June 2021



Preachers Taking Vows


June is a month when many take their vows of ordination to become preachers and pastors in the Church of Jesus Christ. I was one of those – being ordained back on June 25, 1979.

      On that day I was asked to make a promise before God that I would “preach and teach in accordance with the Holy Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions.” And I said yes. (The same is asked today – Evangelical Lutheran Worship: Occasional Services for the Assembly, 2009, p. 188).

      Why do we ask preachers to do that? We abide by the Bible because it’s God’s Word that guides us (Palm 119:105, Hebrews 4:12). And we abide by the Lutheran Confessions to keep the heart of the Bible focused for us. For instance: “The two chief works of God in men [are] to terrify and to… quicken the terrified.” “Only Christ… can be pitted against God’s wrath.” “How difficult a thing faith is.” “Rejected [is the belief that the] godly cannot fall again.” “We… deserve nothing but punishment.” “[It’s wrong to try to] live a nice, soft life without the cross and suffering.” “Learn well… how important God considers obedience.” “God’s Word cannot err.” (The Book of Concord, ed. T. Tappert, 1959, pp. 189, 136, 161, 35, 347, 392, 384, 444).

      Pray for pastors that they may keep their vows.


  Pastor Marshall



President’s Report… by Cary Natiello


Major Maintenance

I mentioned last month that we are evaluating some very expensive building maintenance needs.  Specifically, all the old steel curtain wall windows that were installed in 1959 have been gradually cracking and leaking from excessive rusting.  These are the windows facing California Ave. to the east, the two-story south facing classroom wall windows, and the windows and doors facing the courtyard from the lounge and hallway.  Over the years we have been addressing these issues with short term repair solutions that are not cost effective in the long run; we shouldn’t keep kicking this can down the road.  The longer we wait to properly address these problems the worse they get, the more expensive they become, and the more residual damage occurs.  At our June council meeting we will be evaluating options for implementing a long-term plan for replacing these windows.  Initial estimates from well qualified glass companies that work on curtain wall systems estimate the replacement costs to be in the 100s of thousands of dollars.  I hope to be able to report back to you in early July on the outcome of our council discussions.



Our giving for the first two weeks of May averaged only about $1,400 week; we expected to receive closer to $4,150 per week.  Pray that these first 2 weeks of May are just an anomaly.


To date, through April, many in our congregation have graciously given thousands of dollars to our extended ministries in an effort to help those in our community suffering from the impacts of the pandemic.  Thanks be to God!  As a reminder for FLCWS members, designated gifts are above and beyond our regular giving to the church. 


We Are Heading to Phase 4!

I am thankful that on May 4, 2021, Governor Inslee showed restraint from rushing back to phase 2 even though King County was remaining slightly above the phase 2 threshold.  Instead he implemented a two week wait-and-see which allowed King county to remain in phase 3.  Indeed, on May 13, Governor Inslee declared that Washington is on course to lift its broad COVID-19 economic restrictions by June 30, if not sooner.  And starting immediately, fully vaccinated people will have fewer requirements regarding mask-wearing, and can attend weddings, funerals and sporting events without limits on capacity. 


This is a lot of new information to process and quite a deviation from previous requirements and expectations.  During the month of June more specific information should be available regarding this “full opening” and what it means for our return to indoor worship services.  I am very hopeful that the number of cases in King County will continue to rapidly decline and that we will meet our threshold of <50 cases per 100,000 people in King County and we can resume indoor worship services no later than July 6th. 


At our June 8th council meeting we will discuss and then decide when and how we will resume indoor worship services and report back to the congregation with details. 


Getting Back To Normal

I have been thinking about what getting back to normal might mean for First Lutheran Church.  Returning to our traditional indoor worship services is obviously a huge part of getting back to “normal”.  I would also like to see us conduct our mid-year and annual meetings in-person again, as well as the St. Nicholas Faire, but other things may remain as they have been over the past many months.  For example, I would like to see us continue conducting our monthly council meetings via ZOOM.  Doing so has made it possible for members of our congregation to participate on the council who otherwise would not be able to do so, due to long travel distances, driving at night, and dealing with the West Seattle Bridge closure, etc.  I also hope Pastor Marshall will continue to conduct some of the Bible study and other classes via virtual means.  For me, the virtual classes have been a gift of convenience and encouragement to participate.


Thanks be to God for the wonderful members and staff of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.  God’s peace to you all, and I pray that we will be able to see each other in person soon.





The Apostle Saint Paul


“The peace of God

passes all understanding.”



by Pastor Marshall

This verse goes with John 14:27 about a peace “not as the world gives” – “namely by soothing the heart, making it content, and inwardly taking away the fear and fright, even though outwardly hostility and misfortune remain” (Luther’s Works 77:127). We can’t understand this precisely because it’s so otherworldly. Therefore Luther writes “so great is the peace in our hearts that in every tribulation we are so far from being overcome by fear that we even rejoice…. Thus by not turning away evils or enemies but by turning them loose, the Lord causes us to feel safe, to rejoice always, not to be overcome by any evil, even though the whole world may bare its fangs against us…. We shall sit in the beauty of peace, even though they throw us into prison…. [We] fight not with [our] own strength, but with the Word…. Yet with that very Word, which the world sees as some ridiculous fiction, [Christians] cause the greatest and most powerful kingdoms to flee from us…. Thus our foes are forced to submit to… our spirit, which, like a bronze wall stands firm and unafraid and holds their threats as well as their might in contempt” (LW 20:25). “Accordingly, these four pairs balance themselves in a kind of scale: the grace of God and the world’s displeasure, the peace of God and the world’s perturbation, the grace of the world and God’s displeasure, the peace of the world and God’s perturbation” (LW 27:170). So “those who rejoice in God… do not desire the peace that reason chooses, namely, the cessation of evil” (LW 75:170).

     One has this peaceful heart “in Christ, from Christ, and under Christ.” With it we “let God be in charge.” As a result “this peace soars over all… reason and understanding…. which makes a person outwardly calm, satisfied with everyone, and upset about no one…. It is the work of God, with which no one is familiar except the person who has experienced it” (LW 75:171, 170). So it’s indeed the case that “out of timidity [Christ] makes a fearless heart; He makes a trembling heart bold; He makes a restless conscience peacefully quiet” (LW 77:128).

     So “God’s peace goes beyond the grasp of humans, even in their wildest dreams or deepest logic” (John Reumann, Philippians, 2008, p. 637). And “if peace is superior to all understanding, much more so is God himself, the giver of peace, superior to all understanding” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, trans. P. Allen, 2013, p. 287). For “God is not subject to anxiety” (F. F. Bruce, Philippians, 1989, p. 144). Furthermore, “those who exhibit such peace are living conundrums in the world in which we live” (Bonnie B. Thurston, Philippians, 2009, p. 149). And so “the peace which the church can know, the sense that all is well, does not have its source within – there is dissension – nor without – there is opposition – but in God…. Because the day of Christ is near and because the peace of God stands guard, the church can rejoice. In the face of abuse and conflict the Philippians do not have to press their case. They are to stand firm, yes, but they can be forbearing not overbearing. In full confidence of their trust in God, they can devote time to prayer, praise, and thanksgiving…. Because God’s peace is on duty, they do not have to be anxiously scanning the horizon for new threats. Alert, yes; anxious, no. ‘Have no anxiety about anything’ (Matthew 6:25–34) here applies to nervous, doubt-filled concern for their own well-being and is not to be taken as a blanket endorsement of total indifference to the conditions of others. In other words, this is no scriptural warrant for not caring…. Obviously there is appropriate as well as inappropriate anxiety” (Fred Craddock. Philippians, 1985, p. 72).


Pope Francis on World Religions

by Pastor Marshall


The most powerful and best known Christian today, Pope Francis, has issued a new encyclical (infallible statement) entitled On Fraternity (2020). In it he writes:

A journey of peace is possible between religions. Its point of departure must be God’s way of seeing things. God does not see with his eyes, God sees with his heart. And God’s love is the same for everyone, regardless of religion. Even if they are atheists, his love is the same. When the last day comes, and there is sufficient light to see things as they really are, we are going to find ourselves quite surprised…. This has nothing to do with watering down or concealing our deepest convictions when we encounter others who think differently than ourselves…. We believers are challenged to return to our sources, in order to concentrate on what is essential: worship of God and love for our neighbors, lest some of our teachings, taken out of context, end up feeding forms of contempt, hatred, xenophobia or negation of others (§§281–82).

     This statement is inconsistent with four Bible verses.

     First, 1 Samuel 16:7 says – “The Lord sees not as a man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” So we can’t see what God sees, except for what he has revealed to us in Holy Scriptures. But the Pope does not say that. He thinks we can in general see as God sees.

     Second, John 14:21 says – “Jesus said, he who loves me will be loved by my Father.” So God’s love is measured and not distributed equally (as in the case of rain in Matthew 5:45). But the Pope does not make this Biblical distinction between love and rain. So when talking about atheists getting into heaven, he leaves out John 14:6 that no one comes to the Father except through the Son; as well as Acts 4:12 that there is salvation under no other name than that of Jesus.

     Third, Hebrews 8:13 says – “In speaking of a new covenant the Lord treats the first as obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” But the Pope says we should not negate what others believe that differs from Christianity. If we do, then we’re showing hatred for them. But that need not be so. It could be done in a civilized way, by “reproving with all authority,” as is stated in Titus 2:15 which the Pope doesn’t mention.

     And four, 1 Corinthians 2:2 says – “I’ll know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” But the Pope does not count this as essential Christian teaching, thinking that Matthew 22:36-40 and its two-part summary of the Law covers it all (worship & love). He leaves out Galatians 6:14 – “Far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord

     Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” He leaves out the “one thing needful” in Luke 10:42 – Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus in Bethany. He leaves out John 19:30 when Jesus cries out from the cross that it is finished – thereby opening up at long last a way of life with God free of wrath and punishment and damnation.

     These four major Biblical inconsistencies at least render this encyclical fallible, since Holy Scripture matters more than all of our own statements, even those of popes (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, 1999, §141). As Hebrews 4:12 says, God’s Word cuts us down, not the other way around. And at the worst, these inconsistencies show the Pope to be a blind fool leading the blind into a pit (Matthew 15:14, 23:17). This is something which Jesus severely criticizes – “I will put those wretches to a miserable death” (Matthew 21:41). Therefore pray for Pope Francis that his gift from God that he received through the holy orders of ministry might be “rekindled” within him (2 Timothy 1:6).



Seeing the Light of Christ in Our Good Works

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead, they put it on its stand and give it light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
 (Matthew 5:14-16)


     This section of the Bible is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, just following the Beatitudes. So, why shine our light? We shine our light as a form of good works, thanking God for all He has blessed us with. We shine our light to live out our faith in Jesus and the sacrifice He made to blot out our sins. Luther states “The most reliable index to a true Christian is this: if from the way he praises and preaches Christ, the people learn that they are nothing and that Christ is everything.”

     Stewardship means bringing the full tithe to the church, the first fruits of all your labors. When we fulfill our pledges through monthly giving to the church we are, in a sense, letting the light of Jesus shine among us. We’re furthering the church’s mission to proclaim the Good News of Christ. We give out of faithfulness, without expecting praise from others. It is a selfless act of humility. After all, when we were baptized in the Lutheran church, it was this passage (Matthew 5:14-16) that was read aloud from the liturgy. We have each received this blessing over us that our light will shine before others so they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.

‒Janine Douglass, Church Council



OUR MID-YEAR CONGREGATIONAL MEETING date and time have not yet been set.  Let’s hope the covid cases continue to decline and we are able to meet in person this summer. 

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

TWO Evening Bible Class OPPORTUNITIES are now being offered: Wednesdays, 7-9 pm, Pentecost Bible Study on John 14-16; and, Thursday evenings, 7 -9 pm, Proverbs with Pastor Marshall, via ZOOM online.  If you are interested in joining these study classes email Pastor Marshall at deogloria@foxinternet.com and he will send you a link.

JUNE “WITH THE MIND” book discussion is planned for 3:30 pm on Sunday, June 6th.



USA Moby-Dick Stamp Issued 2001


Moby-Dick at 170

by Pastor Marshall


Moby-Dick or, The Whale, by Herman Melville (1819–1891), was published 170 years ago. It’s my favorite novel. I’ve read it out loud twice with my children. It was a commercial failure and out-of-print at Melville’s death. The renowned D. H. Lawrence (1885–1930) helped bring it to recognition arguing that it was “one of the strangest and most wonderful books in the world.” I agree. I also agree with the award-winning novelist, E. L. Doctorow (1931–2015), that Moby-Dick is two books, not one. First it’s the exciting story of chasing down the white whale. And the second book is a series of asides on science, literature, art, history, philosophy and religion – bursting “from the book as outward flarings” (Doctorow, “Composing Moby-Dick,” Leviathan, March 2003, p. 12).

        It’s that second book of asides which fascinates me. And I have my favorites: Fleece preaching to the sharks (Chapter 64); Stubb’s sermon on rowing (Chapter 48); the strengths and weaknesses of Jesus (Chapter 86); the nominal Christianity of Captain Ahab (Chapter 34); the admonition to be warm like the whale (Chapter 68) – and that Starbuck’s “interior vitality was warranted to do well in all climates” (Chapter 26); the divine forehead of the great sperm whale (Chapter 79); the discourse on “the sad birth-mark in the brow of man” (Chapter 106); Captain Ahab’s soliloquy on the storms of life (Chapter 114); and the wrenching line about “the horrors of the half known life” (Chapter 58).


Proverbs 19.11

Monthly Home Bible Study, June 2021, Number 340

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 Proverbs 19.11 noting the word anger. What is so sensible about not getting angry fast? On this read James 1.20 noting how anger disrupts the righteousness of God. Note as well James 1.21 where anger is replaced with meekness. Read also Matthew 5.21–22 noting how anger is subsumed under killing. Why is hasty anger judged so severely? Read Proverbs 18.17 noting the error in stating first. Why is the subsequent careful examination better? Proverbs 19.2 says you’ll miss your way if you’re hasty. So haste leaves out needed information. It’s missing altogether from the analysis. Other factors are noted alright but still distorted by haste. Do you suppose that this was the problem the nine healed leapers had as well as Martha in Luke 17.14 and 10.40? Read also John 12.3–8 about Judas saying that the pure nard should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus exposes his deceit – but if he had discussed his misgivings with the other disciples, he may never have said it. Was there a good reason why he didn’t do that?


Week II. Read again Proverbs 19.11 noting the same word anger. Would slow, deliberate anger be okay? What purpose would it serve? Read Genesis 49.6–7 that links anger to violence. So if anger is peaceful it can make an emphatic point, which would be useful. On this read Genesis 30.2 where Jacob’s anger defends God against his wife, Rachel. Is that a good use of anger? Or read Acts 8.20–23 where Peter angrily castigates Simon the magician – your silver perish with you because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! Another case of righteous indignation would be in Acts 13.9 where Paul lashes out at Elymas the magician – you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? Add to these two cases Mark 3.5 where Jesus himself gets angry because of the hardness of hearts of the Jews. Are Peter and Paul then imitating Jesus?


Week III. Reread Proverbs 19.11 noting this time the phrase overlook an offense. Is this always the right thing to do? On this read Luke 17.3 noting the line if your brother sins, rebuke him. Sometimes, then, we have to attend to infractions. When is it not a good idea? Read on this Philippians 2.3 and the line count others better than yourselves. This is about humility. If in rebuking you’re arrogant and proud, then it’s wrong. When would it be right? Check out Romans 14.19 and its line what makes for… mutual upbuilding. Rebuking, then, is supposed to be constructive rather than destructive. It’s also to be even-handed. On this read 1 Corinthians 5.5 noting how destruction is supposed to serve salvation. On this mutuality read also 1 Corinthians 11.11 and the line woman is not independent of man nor man of woman. Note also 1 Corinthians 7.4 that the wife does not rule over her own body, but the husband does,… likewise the husband does not rule over his own body, but the wife does. Do you see how such mutuality counters any and all abuse through mutual control?


Week IV. Read Proverbs 19.11 one last time noting the same phrase overlook an offense. What sort of offenses are we worried about? On this read Matthew 23.4 about inflicting on others heavy burdens. Note also Mark 12.40 about devouring widows’ houses – especially in light of Mark 12.44 and 7.9–13 on Corban. Read also Luke 10.31–32 about passing by the injured and not helping. Another example would be Acts 2.43–47 about sharing wealth in community with glad and generous hearts. This practice would erase the offense of being stingy. Other offenses include Matthew 5.28 on looking at another person’s spouse lustfully, and 1 Timothy 6.10 about craving money. Those who offend us are to be treated differently than we would like to do. On this read Matthew 5.44 noting love and prayer. Do you agree? What would your prayer be?



Luther on Ruth


by Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther says that the reason the next of kin to Ruth does not marry her, but instead defers to Boaz (Ruth 4:6), is because marriage is tough. “We experience,” Luther writes, “how much difficulty and trouble conjugal love brings with it…. At the beginning it is altogether free and ardent, but Satan frequently disturbs and inflames the hearts with unjust hatreds, quarrels, and contentions” (Luther’s Works 7:20).

Others say that navigating the difficulties of marriage isn’t going on here. That’s because there’s “no way of getting around the offensiveness of this idiom of acquiring a woman (and the Hebrew word for acquire elsewhere means to buy), even if it is simply a shorthand phrase for marriage” (Tod Linafelt, Ruth, 1965, p. 69). But others are closer to Luther’s view. “Boaz will purchase Naomi’s land and marry Ruth, who will give birth to a son. The fears of Elimelech’s nearer kinsman will fall on Boaz, who is willing to risk financial ruin…. But the gospel reminds us all that we are our brother’s keeper… Together Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz make sacrifices that foreshadow the gospel of Jesus” (C. C. James, The Book of Ruth, 2018, pp. 79–80).


Operation Nightwatch:

Spreading the Word by Deed


The mission of Operation Nightwatch is to “reduce the impact of homelessness in keeping with Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbor.”  Operation Nightwatch certainly practices that!  Operation Nightwatch is one of our extended ministries and one that really does phenomenal work for our city’s homeless population.  

     Nightwatch was founded in 1968 by Pastor Bud Palmberg of Mercer Island.  Pastor Palmberg began his own mission of coming to downtown Seattle after church to comfort and mingle with young homeless people.  Those within his church and others soon joined in his mission to regularly hit the streets and comfort the homeless – eventually daily from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.  No preaching, just loving presence.

     A small office was opened and Nightwatch expanded its mission to feed the homeless nightly and help them find shelter.  The homeless population grew.  But so did Nightwatch.

     Operation Nightwatch purchased its current building at 14th Avenue South and South Main Street in 1999. 

     Now, Operation Nightwatch is fully staffed and has many volunteers.  The services it offers are three-fold: 

1)      Food and Shelter.  A delicious hot meal is served every night at 9:00 p.m. out of Operation Nightwatch’s building, using donated food and volunteer cooks (to-go meals are currently served in light of COVID-19).  Those attending are then dispatched to various homeless shelters or given a warm blanket if housing cannot be located.  

2)     Housing.  In this same building, the top two floors consist of housing units for seniors.  There are a total of 24 furnished rooms complete with a bed, dresser, and mini-fridge.  One resident responded:  “I thought I knew what love was, until I came to Operation Nightwatch.”

3)     Street Ministry.  Yes, the street ministry is still going strong!  The goal of street ministry is “to make friends and help our friends move toward housing, treatment, employment, or even moving back with friends or family.”  Street ministers bring socks, bottled water, hot food, and other supplies depending on the need and circumstances.

I think we can all agree that Operation Nightwatch is doing an invaluable service for our community.  Please keep them in your prayers!


Yours in Christ,

Tim Allen


A Covid-19 Limerick

Minnesotans – we’re birds of a feather,

Widely known to be cold as our weather.

Don’t tell us it’s smart

To stay six feet apart.

We never get that close together!


                              (by Kate Johansen, reprinted from

                                              The Minneapolis Star Tribune,

                                                           April 24, 2021.)


Valentines Day, 2021. 


Death of Avvakum Petrov by Self-Immolation in 1682.




Suicide is a problem for us because of all the sadness and sorrow it leaves in its wake. And of late it’s been worse – “between 2007 and 2018 the national suicide rate among persons aged 10-24 increased 57.4%” (Sally C. Curtain, National Vital Statistics Reports, September 11, 2020). Christians also worry because Judas, the disciple of Jesus, hanged himself after repenting for betraying Jesus (Matthew 27:5) – which you would think shouldn’t have happened because he was so close to Jesus and had repented. We also care about suicide because of the thousands of Russian Christians who killed themselves by self-immolation (Guree) in their “burn houses” between 1600–1800 to escape their corrupt church (Raskol) (Peter T. DeSimone, The Old Believers in Imperial Russia, 2018).

     So what shall we say about suicide? First, suicides are not all alike because the reasons for them differ. Second, suicide is always wrong because God condemns killing (Exodus 20:13). And third, if you commit suicide and believe in Jesus, you’ll be forgiven and not sent to hell for killing yourself (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1994, 1990, §2283).

     Jane Harty: Can suicide then ever be justifiable homicide?

     Ron Marshall: Homicides are only justifiable when we are trying to protect the innocent from mortal danger. No suicides fall into that category. Nevertheless, when someone commits suicide because of extremely uncontrollable pain due to an accident or illness, we have more sympathy than for someone who commits suicide to get even.

     2 Jane: Why do people try to kill themselves?

     2 Ron: There are many reasons, but most have to do with escaping suffering (due to loss, mental distress, shame, loneliness). This makes sense because suffering to them is so unpleasant. And because suffering is so pervasive in life, “no one ever lacks a good reason to commit suicide” (R. W. Maris, Comprehensive Textbook of Suicidology, 2000, p. 3). Therefore it seems right to them that “to live [is] more miserable than to die” (Graham Green, The Comedians: A Novel, 1966, p. 97). But the Bible disagrees. It says suffering has value (Romans 5:3–5, Hebrews 12:11). It’s given to us to make us strong through patience and endurance. With that strength we’ll have new power to help others. And that’s very important.

     3 Jane: Isn’t self-absorption or narcissism also a factor in suicide?

     3 Ron: Yes, it’s a reaction to suffering and loss, but not a direct cause of suicide. The Bible condemns living only for ourselves or focusing on what we want (2 Corinthians 5:15). That makes us less sympathetic for those who kill themselves out of disregard for others.

     4 Jane: What is a Lutheran response to suicide?

     4 Ron: First we need to appreciate what’s positive about suffering. And then we need to grapple with what Martin Luther wrote. He believed that no one ever takes his or her own life because our survival instinct blocks it. Suicide, then, only happens when we’ve been possessed by the devil who takes control of our lives and makes us kill ourselves (Luther’s Works 54:29, 26:195). That’s what happened to Judas (John 13:2). Learning from Luther and Judas, we’ll need to find ways to resist the devil, firm in our faith in Jesus (1 Peter 5:9). And we’ll also need to talk to caregivers at suicide hotlines when distress strikes us (Philippians 4:8).

     5 Jane: Is suicide the devil’s fault? Does he tempt us with narcissism?

     5 Ron: No, we are to fight against what the devil does to us. But with Luther we know that the devil’s behind our suicidal thoughts. So it’s mostly the devil’s fault but he’s not totally to blame. So we can be angry at the suicidal for thinking of themselves first, but because they’re also victims of the devil’s devouring, we’re mostly sympathetic toward them.

     6 Jane: How should Christians respond to this test of suffering?

     6 Ron: The Bible teaches that life is a test (Genesis 22:1, James 1:2). These tests oppose what we want. This teaches us not to rely on ourselves (Proverbs 3:5), but to depend on Jesus (John 15:5). Then we can live by faith instead of sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). This turn towards the good (2 Corinthians 4:17–18) comes only by being tested with calamities, losses and trials (Acts 14:22, John 16:33). When we learn to live not by what we see and feel – which so often hurts us and can even drive us to suicide – but by what we hope for and believe in instead (Hebrews 11:1), then we’re new creations (2 Corinthian 5:17). Then we’re born again of a different Spirit (John 3:5). Then what could depress us and drag us into that “bad neighborhood” of our minds where spiders crawl and suicide seems reasonable (Mary Karr, Viper Rum, 1998, p. 3) – that no longer holds sway over us. Instead the joy of Christ fortifies us (Philippians 4:4, John 16:33).





Doris Prescott, Melanie Johnson, Holly Petersen, Leah and Melissa Baker, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Marlis Ormiston, Connor Bisticas, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Kyra Stromberg, The Tuomi family, Karen Granger, Tabitha Anderson, The Rev. Albin Fogelquist, The Rev. Howard Fosser, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Alan Gardner, The Rev. Allen Bidne, Leslie Hicks, Kari Meier, Yuriko Nishimura, Eric Baxter, Evelyn, Emily & Gordon Wilhelm, Garrett Metzler, Antonio Ortez, Noel Curtis, Lesa Christiansen, Garrison Radcliff, Richard Patishnock, Jeff Hancock, Holly & Terrance Finan, Ty Wick, Lori Aarstad, Anthony Brisbane, Dona Brost, Susan Curry, Karin Weyer, Robert Shull family, Alan Morgan family, Lucy Shearer, Ramona King, Karen Berg, Donna & Grover Mullen and family, Patty Johnson, Kurt Weigel, Erin, Ethan & Kevin, Vodka, Carol Estes, Paul Jensen, Wendy Pegelow, Tak On Wong & Chee Li Ma, Steve Arkle, Hank Schmitt, Ron Combs, Mary Ford, Andrea and Hayden Cantu, David Grindeland, Corinne Smith, Karl Fecht, Michous & Jacqui Johnson, Nick de los Santos, Arik Greenberg.

     Pray for our professional Health Care Providers:  Gina Allen, Janine Douglass, David Juhl, Dana Kahn, Dean Riskedahl, Jane Collins and all those suffering from the coronavirus pandemic.

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

     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.

     Pray for this poor, fallen human race that God would have mercy on us all.

     Pray for this planet, our home that it and the creatures on it would be saved from destruction.


A Treasury of Prayers


Mold me, O Lord, according to your will. Make me this day to be kind and unselfish. Forgive me the sins of my temper. Keep me from sin this day and all that may offend you. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

                                                                 [For All the Saints 1:453–54, altered]