March 2019

 




Isaiah 30:10

“There is no real joy in this world except that which the Word brings when it is believed.”

[Luther’s Works 4:4]  

 

A nother Bible verse that has been very important to me comes from Martin Luther. While studying his Lectures on Romans (1518) to better understand Romans 3:11 – “No one seeks for God,” he served up Isaiah 30:10 – “Say to the prophets, ‘Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions.’” He then adds – “O horrible word! And thus… deceit gets a multitude of people ready, and when they have been made ready, the poison kills them” (Luther’s Works 25:230)!

       This verse has set the whole tone for my ministry. It tells me that no one is interested in the Triune God. Therefore I don’t expect anyone to show up. If any one does make it to worship, study or community service, it is a miracle, as Luther says (LW 33:98). So my focus stays on the Word and not on what will pull people into church. Does that mean I don’t want more people? No – more the merrier! But I don’t wring my hands over finding ways to cajole into church. I instead practice being the herald of good tidings, and then wait and see what happens – being content with a few or with many (Philippians 4:11).

     So while I always welcome anyone, I do not negotiate with them over what the message of the church should be, to make it more likely that they’ll show up. That all Christians should “assiduously” avoid doing (R. F. Marshall, Kierkegaard in the Pulpit, 2016, p. 321) – since no one “bestirs himself” to take hold of the Lord (Isaiah 64:7)! Instead we should pray to God that everyone’s eyes are opened and their hearts softened so that they might finally long for God (Psalm 42:1).  

Pastor Marshall





 




President’s Report…
by Cary Natiello

 

Hello friends in Christ,

This is my first report as President.  In thinking about what to write for my first report I started to think back to when my late wife Cynthia, and I became members of FLCWS which was on March 22, 1987, about 32 years ago. (I knew it was a long time ago but I had to check the exact date.) 

     In the early 1990s I joined the church council for the first time, but have not participated on the council again until now.  For those of you who were here during the 1990s, you might remember the great discord that our congregation went through at that time.  There was a movement by many in our congregation to remove Pastor Marshall from our church.  WHAT! You may say.  Well yes, it is true.  Without trying to relive the past, the bottom line was that Pastor Marshall’s sermons were viewed as “too offensive” for many of the congregation.  They couldn’t handle the Truth of the Scriptures so they rallied against the messenger, Pastor Marshall. (Note: if you would like to know more about that period of our church’s history you might want to read the 5 pound, 8.5” x 11” x 2” thick book available from the church office entitled Wolves in the Church, compiled by Pastor Marshall.)

     What Scripture tells us, and what Martin Luther teaches us, is presented weekly by Pastor Marshall in his sermons and other teachings.  Yes, it may be hard to hear, but that is the point!  I feel that we are very fortunate to have a pastor and congregation so dedicated to the Scriptures even though it is not always popular.

     Did you know that back in the 1990s we had over 300 members and about 130 giving units?  A giving unit is counted as an individual or family that receives a giving envelope box each year.  For the second half of the 1990s FLCWS average annual cash receipts were around $208,000.  Today we have around 230 members and just over 50 giving units.  What is noteworthy of this information is that our current fewer giving units provide about the same annual average giving as compared to when we had more giving units.  What does that say about our congregation, our Christian community, and our church?  You can arrive at your own conclusions, but for me it says, 1) there are few who are ready, willing and able to hear the Truth, and 2) the current members we have in our congregation are willing to step up and do whatever it takes to support a church that is so devoted to the Truth.  I am honored to serve as the President of such a wonderful church with such a devoted congregation.

     January’s general budget income came in at around $30,800 compared a target of around $24,850.  February on the other hand is off to a slow start, possibly due to the inclement weather.  If you got behind in your giving for February due to the weather, please remember to try to catch up.






 




vir
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   x
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 m

H ere is a different – but still difficult – story from my forty years in the ministry. It has to do with a close friend in the church who was a Vietnam War veteran. He was severely damaged psychologically from that war because of what he did as a soldier there. We talked many times about the war and his deep despair over what he did there – all the hacking and maiming and terrorizing. After the war he turned into a big drinker and a huge overeater. But strangely, he also had the most wonderful wife and two lovely children a girl and a boy about eighteen months apart in age – who all loved him dearly. When he died at age 55, he weighed over four hundred pounds – and they had to remove one of the walls from his bedroom to get his body out of the house and into the morgue.

I’m Going to Hell Anyway!

      Ten years before that, a church leader was trying to kick me out of the ministry. It turned into a fierce battle. Many grieved my unfair treatment. One day my Vietnam vet friend told me he couldn’t stand watching me being hurt anymore. So he had decided to take out my nemesis. He said no one would ever know that he did it. He had been an expert sniper in the Vietnam War and he could do it easily. He knew that God could never forgive him for what he had already done in the war and that he was going to hell anyway. So one more surgical strike wouldn’t matter – his goose had already been cooked.

      I was shocked and scared – to say the least. I knew he could do what he said he was planning . . . I thank God that his plans were thwarted; no one was ever hurt; and that he promised never again to make such threats. And he kept his promise – while never admitting that he was wrong. He only backed off because I asked him to – citing Luke 9:54-55.

      To this day I grieve over my old friend and wish that it had been clearer to him how God’s mercy is greater than our hearts when they condemn us (1 John 3:20). I love that verse so much, but I couldn’t instill it in him. My only hope now is that these wonderful words from Luther apply to him:

“Indeed it is so in this matter of faith, that… he who doesn’t think he believes, but is in despair, has the greatest faith.”
                                                          (Luther’s Works 40:241)

 —Pastor Marshall






 



 

The Fool Says There’s No God

Psalms 14:1, 53:1

 

 

by Pastor Marshall

 

Most believe that in the Bible everybody believed in God – it was just if you had the right One or an idol (Exodus 32:4; Acts 17:30). But Psalms 14 and 53 disagree. They note real, unabashed atheism – in Biblical times no less. These two psalms don’t think, however, that atheism has any merit. Atheists are fools, after all. And Martin Luther would agree, saying that denying God is “tantamount to saying that white is not white but black and that two are not two but one” (Luther’s Works 28:96). But not now – belief in God is anything but obvious in our time – just look at the best-selling books on atheism by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. How should the Christian respond to this trend? Well first, we must note in atheism’s favor, that “dreadful impoverishment” is not the “inevitable consequence” of casting aside as irrational “the idea of supernatural transcendence,” and replacing it with some version or other of the “love of life in the consciousness of impotence” (Peter Watson, The Age of Atheists, 2014, pp. 22, 69). So we mustn’t think there are no compelling alternatives out there. But we next have to provide significant counter arguments to atheists – otherwise there would be no contest (Jude 1:3). Here are four good ones. Five Proofs of the Existence of God (2017) by Edward Feser. Faith of the Fatherless: The Psychology of Atheism (2013) by Paul Vitz. The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (2006) by Francis S. Collins. There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind (2007) by Antony Flew. So we mustn’t be fooled into thinking that the debate has been settled in favor of atheism.




 



These lines are from one of my favorite

Bob Dylan songs – released in 1979, the year

I was ordained, 40 years ago. Its theme of

awakening reminds me of Revelation 3:17,

and of my favorite Antonio Machado

1912 poem – “Moral Proverbs and Folk Songs

No. 6,” as well as of a favorite Kierkegaard text

from Christian Discourses, 1848, KW 17:165.

–Pastor Marshall

 

 

Dylan 1979

 

…Do you ever wonder

just what God requires?

You think He’s just

an errand boy to satisfy

your wandering desires?

 

…There’s a man up on a cross

and He’s been crucified for you.

Believe in His power

that’s about all you got to do.

 

When you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up?

When you gonna wake up

and strengthen

the things that remain?

 

(Revelation 3:2)

 

–Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming (1979)




 



 

Ash Wednesday

 

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

 

Holy Eucharist &

Imposition of Ashes

Join the congregation

at 7:00 pm,

on the evening of March 6th. 

   At this Holy Eucharist we observe the ancient liturgy of the Imposition of Ashes.  On this day the Great 40 Days of the season of Lent begins.

 

These words from Martin Luther will

be included in the sermon for the day:

 

“What is repentance but an earnest

attack on the old man and

an entering upon a new life?....

When we enter Christ’s kingdom,

this corruption must daily decrease

so that the longer we live

the more gentle, patient,

and meek we become,

and the more free from

greed, hatred, envy, and pride.”

(The Large Catechism, 1529, IV:75, 67)

 




 



 

March Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

12-2 pm in the Room C, Sunday, March 17th.

 

The book for March is The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations (2014), by Jacob Soll, professor at University of Southern California. This fascinating and unique book is about book keeping and Christian behavior. How so? Drawing on connections with the Apostle Matthew’s (chapter 2) tax collecting and the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, as well as on the crucifixion as a payment for our debts, Soll points out how the self-control in Christianity and double entry book keeping (pp. 10, 20, 65, 125) both drive toward personal discipline and “delayed self-gratification” (p. 19).

      A copy of this unusual book is in the library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss how Christianity and book keeping go together.

 

 

 

 

 

 




 



 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

WEB PAGE ADDRESS:  www.flcws.org  Log on to see what is new! Also, if you prefer to log on using your cell phone try our new www.flcws.space – thanks to Kevin Klett.

FOOD BANK DONATION suggestions for March are canned meats, chilies and stews. 

2019 FLOWER CHART could use a few more families to sign up for Easter Flowers.  And, if you wanted to sign up for Altar Flowers this year and have not had a chance, this would be a good time to see what dates are left.

SERVICE TEAM lists are available in the lounge.  Next will be the Easter Brunch, with Service Team 1 hosting, on April 21st. 

MARK YOUR CALENDARS West Seattle Food Bank Instruments of Change benefit & social hour: live music, guest speaker, dinner, and a dessert auction at their new location of the Seattle Design Center. Saturday, May 11, 2019, 6-9 pm.  Also, the West Seattle Helpline 14th Annual Taste of West Seattle will be on Thursday evening, May 23rd.  Tickets can be purchased starting March 1st on the Helpline web page.  Get your tickets early! 

WEST SEATTLE RECYCLING will buy your recyclables and then send the church a 10% bonus check a couple of times a year. Pastor Marshall is willing to take your donations (newspaper and aluminum cans) if left neatly at the back of the parsonage carport. #6 Styro-foam can also be recycled. Another suggestion is dead batteries.  They are not allowed in the garbage.  Pastor Marshall is willing to properly dispose of them if they are left in marked bags on the office window counter.  Thanks to those who participate in these programs. 

NEW:  Postage for the home delivery of The Messenger is donated by JohnsonCN — Computer Support for Business and Non-Profits - www.johnsoncn.com




 



Ephesians 3.14

Monthly Home Bible Study, March 2019, Number 313

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 Ephesians 3.14 noting the line bow… before the Father. Why is this necessary? On this read Psalm 99.1–5 noting the words enthroned, great, terrible, holy, mighty and footstool. So we fall at his feet and worship him because of his holiness and power. On this point read also Ephesians 3.16 noting the words inner, Spirit and strengthened. So without this bowing down before God we would be weak. Read also Ephesians 3.17 noting the words faith, rooted and love. In addition, there would be no durable, rooted love in us with this bowing down. In the same vein read Ephesians 3.18–19 noting the words comprehend and fullness. Without this bowing down we would also be superficial – lacking in any integrated knowledge of God’s spiritual richness. Note also the word abundantly in Ephesians 3.20 as a further incentive for bowing down before God. How does this happen? On this read John 3.30 noting the correlation between increasing and deceasing. Is this based on Christ sharing his greatness with us when we deplete ourselves by bowing down? For this read Philippians 4.13 and James 4.10.

Week II. Read again Ephesians 3.14 noting the word bow. What is it like to bow down before God? On this read Psalm 51.l7 noting the line a broken and contrite heart. What does that feel like? On this read Ezekiel 16.54 noting the words disgrace and ashamed. Why should we have such strong and negative feelings toward ourselves? On this read Exodus 32.4 noting the re-writing of history on who brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt. This dishonoring of God is shameful and must be confessed by bowing down before him – and not before our idols. Read also Isaiah 66.2 noting the phrase trembles at my word. But read also Psalm 50.17 noting the opposing phrase cast my words behind you. So we cast away what we are supposed to tremble before. This is another reason for bowing down before God in shame and disgrace. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Week III. Reread Ephesians 3.14 noting this time the word reason. Why is it important to have the right reason for bowing down before God? On this read Isaiah 1.18–20 noting the words reason, though, if and but. Why are these words important? Are they engaging so that we won’t respond to God superficially? On this read Genesis 32.28 noting the words striven and God. This is not a lighthearted episode. It displays the sort of seriousness that’s required when bowing down before God. On this point read James 4.8 noting the two uses of the word draw. This can’t be casual either. On this read Hebrews 10.31 noting the word fearful. Also read Matthew 7.14 noting the word narrow. Read as well Malachi 3.2 noting the word endure. Finally read Revelation 1.17 noting the line I fell at his feet as though dead. How does being clear about the right reasons for bowing down help with all of this? On this read 1 Corinthians 14.13–19 noting the words mind, know, edify and instruct. Here we see how reason helps fortify us. Do you agree? Why or why not?

Week IV. Read Ephesians 3.14 one last time noting again the word bow. But what if in shame and disgrace we cannot humble ourselves and bow down before God? What then? On this read Luke 18.24–27 noting the play between the words impossible and possible. How does God do what is impossible for us to do for ourselves? On this read Acts 9.3–9 noting the words suddenly, flashed, fell, eye, ate and drank. This is disruptive and shocking and forceful. On this same point read also Acts 14.22 noting the phrase many tribulations and the word enter. Note also the word violently in Luke 16.16. So how does God do what is impossible for us to do? He pushes us into what we can’t freely take on. So we have the word hold in Psalm 139.10. That Hebrew word, אחז, actually implies shattering and seizing and travail – as in Psalm 48.6–7. This greatness of God overwhelms us in order to get done what has to happen if we’re to be blessed. Like what? The big fish or whale in Jonah 1.17–3.3 – noting the distress, bars and Pit.




 



 

  PARISH PRAYERS 

Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

 

Ruth Marshall & Christopher Freeze, Sam Lawson, Janice Lundbeck, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Emma Sagmoen, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Connor Sagmoen, Matt Anderson, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Dan Peterson, The Rev. Ed Marquart, Jim & Hillary Thoren, Sheila Feichtner, Deanne & Lucy Heflin, Rubina & Marcos Carmona, Yuriko Nishimura, Marylou & Paul Jensen, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Antonio, Jeff Walkenhauer, Jessica, Rebecca Brown, Barrett Dunn, Randy & Mary Leskovar, Leslie Johnson, Qibei Chen, Jim Trotter, Ray Fletcher, Adam & Jennifer Jones, Mike & Kathy Harty, Kai Kindem, Gwen Lyons and pray for unbelief and the unrest in Haiti.

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

     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 Lent.  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:  Thomas Aquinas, teacher, 1274; Joseph, guardian of our Lord.


 

A Treasury of Prayers

 

O Lord our God, who dwells in light unapproachable, save me from the darkness of sin, and enlighten my mind, that abiding in the fear of you, and walking in your light, I may know your glory and thank you for all things. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

                                                                       [For All the Saints III:513, altered]