June 2020



When God Blesses Us


When we say to each other this blessing – the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you (2 Corinthians 13:14), what happens? First, we are reminded that our faith starts when we are baptized in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). But is there anything beyond that?

     Yes, there are three more matters. First, there is the grace of Jesus coming to us. It first comes to us in Jesus (John 1:17). What does it do? It makes us rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). That however has nothing to do with silver and gold (1 Peter 1:18). Rather it has to do with the forgiveness of sins (John 20:23). That matters because without it we lose out on heaven for all of eternity (1 Thessalonians 4:16–18).

     Second, there is the love of God. It doesn’t rejoice in what’s wrong (1 Corinthians 13:6), bringing all things together into one, but rather sets things going on the right path, beginning on earth, and continuing on into heaven. This love opposes unbelief against Jesus, shows that only God’s ways are right, and battles against the devil’s hold on the world (John 16:8–11). 

     Finally, there is the communion of the Holy Spirit. This is that band of believers who fight the good fight of faith – favoring the spirit over against the flesh (1 Timothy 6:12, Galatians 5:16–24). This band together pushes itself on to greater heights (Philippians 3:14). They hate theirs lives in this world for the sake of heaven (John 12:25). They run the race and pommel their bodies as a team (1 Corinthians 9:24–27). They suffer with Jesus (1 Peter 4:13). They resist the ways of the world (Romans 12:2), and fight against the devil (1 John 3:8, 5:19). They rejoice and mourn together as a group (1 Corinthians 12:26, John 15:18-19).

     May this blessing enrich our Holy Trinity celebration on June 7th.


  Pastor Marshall




President’s Report… by Cary Natiello


Oh my goodness, what troubling times.


     I have gone from talking about the weather to, “What type of mask do you have?”, “Where did you find that hand sanitizer?” and “Why can’t I find any damn toilet paper at COSTCO?”  I never thought I would hear statements like, “the State is shutting down”, “gatherings are not allowed”, and “churches must close until further notice”.  And then there are millions of Americans who are unemployed, more than the Great Depression, and there are thousands and thousands of dead due to COVID-19, and thousands more expected.  Indeed, these are troubling times.

     But for me our church building being closed is particularly troubling.  Not that it is more terrible than all the other crises people are facing but because it probably is what many could benefit from most right now.  The building is still standing, the organ still works, the congregation still wants to worship, and our Pastor still wants to preach, but we cannot – period!  Truly unprecedented. 

     So, I can’t help but ask myself, why in heaven is God doing this?

     At our Tuesday May 12, virtual ZOOM church council meeting (yes, you read that right), we discussed the COVID-19 pandemic and why God is causing us to suffer.  Why is God preventing us from keeping the Third Commandment to keep the Sabbath Day Holy (Exodus 20.8)?  Why is God preventing us from receiving communion?  Isn’t receiving the body and blood of Christ another of His commands?  John 6:53 states, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”  Why does God command us to do something only to now prevent us from doing it?  Is His intent to make us suffer in this way?  Pastor Marshall gave a possible explanation referencing the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20), which Jesus said if you can’t understand this parable, you will not understand any.  The parable of the sower describes how people receive and keep or do not keep belief in the Word.  The seed is the Word, sown by Jesus.  The parable describes four soils: One where the seed is sown but lands on rock, that is, he who hears the word but immediately rejects it.  Another seed is sown in soil and it quickly takes root, but whose roots are shallow and weak, and whose faith easily fades away because of tribulation.  Another seed is sown in soil where it takes root and believes the Word, but the weeds, the desires for earthly things, choke the roots and their belief out.  And finally, a seed is sown in fertile soil that takes strong root, whose belief endures and produces much fruit.

     Pastor Marshall supposes God is challenging us.  Who are we?  Did the seed take deep root in us so that we remain true believers through this suffering?  Or are the roots of the seed weak in us, and easily fades away as described in Mark 4:17, “…and have no root in [us], but endure for a while; then, when tribulation…arises on account of the Word, immediately fall away..”?  Might God be giving us this time to be alone before His Word for self-reflection and awareness, to challenge us to know what type of soil we are and how strong are our roots? 

     In last month’s Messenger, in my president’s report, I asked the same question, “Why did God send us this pandemic?”  I gave some possible explanations but confessed that I can never know God’s true intention.  Similarly, Pastor Marshall proclaimed the same; he can never know God’s true intentions, but as good disciples we should nonetheless ponder God’s intentions, discuss them, and try to find truth through the Word.  I am thankful to have a Pastor who can help us navigate these troubled times by helping us better understand and interpret the Word.  Thanks be to God.  It was good to see Pastor Marshall teaching again.

     Also at the ZOOM council meeting, we discussed how best to resume church services when the time is right and the stay at home restrictions are lowered.  As you can imagine, it was a discussion with many perspectives.  We know that it will be a long time before a vaccine is developed and that there is still so much that is unknown about the spread of COVID-19.  As a governing body, we must weigh maintaining the health and wellbeing of our staff and congregation against our desire to resume worship services, knowing that each person in our congregation must personally decide to attend or not attend services based on their own comfort level and circumstances.

     We understand that even if the risk can be mitigated and we decide to resume worship services, there will be congregational members who must still elect to stay at home.  The council plans to develop a process to get a rough idea of the number of our congregation who might elect to come to church or stay home.  Having some idea of these numbers will help us develop church service guidelines to follow in the months ahead.  We hope to have a plan for this soon and we will be communicating it to you once it’s developed.

     On a separate note, even though we have not been able to attend church services, our congregation has not missed a beat in giving to the church.  Our finances remain very strong and the trend set in 2019 continues on a solid trajectory.  Thanks be to God.

     Our mid-year congregational meeting is scheduled for Sunday, August 2.  Obviously it is too soon to come up with a plan for the congregation to participate in the meeting but hopefully by July there will be sufficient information to determine how best to handle that meeting.

     I pray that you all remain safe, healthy and secure in the months ahead.





Stewards of Our Facility


The church lawn renovation is finished – thatched and reseeded. The upgrading of the irrigation system is also finished (new WiFi controls for the watering schedule).  Thanks to Dale Korsmo for working with our gardeners on this project. It will reduce our summer water bill.

     The window repairs in the office and on the second floor classroom have begun. The leak in Room 9 is fixed, but the cracked window still needs replacing. The cracked office window was replaced, and another one was discovered. Also the leaks are yet to be fixed in the office, and the parsonage kitchen. Caulking the windows on the east wall has been added to the contract. So the work continues.

     As for the resurfacing of the parking lot, the repairs have been finished. Now the top coating and parking stripe painting is pending. When finished, the parking lot repair project will be done.

     Two new trees have been ordered (through the City of Seattle) for the parking strip on SW Dakota Street, to match the four planted last year in the parking strip on 44th Ave SW.

     Lady bugs have been added to the four trees in the parking strip in front of the church on California Ave SW. We did this last year and it helped keep the sidewalk from getting so sticky.

     So thanks to everyone for your continued financial support during these trying times. Without your help we wouldn’t be able to keep up our wonderful church property. We thank God for you!

‒Rollie Storbakken, Church Council





Christian Faith During This Deadly Pandemic


By Carl E. Braaten

(May 9, 2020)


How should we as believers in Christ and members of his church act during this deadly pandemic? I have heard people say this pandemic is unprecedented; we’ve never encountered anything like this before. It is true, we haven’t, those of us who are living here and now. But when you read history, you learn that plagues and epidemics have been around since time immemorial. The Book of Exodus tells about the plagues that hit Egypt so hard that Pharaoh had to let Moses take the Israelites out of slavery. Similar things have happened during the Christian era. In the 14th century the Black Death, also called the bubonic plague, travelled all over Europe and killed over 200 million people, one third of its population. In the 16th century the plague recurred, hitting Germany, including the town of Wittenberg, where Martin Luther was a professor of Old Testament at the University’s faculty of theology. It was deadly, everyone was vulnerable. Duke John, the highest civic authority, ordered Luther and his fellow professors to leave and go to Jena where it was safe. Many chose to leave the city, but Luther refused. A fellow pastor, Johann Hess, wrote a letter to Luther asking him if it was okay for a Christian to leave. Luther answered in a letter from 1527, “Whether One May Flee From a Deadly Plague” (Luther’s Works 43:119–38):

I have taught Christian theology and ethics ever since I was ordained in Minneapolis in 1958 and so I have been asked by friends, family members, and former students what to make of this devastating scourge that is affecting us in every way — personally, socially, economically, and politically. My response to this point has been something like that of the Psalmist who said, “I am like a dumb man who does not open his mouth.” (Psalm 38:13b). This damnable thing has rendered me dumbfounded. Then someone sent me the letter Luther wrote and that got me thinking.

Luther lived in a late-medieval pre-scientific age, before the germ theory of disease was universally accepted as scientific truth. Nevertheless, it was commonly thought that the disease was transmitted person to person. People were urged to avoid contact with anyone infected. That is why Luther’s letter addressed the question whether it was okay for a Christian to flee the deadly plague. At that time healthy people would flee the crowded cities for less sparsely populated areas. The cities would shut down, shops would close, doctors were loath to see patients, and even

priests refused to administer last rites, while the sick and the dying would be left behind. So Luther’s question was an existentially serious one for a Christian, for a pastor, and for those whose calling was to care for people suffering from the disease.

Our situation is somewhat different. This is a pandemic, which means the virus is everywhere. There is no escape, no place to flee to, so we are told to stay home, avoid socializing even with family members and friends, and no gathering in large groups, and no weekend worship as usual. We are in a mell of a hess xx. So does Luther’s letter have anything relevant to say to us at this point in time? I will try to answer this question, using some of Luther’s own words, in ten points.

1) Luther knew he had no direct word from God to deliver with authority, so he humbly told his Christian readers that after considering what he had to say, they would have “to come to their own decision and conclusion.” 2) Luther commends those who choose not to run away from a deadly plague. They seem to have a strong faith, willing to put their trust in God and patiently await whatever consequences God has in store for them. However, Luther is realistic — “it is generally true of Christians that few are strong and many are weak.” So it is okay for Christians to flee the risk of death unless “they are engaged in a spiritual ministry such as preachers and pastors. . . .For when people are dying, they most need a spiritual ministry which strengthens and comforts their consciences by word and sacrament.” 3) But not only pastors have a duty not to flee if they are needed, but “all public officials such as mayors, judges, and the like have the responsibility to remain. . . .To abandon an entire community which one has been called to govern and to leave it without official or government, exposed to all kinds of dangers such as fires, murder, riots, and every imaginable disaster is a great sin.” 4) The obligation not to flee applies also to those who have responsibility for others, like employers for their workers, parents for their children, and “paid public servants such as city physicians, city clerks and police, or whatever their titles, unless they can provide capable substitutes.” 5) On the other hand, “to flee from death and to save one’s life is a natural tendency, implanted by God and not forbidden unless it be against God and neighbor. . . .Many examples in Holy Scripture prove that to flee death is not wrong in itself.” Luther adds, as long as you can do so “without depriving your neighbors of anything but fulfilling your responsibilities toward them.” 6) Luther’s refusal to flee the city was based on Scripture passages that say that “anyone who does not help his neighbor, but forsakes him and leaves him to his misfortune, becomes a murderer in the sight of God.” Christ also will say on the Last Day, “I was sick, and you did not visit me.” So also on the Day of Judgment what will happen to “those who failed to visit the sick and needy or to offer them help and to let them lie there by themselves like dogs and pigs?” 7) Luther had in mind especially those whom we call heroes today, those who work in hospitals and care centers staffed with people to tend to the sick — doctors, nurses, and their assistants who risk their lives so that others might live. He cited Scripture: “Whatever you wish that people do to you, do that to them.” 8) Today our smart leaders say (sadly there are some stupid ones), “We are all in this together.” We are one people, one nation, and we live in one world. So our struggle is not against a regional epidemic but a PANdemic. So it is wrong to divide, to play this group against that, to look for a scapegoat and play the dangerous blame game. Luther knew that, so he said, “Now when a deadly epidemic strikes, we should stay where we are, make our preparations, and take courage in the fact that we are mutually bound together, so that we might not desert one another or flee from one another. . . patiently serve our neighbors, risking our lives in this manner as Saint John teaches, ‘If Christ laid down his life for us, we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.’” (I John 3: 16) 9) Yet, Luther’s admonition to stay and serve one’s neighbors in need is balanced by his warning not to act “too rashly and recklessly, tempting God and disregarding everything which might prevent death and the plague. This would mean not using medicines, not evading places and persons infected by the disease; joking about it and wishing to show that one is not afraid of it (like not wearing a mask in public). . . .It is shameful for a person not to take care of his own body as he should have. . .  Use medicine; take treatments which can help you; fumigate your house, yard, and street; keep away from persons and places wherever your neighbor does not need your presence or has recovered.” 10) In the end Luther donned his pastor’s hat and doled out counsel specifically for Christians facing a deadly disease. The best defense against the plague is to continue our worship practices, hearing the Word of God and receiving the Sacrament of Christ’s body and blood. He admonished people “to attend church and listen to the sermon so that they learn through God’s word how to live and how to die.” What most churches are doing today in an age of technology — participating in virtual worship services online — was never an option for Luther. But the point is the same. Worship is even more important at a time like this, receiving the promise of life by the means of grace in the midst of so much suffering and death. True worship is the secret weapon God has given the church because there and then we are sustained and strengthened by the Word and the Sprit, by the Body and the Blood of Christ. “This is most certainly true” (“The Small Catechism,” The Book of Concord, ed. T. Tappert, 1959, pp. 345).



Carl E. Braaten (b. 1929) is professor emeritus of systematic theology at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and former executive director of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. He is co-founder of two theological journals – Dialog (1962) and Pro Ecclesia (1991). He studied in Paris as a Fulbright Scholar, was ordained in 1958 as a Lutheran pastor, and earned his Th.D. degree at Harvard Divinity School in 1960. He is the author of hundreds of articles and many significant books including Because of Christ: Memoirs of a Lutheran Theologian (2010), Preaching Christ in a Pluralistic Age: Sermons by Carl E. Braaten (2012) and My Ecumenical Journey: Ecumenical Experiences and Perspectives of an Evangelical Catholic Theologian (2018). Braaten is the son of Lutheran missionaries to Madagascar where he grew up. He is one of six Lutheran pastors in his extended family. He’s also a champion tennis player.





Luther on Samson


By Pastor Marshall


Judges 15:4–5 tells about Samson’s odd retaliation against the Philistines for stealing his Philistine wife – he burns up their wheat fields by sending three hundred foxes into the fields, two by two, with their tails tied together and on fire. Some think that this points to Judges 16:30 when Samson says, “Let me die with the Philistines.” That’s because Samson’s dual nature is linked to the pairs of burning foxes in the destroyed fields – and his “super-muscular frame and spiritual-artistic heart” is burned up with the foxes (David Grossman, Lion’s Honey: The Myth of Samson, 2006, p. 85). Others see Samson’s “guerrilla tactics” as violating the prohibition against revenge in Deuteronomy 32:35 (T. C. Butler, Judges, 2009, p. 340). But not Luther – for him there’s neither a sacrifice here nor a moral short-coming, but only a conquering power. He sees in this coupling his enemies being joined together and destroyed (Luther’s Works 27:149). They are alike and die together even though “their heads turn away in different directions” (LW 47:175). All variations burn up as they come to the same fiery end. This gives us confidence to endure persecution.





The Body


“I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

(Psalm 139:14)


You don’t know how the body is formed in the mother’s womb.”

(Ecclesiastes 11:5)


The Liver


“The liver [when] compared with the rest of our glands, [is] gigantic. When fully grown, it weighs about 3.3 pounds, roughly the same as the brain…. It is also the most multifariously busy organ in the body, with functions so vital that if it shuts down, you will be dead within hours. Among its many jobs, it manufactures hormones, proteins, and the digestive juice knows as bile. It filters toxins,… stores and absorbs vitamins,… and manages glucose…. Altogether the liver takes part in some five hundred metabolic processes. It is essentially the body’s laboratory. Right now, about a quarter of all your blood is in your liver. Perhaps the most wondrous feature of the liver is its capacity to regenerate. You can remove two-thirds of a liver and it will grow back to its original size in just a few weeks…. We don’t know how a liver knows to grow back to just the right size and then stop growing…. It is subject to more than a hundred disorders, and many of these are grave…. Hepatitis C can live within victims for forty years or more, stealthily demolishing their livers, without their being aware of it…. The liver was long thought to be the seat of courage, which is why a cowardly person was deemed ‘lily-livered’…. It was considered responsible for both sadness and anger…. Women succumb to… cirrhosis [of the liver] faster than men do.”


[Bill Bryson, The Body: A Guide to Occupants (2019) pp. 150–51, 282.]






Considering the fact that the building doors have remained locked during the government stay at home orders we are not able to collect food, clothing, towels and toiletries.  As soon as the orders ease and we are able to open our doors we will be collecting again in accordance to any new rules that apply.  We will let you know when we do. 



ALTAR FLOWERS: Many thanks to those who have signed up for Altar Flowers so far this year.  If you signed up during the time period when we have been closed you will be contacted by Maxine Foss to see whether you would like to change your flower donation date to an available date in the coming weeks/months that was still available for sign up.  If you are not contacted, or have questions, Maxine can be reached at 206-932-5349.

MID-YEAR CONGREGATIONAL MEETING has been set for Sunday, August 2nd, immediately following the 10:30 am Holy Eucharist, in the parish hall.  Mark your calendars!  If for some reason the date is changed we will let you know.  Beverages will not be provided.  Voter registration will be on the tables at the back of the hall.

WEB PAGE ADDRESS:  www.flcws.org, or www.flcws.space, which is specially configured for phones.

Sunday Worship ― online at www.flcws.org.  In lieu of our time  together due to the stay-at-home orders issued by our government, because of the coronavirus troubles – which have put our worshiping, studying and serving in abeyance – Pastor Marshall is offering these abbreviated online liturgies. They in no way are equivalents to our normal fare. But they still have  value. In them we are spending our time apart to accentuate Psalm 46:10 about being silent before God.


Wednesday Evening Bible Class is now being offered on  Thursday evening, 7:30-9:30 pm, via ZOOM online.  If you are interested in joining this class email Pastor Marshall at deogloria@foxinternet.com and he will send you a link.



2 Chronicles 36.16

Monthly Home Bible Study, June 2020, Number 328

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 2 Chronicles 36.16 noting the words mocking, despising, and scoffing. When did that happen? Check out 2 Chronicles 15.1–8 noting the conflict between King Asa and the prophet Azariah over the abominable idols in Israel. Why was Israel for a long time without the true God – pursuing idols instead? On this read 1 Samuel 3.1 noting the line the word of the Lord was rare in those days. Why was that? Check out Psalm 81.11 noting the line my people did not listen to my voice. Why was that? On this read Isaiah 30.10 noting the desire for smooth things. Why was that? For an idea check out Amos 6.1–6 noting the words ease, secure, and idle in contrast to the line not grieved over the ruin of Joseph. And who are the ruined? On this read Amos 2.6– 8 noting the mistreatment of the needy, poor and afflicted – and the sexual perversity of father and son. Because Azariah condemned this misbehavior, he was mocked, despised and scoffed at.


Week II. Read again 2 Chronicles 36.16 noting the same three words mocking, despising, and scoffing. For another example of this abuse of prophecy, read 2 Chronicles 19.1–3 noting the clash between King Jehoshaphat and the prophet Jehu. Note the infraction of loving those who hate the Lord. What’s that like? On this read Isaiah 5.20 about mixing up good and evil. What’s an example of this? On this read Deuteronomy 8.17 noting the misuse of the gift of power. Note also the misuse of insight in Proverbs 3.5. Check out as well the corruption of kings in Hosea 8.4. And also read about the mixing up of the holy and the common in Ezekiel 22.26. Why do we do this? For an answer, go to 2 Corinthians 6.14–18 noting the words mismatched and separate. Why do we ignore these differences? Check out Romans 1.18 noting the suppression of the truth. What’s behind that? Read Romans 1.25 about exchanging opposing forces – truth and lies, creation and Creator. Is this to follow the false God of confusion in 1 Corinthians 14.33? How so?


Week III. Reread 2 Chronicles 36.16 noting the line till the wrath of God rose against his people. What is this wrath? On this read 2 Chronicles 21.14–15 noting the words plague and bowels. Over the generations this has mostly been cholera. Why does God inflict such a severe, ongoing, day by day, disease? On this read Ezekiel 5.13–17 noting venting of fury and jealousy. Does that explain it? Go to Psalm 99.3 noting the link between holy and terrible. How does holiness do this? On this read Isaiah 55.8 noting the clash and contrast between the ways of God and our ways. Does that explain the wrath and fury of God? On this read 1 Samuel 15.3–9, 19 noting how King Saul wouldn’t destroy all that the Amalekites had. Our moral scruples are different than God’s. They look better. On this read Deuteronomy 7.16 noting the problem of serving the gods of the defeated enemy – for fear of being snared by those gods. In this case obeying God matters more than saving human lives. What do you think of that?


Week IV. Read 2 Chronicles 36.16 one last time noting the line till there was no remedy. What’s that about? On this read Romans 9.16 noting that our salvation does not depend on us. Read also Jeremiah 18.1–17 noting that God does with us whatever seems good to him. So the standard of goodness has to do with God’s liking and not with ours. So the remedy that’s gone is of our making. But God still has his remedy. And what is it? Note Jeremiah 30.10–24 where the incurable are given health (vv 12, 17). So the remedy comes from God. On this read Ezekiel 11.19 noting the new spirit that God puts in us. How does he do this? For an answer, check out James 1.21 noting the implanted word. How does this word get by our resistance to it? On this read Acts 9.3–9 noting the words suddenly, flashed, fell and led. All of these words are out of our control. God can make them happen when he wishes. On this read Psalm 115.3 noting the line our God is in the heaven; he does whatever he pleases. God doesn’t consult with us. On this read Galatians 4.4 noting the connection between the right time and sent. We had nothing to do with that key event. Do you agree?




On Sunday, June 7th we will honor the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and we will confess that our God is named Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is Christ's command in Matthew 28:19 when he says to us: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." It is this name that our faith requires us to adore – for God is in this name! 



The Feast of Saint Mary, the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ, will be celebrated at our Sunday Liturgy on 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)





The Apostle Saint Paul


“For to me to live is Christ,

and to die is gain”



by Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther loved Philippians 1:21 – but also saw it as a test. It showed him that when Christians die they “reach life all the sooner…. In death they lose nothing, even if it bites them to death” (Luther’s Works 56:201). So what can “death have against a Christian in the throes of death? Nothing. Death will [only] be laughter” (LW 56:200). So this Gospel gives Christians “everything” (LW 69:302). By God’s almighty power, he can “give the greatest joy from what terrified us the most” – death itself (LW 76:195). This is where the test comes in. For if this gain in death “has only a small effect on us, it is proof that our faith in Christ is still feeble and does not prize highly enough the reward and gain of a blessed death, nor does it yet believe that death is a blessing. Obviously we are hindered because the old man and the wisdom of the flesh are still too much alive in us. We should, therefore, try to attain to the knowledge and the love of this blessing of death. It is a great thing that death, which to others is the greatest of evils, is made the greatest gain for us. If it was not this that Christ obtained for us, what then did he do that was worth such a cost, yes, actually the cost of his life? It is indeed a divine work that he wrought, and it is not surprising that he made the evil of death into the greatest blessing” (LW 42:149).

     Because Christ defangs death on the cross (Hebrews 2:14), “in the Scriptures it is called a sleep rather than death” (Matthew 9:24, John 11:11). That makes “death very desirable…. With slippery sin besetting us on all sides, our life is so full of perils that we are unable to live without sinning. Thus death is indeed the greatest blessing as it delivers us from these perils and cuts sin fully away from us [Romans 6:7]” (LW 42:150). That reduction of death to sleep is also evident from the fact that God “imposed death on Adam immediately after his sin as a cure for sin. God did this before he drove him out of paradise to show us that death works no evil but rather every blessing, since it was imposed in paradise.” Furthermore when he elaborates upon death in Eden he refers to it as going back to dust. “God hated death so bitterly that he did not deem it worthy to call it by name” (LW 42:151).

      Philippians 1:21 poses the question: “If living is Christ, what was there to gain by dying?” (Fred Craddock, Philippians, 1985, p. 29). Luther’s answer is that it stops sin and brings us to eternal life. That is underscored in the Greek words for Christ and gain which “alliterate” in the original Greek and thereby show that the gain is connected to Christ and leads to “being with Christ” (B. Thurston, Philippians, 2009, p. 63). Others add that Paul’s martyrdom would advance “the cause of Christ throughout the world” (F. F. Bruce, Philippians, 1989, p. 50). No wonder that this verse has been deemed “one of the great declarations in all of Pauline literature, indeed in all of Holy Scripture” (George Hunsinger, Philippians, 2020, p. 22). Here death isn’t punishment, but “full participation in the resurrection” (John Reumann, Philippians, 2008, pp. 249–50). Why can’t that full participation happen now? “God created you to live, so that you might live [here] with him, but you, living in the sin of evil doing, have subjected yourself to every blame” – and so now need deliverance (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, trans. P. Allen, 2013, p. 69). Once the promise of that deliverance is in place, however, gazing up into heaven cannot be all there is. What Saint Paul is stressing, then, is not “life after death, but… the life of Christ and… what the death that perhaps awaits him might mean for that life.” It’ll include suffering for Christ now, to be sure, but also helping fellow Christians increase “their courage, their confidence, their gratitude and joyousness” (Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians: 40th Anniversary Edition, trans. James W. Leitch, 2002, pp. 39, 42).



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Eve Young, Pete Morrison, The Tuomi Family, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Connor Bisticas, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Kyra Stromberg, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Albin Fogelquist, The Rev. Howard Fosser, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Dave Monson, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Dan Peterson, Sheila Feichtner, Richard Uhler, Yuriko Nishimura, Leslie Hicks, Eric Baxter, Paul Sponheim, Mary Lou & Paul Jensen, Hillary & Jim Thoren, Trevor Schmitt, Lesa Christensen, Maggie & Glenn Willis, Shirley Graham, Evelyn, Emily & Gordon Wilhelm, Karen Berg, Bjorg Hestevold, Wayne Korsmo, Garrison Radcliffe, Antonio Ortez,
Gretchen Hoyum, Marv Morris, The Jill & Dave West Family, Noel Curtis, Randy Vater, Joe & Sam Frary, The Duncan Sturrock Family, Garret Metzler, Doreen Phillips Will Forrester.  Pray for our professional Health Care Providers:  Gina Allen, Janine Douglass, David Juhl,   Dana Kahn, Dean Riskedahl and all those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic. Also, pray for unbelievers, the addicted, the sexually abused, harassed, and unemployed.

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Bob & Mona Ayer, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Joan Olson, Doris Prescott, C. J. Christian, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Martin Nygaard, Gregg & Jeannine Lingle, Anelma Meeks.

     Pray for our bishops Elizabeth Eaton and Shelley Bryan Wee, our pastor Ronald Marshall, our choirmaster 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, addicted, and homeless this summer.  Pray for the mercy of God for these people, and for all in Christ's church to help those who are in distress.

     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 its 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


Dear God, the creator of all, enlighten my mind by the grace of your Holy Spirit, that I may seek what is well-pleasing in your sight. Order my doings that they may be in keeping with your commandments. Bless me this day, O Lord, I pray, that I may in the end enter into the unending joys of heaven. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

                                                     [For All the Saints II:32, altered]