May 2017


Ascension Aftermath


Living in a Small Church


On Thursday, May 25 we will celebrate the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord – when the risen Christ ascends into the clouds to rule with his Father in heaven (Ephesians 1:20). Martin Luther points out in one of his Ascension sermons from 1544 that after Christ goes to his Father in heaven he leaves us his Spirit to testify to Christ (John 15.26). What this means is that Christ’s word or testimony will remain in the world, “no matter who hears it.” Luther concludes by saying that “even if no one on earth would accept it, nevertheless it must happen that the world is rebuked through this preaching… because it… did not want to believe” (Luther’s Works 77:313).

      From this sermon our faith is reinforced that few there are who follow Christ (Matthew 7:14). So do not despair over a small church. Rejoice instead that the testimony is never stopped but continues until Christ returns. That is our Ascension victory. Alleluia!


Pastor Marshall




Luther on Government


Trusting & Disobeying


By Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther was resolute in believing in Romans 13:1–2:


There is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore he who resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.


      So what do you do when your government is corrupt? Luther addressed this question in his fifty page treatise from 1523, “Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed.” First he notes that because the world is “un-Christian,” it must be “kept under external constraint and compelled to keep the peace and do what is good.” This is what the secular government does (Luther’s Works 45:92–93). And a Christian may even work for the government to make sure this constraining takes place – “to restrain wickedness and to defend godliness” (LW 45:103). In that sense we are to “take the risk of entrusting matters to” our governments (LW 45:123).

      However, if the government fails to do its job, then we are free to disobey. And if in response the government should “seize your property on account of this and punish such disobedience, then blessed are you; thank God that you are worthy to suffer for the sake of the divine word,” knowing that the corrupt ruler “will meet his judge” (LW 45:112, 125).

      Luther thought few secular rulers were worth their salt. “If a prince should happen to be wise, upright, or a Christian,” he wrote, “that is one of the great miracles, the most precious token of divine grace upon the land” (LW 45:113). So he used Psalm 107:40 to compel them to be responsible rulers: “God pours contempt upon princes” (LW 45:116). So they’ve been warned. And they better clean up their act or God will depose them!

      Because that is his job and not ours, the Christian should never join in overthrowing the government. The Christian who revolts anyway, becomes “an eternal firebrand of hell, for he bears the sword against God’s word and is disobedient to him, and is a member of the devil” – as were the peasants of Thuringia in their 1525 rebellion (LW 46:53–54).


President’s Report… by Bob Baker




As we celebrate the redemptive message of Easter, we who identify ourselves as followers of Christ Jesus, look to our efforts of spreading the Word of the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Here at FLCWS our collective efforts are managed by our Congregation Council. I have been on the job as President less than three months, and already I am aware of what an on-going concerted effort that entails.

So let me express here a hearty “THANK YOU” to the conscientious people who serve on our Council!

I know in Luke 17:10, Jesus says, “So you also, when you have done all that is commanded you, say ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

Also, I know a teacher who says (especially regarding students) that “thank you” should only be used when someone has done you a favor, rather than when someone has done what it was their responsibility to do.

In April the Congregation Council did not meet because we are scheduled to meet the second Tuesday of each month (except August), and in April that Tuesday fell in Holy Week, a week full of preparations and activities.

I quickly learned that rescheduling to a different week would not easily work out because of Council members having work schedules and other responsibilities the other weeks of the month. In other words, I got the picture that people really were making a considerable effort to the extent they could control it to keep their calendars clear on the second Tuesday of the month, thus to minimize missing Council meetings.

As it was, in April no Committee expressed a pres-sing need to have a motion discussed and acted upon by our Congregation Council before our regular May meeting.

So, I want to highlight and acknowledge that responsible behavior, even if it means that people “have only done what was our duty.” Your efforts have consequences and are appreciated.


Stewardship 2017



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

Budget                            $23,051                          $62,757

Received                         $18,577                          $60,090










Stewardship of the Earth


We’re living in a time when a day doesn’t go by that we hear arguments about global warming and about continued political battles over where to draw the line of protecting the environment vs. the impact that protection might have on jobs and our economy. 

     But politics aside, as Christians, we are called to be stewards of the earth.  Psalm 24:1 states, “The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it".  If the earth is the Lord’s, then of course we are to be stewards of it, tend to it, and take care of it.  Genesis 1:26 and 1:28 state that man is to have dominion over the earth.  Pastor Marshall explains that dominion does not mean to waste, ruin, and use up, but instead it means to preserve.  The word dominion is defined as dominance, authority, and rule.  Unfortunately, because of our sin, this dominance, or rule over, becomes corrupt, abusive, self-serving, and destructive.  A righteous ruler, however, which is what God calls us to be, cares for and tends to his domain and protects it from waste and destruction.

     I offer that we pray about being good stewards of the earth; that we will have the wisdom to rightly identify what it means to be good stewards of the earth; and that we have the courage to publically display our support of being good stewards of the earth and all its creatures.  I pray that our congregation will continue its financial support of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle to help our church keep its doors open so that this message about being good stewards of God’s creation can be spoken here and abroad.


                                                                                               Cary Natiello, Church Council



From The Luther Bible of 1534 (complete facsimile edition).


The Reformation at 500


A Long Running Failure


By Pastor Marshall


Our fifth installment on the significance of the Reformation, comes from the famous 1975 essay by Gerald Strauss (1922–2006) on the failure of the Reformation, reprinted in The German Reformation: The Essential Readings, ed. C. S. Dixon (Oxford: Blackwell, 1999) pp. 247–48:

The duchy of Wolfenbüttel [became Lutheran for the second time] in 1568. A visitation of the duchy that year revealed incredible ignorance on all points of religion even on the part of the clergy…. No amount of pastoral admonition could persuade parishioners to cease their week-long drinking orgies. [The report states]: 

It is the greatest and most widespread complaint of all pastors hereabouts that people do not go to church on Sundays…. Pastors face near-empty churches…. [If you ask a member] who Christ is, or what sin is, he won’t be able to give you an answer.

Not everywhere was the picture quite so dark. In the district of Salzliebenhall most children could recite their catechism pretty well in 1583. But in Waldenburg in 1586, when,

after the hymn had been sung and the congregation admonished to answer all questions to the best of everyone’s ability, the visitor asked the people to repeat something from the previous Sunday’s Gospel reading, they found not a single person… who remembered as much as a word of it….

Four years later the parish of Liebe in the same district of Salzliebenhall could not produce even one parishioner to answer the question ‘who is our redeemer?’…. It is difficult to account for such abysmal ignorance except as the consequence of monumental public lack of interest in religion, at least in the doctrines of the established creed.

I’m partial to Strauss, because the more I read Luther and talk to Lutherans the clearer the disparity is between the two. For instance, I never have, nor ever will, know of any Lutheran parents who wish for, and then train their children, to “neither fear death nor love this life” (Luther’s Works 44:85).


May Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, May 24th

The book for May is Evolution: Still a Theory in Crisis (2016) by Michael Denton, former bio-chemistry professors at the University of Otago in New Zealand. This is an update of the original edition published in 1985. In it Denton argues for the inability of Darwinian evolution to explain the history of life, and for the pervasiveness of non-adaptive order throughout biology that cannot be explained by the Darwinian mechanism.

     A copy of this important study 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 the legacy of Darwin these many years after he first published his findings.



BOOK DISCUSSION date from April was changed from Saturday, April 29th to Saturday, May 6th, 3-5 pm.  Meet in the lounge.

WEST SEATTLE HELPLINE’S “Taste of West Seattle”, Thursday, May 25th at the Hall at Fauntleroy, 9131 California Ave. SW, from 6-8:30 pm.  Tickets can be purchased online. 

CONFIRMATION:  On June 4th, The Day of Pentecost, we will have the Affirmation of Baptism: Confirmation for Lily Allen and Evan Ceaicovschi at the 10:30 am Festival Eucharist. 

SUMMER HYMN SCHOOL is scheduled for Wednesday, June 28th, through Friday, June 30th.  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.

FOOD BANK suggested donation for May is bar soap and toiletries. 

Our Thanks to all those who made the Holy Week and Easter services possible.



Galatians 4.28

Monthly Home Bible Study, May 2017, Number 291

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 Galatians 4.28 noting the name Isaac. Who is Isaac? On this read Genesis 21.12 noting the words Abraham, Sarah and descendants. Read also Genesis 24.67 noting the words Rebekah and wife. Link this verse with Genesis 24.60 noting the words mother and thousands. What do these verses tells us about Isaac? On this read Genesis 17.19 noting the phrase everlasting covenant. What is that covenant? On this read Genesis 17.6–8 noting the words fruitful, nations, descendants, land and God. What comes of this covenant? On this read Genesis 27.38 noting the line but one blessing. How is Jacob able to trick his father, Isaac, out of his one blessing, and what does this mean? On this read Genesis 27.41 noting the line then I will kill my brother Jacob. How could Isaac have allowed this to happen? On this read Genesis 28.15 noting the words with and keep. Is this divine intervention to correct Isaac’s failure? Is this word a protection for Jacob from Esau because of what Isaac did? If so, how so?


Week II. Read again Galatians 4.28 noting the expression children of promise. What is it like living this way? On this read Galatians 4.29 noting the word persecuted. Why are children of promise persecuted by children of the flesh? On this read Galatians 5.17 noting the words against and opposed. But why can’t they just live and let live? Where does this hostility between the promise or spirit and the flesh come from? On this read Galatians 4.26 noting the word free. Herein lies the rub: Are we free to do whatever we want or free instead only from a bad result (temporal despair and eternal condemnation)? The spiritual calls the former licentiousness (Galatians 5.19); and the flesh calls the latter illusory (Luke 12.19). What, then, are we to do about this standoff? On this read Galatians 4.30 noting the line cast out. On this procedure read 2 Corinthians 6.17 noting the word separate. Read also Matthew 13.30 noting the line let both wheat and weeds grow together until the harvest. This leads us to John 17.16–18 noting the play between being sent into the world but not being of the world. Do you agree?


Week III. Reread Galatians 4.28 noting that same expression children of promise. Does this way of life have other notable traits besides being persecuted? On this read Galatians 5.5 noting the four prepositions through, by, for and of. What do they signify? Regarding the phrase through the Spirit read John 16.8–11 noting the words believe, go and judged. These moves depict power to change our lives for the better. And regarding by faith read Romans 3.25 noting the word received. This is a matter of activating that power in our lives. Third regarding the phrase wait for read Hebrews 9.26 noting the line eagerly waiting for him. This keeps us focused on the one beneficial necessity (Luke 10.42). Finally regarding the phrase the hope of righteousness, read Romans 8.24 noting the words hope and saved. This comforts us with relief from the life-long bondage to and fear of death (Hebrews 2.15). What do all of these words turns us into? On this read 1 Peter 2.11 noting the word aliens. Read also Philippians 4.4 noting the word rejoice. How great is this alien joy? On this read Romans 5.5 noting the line does not disappoint. Are you ready for that? Why or why not?


Week IV. Read Galatians 4.28 one last time noting the word children. Will we ever become adults in God’s kingdom? On this read Matthew 18.3 noting the words enter and children. What does this mean? On this read Matthew 18.4 noting the word humbles. But what does that mean? On this read Luke 11.28 noting the words hear and keep. Keeping what we hear from God is what humbles us. Is that then the end of it? On this read 1 Peter 2.2 noting the phrase grow up. What does that mean? On this read Romans 5.3-5 noting the development of character. That development is the maturity noted in Colossians 1.28. Do you agree? So Christians begin as children and later become adults. Is that right? In what ways?


Sacrament of Penance

On the third Saturday of each month, between 3 and 5 pm, the Sacrament of Penance is offered in the Chapel.  This brief liturgy enables people – one at a time – to confess their sin and receive the blessed assurance of forgiveness.

     This liturgy is similar to the Roman Catholic confessional, but unlike it, in that it is done face to face with the pastor.  Copies of the liturgy are available in the church office.

     This individual form of confession is more forceful than the general form used during Advent and Lent in the Communion liturgy, the Mid-week Eucharist, and at each Sunday evening Compline.  It allows for, but does not require, listing of specific sinful burdens. 

     Martin Luther's critique of confession never included the elimination of individual, private confession.  His critique instead only corrected the way it was being done.

     So we continue to honor his words in his Large Catechism:  “If you are a Christian, you should be glad to run more than a hundred miles for confession.” (The Book of Concord, p. 460).  Plan to come – Saturday, May 20th, 3 to 5 pm in the Chapel.  Blessings await you.   



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Dorothy Ryder, Mona Ayer, Dean Walter Hard, Marlis Ormiston, Evelyn Coy, Eileen Nestoss, Leah Baker, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Tabitha Anderson, Celia Balderston, The PLU Music Faculty, Jordan Corbin, Margeen & Chris Boyer, Linda Hagen, Iris Hansen Tate, Nell & Paul Sponheim, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Paul Braafladt, John Matthiesen, Therese Mannella, Ion & Galina Ceaicovschi, Nathan Arkle, Myra Woody, Judy and Dick Earle, David Dahl, Gloria Cackette, Matt Anderson, Carolyn Nestigen, Ryan Soule, the Alaska House in West Seattle, those infants and families affected by the Zika virus, the great migration from the Near East into Europe and other parts of the world, the famine in Africa, Syria & Afghanistan war, the trouble with North Korea, the shootings in Paris & Seattle and the deaths from protests in Caracas, Venezuela. 

     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 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


My God and King, cast a gracious eye on my dangerous voyage and strengthen me when I am exposed to the rough storms of trouble and temptation. Defend me from my own negligence and cowardice and unfaithful heart. I am exceedingly frail and indisposed to every gallant and virtuous undertaking. Grant in your good time that I may bring my vessel safe into your blessed harbor. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

                                                            [For All the Saints III: 1258, altered]