March 2021

Christ Crucified

We remember every year in the Church during Holy Week the last week in the life of Jesus. This year it is the last week of March. During that week we dwell on how and why Jesus was crucified. Acts 2:23 is our best explanation – that it was due to “the definite plan and

foreknowledge of God.”  And the best explanation for why God wanted his only son killed is 1 Peter 2:24 – Jesus “bore our sins in his body,… that we might die to sin and live to righteousness [since] by his wounds you have been healed.”

     The Lutheran Confessions (1580) elaborate on these two verses: “The content of the Gospel is this, that the Son of God, Christ our Lord, himself assumed and bore the curse of the law and… paid for all our sins, that through him alone we re-enter the good graces of God, obtain forgiveness of sins through faith, are freed from death and all the punishments of sin, and are saved eternally” (The Book of Concord, ed. T. Tappert, 1959, p. 561). May God strengthen us this Holy Week through Christ crucified.  


Pastor Marshall 


“A Masterpiece to Study for Lent”


Ron Marshall has been pastor of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle since 1979. I have just completed reading a book of his sermons, Kierkegaard in the Pulpit (2016). They are some of the most remarkable sermons I have ever read, and that is saying something since I am now entering into my eightieth year, after fifty-one years of preaching myself.

I discovered Pastor Marshall in my studies of Søren Kierkegaard and ordered his two published books on the subject. I was amazed at his erudition and his faithfulness to the Gospel. He has read more widely than anyone I know, both critics of Christianity and the works of Martin Luther and Kierkegaard.

     His messages are uncompromising to the world, the flesh and the devil and theological innovation. He is committed to “old” Christianity which “knows about and believes in the desperateness of sin, the centrality and uniqueness of the blood sacrifice of Jesus to overcome God’s wrath for our salvation, the struggles of faith, the pressing need for and difficulty of denying ourselves on a daily basis, and the fear of everlasting judgment.” He “cannot abide by the revision to Christianity which says that there is no Judgment Day. And the same goes for saying that the Bible is not the definitive Word of God for all time.” The reason for his sermons is “to consistently drum into our hard heads the severe mercy of God in Jesus Christ.”

     He is not an old fogey. He is a student of Bob Dylan’s songs, writings, paintings and movies. He has been teaching a four-week class for years to hundreds on “Reading the Koran”. All proceeds of the sale of his book go to benefit the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline.

     His sermons cover all the major themes in Christianity: the parables of Jesus, the Christmas story, the atonement, heaven and hell. His footnotes are a treasury in themselves as they extensively quote atheists, pundits, commentators, critics of Christian orthodoxy, preachers and postmodern philosophers. He also includes a review of his first book on Kierkegaard (Kierkegaard for the Church, 2013) by a member of his congregation, a retired Union ironworker who claimed to have read only three books in his life – the Bible and the biographies of Crazy Horse and Hank Williams and was raised in a horse barn! He looked up every word he didn’t understand and penciled in the meanings, off to the side of the page, knowing that this would help him re-read the book later with greater ease and understanding. He found something on every page he had to underline and stress for future study. He made himself read all the footnotes on every page. It took him three and half months to complete it. What dedication!

     I cannot commend this book enough. I salute the congregation of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle for drawing this out of their pastor and supporting him in his ministry all these years. Order a copy for yourself. You will not be disappointed.


Ted Schroder

Fernandina Beach, Florida

(reprinted from his blog,, February 16, 2021.)


President’s Report…by Cary Natiello


Hello First Lutheran Church members,


At the Annual Congregational Meeting held on January 31, 2021 our church budget was approved.  The budget contained some important aspects to note.

1. The congregation approved the 2021 operating budget of ~$275,000, which was basically the same as our 2020 budget ($276,000).

2. Based on giving in the second half of 2020, and as has continued through the first seven weeks of 2021, our projected income for 2021 is likely to fall significantly short of the giving needed to meet the approved 2021 budget of ~$275,000.

3. The congregation approved the 2021 budget anticipating that we will need to use the cash we had at the end of 2020 to meet our 2021 budget.

4. At the end of 2020, we had about $57,000 in cash available for covering the anticipated 2021 budget shortfall.  We projected we would need to use one-third of the $57,000 (or $19,000) to cover the anticipated budget shortfall.  If the current trend continues throughout 2021, we’re likely to use closer to half or two thirds of the $57,000 (or $28,500 to $38,000).

     We were blessed with fabulous (and unusual) giving in 2020, which allowed us to give additional monies to our extended ministries and also to build up our cash reserves.  Our cash reserves are what allowed us to approve the 2021 budget.  Without those reserves, our 2021 budget would have had to be significantly less with significant reductions in our expenses.  Praise God and our congregation for 2020 ending so strong that it can continue to benefit us well into 2021.

     But, just like how you run your own home budget, it is not a preferred or good practice to use ones reserves to cover typical operating expenses.  In other words, you don’t want to spend more money than you take in at any given time.  The cash that we had from 2020 could be gone before we know it and we will obviously be in a very different situation.  I will keep you informed monthly as to where our finances stand throughout the year.  God bless you for your continued support of God’s place of worship.  By sustaining the church through this astonishingly strange time, we can look forward to coming back to what we have come to love and expect from attending our indoor worship services.

     At the March council meeting we will discuss identifying and adopting measurable metrics to better define our CRITERIA for RESUMING INDOOR WORSHIP SERVICES at FLCWS (Criteria #3), which states, "Newly diagnosed COVID-19 cases during the prior two weeks in King County are minimal and declining.” Our goal is to have an easily identified threshold to use to determine when in-person worship services will resume.

     Finally, I want to recognize Dale Korsmo and Ken Hovde.  It seems like there is not a week that goes by that Dale and Ken aren’t working on a maintenance or repair project, or installation of new equipment for First     Lutheran Church.  Without them, we would be spending a ton of money on  all the projects that they do for the church.  They are truly a gift to us.  Thank you Dale and Ken for all your work, expertise, and devotion.  You both are truly one of a kind and we are thankful to have you. 




Grateful Giving


Below are excerpts from previous stewardship articles and sermons that I put together to share with you for this month’s stewardship article:

·     Stewardship means using our talents to glorify God.

·     We are the trustees of the time, talents, gifts, treasures and the values of the community we all live in. 

·     A beginning point in looking for ways to best be good stewards is to listen in prayer and be open to God’s guidance.

·     Search the Bible for answers to stewardship.  Search your hearts for opportunities to grow in your understanding and application of how we can each better commit our talents and gifts to the life of the church.

·     Politics aside, as Christians, we are called to be stewards of the earth.

·     Thanks to everyone for your continued financial support during these trying times.

·     “As you, Lord, have lived for others, so may we for others live.” LBW 364.

·     Even though our life is a little rocky right now, we are still required to be responsible stewards of our commitments which would include time, talents and money.

·     Our role is to rejoice and be grateful, and to stay faithful and engaged even when that is daunting to do.

·     I am reminded of the parable of the talents where three workers were given various amounts of talents to care for – two of them used it to increase their value for the owner; the third one buried it where it just got dirty and did not grow.  We are to use what he allotted to us in the best way possible and for his glory.

·     When you enter into battle… against sin, death, the devil, the Law, and God’s wrath, beware that you do not boast of your merit or work, but rather with sure faith lay hold of Christ, who has overcome sin, death, devil, and hell for your benefit. For only Christ’s merit and suffering is so powerful, so precious, so infinitely valuable in God’s eyes that it covers all your sin, appeases God’s wrath, and overcomes death, the devil, and hell. Therefore, it alone should possess the glory. Your works cannot accomplish all this…. But when you have… righteousness before God through faith in Christ, then see to it that you demonstrate your faith and do good works to extol and praise God and to serve your neighbor.  [Martin Luther, Sermons on John 19 (1529) Luther’s Works 69:270.]

·     “Faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

Cary Natiello, Church Council


Carl F. Schalk




Carl Schalk, at 91 years of age, died in his home outside of Chicago on January 24, 2021. He was a world famous church musician, a composer of many hymn tunes, a Lutheran church historian, and an author of many seminal books. Our congregation was blessed to have him compose many hymn tunes for us. They are: Lord, We Will Remember Thee (2002), Thankless for Favours from on High (2004), Commit Thy Way, Confiding (2013), We Had to Have Him Put Away (2014), To Avert from Us God’s Wrath (2016), I See The Stand, O Lamb of God (2018), and Blessed Bible, Book of Gold (2019). We thank God for his faithful service. And we pray that his memory may be blessed among us.

To listen to recordings of most of these hymns, go to


ANNOUNCEMENTS:  WEB PAGE ADDRESS:  Log on to see what is new! At the moment our webpage is even more important with our Online Worship page each Sunday. 

FOOD BANK DONATION suggestions for March are canned meats, chilies and stews.  Pastor Marshall will take your donations to the West Seattle Food Bank if you drop them off at the church. 

ZOOM online Koran Class:  Join Pastor Marshall’s next class on Monday, March 1st.  This in depth study of the Koran continues through Monday the 22nd.  Call the office if you would like to be sent a link. 

Home Communion is available to the congregation on request. 

“With the Mind” Zoom online book discussion (J. M. Coetzee, The Schooldays of Jesus: A Novel, 2016), is planned for Sunday, March 14 at 3:30 pm.  Please contact Pastor Marshall by email or phone to be sent a link to join the discussion group.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS West Seattle Food Bank Instruments of Change yearly benefit will be online again this year.  The virtual event will be on Saturday, May 15, 2021 beginning at 5:30 pm on all of their online platforms.

The Lenten season: A time for spiritual preparation through repentance and growth in faith as we remember the suffering and passion of Christ.  Join us this Lent for a ZOOM Bible study on James, 7 pm on Wednesdays, starting February 24th and going through March 24th.  Contact Pastor Marshall to get a ZOOM invitation to this class.




The Apostle Saint Paul


“I press on toward the goal for the prize

of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”



by Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther believed that this verse calls us to “deal with this temporal life such that we think of leaving it behind us.” So rather than fixing our minds on earth (Colossians 3:2), we should “strive for the blessed hope [of] the goal and jewel put before us, which [is] the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus,… so that we always wait for it” (Luther’s Works 57:28). Luther called this the “constant gaze” of faith (LW 26:356). This belief is based on the conviction that “losing eternity in exchange for an hour or two is no good trade” (LW 68:61). Why? Because our life here is “a miserable and calamitous life [and so we long to pass from] this prison to the radiance of a better life” (LW 67:308). Deflating the temporal, Christians then are to “only strive to be in Christ forever” (LW 79:275). Without this focus, Christians are “cold today, much colder tomorrow, and are thus incorrigible, sluggish people (LW 56:325).

     We should therefore stay focused on Christ forever, and “not calculate how many laps of virtue we’ve finished but how many are left for us…. For in this way we become ardent, when we engage all our enthusiasm in what is left to do, when we consign our successes to oblivion…. Look at the extent of the distance we have to run; look at the extent of the height. We have to fly there with the wings of the Spirit – otherwise, it’s not possible to make our way to this height” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, trans. P. Allen, 2013, p. 253). This is where the Christian is to be – “in between as the point where the decision is made, as the pivot of the great inversion, not making up his own mind but having his mind made up, not turning himself the other way around but being turned the other way around, not himself moving but… driven by the Spirit of God” (Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians, 40th Anniversary Edition, trans. J. W. Leitch, 2002, p. 109). In these words “the lungs burn, the temples pound, the muscles ache, the heart pumps, [and] the perspiration rolls [because faith involves] running, wrestling, striving, and fighting” (Fred Craddock, Philippians, 1985, pp. 61–62).

     “A close analysis of this passage, while intellectually clarifying, can lose sight of its deep fervor” (Bonnie B. Thurston, Philippians, 2009, pp. 129–30). Luther would agree. Therefore he warns that whoever is “unwilling to serve with a fervent spirit, it is necessary that they become fervent in the flesh. For they must be fervent in one of the two, either the spirit or the flesh. And the fervor for one is the freezing out or extinction of the other” (LW 25:456). So faith must be “a vigorous and powerful thing; it is not idle speculation, nor does it float on the heart like a goose on the water. But just as water that has been heated, even though it remain water, is no longer cold but is hot and an altogether different water, so faith, the work of the Holy Spirit, fashions a different mind and different attitudes, and makes an altogether new human being. Therefore faith is an active, difficult, and powerful thing. If we want to consider what it really is, it is something that is done to us rather than something that we do; for it changes the heart and mind. And while reason is wont to concern itself with the things that are present, faith apprehends the things that are not present and, contrary to reason, regards them as being present. This is why faith does not belong to all men, as does the sense of hearing; for few believe” (LW 2:266–67). But for the believer, he “fights and does not allow himself to be conquered or ruled by sin… and is called a Christian because of faith in Christ” (LW 73:175). Even so the faithful life is never smooth and cumulative. For the more progress that a Christian makes, “the more he desires to become and the less he thinks that he is” (LW 67:213).


James 5:5

Monthly Home Bible Study, March 2021, Number 337

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 James 5.5 noting the word luxury. What’s wrong with enjoying luxury? Read James 5.2–4 noting the words rotted, rusted and fraud. What do they suggest? On this read Luke 12.18 noting the words barn and store. They suggest hoarding over sharing. Is that the problem with wealth and luxury that we hoard it and keep it for ourselves rather than share it with the needy? On this problem check out 2 Peter 2.14 noting the line hearts trained in greed. Why is this? Luke 12.15 explains that it’s because we think the good life is the one that has an abundance of possessions. How can that be if 1 Timothy 6.7 is true? Note its line we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. Against this read Matthew 6.20 noting the line lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. What is this to save us from? On this read Ecclesiastes 5.13 noting the line riches were kept by their owner to his hurt. How does hoarding do this? Check out 2 Timothy 3.1–5 noting how lovers of money can also be arrogant and haters of good. That’s the corruption hoarding brings. Do you agree? If so, why?


Week II. Read again James 5.5 noting the same word luxury. If luxury is dangerous, why do we want it? On this read Hebrews 3.13 noting the line hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. How does sin trick us into thinking that hoarding wealth and luxury aren’t so bad, after all? First, read Isaiah 5.20 noting the words call, evil and good. This switch is close to what the serpent said to Adam and Eve. Then read Genesis 3.4 noting the denial from the serpent – You will not die. But God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 2.17 the opposite. Check it out. So why did they believe Genesis 3.6 which gives us three reasons for preferring the serpent over God – food, delight and wisdom. Anything wrong with them? The source is the problem. Read Jeremiah 17.5 noting the words trust and turns. Read also Isaiah 26.3 noting peace and trusts. Both of these verses say that only God is trustworthy. So he is to be trusted over the serpent. Do you agree?


Week III. Reread James 5.5 noting this time the phrase day of slaughter. Why such a threat? Why such a severe punishment? On this read Romans 2.5 noting the line storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. What makes this wrath righteous? Why isn’t it too extreme? Check out Ecclesiastes 9.18 noting the line one sinner destroys much good. Is that a good justification? Read also 1 Corinthians 5.5 noting the joining of the words destruction and saved. So can threats and punishments bring about the good? Is that another justification for God’s severe threats? Read as well Romans 5.3–5 noting how suffering leads to hope. Is that another explanation for God’s severity? Also check out Romans 11.22 noting how the words severity and kindness work together – with the threat hanging over the verse of being cut off. That hanging threat can motivate faith and obedience. On this read Jonah 3.4–5 noting the linkage between the words overthrown with believed and fast.


Week IV. Read James 5.5 one last time noting the same phrase day of slaughter. How can we stop the coming of this impending wrath? On this read Luke 13.5 noting how the word repent stops the word perish. Read also Leviticus 26.40–45 noting the words confess, humbled and amend. Note also how those words lead to God saying to them I am the Lord their God. What is this confession like? Note the words contrition and broken in Psalm 51.17. Note also how the words rely and acknowledge contrast in Proverbs 3.5–6. Include also the words deny and daily in Luke 9.23. Add to these the word knowing in Revelation 3.17. Check out also the refusal in Luke 18.13 to lift [one’s] eyes to heaven, while still praying to God for mercy. What do you make of that combination? On the reticence in that prayer, read Hebrews 12.29 noting the line our God is a consuming fire. Does that also keep you from lifting your eyes up to heaven? How does that make you feel?



Luther on Ruth

By Pastor Marshall


When Martin Luther reads in Ruth 2:1 that Boaz was “a man of wealth,” he draws two conclusions. The first is that he was virtuous, or “a good and faithful man.” The other point is that Ruth also shares those traits – being a woman of “strength and virtue,” “an honorable and godly matron” (Luther’s Works 8:110). Even though they aren’t married yet, Luther sees in them, at their first meeting, a perfectly matched couple.

     Others agree with Luther that wealth also can mean “morally rich” in this case (E. John Hamlin, Ruth: Surely There Is a Future, 1996, p. 25, E. F. Campbell, Jr., Ruth, 1975, p. 90, K. D. Sakenfeld, Ruth, 1999, p. 38, R. L. Hubbard, Jr., The Book of Ruth, 1988, p. 133, J. Schipper, Ruth, 2016, p. 112).

     This point about the character of Boaz is reinforced by the etymology of his name which means “in him is strength” (Tod Linafelt, Ruth, 1999, p. 25).




Leah and Melissa Baker & Felicia Wells, Dorothy Ryder, Melanie Johnson, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Marlis Ormiston, Connor Bisticas, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Kyra Stromberg, The Tuomi family, Kari Meier, Angel Lynn, Tabitha Anderson, The Rev. Albin Fogelquist, The Rev. Howard Fosser, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Dan Peterson, The Rev. Alan Gardner, Heather Tutuska, Sheila Feichtner, Leslie Hicks, Yuriko Nishimura, Eric Baxter, Evelyn, Emily & Gordon Wilhelm, Garrett Metzler, Noel Curtis, Lesa Christiansen, Antonio Ortez, Garrison Radcliffe, Richard Patishnock, Jeff Hancock, Anthony Brisbane, Holly & Terrance Finan, Wayne & Chris Korsmo, Ty Wick, Lori Aarstad, Dona Brost, Susan Curry, Geri Zerr, Karin Weyer, Robert Shull family, Alan Morgan family, Carolyn & Marv Morris, Lucy Shearer, Julie Godinez, Joey DiJulio and family, Ramona King, Karen Berg, Christine Berg, Patty Johnson, Donna & Grover Mullen and family, Erin, Ethan & Kevin Vodka, Kurt Weigel, Tery Merritt, Carol Estes, Savanna & Hank Todd, Karen Leidholm, Paul Jensen.

     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 unbelievers, the addicted, the sexually abused and harassed, the homeless, the hungry and the unemployed.

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

     Pray for our leaders, 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, 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.

     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


O Lord my God, in your goodness give me yourself for you are all I need. I cannot properly ask anything less from you. If I were to ask less, I should always be in want. Fill me with your Spirit that I may seek after you alone. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.

                                                              [For All the Saints I:955, altered]