Don’t Feel Sorry for Jesus
– Christ the King – tells us not to weep for him or feel
sorry for him (Luke 23:28). That is because he lays down
his life on his own and he takes it up again on his own
(John 10:17). He’s in charge. He’s not abused (Gerhard
A More Radical Gospel,
2004, p. 103). He’s no victim. His suffering is by a
foreordained divine plan that he signs off on (Acts
2:23; Luke 22:44)! No one has power over him (John
Nevertheless, in defiance and weakness, we ignore
his words (Psalm 81:11; John 2:24–25, 3:19, 6:61) – much
to our shame. We might even feel sorry for him and pity
poor, abused Jesus. But even if we do, Jesus still is
– in spite of our hymns that call him a victim or the
Book of Worship
(1978) hymns 98, 118, 128, 137, 158, 202, 210, 226,
So weep not for the Almighty Savior, who holds
death and hell in his hands (Revelation 1:18). Let us
weep instead for ourselves (Luke 23:28) – for our
persistent, abject poverty of spirit (Mark 3:5, 6:52;
Romans 7:18; Revelation 3:17) and mindless theological
foolishness (Ephesians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:4; Mark 7:22).
In this way repentance remains in place (Luke 24:47),
even in the glorious time of Easter jubilation.
by Earl Nelson
The news that our giving is falling short of our budget is a
cause for concern.
I refer readers to the
The 10% Solution in this issue of
The Messenger for any
who have not received the bulletin insert at church.
In a way, though, I continue to be impressed by this
church and our Congregation.
For one thing, there is a tradition here of planning
ahead for the funding of various needs.
These needs are real and will come due and so must be
taken seriously, but because we plan ahead as a Congregation, we
have some time now to rectify matters.
May we use that time well as we look for ways to meet the
needs of God’s church which, as the body of Christ, God Himself
has provided for us at great cost.
only does First Lutheran Church have needs.
We should remember to pray for and provide for, as we
can, the Christians in Northern Iraq who are being persecuted
and displaced in particular by the Islamic State or ISIS.
These Christians are the last to use a language that is
closely related to Jesus’ native language of Aramaic.
See more information elsewhere in this
Messenger if you are
looking for a way to contribute financially to their aid.
I am pleased to report that
we have made progress on the list of maintenance items
in the Parsonage, thanks in part to time charitably
given by members of the Congregation.
There is more to do, and plans are in the works
to finish these important items.
It is important that we take good care of Pastor
Marshall and his wife Jane, who have given so much to
this church over many years, in countless ways which I
am sure are not always visible to us.
A propos of Pastor
Marshall’s many years of service, it is humbling to
peruse the long and substantial list of educational
opportunities he provides in his
House of Studies
(also in this issue of
There is no fluff here: these are opportunities
to learn from one who has put in the time, thought
deeply, and can guide one in waters both wide and deep.
He listens to one’s questions and has answers.
been better taught in the things that really matter from
him just by showing up than I have at great cost at
Come take advantage of the many excellent
opportunities to learn about the faith and about the
world in these many offerings.
“Give ‘Til It
What does this old
slogan – “Give ‘Til It Hurts’” – mean for our church? Should we
give to the church until it somehow hurts us?
Well, I wonder . . . Could it be
that sacrifice should go along with our giving? Should other
pleasures give way so that we have more to give to the church?
Would that be it?
If so, then maybe we should
reconsider how much we spend on our vacations so that we can
give more to the church. Maybe we should also reconsider how
much we spend on keeping up our homes so that we can give more
to the church. Maybe we should also reconsider how much we spend
on our children and their education . . .
Is it naïve to think that God will
provide (Genesis 22:14)? Maybe so, but what if that is the only
way we will ever give a full tithe to the Lord – a full ten
percent of our gross income . . .
I have found that by believing that God will provide – even when
I give to the church “until it hurts” – that I also am blessed
with a peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
May God bless us all with this same peace!
Jane Harty, Church Council
House of Studies
First Lutheran Church of West Seattle
(as taught by the Rev. Ronald F. Marshall)
From September to May there are two different 90 minute
Bible studies on Wednesdays – at 10 am and 7:30 pm. Each
class is 16 weeks long. There is also an eight week, 60
minute study at 9 am on Sundays, year round, that often
studies the Bible. And every month there is a two page
home Bible study made available.
From September to May the Sunday 9 am class usually
includes a couple eight week classes on Luther. Quotes
from Luther are also included in the church newsletter
articles and in the sermon notes for each Sunday.
Historical & Social Topics.
From September to May the Sunday 9 am class periodically
studies an historical topic or social matter that is
germane to the Lutheran church, e.g. the causes of WWI
or recent US Supreme Court decisions on prayer in public
From September to May nine books on topics in
Christianity are discussed in a two hour session on the
fourth Saturday of each month. Book lists from past
years are posted on the church webpage – flcws.org.
Since 2003, a two hour class has been offered on the
Qur’an, on four consecutive Thursday nights, four times
a year (January, April, July, October). Each class goes
over two worksheets highlighting a total of 50 verses
from the Qur’an – comparing them to the Bible. Over a
hundred handouts from Islamic scholars are also made
Pastor Marshall has published over 50 peer reviewed
articles in journals and magazines – as well as his 2013
for the Church: Essays and Sermons. These works are
available through the church office. Appointments can be
made to discuss them with Pastor Marshall.
With the Mind:
Readings in Contemporary Theology
3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, May 24th
The book for May is
Bad Religion: How
We Became a Nation of Heretics (2012), by Ross
Douthat, a columnist for the
New York Times.
Throughout this book he tries to explain how the church
in American has lost its way – becoming a sick church,
“warped into justifications for solipsism and
anti-intellectualism, jingoism and utopianism,
selfishness and greed” (p. 4). At the end he finds hope
for renewal in four contemporary trends: postmodernism
with “the loss of Christianity’s cultural preeminence”
providing an opportunity to regain its “original
radicalism;” a resurgence of asceticism to combat “the
decadent American imperium;” the West becoming a mission
field for orthodox Christians from Africa, Asia and
Latin America; and the 2008 economic crisis for spawning
a “more rigorous and humble form of Christian faith” to
help “vindicate orthodox Christianity’s critique of
avarice and greed” (pp. 279–84).
A copy of this important
book on our new cultural decadence, is in the church
library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself,
contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting
when we discuss how new life may be coming to the church
FOOD BANK suggested
donations for May are hygiene products such as bar soap,
shampoo, deodorant and toothpaste.
WEST SEATTLE HELPLINE’S “Taste of West Seattle”,
Thursday, May 21st at the Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California
Ave. SW, from 6-8:30 pm.
Tickets can be purchased online.
SUMMER HYMN SCHOOL
is scheduled for Wednesday through Friday, June 17th through the
19th. Mark your
calendars and watch for updates.
Compass Housing Alliance
needs bath towels.
We are still collecting them this month.
Donations can be left at the office.
Hearing Martin Luther’s Easter Sermons.
At our Midweek Eucharist and Vespers on Wednesdays, during the
season of Easter, selections from Luther’s Easter sermons will
be included. In these sermons there is much to enrich our
celebration of Easter, so that the great fifty days of the
season may become a time of faith renewal.
If you are unable to attend on
Wednesdays, but would still like to read over these selections,
they are available at the church office.
Celebrating the Reformation
By Pastor Marshall
For those looking for help in
preparing for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation in 2017,
one of the few resources available is from the World Council of
Churches, entitled, From
Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration of
the Reformation in 2017 (Bonifatius, 2013).
Its chief advice is to acknowledge
that more unites Lutherans and Romans Catholic now than divides
us (pp. 9, 22, 60, 77, 81, 87). As a result the celebration in
2017 should be more about what we have in common than what we
don’t share together. In order to find those spots, we will have
to give up our respective historical understandings of the
Reformation, since both Lutherans and Roman Catholics are
different from what they were long ago – and Luther is better
understood today than he was back in the 16th century (pp. 13,
16, 21, 28, 48, 53, 82).
Even so, there are problems with
this approach. On the matter of salvation, for instance, the
Romans Catholic view insists that we “cooperate” with God in our
salvation – contrary to the Lutheran view (The
Book of Concord, ed. Tappert (1959) p. 521). And yet they
also hold that this cooperation does not mean that salvation
doesn’t take place “solely by God’s grace” (p. 50). But that
would be an equivocation on the word cooperation, which, at its
core, stands against either God or the person doing anything
alone. It’s a cooperative effort, after all.
And regarding Romans Catholic
repenting for any mistakes they made in judgment 500 years ago
(p. 84), this doesn’t include rescinding Luther’s
excommunication issued on January 3, 1521. The famous baseball
player, Joe DiMaggio, had his 1954 excommunication lifted in
1962. Cervantes (1547–1616) also had his rescinded. But not
Luther. There is no official explanation for this recalcitrance
in the Roman Catholic Church. Without that excommunication being
lifted, there will be no way to celebrate together in 2017. The
excommunication of Jan Hus (1369–1415) – who inspired Luther (Luther’s
Works 1:122, 260, 34:104, 48:153) and stood for his same
reformation themes – should also be lifted.
The Mt. Tambora
The Bible is clear that all natural disasters are caused by God
– whether they are hurricanes, famines, forest fires,
earthquakes, floods or volcanic eruptions (Genesis 7:23; Numbers
11:1, 16:30–35; Isaiah 30:30; Ezekiel 13:13, 14:21; Matthew
8:23; Sermons of Martin Luther, 2:97). This year marks
the 200th Anniversary of the worst volcanic eruption ever – Mt.
Tambora in Indonesia, on April 10–11, 1815 – where over 120,000
people are estimated to have been killed. This eruption was 100
times worse than when Mt. Saint Helens blew off its top in our
own backyard on May 18, 1980 [William K. Klingaman & Nicholas P.
Klingaman, The Year Without Summer: 1816 and the Volcano that
Darkened the World and Changed History (2013) p. 12].
The explosion and debris set off
deadly tsunamis. The contamination in the atmosphere resulted in
1816 being the “year without a summer” – with clothes freezing
to washing lines in the New England summer (The Economist,
April 11, 2015, pp. 21–22).
Why bring all of this to mind? It
is because of Luke 13 when Jesus was asked if those
killed by a falling tower deserved it. He answers that
the same will happen to all of us if we don’t repent – a
hotly debated contention in our time (see The Year
Without Summer, pp. 77, 81–89, 115, 117, 142, 145,
168, 200, 206, 218, 240, 243, 246). Nevertheless, this
Mt. Tambora bicentennial means for us that we must
always beg God for mercy so that his blessings will not
depart from us (Psalms 32:5; 51:17; Isaiah 66:2). We
must never think we are magically exempt from all harm
because we believe and are baptized. Or as Luther put
it: “when God strikes and slays one, he has [us] all in
mind” (Luther’s Works 28:159).
On Saturday, May 23, 2015 at 11:30 am
Madoka Alva Schorn,
daughter of Tyler & Kaoru Schorn will be baptized.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST
at the 10:30 am Holy Eucharist, we will celebrate Pentecost.
This day celebrates the "outpouring of the Spirit" and
the birth of the Church, according to the chronology and
theology of the book of Acts of the Apostles.
On this day
as well as
will be baptized during the 10:30 am liturgy.
THE HOLY TRINITY
we will honor the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and we will
confess that our God is named
This is Christ's command in Matthew 28:19 when he says to us:
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them
in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Spirit." It is this name that our faith requires us to adore –
for God is in this name!
On this day
son of Tim & Gina Allen will be confirmed through Affirmation of
Baptism at the 10:30 am Holy Eucharist.
A reception will follow the liturgy in room C.
Monthly Home Bible Study, May
2015, Number 267
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).
Matthew 28.15 noting the word
Jews. Who are they?
On this read Deuteronomy 14.2 noting the words
all. Why did God
choose the Jews to be his special, chosen people? On this read
Deuteronomy 7.7-9 noting the words
oath. Was there then
nothing special about the Jews that caught God’s eye? On this
read Amos 3.2 noting the words
iniquities. Does this
mean that there wasn’t anything positive to draw God to the
Jews? On this read 1 Corinthians 10.6-11 noting the words
that’s so, then why choose the Jews to be the whipping-boy of
God? On this read 1 Peter 4.17 noting the words
not. God’s selection
of the Jews, therefore, is to be a motivation for the rest of
us. But how about the Jews themselves? On this read Exodus
19.5-6 noting the words
if and possession.
Does that mean that disobedient Jews aren’t the chosen Jews? On
this read Romans 9.6-13 noting the words
hated. Read also in
this regard Romans 9.27 noting the line
only a remnant of [the
Jews] will be saved. So there are Jews, and there are Jews.
Is that right? How so?
Read again Matthew 28.15 noting that same word
Jews. Does this mean
that all of the Jews during the time of Jesus were bad people?
On this read John 11.45 (and 12.11) noting the line
many of the Jews…
believed in [Jesus]. How happy of a situation is this? On
this read John 5.18 noting the line
the Jews sought… to kill
[Jesus] because he [was] making himself equal to God. So
were there more Jews against Jesus or for him? On this read John
7.43 and 9.16 noting the word
division. Does that
mean that there was an equally split house of opinion regarding
Jesus among the Jews? On this read John 15.18 noting the line
the world… has hated me.
Read also John 19.14-15 noting the line
the Jews…. cried
out,…crucify him!. These last two readings make it look
lopsided against Jesus. Why would so many of his own Jewish
people be against him? – with not even his brothers (John 7.5)
standing-up for him? On this read John 4.44 noting the line that
a prophet has no honor in
his own country. Does that explain it? Was Pilate right in
Matthew 27.18 that the Jews, by in large, hated Jesus because
they were jealous of him?
Reread Matthew 28.15 noting the word
story. Why did the
Jews want to spread this false story against the possible bodily
resurrection of Jesus? On this read John 12.10-11 noting the
line on account of the
raising of Lazarus from the dead, many Jews were… believing in
Jesus. But how do lies destroy belief? On the read Hebrews
3.13, noting the correspondence between the words
furthers this deceit? On this read John 8.44 noting the
description of the devil as
the father of lies.
Add to this 2 Corinthians 4.4 that he is
the god of this world.
What do these assaults do to faith? On this read 1 Timothy 6.12
noting the word fight.
How is faith a fight, and does it have to be?
Read Matthew 28.15 one last time noting the same word
story. Why is this
lie or false story so long-lasting? On this read 2 Corinthians
5.7 noting the line we
walk by faith, not by sight. Is this dictum well received?
On this read John 20.21 noting the line
unless I see,… I will not
believe. Is the bodily resurrection of Jesus, then, a boon
to false faith and a threat to the critics of faith? On this
read John 10.24 noting the word
plainly. This means
that simple, obvious faith is what we yearn for, and that’s what
the resurrection seems to give us. But against this read John
20.29 noting the line
blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. So the
resurrection of Jesus is only a threat to those who misconstrue
faith as being based on what’s seen. Is that what the Jews
Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your
brothers and sisters through baptism.
Nora Vanhala, Mary Goplerud, Michael Nestoss, Cynthia Natiello,
Clara Anderson, Leah Baker, Peggy & Bill Wright, Bob & Barbara
Schorn, Cameron Lim, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha
Anderson, The PLU Faculty, Ken Sharp, Norma Hernandez, Chris
Griffith, Alan & Robin Berg, Nathan Arkle, Rick Collins, Mario
de Jesus, Angel Lynn, Tyler Arkills, Christine Marshall and the
Christians in Northern Iraq.
for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:
Clara Anderson, Donna Apman, Pat Hansen, C. J. Christian,
Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider,
Crystal Tudor, Nora Vanhala, Vivian Wheeler, Peggy & Bill
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 May.
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:
St. Philip and St. James, Apostles; Monica, mother of Augustine,
387; and John Eliot, missionary to the American Indians, 1690.
A Treasury of Prayers
O God, I confess that I am often content
with dimness and shrink from your Light; comfortable in my
coolness and withdraw from your Fire. I would be moved, but only
cautiously. I would feel, but only mildly. Forgive me for
accepting your Fire only to smother it selfishly. Grant me more
than warm thoughts – but in your mercy make me burn with the
Fire of your wisdom and love. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
All the Saints