May 2015


Don’t Feel Sorry for Jesus


                     Christus Rex

Christus Rex – 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 Forde, 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 19:11).

     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 Christus Rex – in spite of our hymns that call him a victim or the like [Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) hymns 98, 118, 128, 137, 158, 202, 210, 226, 323].


      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.

Pastor Marshall


President’s Report… 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.

     Not 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 The Messenger).  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.  I have been better taught in the things that really matter from him just by showing up than I have at great cost at universities.   Come take advantage of the many excellent opportunities to learn about the faith and about the world in these many offerings.



“Give ‘Til It Hurts’”


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)


Bible. 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.


Luther. 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 schools.


Book Club. 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 –


Qur’an. 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 available.


Publications. Pastor Marshall has published over 50 peer reviewed articles in journals and magazines – as well as his 2013 book, Kierkegaard for the Church: Essays and Sermons. These works are available through the church office. Appointments can be made to discuss them with Pastor Marshall.

                                                                                           April 2015


May Book

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 in America.



WEST SEATTLE 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.

Easter Wednesdays: 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 Anniversary • 1815–2015

By Pastor Marshall

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. 


On Sunday, May 24th 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 Kathleen, Logan and Peyton Hynes as well as Tamsen Ladwig will be baptized during the 10:30 am liturgy. 


On Sunday, May 31st we will honor the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, and we will confess that our God is named Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 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 Samuel Allen, 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. 



Matthew 28:15

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).


Week I. Read Matthew 28.15 noting the word Jews. Who are they? On this read Deuteronomy 14.2 noting the words holy, chosen, own and all. Why did God choose the Jews to be his special, chosen people? On this read Deuteronomy 7.7-9 noting the words fewest, love and oath. Was there then nothing special about the Jews that caught God’s eye? On this read Amos 3.2 noting the words only, therefore, punish and 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 warning, must and instruction. If 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 judgment, begin, end and 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 descended, belong, Isaac, flesh, promise, reckoned, election, loved and 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?


Week II. 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?


Week III. 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 hardened and deceitfulness. What 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?


Week IV. 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 thought?



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. 

    Pray 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 Wright.

     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.

                                             [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) II:442, altered]