January 2018


Afraid at Christmas


When the magi announced that a new King of the Jews had just been born, all of Jerusalem was afraid (Matthew 2:3). Why weren’t they instead happy that the long awaited messiah had finally come? In Luther’s sermon on this day he says they were troubled because they worried that it would “cost them too much blood to have a new king. Before this they had opposed the Romans and Herod, to their own great misery, and they were just like the people of Israel in Egypt, who, when Moses was to lead them out and they were oppressed more than before, murmured against Moses (Exodus 5:20–21). This was a sign of their weak faith, just as this fright of Jerusalem indicates unbelief, that is, that they looked more to human power than to divine power” (Luther’s Works 76:81).

      So does Christmas scare you too? Have you counted the cost of being a Christian (Luke 14:28) – following Christ and obeying his Word – and thrown in the towel? If so, reconsider. Remember that no one else has the words of eternal life (John 6:68). Come before Christ during the days of Christmas and implore him: “Increase” my faith (Luke 17:5).


Pastor Marshall



Dear Reader,

         In case you are there, I am writing to you once again. Every few months you mention to me that in fact you actually do read what I write to you.

         So, if you are there this month, dear Reader, I will assume that you are reading this because you care about the mission and ministry of our congregation.

         This article is written after the December Congregation Council meeting which ran longer than usual because we compared and discussed three different possible budgets to present at the January 28th Annual Meeting to guide our spending for 2018.

         There were desirable aspects about each proposal. The main drawback however, is that, in spite of not covering all the anticipated expenses, each proposal seemed unreasonably ambitious given our history of actual giving. Faith, of course, is not reasonable. Yet we are admonished to be responsible stewards.

         So the Budget and Finance Committee was instructed to devise a new proposal in light of our discussion and submit it to the Council January 9th.

         One comment that has been made is that if a seemingly ambitious budget is recommended by the Council and adopted by the congregation on January 28th, and if during the year we find ourselves falling behind, then, upon notification, either a significant increase in giving must take place, or a Special Congregational Meeting will be needed for a congregational decision on how to reduce the budget.

        Committee and Council discussions and recommendations seem to have already reduced or simply cut out what might be regarded as discretionary or surplus spending/padding. Again, if need be, it may take a congregational decision to determine what would need to be eliminated from the budget.
So, dear Reader, encourage others to read this, to pray about these matters, to discuss it with each other (and especially Council members), and to show up at the Annual Meeting January 28th to help us adopt a budget that is responsible and faithful to our Mission and Ministry.


Stewardship 2017


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

Budget                                     $19,684                          $227,664

Received                                  $20,436                          $226,868




A Conversion of Life

 Stewardship is a deeper relationship with Christ, a call to a way of life, for some a conversion of life.  As the understanding of stewardship deepens it becomes a primary value freely chosen about what we do with our time, talents and treasure.

     In volunteering there is a sense of accomplishment and with the fall schedule approaching soon there will be several ways to get more involved within the church.  There is the church council, church school teachers, Bible study classes, choir, ushering, Altar Guild, building-grounds maintenance work and much more.  God has given all of us special talents and has intended us to accomplish his earthly work as our mission in this life. 

For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.  Luke 12:34

Evelyn Coy (1927-2017), Church Council Member (from September 2000)


Olaf & Antoinette Olsen


100 Years Ago


Our Parish Centennial


By Pastor Marshall


Our centennial celebration will be on September 23 this year. One hundred years ago our church was formally established on September 25, 1918. That was the culmination of some eight to ten years of meetings, planning and organizing. During those years one of the most important event was the baptism of little Mabel Olsen on October 9, 1912. Her parents, Olaf (1880–1956) and Antoinette (1885–1968), were later to be charter members of our church. This was the first baptism registered among those working on opening our church.

         Since the famous baptisms in the New Testament are all of adults (Jesus, Paul, the Ethiopian eunuch), a case needs to be made for infant baptism. Luther gives three reasons for it. First, baptism creates faith in a child even though they can’t talk about it. Next, reason isn’t needed to create faith in infants or in adults. And third, we have faith when we’re asleep even though we aren’t thinking at the time (Luther’s Works 76:261, 263, 264). All these points underline that faith is a gift just as baptism is. But because baptism begins passively, it doesn’t mean it will end that way. Instead, in our adult years it brings on conflict, collision and suffering (Mark 10:39) (LW 53:102). This comes about by resisting conformity to the world (Romans 12:2). So it takes guts to baptize kids.



Scared Straight


Luther on the

Wrath of God


“We are to consider the great, serious, and terrible wrath of God against sin…. We are to consider that by our sins we have merited and been the cause of this wrath of God, so that God’s Son had to be sacrificed on the cross and had to shed His blood. This should cause us to be frightened in earnest because of our sins, since this cannot be any trifling wrath of God when we hear that no other sacrifice can stand up to this or compensate for sin…. Do you think that you will endure that wrath or that you can remain standing in the face of it, if you do not respect and recognize it?”


[Luther’s Works 77:19 – contra

Lutheran Quarterly (Winter 2017) p. 433.]



Gerhard Forde



Our Biting Gospel

Turning Bad News Into Good


“When I preach, I usually look for the bite, the way the gospel impinges on the hearers, the hard saying, the controversial word, the unsettling word and use it, first as the attack and then turn it around – because it is finally the good news…. So preachers today – even if faith is on the wane – [should] go with the gospel. However, we should consider a proclamation of the gospel that actually out does the law – a gospel with a cutting edge that doesn’t coddle old beings, but goes on the attack to end them, and has the aim of making new beings.”


[Gerhard Forde, “Lutheran Faith and American Freedom” (1992), Lutheran Quarterly (Winter 2017) p. 435.]



January Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, January 27th


The book for January is Taking Pascal’s Wager: Faith, Evidence and the Abundant Life (2016) by Michael Rota, professor of philosophy at University of Saint Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Pascal’s wager is about probabilities and that you should believe in Christ even if you aren’t sure it’s true since there is “much to gain, relatively little to lose” (p. 12). But what if faith is a gift and not something to wager over? Rota responds: “For the person who does not have faith, a careful look at arguments for (and against) Christianity is a natural and reasonable step to take. Examination of evidence can also be worthwhile for the person who does have faith, but has doubts, too” (p. 16).

     A copy of this intriguing book 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 the role of probability in Christian faith.



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

OFFERING ENVELOPES for 2018 are now available on the office window counter. 

2018 FLOWER CHART is available for sign up.  Sign up early for the best selection!

ANNUAL REPORT for 2017:  Staff, officer and committee reports are now due. 

SUNDAY ADULT EDUCATION:  In January the class will be The Law for Christians: Luther’s Newly Translated 1539 Treatise: In this four week class we will study Luther’s treatise, “Disputation on the Three Divine Hierarchies” (1539).

PASTOR MARSHALL’s next Koran Class starts on Thursday, January 4th.  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 99 in 2017.  Also our THANKS to all those who helped with decorating the church. Once again, it looked beautiful!  And Thanks to those who brought in Christmas gift items for Compass Housing Alliance.  This year Pastor Marshall was able to deliver one scarf, six multi-packs of socks, five packs of gloves, two packs of men’s briefs, one pair Converse sport shoes, a puzzle, 14 packs of air activated warmers, and 15 pounds of personal size toiletries, to the Compass Center downtown.



A list is posted in the lounge for a Saturday Kitchen Cleaning party to come in from 9 am to noon.  Please sign up if you would be available on Saturday, January 20th.

(Oh, guys are invited too!)



THANK YOU for supporting the Sunday School students to help raise money for Lutheran World Relief!  Your donations exceeded their goal.  You helped raise $700! The students were excited to choose a variety of items.  With your help, they were able to purchase worms to enrich soil, chickens, fruit trees, cocoa seedlings, farming tools, coffee seeds, cocoa seedlings, a pig, a goat and their favorite of all…

a modern rickshaw!


Many thanks for your donations

 to help those in extreme poverty.


Gina Allen, Church Council



What a wonderful time was had by everyone who attended and helped make this event such a big success!  We raised close to $7,500 for the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline, and collected over six boxes of food, filling many shopping carts (165 lbs. worth!).  Way to go!  Plus we had a fabulous time in the process. Thanks to all of you loyal Faire goers who came and brought friends and family.  Many of our attendees were not members of First Lutheran Church. What a great way to reach out to our community.

     The event would not have been a success without the many helpers and contributors.  The parish hall was transformed into a sparkling fairyland of lights by the King family.  It was a sight to behold. Thanks to Dale and Teri Korsmo for helping with the room set up, security, and suppliers and executors of outstanding and artistic ideas to make the Faire a success. The kitchen helpers were indispensable.  Thank you to Lynn Hopson, Bridget Sagmoen, 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 the fried pickles were a highlight! 

     Thank you to Liz Olsen, David King, and Tim Allen for managing the “Ring Toss” game.  A special thank you to Rich 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.   Teri Korsmo, Andy King, Dale Korsmo, and  Janice Lundbeck served as cashiers; not an easy job, so we are extremely appreciative of their 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 and Steve McCord, Phil and Natalie Nesvig, Sonja Clemente, Gina and Tim Allen, Lynn and Ernie Hopson, Tyler Schorn, Peter Douglass, 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, Scott and Valerie Schorn, and Kathrine Young.  Janine Douglass and Gina Allen did a super fantastic job of manning the storage of auction items, and the distribution of the baskets to the winners.  Plus we had some great bakers who prepared dessert for us – Connie Baker, Wendy Gehring, Valerie Schorn, Kathrine Young, Carol Nelson, Tyler Schorn, 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! It could not have been done without you.

     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. 

─Larraine King


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

$7,500.00 for our local

West Seattle Food Bank and Helpline.    


Romans 2.5

Monthly Home Bible Study, January 2018, Number 299

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 Romans 2.5 noting the line you are storing up wrath for yourself. Why say this? On this read Luke 12.19–20 noting the words ease and fool. Read also Revelation 3.17 noting the phrase not knowing. Read as well 2 Corinthians 4.4 noting the word blinded, and 1 Corinthians 10.12 noting the line take heed lest he fall. All these verses take up recklessness and delusion. How is that best combated? On this read Amos 4.6–12 noting the five uses of the word yet and then the word therefore. Here we see relatively mild chastisements followed by a more severe threat. On that more severe threat – prepare to meet your God – read the details in Hosea 13.4–8 noting the line I will fall on them like a bear robbed of her cubs, I will tear open their breast, and there I will devour them like a lion, as a wild beast would rend them. Read also Ezekiel 5.13–17 noting the phrase with furious chastisements. Is this what is needed to wake us up? On this read Acts 7.51 noting the description stiff-necked. Read also Zechariah 7.11–12 noting the words adamant and therefore. So is it clear why wrath is coming?

Week II. Read again Romans 2.5 noting that same line you are storing up wrath for yourself. Why are we so reckless and foolish? On this read Psalm 10.11 noting the line God… will never see it. Read also Psalm 64.5 noting the question Who can see us? and the similar question in Psalm 73.11 How can God know? and finally the line in Psalm 94.7 The Lord does not see. Why are we so cocky about our privacy? On this read Psalm 139.7–12 noting the words flee and cover. Can we ditch God (fleeing from him) and trick him (hiding from him)? On this read Genesis 3.8–10 noting the words hid and called. How does God’s voice blow their cover? On this read Psalm 29.3–9 noting the words thunder, breaks, fire, shakes and strips. How does this work? On this read Acts 2.37 noting the line cut to the heart. How does God disrupt our consciousness like this? On this read 1 Samuel 16.7 noting the line but the Lord looks on the heart. What can he do because of that? On this read 1 Samuel 7.10 noting the words thundered and confusion. Can God scramble our attention span? On this read about God-induced panic in Joshua 10.10, Judges 8.12, 1 Samuel 5.9–11, and Zechariah 12.4 and 14.13. Do these verses erase any and all reasons for being smug?

Week III. Reread Romans 2.5 noting again that same line you are storing up wrath for yourself. What is this wrath? On this read Numbers 16.31–35 noting the words earth, split and swallowed. Read also Ezekiel 13.13 noting the words deluge and hailstones. Why does God strike us with natural disasters? On this read Genesis 7.19 noting the line the waters prevailed so mightily. So nature’s magnitude is overwhelming to us – which is its built-in intimidation. So David could stand up against a giant man (1 Samuel 17.45) – but hardly against massive floods, hurricanes or great earthquakes! Is there more? On this read Mark 9.48 noting the words worm and fire. This is about hell. On hell read also Revelation 9.5 noting the word torture. What’s terrible about this additional mode of punishment is its length – there’s no end to it. Do you agree this makes it worse?

Week IV. Read Romans 2.5 one last time noting again that line you are storing up wrath for yourself. But what if these threats don’t work? Does that mean they are useless? On this read Ezekiel 2.5 noting the words refuse, rebellious, know and among. Why is this knowledge valuable if it doesn’t change thought and action? On this read John 1.5–11 noting the contrasting phrases not overcome it and received him not. So can the threats be operative even if they don’t accomplish anything? On this read Psalm 62.8–12 noting the words extortion, power and work. Note also the play between the words began and completion in Philippians 1.6. So if the threats don’t work does that mean they might work later? On this read Luke 15.14–17 noting the words spent, want and when. How much time do you think elapses between these verses? Does it matter?



The Epiphany of Our Lord

On Saturday, January 6, 2018

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 7, 2018.

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.

Sam & Kevin Lawson, Kyra Stromberg, Pete Morrison, Mia Schorn, Asha Sagmoen, Melanie Johnson, Marlis Ormiston, Eileen Nestoss, Emma Sagmoen, Celia Balderston, The PLU Lecturers, Tabitha Anderson, Jordan Corbin, Nell & Paul Sponheim, Lee & Lois Snook, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Joanne Brown & Kristie, The Rev. Howard Fosser, Ion & Galina Ceaicovschi, Nathan & Les Arkle, Margaret Douglass, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Elizabeth Banek, Jeanne Pantone, Diana Walker, Jack & Sheila Feichtner, Martin Nygaard, Myra Skubitz, Charles Wilson, Robert Bly, Jennifer Combs, John & Joann Beckman, Bob Coburn, John Quinn, Lawrence Johnson, the Southern California fires, and those killed and injured in the Tacoma train wreck.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy: Bob & Barbara Schorn, Chuck & Doris Prescott, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Mildred Nikula, Mary Goplerud.

     Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Brian Kirby Unti, our pastor Ronald Marshall, our deacon Dean Hard and our cantor Andrew King, that they may be strengthened in faith, love and the holy office to which they have been called.

     Pray that God would give us hearts which find joy in service and in celebration of Stewardship.  Pray that God would work within you to become a good steward of your time, your talents and finances.  Pray to strengthen the Stewardship of our congregation in these same ways.

     Pray for the hungry, ignored, abused, and homeless this 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, grant me your Spirit that I may reverently seek your kingdom. Help me to follow after your Word as my miraculous guiding star. Accept the offerings you have first given me: the gold of faith, the frankincense of prayer, and the myrrh of a contrite heart. Save me from all shameful paths of sin. And after this life, grant me that great New Year, the jubilee of everlasting life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


[For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., III:211, altered]