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
May these twelve days of Christmas be so venturous for us
who bear the name of Christ.
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.
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
Year to date (Jan-November)
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
ST. NICHOLAS FAIRE “THANK YOU!!!!”
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
The event would not have been a success without the many helpers
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
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
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
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.
Luther Bible of 1534 (complete facsimile
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
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
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
to Larraine King, her family and the many volunteers for all of
the work they did to organize and put on the
Once again an outstanding event, bringing in over eight thousand
dollars for the West Seattle Food Bank and Helpline.
“Thank you for this wonderful book which I have enjoyed
reading to my inestimable benefit.
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
(via email, December 10, 2016)
Dr. Carl E. Braaten, Professor of Systematic Theology
at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago from
and co-founder of two theological journals,
(1962) and Pro
With the Mind:
Readings in Contemporary Theology
3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, February 11th
The book for January is
From Here to eternity by Prue Shaw (2015). This book
is an “unorthodox” introduction to
The Divine Comedy
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”
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
FOOD BANK COLLECTION
suggested donation for January is pasta, noodles and sauces, but
any non-perishable foods are fine.
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!
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Monthly Home Bible Study,
January 2017, Number 287
The Reverend Ronald F. Marshall
with our other regular study of Scripture, let us join as a
congregation in this home study. We will
study alone then talk
informally about the assigned verses together as we have
opportunity. In this way we can "gather
together around the
Word" even though physically we will not be getting together
(Acts 13.44). (This study uses the RSV translation.)
We need to support each other in this
difficult project. In 1851 Kierkegaard wrote that the Bible is
"an extremely dangerous book.... [because] it is an imperious
book... – it takes the whole man and may suddenly and radically
change... life on a prodigious scale" (For
Self-Examination). And in 1967 Thomas Merton wrote that "we
all instinctively know that it is dangerous to become involved
in the Bible" (Opening
the Bible). Indeed this word "kills" us (Hosea 6.5) because
we are "a rebellious people" (Isaiah 30.9)! As Lutherans,
however, we are still to "abide in the womb of the Word" (Luther's
Works 17.93) by constantly "ruminating on the Word" (LW
30.219) so that we may "become like the Word" (LW
29.155) by thinking "in the way Scripture does" (LW
25.261). Before you study, then, pray: "Blessed Lord, who caused
all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so
to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that
we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of
everlasting life, which you have given us in Our Savior Jesus
Christ. Amen" (quoted in R. F. Marshall,
Making A New World: How
Lutherans Read the Bible, 2003, p. 12). And don’t give up,
for as Luther said, we “have in Scripture enough to study for
all eternity” (LW
Read Isaiah 9.13 noting the word
smote. Who is doing
this smiting? On this read Isaiah 9.13 again noting the words
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
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
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
justice (3.15, 5.23),
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.
Read again Isaiah 9.13 noting the same word
smote. How will God
do this? On this read Isaiah 4.4 noting the words
burning. Read also
Isaiah 3.18–26 noting the words
sword (8.7) and
ravaged, and Isaiah
3.1–5 noting the words
(13), oppress and
insolent. Read as
well Isaiah 5.5–6 noting the words
rain, Isaiah 5.25 and
its words mountain
and quaked, as well
as Isaiah 6.10 noting the words
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?
Reread Isaiah 9.13 noting the word
seek. How is that
done? On this read Isaiah 8.13 noting the words
dread. What is that
like? On this read Isaiah 57.11 noting the words
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
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
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?
Read Isaiah 9.13 one last time noting the words
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
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?
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
Only Matthew's Gospel remembers this event.
Celebrate the magi's coming to worship and bring gifts to
the Christ child.
of Our Lord
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."
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
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
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,
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.
All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols.,