June/July/August 2016


In Yonder Life


That’s Our Whole Concern


Where is our faith in Jesus Christ headed, along with the good deeds that we do in his name (Colossians 3:17)? What’s their purpose? On this Philippians 3:20–21 says that “our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body.” Our overriding purpose, then, is to get into heaven. Preaching in 1536 on this passage, Luther says:


We who are baptized and believe in Christ… do not base our works and our hope on the righteousness of this temporal life. Through faith in Christ, we have a righteousness that holds in heaven. It abides in Christ alone; otherwise it would avail naught before God. And our whole concern is to be eternally in Christ; to have our earthly existence culminate in yonder life when Christ shall come and change this life into another, altogether new, pure, holy [one] and like unto his own (Sermons of Martin Luther, ed. J. N. Lenker 8:355–56).


So keep your eyes on the prize (Luke 14:14). Don’t lower your vision or expectations. As Luther again reminds us, in heaven we finally will have the “better life” we were created for (Luther’s Works 8:115). So rejoice in your coming reward and be glad!


Pastor Marshall








The Mediator


Celebrating Emil Brunner’s 50th Anniversary


By Pastor Marshall


FIFTY YEARS AGO Professor Emil Brunner (1889–1966) died. He was a major Swiss Christian theologian at the beginning of the 20th century. His greatest book is his three volume systematic theology (1946–1960). I, however, like most of all his book, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith (1927) (trans. Olive Wyon, 1947). That’s because it is “a theological manifesto rather than the detailed outworking of an ethical system” [Alister E. McGrath, Emil Brunner: A Reappraisal (Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2014) p. 50].

         In the third part of that manifesto he explains why Jesus, as our mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), had to die in order for God to forgive us our sins. In our day when that teaching is regarded as wrong and nothing but divine child abuse (Chalke & Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus, 2003), we need to celebrate Brunner’s book on the death of Jesus and thank God for it – even though it is now nearly a hundred years old.

         There are three major points in The Mediator that need recalling and adumbrating in our time. The first one is that the saving death of Jesus is based on “the central mystery of the Christian revelation: the dual nature of God” (p. 519). The second is that it is only in this dualism that we see “real faith” and Christ’s death as “a real turning-point,” since “God… outside of Christ is really angry, but in Christ is pure love” (p. 519n1). And the third is that “the wrath of God is not a mood, it is an actual force, and it is a divine legitimate power, an objective necessity” (p. 482). Without these points, Brunner argues Christianity becomes a sheer “fiasco” (p. 504). Since this is what has happened in the American church, we now see this fiasco all around us.

         May God use Brunner’s book to turn things around. One recent study that may help this along is Christ: A Crisis in the Life of God (2001), by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Jack Miles. Even though he doesn’t mention Brunner, he does note a theme from Brunner, that God cannot give the “ultimate gift – eternal life – as atonement,” without first undergoing “a wrenching change in his character,” by wreaking “vengeance upon himself” (p. 9). May the Lord re-establish this message in his church.



President’s Report… by Earl Nelson


As we approach summer here at First Lutheran of West Seattle several things come to mind.  For one thing we are about to lose one of our families.  Alex, Kari, Evan, and Simon Ceaicovschi are preparing to move to Helena, Montana where Alex has already begun a new job.  Kari is from Montana, and Alex has a degree from the University of Montana.  Kari has been a member of the Council for several years, and has served on the Altar Guild.  Evan has recently served in the Acolyte Guild.  We will miss you, Kari, Alex, Evan, and Simon, and wish you the very best in your new life!

    In summer in Seattle we usually can count on enjoying beautiful weather: consistently sunny but not too hot, and the scenery is unsurpassed.  But we miss the beautiful singing of our choir!  I will try to remember their last anthem at Pentecost last Sunday as I try my best to sing in the pews this summer without their confident lead.  I do not wish to make them feel guilty but appreciated as they take their well-deserved rest from their many hours of preparation during the year. 

     We are also coming to that time in the year when we tend as a congregation to fall short of our pledged giving, making it a challenge for the Church Council to make ends meet.  The Council has provided a report on where we are as May comes to a close.  I urge us all to maintain our pledged giving even as we take summer vacations.  In summer we all may take some time off, but the expenses of maintaining our staff and church go on as before.

    In closing I will share a thought with you.  Is it not striking that God, the very source of all existence, offers a simple way to know Him, the way of faith, so simple indeed that a child can do it?  Yet this simple path is largely rejected, while instead mankind collectively pursues a much more heroic path (maybe), launching orbiting telescopes that peer to unimaginable

depths of space and time (though not to God), learning the strange habits of the quanta the smallest of which has been playfully dubbed the “God particle” and manipulating (godlike) the living genes of organisms, including our own.  But for all this mankind is still a moral disaster.  Is it not telling that the simple way of faith is also a moral path?  To know the author of the universe we must endeavor to do His will, and take the path He offers when we fail at that, which is faith in Christ Jesus.  Science is impressive, but I do not envy the scientist no matter how deep his knowledge of the material universe, if he or she lacks the knowledge of God.  For in one of the Gospels Jesus praises God for revealing the truth to babes while leaving the learned ignorant (Matthew 11:25).



   Thinking Creatively


Let us not grow weary in well-doing

For in due season we shall reap, if we do not loose heart.

                                                                           Galatians 6.9

Good Christian stewardship means that we do not grow weary in giving of our time, our talents, and our money. If a friend or a colleague needs help, we do not turn away and apologize for how busy we are, or say that there is nothing we can do. If a young person is in the throes of addiction of one kind or another, we do not throw up our hands and say “I tried to help, it’s their problem.” If the Church is not meeting its budget, we don’t think poorly of our neighbors who are not carrying their responsibility. In all of these situations, we simply keep trying to help in whatever way we can, thinking creatively every day about how to do so.


      Lloyd Pfautsch wrote an anthem set to a text by St. Andrew of Crete which is well-known in our congregation: “Christian dost thou see them.” St. Andrew was born in the late 7th or early 8th century, and was mute until the age of seven, when he received his first Holy Communion. He was known as a bishop, theologian, and hymnographer, and was venerated as a Saint by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Christians. Although Pfautsch’s anthem is now sadly out of print, St. Andrew’s words survive:


Hear the words of Jesus:

“Well I know thy trouble

O my servant true:

Thou art very weary—

I was weary too;

But that toil shall make thee

Someday all my own,

And the end of sorrow

Shall be near my throne.”


      Do not grow weary my friends!

         ─Jane Harty, Church Council

Stewardship 2016

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

Budget                            $20,822                          $82,423

Received                         $17,611                          $85,714





Transformed: Studying 2 Corinthians


Summer 2016 Bible Study with Pastor Marshall

Sundays, 9 am - 10 am, Room D


This summer we will take 13 weeks to study The Book of Second Corinthians – focusing on 2 Corinthians 3:18 about gradually being transformed into the likeness of Jesus Christ.

      Each week we will concentrate on some six verses, aiming to find help in them for this transformation in faith, love, and understanding. Here is the class schedule:


                  June 5     2 Cor 1            July 3      2 Cor 5            August 7      2 Cor 10

                  June 12   2 Cor 2            July 10    2 Cor 6            August 14    2 Cor 11

                  June 19   2 Cor 3            July 17    2 Cor 7            August 21    2 Cor 12

                  June 26   2 Cor 4            July 24    2 Cor 8            August 28    2 Cor 13

                                                               July 31    2 Cor 9


FLOWER CHART:  There are still a number of spaces for summer-fall flowers and through the end of the year.  If you were interested in signing up for Altar Flowers this year but have not yet, you might consider one of these remaining dates.

MID-YEAR CONGREGATIONAL MEETING has been set for Sunday, July 31st, 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.

READING THE KORAN with Pastor Marshall.  These two hour classes are on Thursdays July 7th through July 28th from 7:00 to 9:00 pm.  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 ten bath 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.

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.  But any canned goods are fine.  It’s all needed and we don’t stop giving in the summer.  So, when you are at the grocery store pick up a few extra items when you see those good sale prices.  And, bring in fresh produce as well!  If you have a garden or know someone who does, as they ripen throughout the summer bring them in and leave them on the office window counter.  They will be taken to the Food Bank that day!




Our Hidden Threat


By Pastor Marshall



Christians have forgotten to pray that God save them from the “time of our prosperity” [Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) p. 170]. We need that prayer because money is a threat (1 Timothy 6:12; Luke 18:25; Matthew 6:24) – as well as all of the prosperity, self-confidence and well-being that goes with it. As Martin Luther wrote on Holy Baptism:


Baptism has made the repose, ease, and prosperity of this life a very poison and a hindrance to its work. For in the easy life no one learns to suffer, to die with gladness, to get rid of sin, and to live in harmony with baptism. Instead there grows only love of this life and horror of eternal life, fear of death, and unwillingness to blot out sin (Luther’s Works 35:32).


     Today the churches have given up on this and are crazed with wealth, success, happiness, victory and feeling good. In a wonderful recent study on how all of this unfolded in America, we’re told it came from the rejection of the “ethic of self-denial as a stony orthodoxy barren of the Gospel’s abundant promises” [Kate Bowler, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel (Oxford, 2013) p. 7]. One such promise was the supposed optimism that we can do all things in Christ (Philippians 4:13, Bowler, p. 237). But this verse is not about self-reliance and prosperity (Bowler, p. 227). No, as Luther points out:

This is a great power: to be able to turn an unbearable yoke into one that is not only bearable but even pleasant and light, not by changing the load itself but by changing the person carrying it. For the person himself is clothed with new strength (Philippians 4:13) (Luther’s Works 67:148).


      So personal transformation matters more here than going from deprivation to prosperity. May this Biblical, Christian point resound in the churches today.





Misrepresenting Our Heavenly Home:

Bishop Unti on the Life to Come

By Pastor Marshall

May 3, 2016


Our bishop went far afield this year in his May column. We can begin to see how this happened, by noting that Martin Luther liked the symbolism in the miter or ceremonial hat of the bishop. He thought the two pointed halves represented the two testaments of Holy Scriptures that are to bind the head and thinking of the bishop. Elsewhere he calls this binding, being “regulated by the Word” or in verbo esse debent (Luther’s Works 17:144) And as for the two ribbons flapping in the back, they point to the free proclamation of Gospel and its enlivening Spirit, when the bishop’s preaching is controlled by those same Scriptures (LW 13:296).

            So the problem with our bishop’s May column is that he wrote it without wearing – so to speak – his miter. That’s seen in the way he runs aground by veering far afield from Holy Scriptures. We see this first when he says he doesn’t know if there is a life after death. Toward the end of his column he does admit that it is likely there is life after death. But he then reasserts that he still does not know for sure. What he should have said is that the Bible is clear that there is life after death (John 14:1–6), but that he has trouble believing this because he is weak, limited and a sinner – like all of us are (Mark 7:20–23; Romans 7:15–24). But that basic Biblical distinction between God’s faithfulness and our unfaithfulness (2 Timothy 2:13) is nowhere to be found in what he writes. As a result the bishop silences the independent voice of the Bible. He drowns it out by his unbelief and unknowing (2 Peter 1:5). And he does this in the name of honesty and avoiding pat answers. Those concerns, however, should not blunt the good news. All they should have done – in all humility (James 4:10) – was to have noted his failings, and left the Biblical word alone to stand tall (Isaiah 55:11) apart from his concerns.

            Second he wanders away from the Holy Scriptures by saying that death has been his great teacher, instead of being a threat and his worst enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26). Without that recognition, the victory over death by way of the crucifixion of Christ (Hebrews 2:14), looks like much ado about nothing. It isn’t needed since death isn’t the greatest enemy we have to be defeated. Here we see how his column is closer to the new novel by the National Book Award winning author, Don DeLillo, when he says that “death is a cultural artifact, not a strict determination of what is humanly inevitable” (Zero K: A Novel, Scribner, 2016, p. 71).

            Third he goes awry when he says that near death experiences provide compelling clues about a life to come after we die – which are far from being pat answers for him, apparently because they are unlike Biblical citations. But these reports are highly contentious and thought by many to be based on wishful thinking and sensory projections rather than anything verifiably factual (see Susan Blackmore, Dying to Live: Near Death Experiences, Prometheus, 1993; and Oliver Sacks, Hallucinations, Knopf, 2012).

            Fourth he errs by placing confidence in his ability to extrapolate, or reason his way from, the wonders of a new born baby to life after death. Many unbelievers, however, have babies and aren’t moved to consider a life to come because of their new little ones (see Liza Mundy, Everything Conceivable: How the Science of Assisted Reproduction is Changing Our World, Anchor, 2008).

            Fifth he veers off track when he says he doesn’t long for eternal life with his parents – making him most to be pitied, according to 1 Corinthians 15:19. What he and his parents had together before they died, was enough for him, he claims (contra Hebrew 9:29; 2 Peter 3:12). So he’s not hoping for that “better life” (Hebrews 11:16). Luther, for one, longed for it, knowing full well that this life is “not a life” at all, but only the “vexation of life” when compared to the glory of our heavenly abode (LW 8:114–15).

            So our bishop’s column is deficient because it’s out of sync with Titus 1:9 about “holding firm to the sure word [certus sermo] as taught.” He errs when he allows his misgivings to supersede the sure word of the Holy Scriptures. That happens, according to Luther, when, “wasting time on questions,…. a kind of rust, and a neglect of and contempt for the Word” arises (LW 29:31–32). No wonder we’re told that teachers will be judged more severely than anyone else, and with “greater strictness” (James 3:1). That’s because, as Luther again notes, teachers must not listen to themselves “or to anyone else but only to the Word of God” (LW 15:77). Now that’s a tall order if there ever was one! May our bishop then embrace this demanding truth and repent (2 Timothy 2:25) of what he has so inaccurately written about, and misleadingly indicated, regarding our heavenly home (Philippians 3:20).





Is There Life After Death?

By B. Kirby Unti

Bishop, NW WA Synod, ELCA

The Spirit, May 2016

One of the questions that I assume many pastors are asked is, “Do you believe in life after death?” I just recently had this conversation with a woman whose husband, Andy, I buried at age fifty.

       It has always been important for me as both person and pastor to be honest about what I believe and not to give out “pat” pastoral responses.

       The truth is I don't know if there is life after death and I won't know until I die. All I can go on are some clues that I have observed while living on this side of death.

       Death has been one of my greatest teachers, as I have been privileged to be with many people as they are dying and breathing their last breath. It has often amazed me how many people go through a stage of dying where they are talking out loud to relatives that have gone before them. I experienced this with both my father and my mother. It appeared as if my father was working overtime to wrap up some unfinished business before he died. On several occasions he would say, “I am not done yet.” Such occasions may well be a clue that a person has one foot in this life and one foot in whatever is to come.

       Likewise, I have had several occasions to talk to people who have had near-death experiences. Their stories are indeed quite compelling. What has amazed me the most is the reassurance such folk have in facing death when it comes. Perhaps the greatest clue for me about life after death is the joy of holding a new born baby in my arms. I know of no experience that equals this in magnitude.   Holding one who has spent nine months being molded into a breathing, living, crying, and gurgling human beings speaks to me of a creative force that is beyond my imagination.

       I remember how wowed I was in kindergarten when the seed that I planted in a Styrofoam cup of dirt turned into a bean sprout. Bean sprouts are pretty impressive – but come on – a baby?

       My reasoning goes like this, “Whatever force is behind the creation of a baby surely has the capacity to create new life when death comes. To create new life.” The force for me is the God I have come to know as the Life Giver in so many facets of my life.

       I must add that May is my month to believe in the power of life. It is the month that restores my soul after a long, dark, cold and very wet winter. Winter is when everything dies for me and I have to fight extra hard against the darkness. May is life in full bloom. The yard is still green, the rhododendrons are in all of their glory and the trees are thick in leaves, needles and green.

       Death and life are baked into all of the creation giving me great cause to believe that, when death comes, be prepared for the likelihood that life will follow.

       I loved Andy in life and there is nothing more that I want for my friend Cheryl than to see him again. Will it happen? I don't know. This is what faith is all about for me – trusting the clues that God provides along the way.    

       I do know this about the death of my own parents – If I never see them again I will not mourn because they gave to me in this life time enough blessing to last the all of my life.



First Lutheran Church of West Seattle

Copyright © Seattle 2016


Being Odd


What Makes Christians Strange


By Pastor Marshall


he New Testament says that Christians are supposed to live as if they were not part of this world (John 15:18–19; 1 Corinthians 7:29–31). And so the famous Karl Barth (1886–1968) wrote about the strange new world of the Bible [The Word of God and the Word of Man (New York: Harper & Row, 1957) pp. 28–50]! Living out this alternative life from the Bible is what makes us strange.

         And this is different than having green hair, rings in your nose, and tattoos all over yourself [Andrew Beajon, Body Piercing Saved My Life: Inside the Phenomenon of Christian Rock, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 2007]. That would be too superficial. No, Martin Luther had something else in mind:


A Christian life is above the natural life. First, it despises self; secondly, it loves and thirsts for contempt; thirdly, it punishes everything that is unwilling to be despised, by which it resigns itself to all misfortune; fourthly, it is also despised and persecuted on account of such contempt and punishment; fifthly, it does not think itself worthy to suffer such persecution (Sermons of Martin Luther, 5:96).

        Because of such an odd life, Luther elsewhere provided this contrast for Christian living: “One who is really a Christian is uplifted in adversity, because he trusts in God; he is downcast in prosperity, because he fears God” (Luther’s Works 27:403).

         Luther bases these convictions on various Bible verses that often are left out: Don’t lay up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19); think more highly of others than yourself (Philippians 2:3); heaven is your real home (Philippians 3:20); don’t expect to be thanked for the good you do (Luke 17:9–10); accept suffering and even find joy in it (Romans 5:3); don’t trust in yourself (Luke 18:9); the devil hounds you and even runs this world (1 Peter 5:8; 1 John 5:19); be thankful for whatever happens – good or bad (Ephesians 5:20; Job 2:10); you are plagued with defilements from within (Mark 7:20); love your enemies (Matthew 5:44); only Jesus can save you (Romans 7:25; Acts 4:12); give 10% of your income to the church (Malachi 3:10); and be suspicious of serving others (Galatians 1:10).

         Mull these over and see if you agree with this oddity of the Christian life. Do this, remembering as well that there won’t be much help living this way, since Christians have to go “contrary” to the world – which is like “living soberly in a tavern, chastely in a brothel” (Luther’s Works 75:198)!



Our Bishop’s Defense of

Traditional Marriage

By the Rev. B. Kirby Unti, Bishop


“I have been fond of saying as I have moved about the Synod that we are church at its ‘best’ when we strive to be church together.  I have made an important emphasis upon respecting one another when we hold differing points of views.  It is my personal belief that Jesus cares more about how we treat one another when we disagree, than who is right on any given issue. 

     This is why it is important to me to reach out to those congregations who hold a different view on marriage than I do.  I want to be a friend to all of our congregations. 

     I know that some of our congregations fear, given the recent Supreme Court decision on marriage [Obergefell v. Hodges] that their pastors are going to be forced to perform same sex marriages.  I fully support the position that civil authorities are constitutionally barred from forcing any church or pastor to perform a marriage against the church’s teachings.  My office is a resource for review of any policy being considered for adoption by a congregation of this Synod.” 

—from the Bishop’s Report,

2016 NW WA Synod Assembly, Everett, WA

May 20-21, 2016


Thank you to everyone who helped support the Sunday School students’ charity, Lutheran World Relief, by making donations.  At the start of the year, students had compiled   a wish list of items that they wanted to purchase for families in need.  They also had a “bonus” wish list if your donations exceeded their goal.  We are thrilled to report that YOUR donations exceeded their goal which enabled the students to really make a difference to families in extreme need around the world.  With your help with donating money and treats to their bake sale, they were able to raise $227!  The previous extra donations and a generous anonymous donation on our last day of fundraising helped the students secure $1,143 to purchase essential items for families and communities supported by Lutheran World Relief.   The LWR gifts that the students chose to give include: quilts, hens & chicks, a piglet, fruit tree seedlings, farming tools, and a cocoa dryer (students learned that a properly dried cocoa bean from the farmer’s crop helps it sell for a good price).  Also, the bonus gifts they were most excited to purchase were the dairy cow, donkey & cart, and the rickshaw!   The rickshaw not only transports people, but it gives the farmers the ability to transport crops to market.  The students truly enjoy the charity projects when they know they are helping families in extreme poverty.  Lutheran World Relief has helped the students realize that such gifts do change lives.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR GENEROUS DONATIONS!


Psalm 115.1

Monthly Home Bible Study, June 2016, Number 280

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 Psalm 115.1 noting the phrase not to us. Why shouldn’t we be glorified? On this read 1 Corinthians 10.31 noting the line do all to the glory of God. Why shouldn’t we have any? On this read John 5.44 noting the words believe, glory, another and God. How does God get excluded if we are glorified? On this read Matthew 6.24 noting the words serve and two. Why is there this restriction? On this read Exodus 34.14 noting the line the Lord… is a jealous God. What does this mean if jealousy is a sin (Galatians 5.20)? On this read 2 Corinthians 11.2 noting the line I feel a divine jealousy for you. What is this different sort of divine jealousy? On this read Genesis 37.11 noting the word jealous and 37.18 noting the word kill. So human jealousy leads to murder. Does divine jealousy also? On this read Isaiah 65.2 noting the line I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people. Is that murderous anger or generous, earnest concern? How different can jealousy be, then?


Week II. Read again Psalm 115.1 noting the line not to us. What, then, should be given us if not glory? On this read Matthew 22.37–39 noting the two occurrences of the word love. Why is this duty given us rather than glory? On this read Mark 7.20 noting the words out and defile. How intrinsically corrupt are we, then? On this read Isaiah 1.6 noting the phrase no soundness. Read also Romans 7.18 noting the phrase nothing good. If we’re so bad is there no hope for us doing anything good? On this read Matthew 7.17 noting the two phrases sound tree and good fruit, as well John 15.5 noting the line apart from me you can do nothing. So with God’s help we can do good things, but never on our own because of our internal corruption. So without pressure from God, we’ll remain in our selfish defilements. On this read 2 Timothy 3.4 noting the line lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. So how do we get off the dime? On this read Colossians 1.13 noting the word transferred. Will that do it?


Week III. Reread Psalm 115.1 noting the line but to thy name give glory. What good is our glorification of God? On this read Psalm 22.3 noting the line enthroned on the praises of Israel. What does this mean? On this read 1 Timothy 6.15 noting the phrase King of kings. What does this contribute? On this read Ephesians 1.21 noting the line far above all rule and authority and power and dominion. Why put God upon such a throne? On this read Matthew 4.10 noting the words serve and only. Why are we to give such exclusive loyalty to God? On this read Mark 10.18 noting the words good and alone. What does this mean for believers in God? On this read Matthew 22.37 noting the three occurrences of the word all. How intense is this? On this read Romans 12.11 noting the words zeal and aglow. Read also Revelation 3.16 noting the word lukewarm. Why does God want so much from us? Note the phrase eternal weight of glory in 2 Corinthians 4.17. Does that answer it?


Week IV. Read Psalm 115.1 one last time noting again the line but to thy name give glory. What glory should we give to God? On this read 1 Thessalonians 5.18 noting the word thanks. Why should we glorify God with our thanks? On this read Matthew 10.29 noting the line without your Father’s will. Does this mean that God controls all that happens and whatever happens takes place because he wants it to? On this read Psalm 115.3 noting the words whatever and pleases. Read as well Psalm 62.11 noting the line power belongs to God. Why can’t we be in control of at least some of what goes on? On this read Job 40.4 noting the line I am of small account. Read also Job 42.3 noting the phrase things too wonderful for me. So are we denied control of what’s going on because of our diminished capacity? On this read James 4.14 noting the line you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Note also the phrase mere breath in Psalm 39.5. So does that settle it?

Romans 9.5

July 2016, Number 281

Week I. Read Romans 9.5 noting the word Christ. How does Christ belong to the Jews? On this read John 4.22 noting the words salvation and Jews. How does salvation come from the Jews? On this read Isaiah 11.1-9 noting the words shoot, stump, Jesse, Spirit and righteousness. What is this shoot? On this read Genesis 3.15 noting the word seed. Who is this child or seed? On this read John 1.41 noting the words Messiah. Who is the Messiah? On this read Isaiah 61.1-11 noting the words anointed, tidings, liberty, favor, repair, joy, recompense, covenant and salvation. Does this mean that keeping the Jewish law will save us? On this read Leviticus 26.41 noting the phrase make amends. Is that enough to be saved from punishment? On this read Romans 3.20 noting the line no human being will be justified… by works of the law. So how does salvation come from the Jews? On this read Matthew 4.14-16 noting the word fulfilled. And what is fulfilled? On this read Galatians 4.28-31 noting the word promise. So Jesus belongs to the Jews in so much as the promise of his coming to save us was proclaimed by the Jews. Nothing more. Do you agree? If so, why?

Week II. Read again Romans 9.5 noting this time the word patriarchs. What did they do? On this read Romans 9.4 noting the line the giving of the law. What is the law? On this read Exodus 20.1-17 noting the words God, spoke, you, shall, keep and commandments. How do Christians regard these laws? On this read Romans 10.4 noting the line Christ is the end of the law. How does Christ do this? On this read Matthew 5.17 noting the words abolish, law and fulfill. So is the law the same for us as it is under Judaism? On this read Romans 7.12-13 noting the words law, good, death, sin, shown, become and sinful. What happens when we’re shown our sinfulness? On this read 2 Corinthians 3.6 noting the words code and kills. If that’s true, then what saves us if keeping the law can’t? On this read Romans 3.28 noting the words justified, faith and apart. Do you agree?

Week III. Reread Romans 9.5 noting the word blessed. Why would we want to bless God for killing us? On this read 2 Corinthians 5.14-15 noting the words all, died, live and for. So dying is not a dead end, but what brings us to live for Jesus who died to save us from our sins. Why is this important? On this read Romans 8.3 noting the line for sin he condemned sin. What does that give us? On this read Hebrews 2.15 noting the line through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage. But if dying is only natural, what’s to be feared? On this read Hebrews 9.27 noting the words die and judgment. Is it then the judgment that follows death that makes it so scary? On this read Romans 2.5 noting the link between judgment and wrath. Why is wrath a possibility on Judgment Day? On this read Ezekiel 5.5-17 noting the words rebelled, ordinances, statues, walked, kept, acted, abominations, eat, scatter, defiled, sanctuary, pity, anger, fury, jealousy, horror, chastisements, destruction, rob and sword. How can we escape this? On this read Romans 5.9 noting the words blood and wrath. Can you rejoice in this as does Saint Paul in Galatians 6.14?

Week IV. Read Romans 9.5 one last time noting again the word patriarchs. Is there anything else to keep from the Judaism of the patriarchs? On this read Romans 9.4 noting the word worship. How did they worship? On this read Isaiah 6.3-5 noting the phrase woe is me. Read also Psalm 99.5 noting the line worship at his footstool. Note as well the distinction between the common and holy in Ezekiel 22.26. Do these three readings point to the awe and reverence in Hebrews 12.28-29? If so, why have they been supplanted by happiness and fun in the church today?

Job 41.5


August 2016, Number 282

Week I. Read Job 41.5 noting the two uses of the word him. Who is that? On this read Job 41.1 noting the word Leviathan. Some Bibles have a footnote saying this is a special name for the crocodile. If so, does that word represent anything else? On this read Job 41.10 noting the word me. Does this mean that God is describing his fierceness in terms of that of the crocodile? On this read Amos 5.19 noting the word bear, and Hosea 13.8 also noting the word bear. In both these verses God acts like an enraged bear, so the less clear case of the crocodile in Job 41.5 isn’t so far-fetched after all. Also on this read Ezekiel 5.13 noting the words anger, fury and satisfy. Read also Jeremiah 23.29 noting the line a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces. And in the New Testament, read Hebrews 10.31 noting the word fearful. Or Luke 13.4–5 noting the words tower, killed and eighteen. Then there is the word wrath in John 3.36, and punishment in Matthew 25.46. Does the image of the crocodile cover those violent words about God? How does that make you feel? Check out the words reverence, awe and fire in Hebrews 12.28. Note also the word fear in Matthew 10.28.

Week II. Read again Job 41.5 noting this time the words play and leash. Why would one be so careless with such a dangerous crocodile God? On this read Psalm 30.6–7 noting the words prosperity, moved and strong, in contrast to the words hide and dismayed. Does this show that we get sassy when blessed? On this read Hosea 13.5–6 noting the words drought, fed, full and forgot. How does this follow? Why isn’t forgetfulness the farthest thing from our minds when God so richly cares for us? On this read John 3.19 noting the words light, darkness and loved. Why do we do the opposite of what we should do? On this read Jeremiah 17.9 noting the words desperately and understand. Deep inside us, then, we irrationally switch things around. On this read Isaiah 5.20 noting the switching around of the words good and evil. Does that explain our recklessness? Does the word mystery help in 2 Thessalonians 2.7?

Week III. Reread Job 41.5 noting the same two words play and leash. What would one hope to accomplish by trying to put our fearful God on a leash? On this read 1 Kings 8.30 noting the words hearken and place. Is the temple, then, a leash to control God and see to it that he answers our prayers the way we want him to? Can we actually leverage God? On this read Genesis 18.25 noting the line shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? Is Abraham strong-arming God in the matter of saving Sodom? Is Abraham more righteous than God? On this read Genesis 19.24–25 noting the words Sodom, fire and overthrew. Did God break his promise to Abraham? Or did God know that there weren’t ten righteous people in Sodom all along? If so, was God then only humoring Abraham’s supposed superior righteousness? Do you think? On this read Jonah 1.11–15 noting the words tempestuous, quiet, sea, threw and ceased. So is the sacrifice of Jonah a leash controlling God? On this read Isaiah 13.9 noting the words destroy and sinners. So God has set up a moral, causal, nexus before the Jonah episode which his sacrifice plays into. Do you agree? On this read Galatians 6.7 noting the words mocked, sows and reap. Is that correlation between reaping and sowing the nexus?

Week IV. Read Job 41.5 one last time noting again the same two words play and leash. How can we give up on this fool’s errand? On this read James 4.6 noting the prerequisite for God granting grace. What does this tell you? On this read Psalm 51.17 noting how contrition blocks God from despising us. Why is contrition needed for this? On this read 2 Corinthians 5.14–15 noting the words control and themselves. Why can’t we just live for ourselves? On this read Ephesians 4.32 noting how receiving kindness requires being kind too. What would that mean for you?




Escaping Decay


By Pastor Marshall


That beautiful young woman, Abishag the Shunammite – brought in to comfort the dying King David (1 Kings 1:2–4) – would have been lost in the dustbin of history if not for the great American poet, Robert Lee Frost (1874–1963). His seven stanza poem, “Provide, Provide” (1934), prominently features her [The Poetry of Robert Frost, ed. E. C. Lathem (NY: Holt, 1969) p. 307]. In this poem Frost talks about how nobody can escape decay – not even the gorgeous Abishag. Frost says this sad point is firmly set in fact and quite beyond “doubt.” So as Abishag ages, she becomes a “withered hag,” left to “wash the steps with pail and rag” – “the once beauty Abishag.” And nothing can stop this:


No memory of having starred

Atones for later disregard

Or keeps the end from being hard.


       This stanza is in the powerful center of Frost’s poem. And it holds as long as all that we have to go on are our own resources. But that’s not the case – at least not as far as the Holy Scriptures go. In them we hear about how God’s word renews our youth as if on eagle’s wings (Psalm 103:5; Isaiah 40:31, 50:4), since it does not wither and fade like the flower and the grass (Isaiah 40: 6–9; 1 Peter 1:24–25). That eternal word comes to us from the eternal, good God, by way of faith in his only Son, Christ Jesus (2 Peter 1:11). So even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is constantly being renewed (2 Corinthians 4:16–18). And so by faith in Christ we are forever young, regardless of our age or health. We’re always children of God – growing up to so great a salvation (1 Peter 2:2; John 1:12). That part of the story Frost leaves out of his otherwise great poem. It is added, however, at the end of the new novel on David and Abishag when it says that “friendship is the most precious union two souls can enjoy” – seeing physical beauty as a “curse” [D. Gilliand, To Comfort a King (2014) pp. 213, 135.].

       In this regard, I couldn’t help but think of two Bob Dylan’s songs – his famous early song, “Forever Young” (Planet Waves, 1974), and his brand new version of the 1953 tin pan alley classic by Richards & Leigh, “Young at Heart” (Fallen Angels, 2016).




[or until all the ornaments are picked!]


Sunday, December 4, 2016


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). 
    This year we are offering a way to keep track of your purchases for the Faire on your church giving record.  If you want the Financial Secretary to help you keep track of how much you spend on “ornament” donated items from the “Christmas in July and August Tree,” all you have to do is put the receipt from your purchase in your giving envelope.  Be sure and circle the amount, write what the item is on the receipt, and that it is for the St. Nicholas Faire.  Then it will be recorded on your giving statement.  This might be helpful next year when income tax time rolls around.  It is up to you.
    And while you are reading about the St. Nicholas Faire, Save the Date


Sunday, December 4, 2016

from 4-7 pm


     Put it 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 wonderful time enjoying the festivities!!!!


     More details in the September.  Stay tuned!!!

 ─Larraine King


X   MARY,   X


The Feast of Saint Mary, Mother of Our Lord, will be celebrated at our Sunday Holy Eucharist on August 2
1st.  On this day we will thank God for the life and faith of Saint Mary, who has been called the Mother of all believers because she was the first person to believe in the Gospel.

      Lutherans for centuries have honored her by praying the "Magnificat":

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 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, 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.

                                                                                                                               Peter Paul Rubens



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Sam & Nancy Lawson, Hannah Weyer, Mariann Petersen, Evelyn Coy, Melanie Johnson, Chuck & Doris Prescott, Mary Goplerud, Bill Wright, David, Eileen and Michael Nestoss, The Tyler Schorn Family, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha Anderson, Celia Balderston, The PLU Music Faculty, Mike Harty, Asha Sagmoen, Ken Sharp, Mike Granger, Dee Grenier, Justin Schumacker, Kineta Langford, Ellen Marie Schroeder, Marie Collins, Dorothy Chase, Gina Prokopchuk, Rob Schultz, Ken Arkills, those infants and families affected by the Zika virus, the great migration from the Near East into Europe and other parts of the world. 

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy: Florence Jenkins, C. J. Christian, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Elmer & June Wittman, Bill Wright.

     Pray for those who have suffered the death of a loved one: Pray that God will bear their grief and lift their hearts:  Pray for Bill Wright and family on the death of his wife Peggy.

     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 sister congregation:  El Camino de Emmaus in the Skagit Valley that God may bless and strengthen their ministry. Also, pray for our parish and it's ministry.

     Pray that God will bless you through the lives of the saints:  Saint 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


Father in heaven, thank you for my atoning Lamb, Christ Jesus. Keep me close to him and do not allow me even a moment away, for he is my surest defense against sin and Satan. May I sink so deeply into him that he will be infinitely dearer to me than myself or anyone else. May I depend on him more than on anything else in time and eternity. In his dear name I pray. Amen.

                                             [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) IV: 20, altered]