Isaiah 53:4

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

[Luther’s Works 4:4]  

This Bible verse has been with me ever since I was a little boy going to Good Friday services. It reads – “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” It goes on to add in the next verse that “with his stripes we are healed.” In Luther’s Commentary on Isaiah 53 (1544), he says that this verse shows how God “could not be appeased or put off except by

 so great” a sacrifice – which is Christ, dying on the cross (even though Isaiah never says that, Acts 8:35 does) (translated in Marc Lienhard, Luther: Witness to Christ, 1982, p. 363). And this sacrifice is great because as Luther says, “it was for my sake that Christ was punished and smitten, in order that I might be holy and at peace” (Lienhard, p. 367).

This turned me around by showing me that my faith does not save me from the fires of hell. No, God is not impressed with my trust in him and my relying on him as if he were a big battery in the sky. No, it rather is the death of Jesus. That death shields me from the wrath of God which keeps me safe for all of eternity. That death absorbs the anger and hatred of God for sinners – which should have inflicted me. “For every nail that pierces Christ, more than one hundred thousand should… prick you” (Luther’s Works 42:9). So if my faith is rooted in that sacrifice, then it saves me. That dramatic content gives faith its saving power. Nothing else does. When faith takes hold of Christ’s suffering and death, it gives power to see God’s grace where otherwise there is only wrath. Now, finally, the Gospel was rooted for me in Christ’s crucifixion – and not in my faith.

 Pastor Marshall


President’s Report… by Cary Natiello



It’s time for a first quarter of 2019 giving recap….

     Year-to-date, through March 2019, 85% of our congregation who pledged their giving to the church met or exceeded their pledge.  WOW! How wonderful is that?  As a result, 2019 is off to a solid start financially.

     Here are the numbers:

     Total envelope GIVING was $62,000 against a budget target of $57,000.

     Total EXPENSES were $67,000 against a budget of $65,000.  Our budget is set primarily with equal expense amounts each month.  As a result, each month will have some variation compared to budget, which is expected to smooth out over the year.

     After a dismal 2018 finish for the stock market, as of March 31, 2019 our endowment fund has recovered and is up by almost 10% for the year, at $212,000.

     I would like to express my sincere gratitude to our congregation for their ongoing relentless financial support of our church.  Thanks be to God.

     A special thanks to Scott and Valerie Schorn, who have volunteered to oversee the preparation and implementation of the 2019 Saint Nicholas Fair.  Please thank them personally for taking on this huge and important project that supports our extended ministries.  Also, don’t forget to thank Larraine King and her family for 10 years of running such a successful event.

     Please consider an extra designated gift to our Agape fund which is currently quite depleted.  Pastor Marshall uses the money from the Agape fund to support members of our congregation who are in need of financial assistance with utility bills, rent and the like.

     Save the date:

- Our midyear congregational meeting is preliminarily set for Sunday, July 21st.

- Pastor Marshall’s 40th Anniversary Celebration is scheduled for Sunday, August 25th.


     Blessings to you all.


Fresco of a female figure holding a chalice at an early Christian Agape feast
Catacomb of Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Via Labicana, Rome



The Real Jesus


“The immediate coming of an apocalyptic kingdom… will bring the world to an end. This ending releases the follower of Jesus from all obedience to the world, and only that freedom makes possible an actual following of Jesus…. Christianity lost this ethics…. transforming Jesus’ revolutionary way into new ways making possible an accommodation to the world.”


[Thomas J. J. Altizer (1927–2018),

The Contemporary Jesus (1997) pp. 10–11.]


“Christ is a rebel who wants to arouse the land against the emperor and win the people over to himself…. That title all Christians… must have…. He who is bold and reckless [is] a true disciple of [Christ]…. [A Christian] must act like a stranger in an inn…. For here there is only a stopover where we cannot remain. We must proceed on our journey [and] depart for another land.”


[Martin Luther, Luther’s Works

13:414, 23:399, 30:67.]






Helping the Poor


As we take another look at stewardship it helps to be reminded that providing money to the church is only one way of being a good steward. Christians believe that everything we have belongs to the Lord and that we are to manage these things wisely. David begins Psalm 24 with the declaration, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” All of us are managers or administrators, of our little corners of God’s blessings. So, stewardship and giving go hand in hand, and being generous is one of the primary ways in which Christians reveal the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Of course, this is never easy. The tithe is not merely an Old Testament teaching, but rather an act of joyful worship. It is worthy of working towards. Pastor Marshall has rightly encouraged all of us to gradually increase the percentages of our giving, as we are able, to reach the 10% goal. And even then, who of us can say we have given enough? When you look at the life of Christ, his example to us all, especially during this Easter season when his suffering, death and resurrection to conquer death and give us life eternal are celebrated in awe, the tithe doesn’t quite seem enough. So, it is a key point in Christian teaching that everything we have belongs to God, because it came from God. So, we look at other areas of stewardship as well, such as how we use our possessions. Many of us have loaned a car to a friend or relative when they were in need. It was probably a simple decision, saying to ourselves, “We can live with one car for a week,” We do this almost instinctively because it exemplifies the work of Christ in us, but also because that car and truck are the Lord’s. In the same vein, if someone’s home needs an extensive repair, there are those of us who would gladly open their home to that person during repairs. The same reasons exist for such generosity; it springs from Christ’s work in us, and it’s the Lord’s house anyway. Corporately as a congregation, we demonstrate stewardship in so many ways; such as supporting the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline, the support the El Camino de Emaus and world missions through India Transformed. And then, of course, we believe that our time also belongs to the Lord, and that we are to use with care the time of which we are stewards of. We have been called as believers to special times of rest and worship. Through Jesus Christ, all the time God has given us is holy, set apart for God and intended to be used for salvation, healing, and living a just life. We are the trustees of the time, talents, gifts, treasures and the values of the community we all live in. We have a limited time to be good stewards of all that is the Lord’s. As Martin Luther once penned, “I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all. But whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess.” So, whether it’s giving money, serving the poor, encouraging our brothers and sisters in Christ, or providing the needs of those we love, remember that it’s all God’s, and that through Christ’s example and the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, we can practice good stewardship.

-Benjamin Dobbeck, Church Council





May Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

12-2 pm in the Room C, Sunday, May 19, 2019.


The book for May is Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence (2014), by Karen Armstrong, a prolific and popular author, who has four honorary doctorates, as well as the TED Prize, the Leopold Lucas Prize, and the Jack Blaney Award. This book is about showing that in “religious history, the struggle for peace has been just as important as the holy war.” She also includes in this story the realization that secularism “despite its manifold benefits, has not always offered a wholly irenic alternative to a religious state ideology” (p. 16). At the end Armstrong says it’s our enhanced relationships that undergirds hope for peaceful co-existence – for “we are dangerously polarized, but we are also linked together more closely than ever before” (p. 399).

     A copy of this important history 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 has fared over the years is working for peace.





This story is about a set-up, I’m sure, but I can’t prove it. It happened the second month I was a pastor. It had to do with one of my first hospital calls.

     She was the youngest of four daughters to a prominent family in our church. Both the parents had a high regard for themselves – probably because of their big salaries. All four of their daughters were very attractive – and they all seemed to make the most of it.

Wanta See My Incicion?       

     The youngest of the girls was stricken – out of the blue – and required emergency abdominal surgery. It was clear to me, early on, that I was not the choice of her parents for pastor. I had never met this daughter, but was asked to visit her anyway. Walking into her private room, she was happy to see me. She was very talkative and wanted me to know all about her surgery. We also talked about her family and work. She was happy that the surgery had gone well and was in a very good mood. I was really enjoying our visit. As I was getting ready to leave, I was going to ask her if I could pray for her. But she cut me off and said she wanted me to see her incision to make sure she wasn’t too disfigured. As I was getting ready to say no, she threw back her blankets to show me – and there she was, lying in her bed buck naked! I panicked thinking she was going to scream and I would be done for. I don’t know what possessed me, but I walked right up to her from the foot of her bed so I could reach over her to pull the blankets back over her. She looked surprised. I then told her I would keep her in my prayers and that I hoped she would make a quick and full recovery. As I walked back to the car, feeling like I had just dodged a bullet, I thanked God for protecting my ministry – keeping it from imploding before it had hardly begun.

     Years later, after reading Martin Luther on demonic assaults, I thought that this perilous visit illustrated his point. “You are never safe from the devil,” he writes. You “must always resist.” The devil is “not in your sight when you are armed; but he looks in front and behind, inside and outside, for a place… to attack you.… If you are well armed at one place, he pounces on you at another place” (Luther’s Works 30:71–72, 141). From all of this I therefore learned that casual hospital visits are out of the question in the ministry.

Pastor Marshall



LIFETOUCH CHURCH DIRECTORIES: Did you get your new church directory from the office?  If you were not able to pick up your directory let us know – we’ll mail it!

HELP NEEDED LIST:  Reminder that these jobs need regular or at least yearly attention:  Pressure washing the outside walkways and steps, Memorial courtyard clean up and weeding, south courtyard clean up and weeding, cleaning out of the four window wells, cleaning of the outside stairwells, washing and sanitizing of the nursery and church kitchens.  If you are able to help with any of these above tasks please talk with someone from the office or church council.

COMPASS HOUSING ALLIANCE is in need of bath towels.  We will be collecting them this month.  Donations can be left at the office. 

WEST SEATTLE HELPLINE:  If you haven’t already, be sure to get your tickets on the W.S. Helpline web page to the very popular Taste of West Seattle.  They have been known to sell out so don’t wait until the day of the event. This annual affair planned for Thursday, May 23rd, is in its 14th year.  This is a true taste of what West Seattle restaurants and caterers have to offer in food, wine and brews.  Must be 21.

WEST SEATTLE FOOD BANK BENEFIT:  The 12th Annual Instruments of Change Benefit Dinner, Sat. evening, May 11th, this year.  Tickets: $125 or $1,250 for a table.  

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




Romans 8.17

Monthly Home Bible Study, May 2019, Number 315

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 Romans 8.17 noting the word suffer. What are we supposed to suffer over? On this read Romans 8.13 noting the line put to death the deeds of the body. If we don’t do this, where do we end up? On this read Romans 8.12 noting the line to live according to the flesh. What is this abhorrent fleshly, bodily life? On this read Romans 12.2 noting the words conformed and world. What’s so bad about the world? On this read 1 John 2.16 noting the words lust and pride. Where do these drive us? On this read 2 Timothy 3.2–4 noting the words love, self, money, proud, ungrateful, conceit and pleasure. What’s so wrong with this self-concentration? On this read Mark 7.21–23 noting the words within, evil, foolishness and defile. Where does this negative evaluation come from? On this read Matthew 22.37–39 noting the words God and neighbor. Because the self is left out, dwelling on it is aberrant. Is that why the words deny and daily are in Luke 9.23? Explain.


Week II. Read again Romans 8.17 noting the same word suffer. Why is it so hard to give up this aberrant way of life – why does this task make us suffer? On this read Philippians 2.12 noting the words fear and trembling. What’s there to be afraid of and tremble over? On this read Luke 12.19 noting the words ease, eat, drink and merry. Do we hold on to these when we’re told to drop them – because we would miss them, thereby causing tension, friction and suffering? On this read Romans 7.22–23 noting the words delight, captive and war. This inner turmoil thwarts the new life in Christ – causing fear and trembling. How so? On this read Luke 11.24–26 noting the words unclean, gone, swept, more, last, worse and first. Do we have a hand in this, or is it all the devil’s doing? On this read John 5.44 noting the misplaced seeking. Read also Psalm 119.37 noting the misplaced looking. What pulls us off track is our longing for ease and merriment. Do you agree? Why or why not?


Week III. Reread Romans 8.17 noting again the word suffer. Why is this required? Why can’t we believe in Jesus and remain in the flesh – loving the world and conforming to it? On this read Matthew 6.24 noting the line no one can serve two masters. Why can’t we? On this read Isaiah 43.21 noting the words formed and praise. Were we, then, made for one God – for only one loyalty and service? On this read Matthew 4.10 noting the words only and service. Read also Exodus 34.14 noting the line whose name is Jealous. Why won’t God share us? On this read Luke 1.79 noting the contrasting, mutually exclusive words, light and darkness. On this separation also read Luke 16.26 noting the word chasm, and 2 Corinthians 6.14 noting the world fellowship. Why can’t light and darkness go together? On this read 1 John 1.5 noting that light and darkness cannot go together in God. Read also 1 John 4.20 noting how love and hate don’t go together either. Is this too tidy? Do you agree with this stark split?


Week IV. Read Romans 8.17 one last time noting again the word suffer. What if this suffering is too much for us? What then? On this read Matthew 11.28–30 noting the words rest, yoke, learn, easy and light. How does God ease our burden? What can we learn from him to help us out? On this read Matthew 6.33 noting the words first and all. Read also Matthew 19.29 noting the words left, my, receive and inherit. How does this compensation work? On this read John 16.33 noting the two uses of the word world. Read also Luke 14.14 noting the words repay and repaid. Will this form of compensation work? On this read Hebrews 11.16 noting the word better, and the word lasting in Hebrews 13.14. Read as well Romans 8.18 noting the word comparing, and the word comparison in 2 Corinthians 4.17. On this same point read Revelation 21.4 noting the line the former things have passed away. How are we to regard this coming life? On this read Hebrews 9.28 noting the phrase eagerly waiting. Can you muster that?


Who Trains Them

By Pastor Marshall


They can’t possibly know

the way to go

(lost as they are themselves)

without a shepherd leading.

    Hark! after years of wondering

    and trying different ways, 

    we’ve settled on those

    who dislike the work

    and never have dwelt in it.

Pee-H-dees will show them

exhorting from the pulpit

and walking in pastures green.

Just like surgeons, lawyers

and the like are formed --

with nary any truth in it.

    What has happened

    when now this is

    the only way we do it?




Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Bob & Barbara Schorn, Phil Nesvig, Garth Olson, Chuck Prescott, Pete Morrison, Emma Sagmoen, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Aasha Sagmoen & Ajani Hammond, Connor Sagmoen, Matt Anderson, Kyra Stromberg, Tabitha Anderson, Diana Walker, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Dan Peterson, The Rev. Howard Fosser, Sheila Feichtner, Deanne & Lucy Heflin, Jim & Hillary Thoren, Marylou & Paul Jensen, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Antonio, Jessica, Rebecca Brown, Randy & Mary Leskovar, Jim Trotter, Adam & Jennifer Jones, Mike & Kathy Harty, Sharon Cooper, Cydney Stockton, Eric Baxter, D. J. Donaldson, Les Arkle, Brian Garcia, Bill Sauter, Cliff Robson, Richard Uhler, Marjorie Lorraine Dike.  Also, pray for unbelievers, the Mexican-US border issues and that the USA be righteous and caring.

     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, Gregg & Jeannine Lingle.

     Pray for those who have suffered the death of a loved one:  Pray that God will bear their grief and lift their hearts:  Pray for the family and friends of The Reverend John Larsgaard and Gordon Klett.

     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 for our synod elections of a new bishop. 

     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, addicted, 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, heavenly Father, I cannot live without your blessing. Life is too hard and my duties are too great. I come before you with meekness asking for your help and strength. Give me good cheer. Help me encourage others. May I always be a benediction to all I meet – giving Christ all the glory. In His dear name I pray. Amen.

                                            [For All the Saints I: 998, altered]