June 2015


Not All at Once

According to Luke 17:5 and Acts 26:28, we can’t believe in Jesus all at once. And so Martin Luther adds that we aren’t able, all “at once, [to] thoroughly” understand and believe “everything the Gospel says about Christ” after having heard it but “once.” Luther calls this dream for quick success “nothing other than a loose, futile thought.” The reason behind this is that faith isn’t easy, but rather a fight (1 Timothy 6:12) for comprehension and endurance. Luther therefore notes that the Christian “always strives and stretches for” faith (Luther’s Works 77:46). “Yes, dear man,” he writes, “if it is so easy, then begin and see what you can do about it when your time comes and death steps into sight, or the devil frightens and distresses your conscience, and when your own reason and all your senses feel nothing but only God’s wrath and the anguish of hell” (LW 77:281).

Therefore we need to dwell on God’s Word and praise and pray to him every day. Then we will strive to be “without sin and without sorrow, full of righteousness, full of joy, and serving everyone voluntarily” (LW 77:328). Then we will be strengthened in the faith, which, according to Luther, is nothing but “a fearless, undaunted courage which can with all the heart’s confidence rely on Christ against sin, death, and hell” (LW 77:281).


Luther on Human Decadence


It has now become very common for people to do whatever they desire, and yet they want it not to [look that way], nor do they want to be rebuked for it. Some act as if they are so completely pure and blameless that what they do must not be called evil or wrong deeds. They pretend great Christian love and virtue, and yet they treacherously carry on their evil traps and tricks. They proceed to flattering people. They can dress and adorn themselves as if they had acted correctly, imagining that if they can act pure in front of people, then no one can publicly rebuke them, and even God will let Himself be deceived. But they will learn what He will say to that. God does not let Himself be mocked or made a fool of, as people do, Saint Paul says (Galatians 6:7). Here there is no value in covering up and embellishing, but only in dying and being dead to vice and striving for what is right, divine, and Christian.”


[Martin Luther, Sermon on Colossians 3:1–7 (1534) Luther’s Works 77:108.]


President’s Report… by Earl Nelson


Last Sunday was Pentecost, the 50th day after Easter, counting Easter as the first day of the fifty.  As recorded in Acts 2:1 it is the day on which the Disciples received the Holy Spirit, and were finally enabled to act on what they believed and knew.  It is that way with us as well: we need divine intervention every step of the way, or we languish and do little or nothing, even when we believe.  A living faith is an active faith, one that issues in works.  The lesson of Pentecost is one we should keep in mind every day of the year.  We should pray daily for the Holy Spirit to strengthen our faith and for our faith to result in works that would be pleasing to God.

     A notable work in the Parsonage is nearing completion, the repairs and maintenance underway in the upstairs bathroom.  Thanks to Alex Ceaicovschi’s expertise, diligence and generosity, this job is both looking good and within the modest budget that was available for it.  If you like yardwork, there is going to be a work day soon in the Parsonage garden.  The front bed needs the shrubs removed and new ones put in.  I have proposed Saturday, June 6th for that.  I like to start early so I’m thinking 9am, but that is negotiable. 

     How nice to see the new Acolytes at work in the 10:30 liturgy!  Thanks to the hard work and devotion of Evan Ceaicovschi, Sam and Lily Allen for serving in this important way that adds to the worship experience of each of us.   There will be a reception in honor of the confirmation of Samuel Allen after the 10:30 liturgy May 31st.  Confirmation is quite an achievement.  The children, parents and teachers all put in three years of study.

     Our Sunday School children, with the help of their devoted  teachers, will be working on school kits to donate to Lutheran World Relief later this summer.  They will need funding for that, which means that we can help by supporting the Bake Sale on June 7th.  

    Pastor Marshall is diligent in his efforts to teach us the Law and the Gospel.  He has just finished leading the Sunday 9am class in a discussion of Luther’s Heidelberg Disputation, which was more important than the 95 Theses, although it gets

less press.  It was the Heidelberg Disputation that really set the Reformation in motion.  I might summarize it here by saying that it shows us how deep and destructive sin is, and how desperately we need God’s saving grace to redeem our works.   What a mighty work the Heidelberg Disputation was!  Next up is Hebrews, beginning on June 7th.  Come join us in the 9:00 am study group on Sunday mornings.
I would be remiss if I did not remind us in closing to be mindful in our giving to the Church and in keeping our pledges.  In this as in all good works we need the power of the Holy Spirit to make our faith a living faith, issuing in good works.  Let us pray that our church would continue in its many good works in service of our Lord, of which I have mentioned just a few here.        I would be remiss if I did not remind us in closing to be mindful in our giving to the Church and in keeping our pledges.  In this as in all good works we need the power of the Holy Spirit to make our faith a living faith, issuing in good works.  Let us pray that our church would continue in its many good works in service of our Lord, of which I have mentioned just a few here.  


September 27, 2015
, following the 10:30 am liturgy, we will be holding a celebration to honor Dean Walter Hard, choirmaster, and Andrew King, organist.  They have served First Lutheran Church of West Seattle for over 40 years, providing wonderful music that enriches our worship.  Plan to attend to honor their dedication and gifts of music to our parish.



 The Bread from Heaven


There are many examples in the Bible of God taking care of his people in times of need.  Usually, this help comes in the form of physical nourishment through a miraculous act.  How long did God feed the Israelites when they were wandering in the desert?  How many loaves did Jesus provide the hungry crowd by the Sea of Galilee?  These are mighty acts of God that we all know and can recite, and it speaks to the real human need of hunger.  However, we also know that the Israelites complained and rejected this manna from heaven and that the crowd sought Jesus out not for his wisdom, but out of their own self-interest. Jesus, seeing their hearts, rightly reprimanded them in John 6:27:


Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to

everlasting life, which the son of Man will give you, because God the Father

has set His seal on Him.


     This is indeed a difficult command to follow.  Far too often we are overpowered daily by our physical needs and we forget the spiritual lesson to be learned both from God’s withholdings and blessings.


     Recently, the Church council has been occupied with financial concerns.  The last quarter of 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 have seen a significant drop in giving.  This has resulted in a lack of funding for the works of the church.  As a council we are concerned about the trend, but we know that trials produce faith.  We also know that faith without works is dead.  We are indeed thankful that God is reminding us that we are not laboring to meet our immediate needs, but labor to believe that Jesus is the source of everlasting life.  In Luther’s words, this “great, high work of the resurrection of Christ…is to be preached…so that it produces fruit in us, awakens and kindles our hearts, and works in us new thoughts, understanding and spirit, life and joy, comfort and strength” (Luther’s Works 77:46-47). So, we pray that as our faith increases, so would our support of the church and its works. 

                                                                                          ─Kari Ceaicovschi, Church Council

Stewardship 2015

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

Budget                            $20,749                          $82,311

Received                         $19,389                          $77,868






The Endowment Fund

Putting the Church in Your Will

By Pastor Marshall


Our church endowment fund continues to grow.  We thank God for all who have made gifts to this fund and the support it provides our church. Especially we thank God for the major donors to our endowment fund – George (1925-2003) & Marion (1929-2005) Colvin, Lila Granaas (1913-2002), Orma Nesheim (1917-2010), and Alida Rottman (1922-2011). 

    One significant way to support the fund is to include the church in your will.  If you would like to do this and have not done so already, think of giving 10% of the residual value of your estate to the church.  In this way you will be able to tithe the income the investments of your estate has earned over the years.  This is a fitting way to thank God for the blessings of prosperity we all enjoy.

    Our endowment fund was established in January 1996.  The gifts made to the fund are never spent.  Most of the interest earned is added each to year to help meet our budget.  In this way you can go on supporting our church long after you have departed to join the church triumphant.  Praise be to God!



The Secular City


50th Anniversary 1965–2015


By Pastor Marshall


In 1965, the Harvard Divinity School professor, Dr. Harvey G. Cox (b. 1929), published The Secular City – and it caused quite a stir, selling over one million copies since then. In it he argued that the church should quit dwelling on the religious – prayer, worship, salvation from hell, and life in heaven after we die. Christians instead should concentrate on the secular – work, worldly well-being, justice for all, and happiness in this life. The church should promote liberal changes in all these areas – “something wholly new [and thereby render its] former ways of thinking and doing wholly obsolete” (pp. 98, 101). But it is “hampered from doing so by doctrines of the church deriving from the frayed-out period of classical Christendom and infected with the ideology of preservation’ (p. 91). What has been forgotten is that “there are more important things than dying for the faith” (p. 2), Cox writes.

     In the 25th anniversary edition of this book, published in 1990, he says that The Secular City is needed now more than ever (p. xi). We still need to see, he thinks, that God is “the mysterious and elusive Other… living in unexpected quarters,” like the secular over against the religious (p. xiii). The Bible has been “too severely tampered with” (p. xvii) to be our source for understanding, believing in, and following God.

     It is precisely here that a Lutheran must part company with Professor Cox and his prestigious text, even though it has become a run-away best seller over the last half century.



Jesus Over Moses: Studying Hebrews


Summer 2015 Bible Study with Pastor Marshall

Sundays, 9 am - 10 am, Room D


This summer we will take 12 weeks to study The Book of Hebrews – which is about how the new covenant in Christ surpasses the first covenant with Moses based on righteousness coming from keeping the Law of God (Hebrews 7:22, 8:13).

Each week we will concentrate on a few verses, aiming to find help in them for our growth in faith, love, and understanding. Here is the class schedule:


June 7…… Heb 1:1-2:18         July 5…… Heb 6:1-20         August 2….. Heb 10:1-39

June 14…. Heb 3:1-19            July 12….. Heb 7:1-28         August 9….. Heb 11:1-40

June 21…. Heb 4:1-16            July 19….. Heb 8:1-13         August 16… Heb 12:1-29

June 28…. Heb 5:1-14            July 26….. Heb 9:1-28         August 23… Heb 13:1-25



FEEDBACK!!!!  Anyone interested in sharing thoughts and suggestions about the 2014 St. Nicholas Faire, please join us in the Library on Sunday, June 14, 2015 at noon.  Feedback on what went well, what was just OK, and what needs improvement or changing is welcome.

FOOD BANK COLLECTION for Summer is lunch and snack foods for children who are home from school: peanut butter, jam, crackers, energy bars, seed & nut packs, macaroni & cheese are just a few suggestions.  And, bring in fresh produce as well! 

FLOWER CHART:  There are still a number of spaces left for summer Altar Flowers as well as through the end of the year.  If you were interested in signing up for Altar Flowers this year but have not yet had the chance, you might consider one of the remaining dates.

MID-YEAR CONGREGATIONAL MEETING has been set for Sunday, July 27th, immediately following the 10:30 am Holy Eucharist, in the parish hall.  Mark your calendars!  Beverages will be available.  Voter registration will be on the tables at the back of the hall.

LIBRARY:  Thinking about taking a vacation this summer?  We have a wonderful variety of books to choose from to help you relax after a busy day touring around.  Stop in to our library when you’re at church and see what’s new. 

READING THE KORAN with Pastor Marshall.  These two hour classes are on Thursdays July 9th through July 30th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  This summer the class will be taught on the Eastside at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Bellevue.  Call the office to register.  Pastor Marshall has been teaching this class four times a year since 2003.

Compass Housing Alliance was pleased to receive nine towels from recent donations left at the office. Every year they go through hundreds of towels, especially at the Pioneer Square Hygiene Center where 150 people get a free shower daily.  If you were thinking of helping in this way you’re not too late, donations can still be left at the office.

Bake Sale!  June 7th in room C

following the chapel and nave liturgies. 

In support of the Sunday School children in their efforts to build school kits
for Lutheran World Relief.

Judging Lutheran Pastors


The standards and procedures for reviewing the performance of our pastors – The Fatal Vice: Standards for Judging Lutheran Pastors (1994, 2006) – was accepted on May 5, 2015, by Christ the King Lutheran Church in Goldendale, WA, with their pastor, The Rev. Dana Helsing, signing off on this new approach. The Fatal Vice has been studied by other congregations over the years, but this is the first time that it has been officially adopted in another parish. May it be a blessing to Christ the King Lutheran Church!







[or until all the ornaments are picked!]


Sunday, December 6, 2015


I realize that it seems way too early to be bringing up the holiday season, but planning begins far in advance of the event date.  We will again have an “ornament” decorated tree in the lounge during the summer months.  The tree will have “wishes” on it for items that will be needed to complete gift baskets to be sold at the St. Nicholas Faire, the proceeds of which will be given to the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline.  Your job is to choose as many ornaments as you wish, purchase the items from each ornament, and bring them to the church to donate to the Faire.  Easy, simple, as little hassle as possible.  If you have questions and/or suggestions, please call Larraine King (206-937-6740). 


     And while you are reading about the St. Nicholas Faire, put the date –


Sunday, December 6, 2015

from 4-7 pm –


on your calendar and start sharing the date with your friends and family.  (This year our Faire doesn’t interfere with a Seahawks game!) Plan to come and support the Food Bank and Helpline, while having a joyous time enjoying the festivities!!!!


     More details in the September.  Stay tuned!!!

 ─Larraine King & Liz Olsen



Jan Hus


600th Anniversary 1415–2015


By Pastor Marshall


On July 6, 1415, Jan Hus (1369–1415), a Bohemian priest in the Roman Catholic Church, was burned at the stake by Bishop Anthony of Concordia and six other bishops, after having been excommunicated for criticizing the church for withholding the Communion cup from the laity and maintaining that bishops were not free from error. In a letter dated February 14, 1520, Luther wrote that Lutherans were “all Hussites and did not know it” (Luther’s Works 48:153). Then on December 17, 1999, Pope John Paul II (1920–2005), expressed his “deep regret for the cruel death” inflicted on Hus, but would lamentably not lift his excommunication.
     Because of Luther’s love for Hus, we remember him and honor his witness to Christ Jesus. In his great treatise, De Ecclesia [The Church], he writes: “It is clear how inferiors fought to examine and judge intelligently and reasonably in respect to the commands and works of superiors, or otherwise they would be in peril of eternal death, if they did not judge wisely about
these things, how far they ought to believe their superiors, how far follow them, and in what things they ought intelligently to obey them according to the Lord’s law” [The Church (1413), trans. David S. Schaff (New York: Scribner, 1915) p. 227]. Let us take these words of Hus to heart and thank God for them – especially during his anniversary year.




When Praying Is Hard to Do


Holocaust Anniversary 1945–2015

By Pastor Marshall


Why should we remember this 70th Anniversary of the liberation of the concentration camps in Europe at the end of World War II? Some would say so that we’ll never forget how horrible people can be – remembering our “desperately corrupt” hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). But I would say we should remember so we can ponder again this stirring passage from the award winning memoir – All But My Life (1957, 1995) – by the concentration camp survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein (b. 1924). It gives new meaning to the plaintive cry of the disciples, “Teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1), and Paul’s lament about “sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26):


There was muffled crying all around me. I did not cry, but there, in those barns, I stopped praying. Through all the years [of my captivity] I had prayed to God ardently and with hope. Now I prayed no more. I did not consciously know why, for I was closer to my Maker than ever. One short shot away. I wanted to be at peace with God, but I could not pray. But later, much later, I thought about my way of praying…. From [the time that I was twelve years old and] on, I had always thanked God for the gifts bestowed upon me, and they were many. There had always been something to be grateful for, even after 1939 [when the Nazis invaded Poland], but during that cold march, when we rested in the icy barns, afraid, I could pray no more (pp. 185-86).


Klein is the recipient of a 2010 Presidential Medal of Freedom.



The Feast of Saint Mary, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, will be celebrated at our Holy Eucharist on Sunday, August 16th.  On this day we will thank God for the life and faith of Saint Mary, who has been called the Mother of all believers for she was the first person to believe in the gospel.

    Lutherans for centuries have honored Our Lady by praying the "Magnificat":


   My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savoir, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.  Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.  His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, he has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.  He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.             (Luke 1:46-55)




More Luther Sermons


By Pastor Marshall


More volumes of Luther’s writings are being translated. The latest is volume 77 – sermons newly translated from the 1544 Summer Postil or collection. Among my favorite passages are the following – make use of them as your prepare for the 500th Anniversary of the reformation in 2017: “[The] Psalter [is] the finest and most precious prayer book and hymnal of them all” (9); “[This] cannot be any trifling wrath of God when we hear that no other sacrifice can stand up to this or compensate for sin except the only Son of God” (19); “[Our] old hide must be thoroughly salted and afflicted so that we cry out and call for help, and so stretch and expand ourselves both through internal and external suffering that we may come up to and attain… joy and comfort from [Christ]” (25–26); “[When] you feel that it is too hard for you to believe, do this: fall on your knees, tell Him your inability, and say with the apostles: ‘O Lord, increase our faith’” (32); “[Foolish] and inexperienced spirits…. think that faith is nothing other than having heard and knowing the story and history, and then they imagine that they have at once and thoroughly understood and believed everything the Gospel says about Christ when they have heard and read it once, and that they no longer need to learn and believe it. This is nothing other than a loose, futile thought, which is proved when they must confess that this knowledge of the history lies in their hearts still, cold, and idle, like a bare, empty husk, without moisture or strength, neither benefiting nor helping them, neither strengthening nor improving them” (46); “We should not dream about a church on earth in which there are no defects or errors in faith” (49); “Scripture is the kind of book which requires not only reading and preaching but also the… revelation of the Holy Spirit…. This revelation also requires true students who want to be taught and instructed…. [For this] is the kind of doctrine which makes our wisdom into folly and puts out the eyes of our reason, if it is to be believed and understood. It does not come from human wisdom like other teachings…. That is why it is impossible to grasp this revelation with our reason…. All heresies from the beginning have arisen from reason…. Only the godly, simple people who hold to this course and say, ‘God said it; therefore, I will believe it,’ can grasp and understand [it]” (51–52); “So [the Holy Scriptures] are only understood when the Holy Spirit comes, preaches, and reveals them to people who believe with simple hearts and persist in them. Then it begins to taste good and to provide its juice and strength, so that they must say, ‘This does it; it enlightens the heart and lights a fire there’” (55); “[Because the Bible] is called God’s Word, it is a completely different thing (even if it is spoken through the mouth of a man or even through the mouth of a donkey―Numbers 22:28–30) than what is called ‘man’s word’” (63); “Christ… can help no one except those who perceive sin and death” (71); “Whoever has not tasted the bitter does not relish the sweet” (73); “We must not be troubled and frightened by [the fact] that no one wants… the Gospel” (73); “To know the weak Christ who hangs on the cross and lies in death requires greater understanding” (75); “[Believers] should always strive to become stronger” (76); “God’s way of dealing with us is that He first frightens those who are not yet frightened” (80); “The devil depicts a false Christ or even disguises himself in His form” (83); “Christ paid for our sin through His blood and dying, and reconciled God” (89); “God wants all people… to learn to know themselves” (93); “Who would believe that I, with such a wonderfully respectful life (even if I am without faith), merit only God’s wrath” (93); “God cannot be… gracious to sin… unless sufficient payment is made for it” (96); “Christ requires of everyone that we… regard [his] preaching [as] divine, unchangeable truth” (98); “To confess does not mean… to make a long list [of our] sins, but to… confess that we are sinners” (100); “It is not only useless but also harmful and damnable to hear about the glorious and blessed comfort of the resurrection if… nothing more follows from it than does among those who have never heard about it” (103); “If we are Christians,… we should be dead – and yet we ought still to live, or else we are not Christians” (104); “It has now become very common for people to do whatever they desire, [expecting not] to be rebuked for it” (108); “No one can list how many subtle tricks greed can find” (109); “The world… cannot tolerate that you believe in Christ” (111); “A Christian has to struggle and contend with himself so that he retains the Spirit and the… new, divine life” (112); “Although the words [of salvation] are very simple,… yet in the ears of all men they are completely unusual and unintelligible” (113); “A second birth is necessary, which is better than that of all people” (114); “The world…. is nothing other than a great stable full of unbelieving, shameful, evil people” (116); “A Christian must be a different man than a reasonable heathen and an intelligent, worldly man” (117); “How could it enter into a Christian’s heart – if he believes he has received an inexpressibly great treasure through God’s Son – to leave his neighbor in even trifling need when he could easily help him?” (118); “No one knows at what time and hour God will touch and enlighten his or another person’s heart” (121); “Reason… knows nothing about how to… take comfort in time of need” (128); “Each Christian… should listen to the pastor or preacher not as a man, but as God Himself” (141); “Unfortunately, people now would like to…. give nothing to the ministers who teach God’s Word purely and faithfully [and so] starve their pastors out and get rid of them” (143); “The more God shows… the godless, condemned world… grace and favor, the more unthankful and worse it becomes” (147); “There is no middle ground at all with the human heart: either it is so hard like wood and stone that it cares nothing at all about God or the devil, or, on the other hand, it is despondent, fickle, and despairing” (148); “Since [Christians] are freed from sin and healed, we must not again defile ourselves with sins” (169); “Everything Moses instituted and ordered with the priesthood, temple, and worship should be finished and done with…. This surely is knocking the bottom out of the barrel, cutting the head off of all Judaism, depriving it of all it glory” (174); “By nature the sheep is more weak and defenseless than all other animals and must live by the protection, defense, and help of another” (179); “This one doctrine [is] the chief point of our salvation… that Christ alone rescues us through His death from the power of death and the devil” (187); “Many have Baptism… and nevertheless are evil and not Christians” (188); “In short, nothing that is in us or can be done by us makes us Christian” (189); “In their heads… mad, arrogant saints and foolish sophists… picture a church which must have only perfect, heavenly saints, without any blemish, flaw, or offense – which cannot be in this life” (192); “Christians should neither settle down as if they would remain here nor… want to avoid the worldly estates and offices, flee, and run out of the world…. We should… remain together… as God has bound us together, and serve one another. Yet we are to regard this life as… a pilgrimage or journey, on which we spend the night together in an inn, eat, drink, and then must travel on” (197); “A Christian deals with the temporal in such a way that he does not lose the eternal; rather, he leaves the temporal behind and forgets it and always stretches for the eternal as the goal set before him” (200); “Holy Scriptures are a different book than human speech and writings. Saint Gregory said it well:… Scripture is the kind of water in which a large elephant must swim, but a lamb can walk through on foot. It speaks clearly and brightly enough for the common people but, on the other hand, so profoundly to the wise and very intelligent that they cannot comprehend it” (205-206); “God mingles and mixes things on earth so that those who should by right rejoice must have much suffering and sorrow, while, on the other hand, those who should be sorrowful have joy and good days” (213); “Many people who otherwise are happy with the Gospel,… cannot tolerate or endure the harm and shame which they must bear because of it. Otherwise, the world would have been for a long time full, full of Christians, if the dear holy cross were not laid on them…. But because of it they step back” (216); “We are much more abundantly overwhelmed with good gifts than… with shame and harm” (217); “The Holy Spirit… openly blames… reason and worldly wisdom… for… being unable to teach people how to recognize sin, how to be freed from it, how they are to be helped to righteousness, and how wrong is to be rebuked” (228); “God’s commandment not only demands external conduct and appearances, but it also lays hold of the heart and demands perfect obedience” (229); “The heart always remains hostile to the Law and strives against it with inward disobedience” (230); “It does not help [to reason] that if [we] sinned with works, then [we] will pay for them with works or put away sin and merit God’s grace” (230); “All of this [life] has been ruined by sin and death and will finally come to nothing…. However, in the life to come [righteousness] will completely and perfectly… be found in us” (239); “A good preacher has the ability to take up a matter and briefly grasp it and bring it to a close in two or three words, and then, if it is necessary, also amplify and explain it with sayings and examples, and thus make a whole meadow out of one flower” (246); “The doctrine of faith is very difficult to grasp [since it requires that] a person… step outside of himself – that is out of his own life and works – and cling with all his confidence to what he does not see or feel in himself…. It is a difficult skill to despair so much of himself that he abandons whatever he has of both good and bad life and clings only to the words of Christ” (249, 272, 281); “We should know that we are too insignificant to be able to name, describe, or identify the time, place, manner, measure, and other circumstances for what we ask from God” (262-63, 255); “All the world knows nothing about [salvation through faith in Christ] nor has it” (270); “Faith [is] a fearless, undaunted courage which can with all the heart’s confidence rely on Christ against sin, death, and hell” (281); “Baptism was committed to much less important people than was the preaching office. Christ Himself baptized no one” (286); “As for who believes or does not believe,… that is not in the preacher’s power, but only in the Lord Christ’s power…. He can give it or take it away from whomever He wills” (287); “Drinking and carousing [have] completely become the common custom in the land” (293); “Drunken pigs do not belong among the Christians, nor can they be saved” (295); “To cover our sins before God, a different love is necessary, namely, the love of the Son of God who alone is the Sin-bearer before God, and who… carries on His… shoulders our sins and… takes them away” (300); “It is not against love to become angry and rebuke your neighbor when you see him sinning” (304); “Love… is hostile to vice, and yet loves the person” (305); “It is… necessary among Christians that the truly poor (not lazy beggars and tramps), who are… homeless people, or who cannot support themselves because of weakness and age, be provided for” (305); “[No one should] be permitted to play and juggle with Scripture and God’s Word, so that it must be explained, turned, stretched, and patched, however it may fit, for the sake of people or of peace and unity” (308); “Enmity [toward] the kingdom of Christ [since it opposes the] the kingdom of the world…must always continue;… it remains a… perpetual fight” (317); “Christ is God’s Son, sent by the Father to become the sacrifice and payment for the world’s sins through His own blood, and so take away His wrath and reconcile us, so that we are redeemed from sin and death and obtain eternal righteousness and life through Him. From that it must follow that no one through his own works or holiness can atone for his sins or put away God’s wrath. There is no other way or means to obtain God’s grace and eternal life except through the faith that so takes hold of Christ. That is the true Christ, correctly known” (321); “The true Church is where the little flock is” (324); “It is surely true that Christ has done everything, taken away sins, and conquered everything…. [But this] treasure lies… in a heap, not yet distributed…. Therefore, if we are to have this treasure, the Holy Spirit must come and put it into our hearts” (327); “A good Christian is still flesh and blood, just like other people, except that he fights against sin…. Thus our condition must always be mixed [and] always be that of the sick man who is in the care of a physician and who is to become better” (329); “There must always be trembling if the Holy Spirit is to come and help. No one should get it in his head that it will happen differently” (330); “Christ… is none of those things that people desire on earth; rather, He is such a disagreeable figure that all the world… flees from Him.

   Experience teaches how difficult it is to keep [his] Word, because the holy cross has been laid on it. Without this, our own flesh and the old nature would still be rebellious and would prefer what is easy and nice…. [Therefore the] church on earth must be and struggle in weakness, poverty, misery, anguish, death, disgrace, and shame” (339); “[Our goal should be] not only gladly hearing [Christ’s] Word but also adhering to it and being conquered by it” (340); “If we remain firm… against the enemies of Christ and His Church,… then … He… will…. give us the victory” (341); “It is very difficult to straighten out the human heart so that in fortune and welfare it does not become secure but remains humble, and so that, on the other hand, in fright and misfortune it has comfort and confidence toward God” (342); “Look at how great is the man who is a Christian…. He is a true prodigy on earth…. However, before the world he is highly and deeply hidden and unknown. The world is unworthy of recognizing such people. Rather, the world must regard them to be its doormats” (345); “As a true, faithful Mediator [Christ] can remove all of God’s wrath and hostility and make hearts certain of His fatherly grace and love” (361); “[Man] cannot turn itself to God, but is completely turned away from God” (366); “[God] does not give out of debt or obligation or because someone had asked or entreated for this. Rather, He is moved by His own goodness as a Lord who gladly gives” (368); “Faith always… remains in the longing and sighing…. Nevertheless, this… spark of faith does so much that God counts it as complete faith” (375); “The crowd of false churches is always much greater” (385); “We are to keep the Law, and yet not trust in it” (387).


Attacking Luther


Diluting the Crucifixion

By Pastor Marshall


Luther insisted that there couldn’t be any other reason for Jesus’ death than “to pay for our sins and to purchase grace for us so that we might despair of ourselves and our works, placing no trust in them, so that we might, with courageous defiance, look only to Christ, and firmly believe that he is the man whom God holds in our stead and for the sake of his sole merits forgives us our sins, deigns to look upon us with favor, and grants us eternal life” (Luther’s Works 52:253, 76:164).  These dramatic “means” of our redemption were very important to Luther (The Book of Concord, ed. Tappert, p. 414).

This view of Luther’s has come under a broad attack in the recent book, Did God Kill Jesus? Searching for Love in History’s Most Famous Execution (New York: Harper One, 2015), by Tony Jones – professor of theology in Minneapolis (pp. 21, 113, 158). In this book he says that if the “whole point of Jesus was that a perfect God-man be sacrificed to pay a debt, why did Jesus live for thirty-three years before being executed? Surely, Jesus’ teachings and miracles were great, and he was able to pick some disciples to tell his story. But if all God needed was an innocent, sinless victim, he may just as well have had the baby’s throat slit in the manager (Merry Christmas!). At least then there would be no doubt about the real meaning of Jesus’ death” (p. 136). This sacrificial view of the death of Jesus fails, according to Jones, because in it “God has to save us from God.” This “may be a God to be feared, but he’s not a God to be loved” (p. 138).  

Against Jones is another new book, Defending Substitution: An Essay on Atonement in Paul (Grand Rapids, Michigan: BakerAademic, 2015) by Simon Gathercole. He argues that Luther’s view is Biblical and must be maintained in the church today (pp. 16, 109–111). But this book was not on sale at our May 2015 synod assembly – as was the book by Jones. Too bad. Once again we see the aversion to substantive theological debate in the ELCA.


Samuel 25:37

Monthly Home Bible Study, June 2015, Number 268

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).

Week I. Read 1 Samuel 25.37 noting the name Nabal. Who was he? On this read 1 Samuel 25.2-3, 17 and 25 noting the words rich, Abigail, churlish, ill-natured and folly. What is the evidence for this? On this read 1 Samuel 25.10-11 noting the words who and away. Were these concerns reasonable caution or foolhardiness? On this read 1 Samuel 25.11 noting the uses of the word I and the four uses of the word my. Does this show crass egotism on Nabal’s part? On this read 1 Samuel 25.14 and 39 noting the words railed, insult and evil-doing. What confirms these negative assessments of Nabal’s response? On this read 1 Samuel 25.6-8 and 21 noting the words greet, salute, whatever, and guarded, as well as the three uses of the word peace. Are all of these words generous, respectful and conciliatory? Why, then, does Nabal respond in such a hostile way? On this read Proverbs 18.12 noting the words haughty and destruction. Is it this recklessness then that makes him so foolish? On this read Proverbs 11.17 noting the words kind and benefits. Could it be that Nabal’s foolishness was actually closer to cruelty?

Week II. Read again 1 Samuel 25.37 noting the word told. What did Abigail tell Nabal? On this read 1 Samuel 25.13, 22, 24, 27, 31 and 33 noting the words sword, leave, guilt, present, pangs and discretion. How did Nabal respond to Abigail’s report? On this read 1 Samuel 25.37 noting the words heart and stone. What does this mean? On the word heart read Joshua 2.24 noting the word fainthearted, and 1 Samuel 7.10 noting the words confusion and routed. These verses suggest that Nabal was losing his courage and boldness that caused him to respond as he did in the first place. On the word stone read Ezekiel 11.19-20 noting the words stony, heart and obey. This adds that Nabal wasn’t going to apologize for his mistreatment of David’s servants, nor was he going to thank Abigail for surreptitiously intervening on his behalf to save his life. Instead he was going to dig in and silently maintain his position.

Week III. Reread 1 Samuel 25.37 noting the words heart and stone. Why was Nabal so inflexible? Who did a better job dealing with failure? On this read 2 Samuel 12.1-25 noting the line by the guilty King David, I have sinned against the Lord. Why did David turn around when Nabal didn’t? On this read Psalm 32.3-5 noting the words acknowledged and forgive. Why couldn’t Nabal repent like David did? On this read Luke 22.3 noting the words devil and entered. Had the devil entered Nabal as he had with Judas? Or was Nabal’s problem simpler – due simply to his foolishness? On this read Proverbs 1.32-33 noting the words simple, fools, listens and secure. Then again, David had Nathan and Nabal had Abigail. Was there a difference there? On this read 2 Samuel 12.1 noting the line the Lord sent Nathan to David. Read also 1 Samuel 16.13 noting the line and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Does Nabal have the same two gifts that David did? Without them would David have been like Nabal?

Week IV. Read 1 Samuel 25.37 one last time noting the line the Lord smote Nabal; and he died. Why did God do this? On this read Leviticus 26.14-17 noting the two lines break my covenant and cause life to pine away. Why is sin punishable by death? On this read Genesis 2.17 noting the word die and Romans 6.23 noting the word death. But why this correlation? Why not some lesser punishment? On this read Exodus 34.14 noting the line the Lord… is a jealous God. What does this do to God? On this read Ezekiel 5.13 noting the words anger, fury, satisfy, jealousy and spend. Note also the description of God as the Fear of Isaac in Genesis 31.42. But if God is so fierce, why does he wait ten days before he kills Nabal? On this read Luke 13.5 noting the words unless, repent and perish. Was it that God was giving Nabal a chance to turn from his arrogance and live? Why would God do that? On this recall the word slow in Psalms 86.15, 103.8 and 145.8. How gracious is that little word?


Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Donna Apman, Bob Baker, Nora Vanhala, Mary Goplerud, Michael Nestoss, Cynthia Natiello, Clara Anderson, Leah Baker, Peggy & Bill Wright, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Cameron Lim, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha Anderson, The PLU Faculty, Ken Sharp, Norma Hernandez, Chris Griffith, Alan & Robin Berg, Nathan Arkle, Rick Collins, Mario de Jesus, Angel Lynn, Tyler Arkills, Christine Marshall, Ron & Margaret Douglass, Alice Paege, those killed and those still suffering in the Nepal earthquake and the Christians in Northern Iraq. 

    Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Clara Anderson, Donna Apman, Pat Hansen, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Vivian Wheeler, Peggy & Bill Wright.

    Pray for those who have been baptized that they may grow in the grace of God:  Pray for Madoka Alva Schorn, Tamsen Anna Ladwig, Kathleen Baker Hynes, Logan John Hynes and Peyton Anne Hynes.

     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 summer.  Pray for the mercy of God for these people, and for all in Christ's church to see and help those who are in distress. 

     Pray for our extended ministries: El Camino de Emmaus in the Skagit Valley, and the Gospel for Asia 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 Barnabas; Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Apostles; Saint Mary Magdalene; Saint James the Elder and Saint Bartholomew, Apostles; and St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord.

 A Treasury of Prayers


O Lord our God, I flee to you for help. Be with me as you were with your dear Son when he was tempted. I have no power to resist the devil, except by your intervention. My weakness and troubles are known better by you – O Father, rescue me, I pray. Let your power be made perfect in my weakness, that I may at length gain the victory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

                [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) IV: 106, altered]