringing in over eight thousand dollars for the West Seattle Food Bank and West Seattle Helpline.


January Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, January 23rd


The book for January is Jesus Wars: How Four Patriarchs, Three Queens, and Two Emperors Decided What Christians Would Believe for the Next 1,500 Years (2011), by the pre-eminent church historian, Philip Jenkins. This book is about how Christian doctrine was settled – which was more by political force than by rational argument and Biblical evidences (p. xiv). Jenkins does not find this lamentable. Therefore he concludes: “A religion that is not constantly spawning alternatives and heresies has ceased to think and has achieved only the peace of the grave” (p. 278).

     A copy of this important book on Christian doctrine is in the library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss how the early formative years of the church shaped the church today.



OFFERING ENVELOPES for 2016 are now available on the office window counter. 

2016 FLOWER CHART is available for sign up.  Sign up early for the best selection!

FOOD BANK COLLECTION suggested donation for January is pasta, noodles and sauces.  Any non-perishable foods are good.

ANNUAL REPORT for 2015:  Staff, officer and committee reports are now due.  If you have not already submitted your report please get it in to the office as soon as possible.  Copies of last year’s minuets will be sent via email to the committee chairs.

SUNDAY ADULT EDUCATION:  Being Governed – Luther on Secular Rulers, in this short, four week class, we will study from Luther’s sermons on First Peter from 1523 having to do with secular government (Luther's Works 30:72-81).  This class is the twelfth in our series of studies on the Reformation, leading up to its 500th anniversary in 2017.

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.

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next Koran Class starts on Thursday, January 7th.  Call the office if you plan to attend.  Also, on Saturday, January 9th a one day Koran Class will be held at Our Saviors Lutheran Church in Issaquah.  Pastor Marshall has been teaching this four week class four times a year, or more, since 2003.

Thank You to those who brought in Christmas gift items for Compass Housing Alliance.  This year Pastor Marshall was able to deliver to the Compass Center: six sweat shirts, two hats, 14 pair men’s socks, 6 gift cards for McDonalds and six for Safeway, and over 100 personal size toiletries.


Genesis 11.4

Monthly Home Bible Study, January 2016, Number 275

The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall


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


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


Week I. Read Genesis 11.4 noting the word build. Why did all of the people after the flood want to build a city with a huge tower? On this read the same verse noting the word heaven. Does this word connote more than height? On this read Genesis 28.12-22 noting the two uses of the word heaven and the many uses of the word God as well as the words bless and give. What does this suggest? Is this tower like a temple that manages access to God and his blessings? On this read 1 Kings 8.22-30 noting the words confirmed and hearken. If so, why is this control of God sought after? On this read Genesis 9.8-17 noting the words covenant, never, destroy and remember. Was it that the descendants of Noah didn’t trust God to keep his promise and so they had to find ways to confine him to his promises? Are there any signs of such rebellion? On this read Genesis 9.22 noting the words saw and told. Is Ham being cautious or disrespectful? On this read Genesis 9.23-27 noting the words backward, covered, cursed and slave. Do these verses show that Ham is the source of the evil generated after the Flood?


Week II. Read again Genesis 11.4 noting the phrase let us make a name for ourselves. How could building a city with a huge tower do this? On this read Deuteronomy 8.17 noting the words beware, heart, my and power. Is this the way it goes with all buildings and cities? On this read Genesis 6.13-22 noting the words make, ark, come, bring, take, did, God and commanded. So when we build according to God’s command – as in the case of Noah building the ark – there’s no problem. So how did things go awry in the case of the city of Babel? On this read Genesis 10.6-20 noting the words Ham, Nimrod, his, kingdom, Babel, Shinar, Canaanites and Sodom. Note also in Genesis 9.25 that the curse on Ham extends to his son Canaan. So Babel is built poorly because of the curse of Ham. And remember that Babel, according to Genesis 11.2, is in the land of Shinar where Ham’s descendants settled. So do you see the line of corruption extending down from the aftermath of the Flood on into the building of the tower of Babel years later? Does this illustrate the term fourth generation in Exodus 20.5? What do you think?


Week III. Reread Genesis 11.4 noting the word scattered. What’s wrong with being scattered? On this read Genesis 10.32-11.2 noting the word nations, spread, one, language and migrated. Here we see a migration that consolidates all people under one language and culture into what Genesis 11.6 calls one people. Why isn’t this togetherness good? On this read Genesis 11.6 noting the line nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. What’s wrong with this omnipotence? Surely it would be valuable for getting things done! On this read Genesis 18.14 noting the rhetorical question Is anything too hard for the Lord? Does this mean that omnipotence – being able to do any and all things – is reserved for God alone? On this read Psalm 62.11 noting the line power belongs to God. Note also the long list (some 40 things) that we cannot do in Job 38.4-39.30. Remember also the mighty Elijah sulking in a cave in 1 Kings 19.14 for fear of loneliness. No wonder James 4.14 says that we are but a mist. Do you agree?


Week IV. Read Genesis 11.4 one last time noting the word scattered. How is this a punishment for their rebellion? Wouldn’t you think the city and its tower should have been destroyed instead – as in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19.24–25? On this read Numbers 21.4-9 noting the words take and make. Notice here how God deals indirectly with the problem of death: he doesn’t eliminate the poisonous snakes but rather provides a way to survive the deadly snake bites. On this read Genesis 11.8 noting the line and they left off building the city. So did it work? On this read Hosea 8.4 noting the line but not through me. Does this mean Israel went about building kingdoms and cities contrary to God’s dictates? On this read Ezekiel 2.3 noting the words Israel, nation, rebelled and transgressed. Why did God allow this? So how was Babel punished?


The Epiphany

of Our Lord

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Feast of the Epiphany of our Lord will be celebrated at 11:45 am

in the chapel with Holy Eucharist. 

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

The Baptism

of Our Lord

 First Sunday After the Epiphany

The Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord will be celebrated

Sunday, January 10, 2016.

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).




Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Nancy, Sam, Kevin and Kim Lawson, David, Eileen and Michael Nestoss, Leah Baker, Kyra Stromberg, Cynthia Natiello, Peggy & Bill Wright, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Matt Anderson, Cameron Lim, Angel Lynn, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha Anderson, The PLU Faculty, Yvonne Rainey, Celia Balderston, Renann Taylor, Mike Harty, Jack Feichtner, Shirley Eaton, David Gehring, Asha Sagmoen, Dean Cheney, Stephanie Hoikka, Brayton Decker, Mark Mosley, Kevin James, Pete Spaulding, Nancy Wilson and the great migration from the Near East into Europe. 

     Pray for the new born that they grow in the strength of the Lord:  Elias John Tutuska, grandson to Earl & Carol Nelson.

     Pray for the new members that they may all the more rejoice in Christ and serve him with diligence:  Pray for Joy Gong.

     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 Marshall family on the death of Sandee Marshall, Rich Marshall’s wife.

     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 & 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 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


Dear Lord our God, multiply and magnify the carols and prayers of thanksgiving I’ve been offering these days of Christmas. May the purpose and sincerity of my heart’s adoration not die out when the bells no longer ring. May the child of Bethlehem be truly born in me today. Capture my life afresh for him so that he may rule over me with truth and grace. Make me more eager during this holy season to reach others with this wondrous story of him who is now the King of Glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., I:129, altered]