January 2017


A Christmas Venture


Staking Your Life on Jesus


The long-awaited Messiah has come, born in Bethlehem thousands of years ago, and with us still in the Biblical Word and the Church’s sacraments.

         But what shall we make of this? Luther worried that our faith in him would get stuck in our heads. “Nobody ventures upon it, so as to stake goods, life, and honor upon it.” Stuck in our heads we remain the same as before – conformed to the old ways of this wretched world (Romans 12:2; 1 John 5:19). Luther goes on to say in this same Christmas sermon from 1530, that if we were to stake our lives on Christ, we would go on to venture that in comparison to him everything – money, goods, power, and honor – “fades into darkness,… so that heaven with its stars and earth with all its power and all its treasures” is as nothing to us (Luther’s Works 51:212–14). Then we would be free to love God with all our might and take care of our neighbors (Matthew 22:37–39).

     May these twelve days of Christmas be so venturous for us who bear the name of Christ.

                                                                     -Pastor Marshall


PRESIDENT'S REPORT....by Earl Nelson

 Here I am writing about the meaning of Christmas, a notorious cliché.  Will you indulge me?

     Two days ago we decorated the Nave.  The tree is up and angels hang magically in the air.  Well, not magically.  Actually it is done with fishing line, and we try to keep to a minimum the tape holding the angels to the horizontal line, to keep it as nearly magical as we can.  The hardest part is attaching the lines high in the Nave.  It takes at least three of our strongest dudes to work a dangerously tall ladder into place between the pews, angled first one way then the other.  I said "dudes" so maybe you think I meant men but I've heard young women call each other dudes when they do something strong, so you don't know.  I was not a dude myself this time.  I was quietly saying prayers for the ladder operations while hanging lights on the tree.  So maybe faith was involved, if not magic.  Think of helping next year.  Some tasks involve strength and coordination but others involve manual dexterity with scissors and knots.  There is something for everyone.

     The Saint Nicholas Faire was another smashing success.  Attendance was strong.  The proceeds were the largest ever.  The organizer and implementer in chief, Larraine King, made adjustments to the event process that made it all go more smoothly than I can remember, at least from my point of view as a mere helper.  There are a lot of planning decisions to be made, there’s a lot of work to assemble items, and place and label the items according to the master plan, set up tables, etc., that all take place before I show up on the event night with my Santa hat.  These all take real time, effort, experience, and forethought.  The vast majority of that is thanks to Larraine, but much also goes to her husband Andy and daughter Elizabeth Olsen.  Thank you Larraine, Andy and Elizabeth!  Thanks also to Rich Marshall for the Maryhill Winery presence, and to Santa's helpers.

     I have not forgotten the Kahn family and the wonderful food they cooked and served.  The theme of the menu was German and there were many dishes: salads and things involving sauerkraut, two roast meats and a sampler of sausages, a vegetable garnish with potatoes and asparagus that I thought was memorable, and desserts.  I also remember the sandbakkels.  This is professional-level catering with a loving touch.  Thank you Matthew, Dana, Max, Samantha, and all who helped with the food and hot drinks in the kitchen. 

     Now what was I going to say about the meaning of Christmas?  Simply that between the lessons of Advent, diligently read by Dean, Pastor's weighty and comprehensive sermons on Law and Gospel, the beautiful and faithful music from Dean, Andy and the Choir, and the fellowship of the Congregation, if I am missing anything, then it must be my own fault.  I am very grateful for our small but over-achieving Lutheran church in West Seattle.                                  

Larraine King & Elizabeth Olsen

Stewardship 2016


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

Budget                            $19,321                          $223,473

Received                         $18,269                          $224,528


Supporting Our Church in the New Year


January!  The first month of a new year, 2017.  2016 is over and we face the challenges and delights of the year to come.  I wanted to mention briefly two things that are part of starting the new year off right.  One is simple but symbolic and the other is more thoughtful.

     The first is the ritual of changing out the calendars and date books on the first of a new year.  The 2016 calendar comes down from the wall, (if the artwork is good, the old calendar may get tucked away in the closet) and the 2017 calendar gets hung up in its place.  And we start afresh:  marking the birthdays and family events, noting school holidays and vacation plans.  As the days and months go by, our family calendar in the kitchen gets loaded up with reminders and sticky notes, as we try to “keep everyone on the same page” and stay organized.

     The second part of starting a new year is the tradition of making resolutions.  Many of us resolve to give up bad habits and begin good ones as we start the new year with a clean slate.  This is the year I will.... lose those 10 pounds.... eat more vegetables... learn how to calculate rocket trajectories on my smartphone...

     There is one resolution that I hope we will all make and that is to do our own personal reviews of our support of our church.  Do we worship weekly whenever possible?  Do we support the church with our tithe, time and talents?  January is a good time to review the pledges that we made last fall.  What did we pledge?  Can we meet the pledge and a little bit more?  A lot more?  Are we supporting the mission of our church to spread the good news of God’s mercy and help for our neighbor?  Are we supporting the church by giving of our time as a volunteer as we are able?  Are we enriching our own walk of faith by participating in the many opportunities for adult education that are available?  Classes are listed in the bulletin each week and the church’s calendar is compiled and published here in The Messenger every month.

     So I’m reviewing my pledge and going back to my new 2017 calendar to write in upcoming events at church.  Won’t you join me?


─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 199 pounds of food, filling many shopping carts.  Way to go!  Plus we had a fabulous time in the process. Over 80 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 the King family, 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 Lynn Hopson and Peter Douglass for their help in the kitchen before, during and after the event. And a special THANK YOU to Dana and Matthew Kahn, and their super assistants, Samantha and Max, for donating, preparing, and serving such a sumptuous feast!  Feedback from those in attendance said it was that it was the best spread yet!!!

     Thank you to Liz Olsen, David King, and Steven Liang for managing the “Ring 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 during the Silent Auction, announcing the drawing winners, and helping with the wine orders.  Jane Harty prepared the bid sheets for the Silent Auction.  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.  Thanks to 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: Bob and Connie Baker, Kathrine Young, Larraine King, Phil and Natalie Nesvig, Sonja Clemente, Gina Allen, and Bridget and Jeff Sagmoen, for wine and cider. Our table closers this year did an awesome job.  Thank you to Carol and Earl Nelson, Liz Olsen, Jane Harty, Gina Allen, Lily Allen, Scott Schorn, and Kathrine Young.  Janine Douglass, and Taylor Smith did a super fantastic joy of manning the storage of auction items, and distribution of the baskets to the winners.  Plus we had some great bakers who prepared dessert for us – Maxine Foss, Connie Baker, Wendy Gehring, Valerie Schorn, Rollie Storbakken, Teri Korsmo, and Gina Allen.  The desserts were delicious and extremely popular!

     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 had 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


From The Luther Bible of 1534 (complete facsimile edition).

The Reformation at 500


Luther as an American Hero


By Pastor Marshall


In each issue of The Messenger this year, we will hear about what makes the Reformation so great. This month we begin with Hartmut Lehmann, Martin Luther in the American Imagination (München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1988) p. 303:


As a man who had fought his own battle with the pope, Luther was pointed to in 19th century America as the example of a courageous man standing up against the dangers of Catholicism; as a man who had labored endlessly for his cause, but who was at the same time closely attached to his family, Luther was portrayed as the ideal Protestant minister maintaining his “inner world” intact while he changed the “outer world.” As a translator of the Bible, Luther appeared to be a man of letters whose source, so to speak, was in God’s word; and as a writer of many works and hymns, Luther set afire romantic authors looking to the past for examples which they could follow. Having fought the institutions of his time, Luther appealed to American individualism; and as a Saxon he seemed to stand in the best tradition of American liberty. The decades after the Civil War, when many American Protestants believed that they were close to achieving their aim of building a truly Christian America, were also the years when many of them incorporated Luther into their national history. As they saw the past, that part of the European drama of history in which Luther had played the leading role seemed to fit perfectly into the drama which unfolded the American past.

This positive view of Luther changed later in America – when we started looking for more home-grown heroes. But what happened at first is still well worth remembering now.


 Our sincere thanks to Larraine King, her family and the many volunteers for all of the work they did to organize and put on the   St. Nicholas Faire!    Once again an outstanding event, bringing in over eight thousand dollars for the West Seattle Food Bank and Helpline.



Pastor Marshall’s

New Book


“Thank you for this wonderful book which I have enjoyed reading to my inestimable benefit. Kierkegaard in the Pulpit: Sermons Inspired by His Writings (Yakima, Washington: Cave Moon Press, 2016) is surely the only one of its kind. I can think of no other like it of the same genre. I enjoyed reading every part of it – especially the section on Daphne Hampson. Thank you so much!”

(via email, December 10, 2016)


Dr. Carl E. Braaten, Professor of Systematic Theology

at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago from 1961–91,

and co-founder of two theological journals,

Dialog (1962) and Pro Ecclesia (1991).


January Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, February 11th


The book for January is Reading Dante: From Here to eternity by Prue Shaw (2015). This book is an “unorthodox” introduction to The Divine Comedy or Commedia by Dante (1265–1321). It is arranged thematically rather than chronologically. This long poem “tells the story of a journey to the afterlife [which] can also be seen as the story of a profound  psychological crisis – and how that crisis was resolved” (p. 3). It is because of this second way to read it that it is a classic still of interest today – many hundreds of years after it was originally published in Italy. Another attractive feature of this book is that its author, Dante, is both a “good Catholic” and an “independent thinker” (p. 2) – attacking corrupt churchmen “with striking directness” (p. xv).
    A copy of this book on Dante’s classic 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 and why Dante lives on even among us today.


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

OFFERING ENVELOPES for 2017 are now available on the office window counter. 

2017 FLOWER CHART is available for sign up.  Sign up early for the best selection!

ANNUAL REPORT for 2016:  Staff, officer and committee reports are now due. 

SUNDAY ADULT EDUCATION:  Close to the End – Luther’s Last Printed Sermon In this short, four week class, we will study Luther’s February 15, 1546 sermon from Eisleben. This class is the sixteenth in our series of studies on the Reformation.

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next Koran Class starts on Thursday, January 5th.  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 98 in 2016.  Also our THANKS to Ted Foss, David Juhl, Larraine & Andy King, Pastor Marshall & Jane Harty, Dana Morrison, Carol & Earl Nelson, Natalie & Phil Nesvig, Scott Schorn, Kathrine Young & Stephen McCord for helping decorate the church.  And Thanks to those who brought in Christmas gift items for Compass Housing Alliance.  This year Pastor Marshall was able to deliver one sweat shirt, two hats, six packs of socks, four $15 and ten $5 gift cards for fast food restaurants, eight $10 gift cards to Safeway, and 95 personal size toiletries, to the Compass Center downtown.




What Newfangled Rubbish!


Christmas Gone Awry


By Pastor Marshall


Even Martin Luther saw nonsense going on in church at Christmas time (Luther’s Works 76:386). He called it “newfangled rubbish” (LW 44:276). Here is an example of it this year from a local Lutheran congregation, worried over getting people to church on Christmas Day:


To make it festive we have a few fun things planned: (a) feel free to come in your pajamas; (b) kids – bring a toy or present that you received for Christmas as we’ll be having a special “toy blessing” during the service, and (c) we’ll have some yummy treats and beverages for you to enjoy – perhaps even during worship!


     Is that blessing to keep the toys from breaking when thrown around? Kyrie eleison christe eleison!


Isaiah 9.13

Monthly Home Bible Study, January 2017, Number 287

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 Isaiah 9.13 noting the word smote. Who is doing this smiting? On this read Isaiah 9.13 again noting the words nor and Lord. Note also the lines the Lord will smite with a scab the heads… and lay bare their secret parts in Isaiah 3.17, and through the wrath of the Lord of hosts the land is burned in Isaiah 9.19. So it’s the Lord God of Israel who is doing the attacking. And who is he attacking? On this read Isaiah 9.8–12 noting the words Jacob, Israel (twice) and Ephraim. Note also the line the Lord… stands to judge his people in Isaiah 3.13. So it’s his own chosen ones that he is attacking. Why is that? On this read Isaiah 1.2 noting the words sons and rebelled. Note also the seven words sinful, iniquity, evildoers, corruptly, forsaken, despised and estranged all in the one verse, Isaiah 1.4! Now what specifically is this all about? On this read Isaiah 1.17 noting the words good (5.24), justice (3.15, 5.23), fatherless and widow (1.23). Note also the word war in Isaiah 2.4, the word idols in Isaiah 2.8 (2.20, 8.19), and the word pride (proud, lofty) in Isaiah 2.11–12 (17). And regarding idolatry,

note the line defying his glorious presence in Isaiah 3.8. These, then, are Israel’s specific violations. Does this smiting seem to have any warrant to you? Why or why not? If yes, do you think our time resembles theirs? Explain your answer.


Week II. Read again Isaiah 9.13 noting the same word smote. How will God do this? On this read Isaiah 4.4 noting the words judgment and burning. Read also Isaiah 3.18–26 noting the words finery, rottenness, baldness, shame, sword (8.7) and ravaged, and Isaiah 3.1–5 noting the words bread, water (13), oppress and insolent. Read as well Isaiah 5.5–6 noting the words devoured, trampled, waste and rain, Isaiah 5.25 and its words mountain and quaked, as well as Isaiah 6.10 noting the words fat, heavy and shut. Added to this is the line the stone of offense in Isaiah 8.14. Does this seem to be over-kill to you? Why doesn’t God in Isaiah think so? On this read Isaiah 1.6 noting the words foot and head. Does this verse justify the extreme measures God is taking in smiting his people? If so, how so?


Week III. Reread Isaiah 9.13 noting the word seek. How is that done? On this read Isaiah 8.13 noting the words Lord, holy, fear and dread. What is that like? On this read Isaiah 57.11 noting the words dread, lied, remember, held and peace. On this shifting of dread from some other one or idol back to the true Lord God , read Isaiah 57.13 noting the words deliver, carry and but. Why is this testing important? On this read 1 Kings 18.21 noting the word limping, and 18.37 noting the line turned their hearts back. And read also Isaiah 57.15 noting the words contrite and humble. Why is this broken attitude so important for this returning? On this read Psalm 51.17 noting the word God and despise. So there will be no restoration for us if God doesn’t quit despising us and that takes us to be contrite. And finally read Isaiah 57.18 noting the words but and heal. Why does God make the first move away from his wrath? On this read Isaiah 65.1–5 noting the words ready and sought. Why is God in Isaiah 65.2 ready to spread out his hands all the day to a rebellious people? On this read Isaiah 63.7 noting the line the abundance of his steadfast love. Does that explain it? If so, is it a clear enough path to restoration – testing, contrition and God’s healing hand? If so, why do you think that?


Week IV. Read Isaiah 9.13 one last time noting the words not and nor. So why did God’s people give up on him? On this read again Isaiah 9.13 noting the word smote. Why did that push them away? On this read Isaiah 45.15 noting the words God and hidest. So when God smites us we can’t see his love. Is that it? On this read Habbakkuk 1.5 noting the line you would not believe if told. Why is that? On this read 2 Corinthians 12.9 noting the line my power is made perfect in weakness. So it is this disguised positive (strength) that pushes us away. How then can we overcome this? Hear again Isaiah 63.7 in light of Luke 11.28. Do you agree?



The Epiphany

of Our Lord

On Friday, January 6, 2017

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

Sunday, January 8, 2017.

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.

Marlis Ormiston, Ken Sund, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Evelyn Coy, Eileen Nestoss, Tabitha Anderson, Leah Baker, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Celia Balderston, The PLU Music Faculty, Mike Harty, Heidi Anderson, Jordan Corbin, Jim Moe, Matt Anderson, Sheila Feichtner, Linda Anderson, Dorothy Chase, Margeen & Chris Boyer, Linda Hagen, Iris Hansen Tate, Doug Rozmyn, Nell & Paul Sponheim, Susan Armbrewster, Stan & Doreen Phillips, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Keith Krebs, Laura Coy, John Matthiesen, those infants and families affected by the Zika virus, the great migration from the Near East into Europe and other parts of the world. 

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy: Florence Jenkins, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Elmer & June Wittman, 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


Emmanuel, Lord Jesus Christ and Son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thank you for having compassion on my sinful flesh. You have come from the Father’s Throne into this misery below, taking on yourself my flesh and blood that I might be saved. By becoming my gateway into heaven, you have given me great joy. Help me never to forget your condescension, your poverty and distress. Lift my heart and unloose my tongue that I may ever praise and thank you. In your name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., III:157, altered]