May 2021


Real Churches


On Pentecost Sunday – May 23rd this year – we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ.

     Churches look like they’re built and preserved by people and their money. But the Bible doesn’t teach that. Instead, churches are about the Spirit blowing “where it wills” (John 3:8). So churches crop up where least expected and endure when every one thinks they can’t. What a surprise!

     So if we care about real churches, what’s our job in them? If we don’t build and preserve them, what do we do? Pray for them! Pray to God in the name of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit to build churches and preserve them. But watch out! Be careful what you pray for. Are you sure you want real churches? They won’t look like what people make – those religious enterprises hither and yon. Are you ready for real Pentecostal churches in your neighborhood? What would they look like?


Martin Luther thought he knew. They’re where people believe Christ’s words simply because he says them. And they’re “nothing in appearance.” They also rest only on neither fearing death nor loving this life (Luther’s Works 67:353, 12:255, 44:85). Whew!


Happy Pentecost.


 Pastor Marshal


President’s Report… by Cary Natiello


A Not So Good Trend?  Our general fund giving through March 2021 was $65,500 against a budget amount of $58,500 (does not include designated giving).  As explained last month, the overage is due to two gifts given in February that were pledged amounts for the first 6 months, or for the whole year.  If we spread those February gifts out across the applicable time period, giving would be $13,800 less through March.  And, if we continue at this exact pace for the full year we would see envelope giving of ~ $207,000, which is tracking below our target of $215,000.  If that occurs, we will have an approximate deficit of $27,000 for the full year as opposed to our planned $19,000 deficit for the year.  At the same time we are evaluating some very expensive building maintenance needs.

     The good news is that we still have a significant cash balance in our checking so we remain on solid footing in the near term.  We will continue to monitor our finances closely and keep you updated.

     Helping Others:  A friendly reminder that many people in our community continue to struggle to just meet the basics of living.  Some organizations that continue to need our help and are part of our extended ministries are:  Foss Home (ELCA), Operation Nightwatch, Mary's Place, Welcome Table, and our Agape Fund.  If you would like to learn more about any of these organizations, please contact Pastor Marshall.  Thank you to those in our congregation who are able to offer some additional support to local community organizations that are dedicated to helping others on a daily basis.  

     Safe Opening:  As of the writing of this report, the number of COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in King County for the past two weeks was hovering around 200.  The State threshold between phase 2 and 3 is 200.  By comparison, in February this number was under 100 and declining.  Unfortunately, we are further from our safe reopening target of <50 now than we were in February.  I am hopeful that with more people having access to and getting the vaccine that the number of cases will again start to decline, and that we may be able to resume indoor worship services by June or July.  Before we resume indoor services, information will be mailed to your home giving you detailed information about what to expect during the service, expectations for your attendance, and other precautionary safety steps being taken to protect your health & safety.  More details about resuming indoor services were provided in last month’s issue of The Messenger.

     Church Membership:  According to a recent Gallup Poll, Americans' membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year, dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup's eight-decade trend.  In 2020, only 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.  Gallup concludes that, “The U.S. remains a religious nation, with more than seven in 10 affiliating with some type of organized religion. However, far fewer, now less than half, have a formal membership with a specific house of worship.”

     There are many theories about why this is happening, and it makes for interesting reading, but do we really care about this?  In some ways yes, and in some ways no.  Obviously, membership in our church is what sustains our building and its contents, as well as our pastor and staff.  Without our members we would have no financial support and First Lutheran Church of West Seattle would no longer be able to sustain itself.  But if there is one thing our congregation understands it is that numbers don’t matter.  Instead, the dedication and devotion of our members to our church is what matters.  We value the focus on the Word, and not what is comfortable and easily accepted.  We are a congregation of believers in the Word…The Law and Gospel.  We accept Jesus Christ as our one and only savior, and our intercessor before God.  In preparing for Pastor Marshall’s 2021 evaluation, I have been studying, The Fatal Vice: Standards for Judging Lutheran Pastors adopted by the Church Council in 1994.  In the book, the Lutheran master, Joseph Sittler is quoted as saying the church in our time, “is going to be smaller, leaner, tougher company….The way for the church now is to accept the shrinkage, to penetrate the meaning and the threat of the prevailing secularity, and to tighten its mind around the task given to the critical cadre.”  Now, isn’t that hitting the nail on the head!?


     Thanks be to God for the wonderful members of First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.


     God’s peace to you, and I pray we will be able to see each other in person soon.





The Importance of Giving


Giving.  I think we would all agree that this word represents one of the pillars of our Christian faith.  Yet are we acting upon this?  There are many ways to give to our church and, in turn, to our local community.  This seems all the more relevant to me as I notice a growing and thriving city where the great wealth and prosperity is contrasted by poverty and homelessness like we have never seen before.  Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need to give greater.  Although we have not been to church in over a year (hard to believe, I know) the financial needs of our church are just as great.  Remember, by giving to the church, we are not just helping our beautiful church thrive, but we are also helping our community thrive.  Giving can occur in other ways as well.  Whether that be by donating funds to the food bank, volunteering at a shelter, or using your talents to lift others up.  Doctors and nurses can help by volunteering to care for those in need of medical care, lawyers can help by counseling those in need of legal help, and contractors can help by building homes.  The list could go on and on. 

     Please consider giving to our church and to our West Seattle community.  God Bless.

Tim Allen, Church Council


Tested by Biblical Women

by Pastor Marshall


In the March 2020 issue of The Messenger last year, I printed a Biblical test on seven women from the Bible. (It’s on the top of the calendar.) I hope you worked on it and found benefit in it. Here are my answers to the same test – with an added extra credit question.

Who is Edith and what was her Biblical significance?

She was Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32) who was turned into a pillar of salt because she disobeyed God and looked back to see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19:26. Her name comes from an extra-Biblical source. In the Bible she is un-named. Her significance is in showing God’s severe punishment for disobeying him. Note that Jesus wants this Old Testament horror carried over into the New Testament and remembered by all of his followers. That puts the lie to the adage that the Old testament is rough and tough but the New Testament isn’t.

Who was Hadassah and what was her Biblical significance?

That’s Esther’s Jewish name (Esther 2:7). Esther hid her Jewish name in order to gain influence in the oppressor’s regime. This sacrifice shows what may be asked of us to bring about blessings on earth in God’s name -– even to the point of sacrificing favored religious cultural elements.

Who was Seila and what was her Biblical significance?

She was Jephtha’s daughter whom he had to sacrifice due to a questionable vow based on a blessing from God that came though saving Israel from the Ammonites (Judges 11:29-40). Her name, like Edith’s, comes from an extra-Biblical source. Her significance is that she is a an Old Testament Christ figure who was also innocent and yet killed for the greater good of God’s people –- as in John 11:50.

Who was Lydia and what was her Biblical significance?

She was one of the first known Christians (Acts 16:14). She shows that rich people were followers of Jesus from the beginning (in spite of Luke 18:24) and that women had leadership roles (in spite of 1 Corinthians 14:34).

Who was Jemimah and what was her Biblical significance?

She was the first of Job’s three new daughters (Job 42:14) that were born to him after God had allowed Satan to kill all of his first children (Job 1:19). She’s not to be confused with the Aunt Jemima Pancakes (est. 1889) which will be re-branded Pearl Milling Company in June 2021. Her significance is that she shows that good can come from bad, and that women in the Old Testament had hereditary rights (Job 42:15). That puts the lie to the Old Testament being nothing but patriarchal.

Who were Calmana and Dibora and what was their Biblical significance?

Luther believed that they were the names of two of Adam and Eve’s daughters (Luther’s Works 1:282). This explains who Cain married -– one of his own sisters (Genesis 4:17). Luther also thought these girls were an example of how the Bible sometimes only shows us the truth with “the smallest possible number of words, like a view through latticework.”

Who was Uzit and what was her Biblical significance?

She was Job’s first wife. Her name also comes from an extra-Biblical source. She is famous  for the response she elicits from Job – “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall   we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10). Martin Luther says that this is “a golden saying and a great comfort in the day of trial” (LW 42:146).  The New Testament equivalent is in Ephesians 5:20.



Coetzee’s Jesus

by Pastor Marshall


Noble laureate, J. M. Coetzee (b. 1940), has done the Church a favor in telling the story of Jesus in an odd, indirect way in his recently completed trilogy – The Childhood of Jesus (2013), The Schooldays of Jesus (2016), and The Death of Jesus (2019). These quirky books might just be what’s needed to draw secular people to the Biblical Christ who don’t mind living with “a culturally hegemonic notion of a closed immanent order” (Charles Taylor, A Secular Age, 2007, p. 774).

            What makes these books so unsual is their indirection. Over seven hundred pages of narrative are named after Jesus in the three titles of this trilogy, but Jesus isn’t mentioned directly on any of its pages. The story doesn’t take place in Israel but in some unknown Spanish speaking dystopian land. The main characters are not Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but Davíd, Inés and Simόn. Neither is the Biblical chronology followed. This trilogy is also strange for what it leaves out – the miraculous birth of Jesus, his baptism, his parables, his miracles, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, and the Ascension. Even so, there are still Biblical references – many of which are indirect. Most of the reviews of this trilogy have been secular, leaving aside its Biblical content, due probably to the absence of Biblical names and places. But if you’re going to see the favor Coetzee has done the Church in his trilogy, then you’re going to have to review its Biblical material. And those indirect references are actually an unsung virtue of his narrative. That’s because by not identifying those Biblical references directly and clearly, the reader can be carried along by them, when otherwise it wouldn’t happen for lack of interest. That textual subtlety is carefully crafted in this trilogy and is a large part of its literary achievement. Less is deifintely more for Coetzee. And it’s precisely that trait which makes this trilogy suited for secular minded people – whether they know it or not.

            In the first book I found over fifty Biblical allusions. Leaving them out would distort the book. A central one is Mark 3:35 where Jesus says – “Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother.” That verse is alluded to when Simόn says that “the three of us are family. Of sorts” (C228, 260). It’s also there when Davíd says to Simόn – “I don’t like Inés. I don’t like you. I only like brothers. I want to have brothers” (C270). And I see it working when Inés chastises Davíd when leaving the town of Novilla – “You can’t just invite every stranger you meet to come with us” (C277). Davíd’s disregard for his adopted family and blood ties also runs throughout the entire trilogy (S16, 37, 81, 131, 257, D4, 31, 85, 135, 157, 161, 193). Several other less central Bible verses are far more direct – being close to exact quotations: Matthew 4:4 – You shall not live by bread alone (C36); John 11:26 – You shall never die (C133); Matthew 18:3 – Become like children (C143); John 3:4 – Can one enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born again? (C148); Luke 9:58 – The Son of man has nowhere to lay his head (C187); Matthew 16:16 – Who do you say that I am? (C193); John 14:6 – I am the truth (C225); and Matthew 7:7 – Seek and you will find (C246).

            Another central verse in this first book is John 9:39 – “I came that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” This verse is tied to Davíd’s favorite book, Don Quixote (1605) – or An Illustrated Children’s Don Quixote (C151–54, 166, 218, 226, 227, 229, 246). In that western classic, Quixote famously thinks he’s fighting giants when they are actually windmills (Don Quixote I.8). Problems with perception run throughout this Spanish masterpiece. And John 9:39 also cares about perception and illusion. Who can see and who is blind? Who is distracted and who remembers what’s important? Jesus is famous for saying – “He who has ears, let him hear” (Matthew 13:6) (D183). The six year old Davíd is also concerned with getting it right. Struggling with Don Quixote he blurts out – “He’s not a windmill, he’s a giant! He’s only a windmill in the picture” (C153). And on the reality of fictional characters, Davíd asks Simόn – “Why do you say there is no Don Quixote? There is a Don Quixote. He is in the book” (C226).

      In the second book Davíd moves with his family to another town in order to escape from being forced to attend regular public school. This book, unlike the other two, begins with a direct quotation from Don Quixote in the original Spanish, which I translate as – The second part of any book is never any good (nunca… buenas). And sure enough, central to this book is a terrible murder of passion (S128). Davíd likes the murderer, and can hardly fathom why he killed the woman he so dearly loved, his heart being “a dark forest” because of it (S220) – reminiscent of Jeremiah 17:9. Dmitri, the ruthless killer, tries to explain to Davíd that his actions are intrinsically inexplicable – that he went “berserk” (S134, D181). But he does know that he has to repent, say he’s sorry for what he did, and he does (S146, 240) – following Luke 13:5. This entire second book then, revolves around Romans 7:15 – “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (S147). Unlike everyone else, Davíd has mercy on the killer, accepting the mystery of his wrong-doing (S250, ~D181) – as he continues “to hold his hand” while others castigate him (S252).

      This mystery theme is also taken up in the dance school that Davíd attends as well as in his study of mathematics. At the school a sharp distinction is made between dancing and marching (S71, 208). Even though dance isn’t part of the story of the Biblical Jesus, it is in the extra-canonical book of The Acts of John where Jesus says that “whoso danceth not, knoweth not what cometh to pass” (M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, 1966, p. 253) (S246). Dance for Davíd is a revelatory, trance-like experience (S70), similar to those trances in Acts 22:17 and 2 Corinthians 12:2. And as far as math goes, in Davíd’s hands it is more than counting and calculating but communing with heavenly constellations (S62, 69, 244).

      And there are also direct Biblical quotations in this second book, again of a secondary nature: Luke 15:23 – Killing the fatted calf (S86); Matthew 17: 27 – You’ll find a coin in the first fish you hook (S105); John 3:8 – The wind blows where it wills (S173); Jeremiah 31:34 – Forgiven and forgotten (S221); Matthew 5:40 – Take my coat too (S223); and Matthew 25:30 – You’ll be cast into utter darkness (S249). All of these verses are part of the “religion of the stars” that Davíd learns at his dance school in Estrella – the town of stars (S74).

      In the last book the ten year old Davíd dies of a rare disease (D49, 58, 60, 141, 175, 188) which throws his legacy into question (D103, 129, 155, 162, 175, 184, 186, 190, 195, 197). Who will tell his story and what actually is it? Most who knew Davíd couldn’t say. The closest that they get to it is that he championed bravery (D47, 55, 87, 112, 195, 197). But even that doesn’t seem to capture his message (D85, 104). This is close to what Luke 18:34 says, that the followers of Jesus “understood none of these things; his sayings were hid from them, and they did not grasp what was said.” And yet the message was formulated and sent out. That wobbly basis for the written message made it possible later to say in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 that it was “not the word of men but really the word of God which is at work in you.”

      As for Davíd dying of some unknown disease instead of on the cross, this echoes Matthew 8:17 that Jesus “took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” And yet when asked, Davíd says his disease isn’t “transmissible” (D57), which weakens the connection with Matthew 8:17. And yet when trying to figure out why Davíd got sick, we’re told that it was “as if he had been slapped by a giant hand” (D50). This is close to Isaiah 53:4–5 that “he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed.” That small line about being slapped doesn’t cover all of the ground in Isaiah 53:4–5, but it does allude to it.

      This last book also has some direct Biblical quotations: Matthew 2:18 – Slaughter of the innocents (D17); Matthew 16:25 – Whoever would save his life will lose it (D20); Matthew 20:25 – Don’t lord it over others (D21); Exodus 3:14 – I am who I am (D35); Matthew 27:25 – His blood be on us and on our children (D39); John 20:17 – Don’t touch me (D46); Matthew 27:26 – They scourged Jesus (D52); Luke 4:23 – Physician, heal yourself (D90); Matthew 3:17 – In whom I am well pleased (D108); and Luke 9:60 – Leave the dead to bury their own dead (D187). All of these verses indirectly fill out the end of Davíd’s life giving it some sort of Biblical patina.

      This trilogy makes three indirect points about Jesus that can be elaborated upon for those whose interest has been piqued. In the first book Jesus is counter-cultural both socially in rejecting his family, and perceptually in taking up the little noticed. A book that pursues this is Resident Aliens: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition (2014) by Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon. In the second book the mystical is accentuated in unexplainable evil and in ecstatic expression. This non-evidentiary viewpoint is analyzed in Alvin Plantinga’s modern masterpiece, Warranted Christian Belief (2000). And in the last book the sacrificial death of Jesus is covered. This is developed in great detail in The Glory of the Atonement (2004), edited by C. Hill and F. James – upholding “the reconciliation of God to us and us to God” (p. 452). The complications in sharing this message are magisterially discussed in The Enduring Authority of Christian Scriptures (2016), edited by D. A. Carson. These three points could well have been Davíd’s message.

      The characters in this trilogy are “amusing but grave, likeable but dislikeable, right but wrong, they’re all filled, at once, with veracity and consternation,…. wholly believable [but not] wholly understandable” (Will Forrester, Los Angeles Review of Books, May 26, 2020). Because of that we’ll probably never know for sure the message of this trilogy. And could that be because Coetzee’s narrative also shares in the Bible’s occasional way of speaking with, what Martin Luther long ago thought was, “the smallest possible number of words, like a view through latticework”? (Luther’s Works 1:282).


Extended Ministry


In March of this year the church received a generous and anonymous gift of $10,000 to the Extended Ministry Committee with instructions that it be used to pay off our four budgeted charities first ($1,500, of which $100 had already been distributed).

     Our four budgeted charities are:

  • The Agape Fund ‒ This is a discretionary fund for the Pastor to distribute to those who come to the church in urgent financial need.

  • The West Seattle Food Bank (WSFB) ‒ This is a private non-profit organization that serves 1,000-2,000 households every week. Services include distributing food, financial assistance, clothing and resource referrals.

  • El Camino de Emaus ‒ Walking in solidarity with the poor, El Camino de Emaus proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ in Word and Sacrament and service. They are a multicultural expression of God’s love lived out in the Latino community of the Skagit Valley.

  • Compass Housing Alliance in the Lutheran tradition of caring through service, this organization, formerly Lutheran Compass Center, develops and provides essential services and affordable housing for homeless and low-income people in the greater Puget Sound region.


     That left $8,600 to be distributed at the discretion of Church Council with a deadline for disbursement of 6/30/2021.


     A proposal was presented and approved at the April council meeting that we provide for immediate dispersal the balance as follows:

  • Foss Home, ELCA ‒ $2,000

  • Operation Nightwatch ‒ $2,000

  • Mary's Place ‒ $2,000

  • Welcome Table ‒ $2,000

  • Agape Fund FLCWS - $600 above what was budgeted for this year

     Watch for details of these additional organizations to come in future Messenger articles.

     We are grateful for the generosity of our congregation at all times, but especially during this time of uncertainty due to the Covid pandemic. Let us ever give thanks to God for His goodness and mercy. Remember the needy in prayer and continue to serve whenever you can.


Janine Douglass, Church Council


ANNOUNCEMENTS:  All Pastor’s Classes are through ZOOM Online.  Please contact Pastor Marshall by email ( or phone (206-935-6530) to register for these classes.  Schedule:  The next Koran Class starts May 3 and will continue on Monday evenings through the 24th.   Easter Bible Class, studying 1 Corinthians 15, Wednesdays at 7 pm, continues through May 19.

PASTOR MARSHALL continues to provide Home Communion upon request.

WEST SEATTLE FOOD BANK suggested donation for May is bar soap and toiletries.  Pastor Marshall will take these needed donated items of food into the WS Food Bank if left at the church.  Please call or email the office to arrange for the items to be brought in if left at the front door of the offices. 

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. 

CONFIRMATION:  On Pentecost Sunday, May 23rd, Simon Ceaicovschi, son of Alex & Kari Ceaicovschi, will have technically completed his confirmation studies.  All in person confirmations of new membership and youth affirmation of baptism will be scheduled after the official re-opening of the building. 



Luther on Ruth


By Pastor Marshall


When Boaz covers Ruth with his coat in Ruth 3:9, Martin Luther see that as Christ covering us with his righteousness so that our sins are not counted against us (Luther’s Works 25:265). Christ “places his hand upon us,” Luther writes, “and all is well with us. He spreads his cloak and covers us, blessed Savior throughout all ages, Amen” (LW 31:190). Some translations capture this idea well – “spread your wing over me for you are a redeemer” (E. F. Campbell, Jr., Ruth, 1975, p. 115).

     The connection of this verse with the wedding imagery in Ezekiel 16:8 also suggests the connection between Christ and the church in Revelation 21:2 (E. J. Hamlin, Ruth, 1996, p. 45). There Christ covers his Church with his blood and thereby redeems her (Revelation 7:14). Reading Ruth 3:9 in this way shows how it prefigures the central teaching of redemption in the New Testament. On that Luther writes – “Christ’s… suffering is so powerful, so precious, so infinitely valuable in God’s eyes that it covers all your sins, appeases God’s wrath, and overcomes death, the devil, and hell…. for your benefit” (LW 69:270).  


James 2:13

Monthly Home Bible Study, May 2021, Number 339

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 2.13 noting the word judgment. What is this judgment? Note in James 4.11–12 that we aren’t supposed to judge others. Note also that this has to do with speaking evil of them. What’s the mistake we make here? On this read John 7.24 about right judgments. Is that too hard for us to do? If so, the judgment needed then has to do with God. On this read James 1.25 and 2.12 noting the law of liberty – as the basis for that judgment of God. And what is it? Read John 9.39 noting the judgment that helps and hinders – giving sight and taking it away. How is that divine judgment? It aids the humble or blind – and thereby frees, but knocks down the proud or those who think they can see on their own – and thereby destroys false freedom. Note also the judgment in John 16.11 against the ruler of this world or the devil. What does it do? See 1 John 3.8 about thwarting or destroying the devil’s works. What is this judgment overall then? On this read John 5.26–29 noting judgment at the end of the world for life or not. See also Matthew 25.46 noting either life or punishment.


Week II. Read again James 2.13 noting the same word judgment. Why does God have to judge us for good or ill? Why not just cancel all comprehensive judgments of us? On this read Romans 2.12 noting the linkage between law and judge. Why are we measured against the law in the end? On this read Romans 7.12 noting that the law is holy, just and good. How does the law help us get into heaven? Note the word righteous in Psalm 118.20 and slaves of righteousness in Romans 6.18. When we are aligned with the law and doing God’s will, then we’re righteous. Isn’t that what Matthew 7.21 says? Now, there’s no other way to find out who is righteous except through judgment – for at judgment what’s hidden in darkness and secret is disclosed, according to Romans 2.16 and 1 Corinthians 4.5. Otherwise the righteous would never be known, and no one would go to heaven. That’s why at judgment we’re repaid in Revelation 22.12; our due is received in 2 Corinthians 5.10; and a crown is bestowed on us in 2 Timothy 4.8. What do these three verses offset? On that read about wrath in Romans 2.5. What differentiates this wrath from the crown? On this note the line every careless word they utter in Matthew 12.36.


Week III. Reread James 2.13 noting this time the word mercy. Are you ready now for Judgment Day? What if you lose your composure when Christ judges you? Or what if you lose track of all the careless things you’ve said? What then? On this read 1 John 3.20 noting how God is greater than your condemning heart. What follows from that? Note the line in Romans 8.1 there is… now no condemnation. How’s that possible? Read Romans 8.4 noting the line the just requirement of the law [is] fulfilled. How does that happen? Read 1 Peter 2.24 noting that Jesus bore our sins on the cross that we might be healed from them. So Christ is punished so that we won’t have to be. Therein lies the basis for the mercy we receive. Do you agree – or not like those in 2 Peter 2:1?


Week IV. Read James 2.13 one last time noting the same word mercy. What keeps us safe from the law somehow ambushing us again and making us guilty all over? First, read Ephesians 5.2 noting that God accepts Christ’s offering deeming it fragrant. So God confirms the sacrifice making it indestructible. Is that what the line Jesus Christ is the same in effect says in Hebrews 13.8? Then read Romans 10.4 noting that Christ is the end of the law. Add to that John 19.30 and the short line it is finished. Both of these also block any reversal of God’s mercy. Does that keep us safe in the arms of God’s mercy – as in John 10.29? Not if the word received in Romans 3.25 is true – as well as provided in Romans 8.17, apart in James 2.26, and confess in Romans 10.9. Are our troubled hearts in John 14.1 finally then at rest?




The Apostle Saint Paul


“Our commonwealth

is in heaven.”



by Pastor Marshall


This verse is about heaven being our home and life on earth being temporary and not all that there is. For heaven is “our true, inherited, and enduring citizenship” (Luther’s Works 57:23–24). Whereas life on earth is “the misery of our Babylon” (LW 77:199). Martin Luther goes on to say that “it is the lot of all the godly in this life to toil and to obtain a blessing for the ungrateful world, and to be content with daily bread. In the meantime, however, they sustain themselves with the consolation that they know that their wealth is in heaven…. For they are not of this world…. Meanwhile they content themselves with little handouts,…. but not without hunger and the lack of many things” (LW 7:68–69). In the “meantime we are and live by faith; and here we die daily” (LW 9:157). “Alas, how many hardships, difficulties, and troubles we will have to drink down here before we arrive there!” (LW 73:183). It is true that “we are already in heaven according to the spirit, heart, and soul even though according to the body we are scattered hither and yon among the lands…. But in heaven… we have our real existence and life” (LW 12:105). We cannot on earth make out our heavenly citizenship, “but the sight faith has is so keen that it pierces through the clouds and heavens; yes, it penetrates to the heart of God” (LW 22:204). Before we die, however, “God does not want us to be either up in the clouds or flat on the ground, but in the middle…. In short, we who are Christians are not entirely fearful nor entirely happy. Joy is joined with fear, hope with dread, laughter with tears…. For just as the flesh cannot rid itself of fear, so it serves a purpose for it to be in fear, in order that it may not become smug” (LW 12:81). “Thus Christians pass through the years of their dependence on father and mother, through their time of eating and drinking, of wearing clothes and shoes; and when they come to their end, they forsake all that is physical and enter into an infinite spiritual life” (LW 22:291).

     Life on earth, then, is a test. It’s not the place to “seek relaxation” (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Philippians, trans. P. Allen, 2013, p. 271). Instead it “means standing in this antithesis, in the ‘Now’ that is not yet the ‘One day,’ in the ‘Here’ that is not yet the ‘Beyond,’ seeking what is above, knowing one’s is life hidden with Christ in God. [This] at once both obliges and protects [us]” (Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians, 40th Anniversary Edition, trans. J. W. Leitch, 2002, p. 114). So the issue regarding our citizenship “is really that of ultimate loyalty. The Philippians were proud citizens of a city governed by Roman law. Paul must remind them that their real citizenship is heavenly; their final loyalty is not to Rome, or even to him, but to the enthroned Christ…. This is a particularly important word for citizens of proud and mighty nations in our own day. No matter how good one’s earthly citizenship is, the Christians’ ultimate citizenship is in heaven, and they must live under its laws and mandates and no other, lesser ones (no matter how good they may seem) should be allowed to take precedence. In Paul’s view Christian communities are, in fact, outposts of heaven and their citizens bow the knee only to Christ” (Bonnie B. Thurston, Philippians, 2009, p. 138). And so, understandably, “the Christian way of life involves suffering for the sake of higher loyalties. True Christians cannot set their minds on Christ without relinquishing ‘earthly things,’ which cannot be their ultimate concern” (George Hunsinger, Philippians, 2020, pp. 120–21). This ultimate loyalty makes Christians unusual people – “aliens and exiles” on earth (1 Peter 2:11). In the ancient church Basil of Caesarea says of Christians that “we drag our body like a shadow along the ground, but we guard our soul as one that shares in the citizenship of heaven” (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, NT8, ed. M. J. Edwards, 1999, p. 277).





Holly Petersen, Leah and Melissa Baker, Sam & Nancy Lawson, Marlis Ormiston, Connor Bisticas, Eileen & Dave Nestoss, Kyra Stromberg, The Tuomi family, Tabitha Anderson, The Rev. Albin Fogelquist, The Rev. Howard Fosser, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Alan Gardner, Leslie Hicks, Yuriko Nishimura, Eric Baxter, Evelyn, Emily & Gordon Wilhelm, Garrett Metzler, Noel Curtis, Lesa Christiansen, Antonio Ortez, Kari Meier, Richard Patishnock, Jeff Hancock, Anthony Brisbane, Holly & Terrance Finan, Lori Aarstad, Ty Wick, Dona Brost, Susan Curry, Karin Weyer, Robert Shull family, Alan Morgan family, Lucy Shearer, Ramona King, Karen Berg, Patty Johnson, Donna & Grover Mullen and family, Erin, Ethan & Kevin, Vodka, Kurt Weigel, Carol Estes, Paul Jensen, Wendy Pegelow, Mary Ford, Andrea Cantu, Tak On Wong & Chee Li Ma, Steve Arkle, Hank Schmitt, Ron Combs, Liam Stein, Karen Granger, The Pritchard family.

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

     Pray for our 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, 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 its 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.

     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


Heavenly Father, may your Spirit send fire to burn out all internal vileness, together with my fleshly lusts and desires. And may your Spirit then pour rain down upon my dry and famished heart. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

                                             [For All the Saints 3:1277–78, altered]