November 2016


Kierkegaard’s Opposition


Honing Our Criticism of the Church


We mustn’t forget Jesus kicking up a row in the Temple, and taking out his whip to drive out its abusers (Matthew 21:12–13; John 2:13–22). Martin Luther (1483–1546) didn’t forget. So he wrote: “The church is not the Church, and what is not the church is the Church” (Luther’s Works 67:211) – and, furthermore, “There is almost nothing more unlike the church than the church itself” (LW 27:397)! And Soren Kierkegaard (1813–55) didn’t forget either – whom we commemorate on November 13.

     In his book critical of the Church entitled, The Moment, he writes:


Just think of the Word of God, “first the kingdom of God,” [and you will see how] the whole official Christendom is an abyss of untruth and optical illusion. [For it says] first everything else and last the kingdom of God; at long last the things of this earth are obtained first…. First a consideration for what fear of people bids or forbids, and then God’s kingdom…. It is brazenly [insistent] that Christianity is perfectible, that one cannot stay with the first Christianity… of the New Testament (Kierkegaard’s Writings 23:235–36).


     May God use these words to hone our critical spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).


Pastor Marshall



Our Radical Wickedness


Exposing Our Phoniness


By Pastor Marshall


Martin Luther argued in his Large Catechism (1528) that if we don’t help the poor when we have the resources and the opportunity to do so, then we are no different than rank murderers (The Book of Concord, Tappert edition, p. 391). That is a very disturbing thought.

     This same idea has been given a memorable and far more elaborate analysis by the New York University professor of philosophy, Peter Unger (b. 1942) in his short book (175 pp), Living High & Letting Die: Our Illusion of Innocence 

(Oxford, 1996). The first three sentences in it say: “Each year millions of children die from easy to beat disease, from malnutrition, and from bad drinking water.  Among these children, about 3 million die from dehydrating diarrhea.  As UNICEF has made clear to millions of us well-off American adults at one time or another, with a packet of oral rehydration salts that cost about 15 cents, a child can be saved from dying soon” (p. 3).  He then adds this: “While it’s good for us to provide vital aid, it’s not even the least bit wrong to do nothing to help save distant people from painfully dying soon. (The prevalence of [this] response is apparent from so much passive behavior: Even when unusually good folks are vividly approached to help save distant young lives, it’s very few who contribute anything)” (p. 7).
Unger spends the rest of book explaining and refuting how we defend ourselves – with “distortional” power, as he calls it – for not helping those we can. And he concludes with the hope that his book has caused a “break with the behavioral inertia that’s as horribly consequential for very vulnerable people as it’s dreadfully preserved by parochial concerns” (p. 176). I’m grateful for his analysis but less sanguine that his argumentation with bring about the break he longs for. So I study his book – respectfully – but then pray all the more that God will move mountains (Matthew 17:20).



40th Anniversary Recital

On the 1976 Noack organ


Andrew King



Sunday, November 6, 2016

3:00 pm


First Lutheran Church of West Seattle

4105 California Ave. SW

Seattle, WA  98116


Music of Bach, Pergolesi,

DuMage, Mendelssohn,

 and Dahl


freewill donation




     PRESIDENT'S Earl Nelson


Grace and peace to all readers of The Messenger.

     I am happy to report that while giving was down some this month, Council was unconcerned.  Our overall giving this year remains on track, given that December is usually a high month. For giving to be “down” for the month is actually to be expected because we received a prepaymentprior to this monthof the annual pledge from a departing giving unit, and that does not show up in this month’s giving.

     That brings me to the thought that long-term we have to consider that one of our giving units has left us.  Unless a new giving unit shows up or we all start giving more, we will have to budget for somewhat less giving next year.  Such considerations will be for the Finance Committee to take into account as we settle on a new budget for next year.

    I am looking forward with great anticipation to next year’s Reformation celebration.  The entire year will be shaped and colored by this event.  I suspect that our small church’s Reformation celebration will be one of the most faithful to Luther in the entire world.  Is that so hard to believe?  It is a measure of two things.  First, Pastor Marshall’s unflagging zeal and dedication for Luther, not just in an academic sense, but in being inspired by Luther in his own response to God’s Word, which he then

 shares with us so faithfully.  It is hardly a surprise to anyone that we are getting Luther channeled to us in the pews, but we probably need to be reminded how extraordinary such a thing is in the world today, anywhere.  That is the second measure of the importance of our church’s celebration of the Reformation next year: the lack of interest in Luther in the world today.  The name of “Lutheran church” is a misnomer for so many churches that use it.  As for academics who are interested in Luther, their interest often seems to be “revisionist” in the sense of, “How can we reinterpret Luther so he isn’t really Luther anymore?”  Between churches that are Lutheran in name only, and Luther scholars who are out of sympathy with the man, not much can be expected.

     I am wondering if there is anything more we can do next year to connect with any people in this area who would actually want to visit us next year in celebrating the Reformation.  If anyone has any ideas, please let me know. 

Luther Preaching by Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)



A Reflection on Tithing


We don’t know much about life in the Garden, before Adam and Eve goofed.  The indications are that it was pretty nice, as in “uninterrupted fulfillment,” which sounds very nice to me.  It doesn’t seem that Adam and Eve were asked to tithe.  That would seem to come after the Fall.  Tithing typically doesn’t seem like uninterrupted fulfillment, but maybe it should. 

     When tithing feels like a pinch to my normally uninterrupted, worldly self-fulfillment, perhaps I should be feeling something more as well, a kind of freedom, for example.  Everything I have the world gives to me as a kind of honor for the things I have done.  My possessions are a kind of tally of the world’s honors.  But in Luke 16.15, Christ tells wealthy Jewish authorities that the world’s honors are “abominations in the eyes of God.”  I’m not wealthy and not much of an authority, but I doubt that makes any difference here.  Because of sin, the honors of the world are corrupted.  I wonder if, when we tithe, some of this corruption is removed from us, maybe even from the things themselves?  Not that I can remove it, but maybe God does?

     Surely it could cause me to separate myself a little from the way the world sees me.  How the world sees me is a kind of dream or unreality, a lie that keeps me turned in on myself.  The only thing that really matters is how God sees me, and whether my name gets written into the Book of Life.  The ledger there is different, we are warned.  I shouldn’t attend to the way the world sees me.  The more I give, the less I can glory in the things the world wants to glorify me with, a car or house that other people will notice (and maybe envy…), my clothes, a fancy vacation, etc.  If I’m too attached to the world, then I should feel pinched.

     The world belongs to God—I belong to God—whether we know it or not.  Tithing is a discipline that helps us to know the truth about the world and ourselves.     

Earl Nelson, Church Council



The Theological Test


“Any doctrine at all that does not teach as mine does – that all men are sinners and are justified solely by faith in Christ – must be false, uncertain, evil, blasphemous, accursed, and demonic.”


Martin Luther,

Lectures on Galatians (1535),

Luther’s Works 26:59.





November Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, November 26th

The book for November is What Does It Mean to Be a Catholic? by Jack Mulder Jr. (2015). In it Dr. Mulder sets forth the rationale for Catholic teachings and practice, over against other Christian viewpoints. He writes: “There remain significant divisions between non-Catholic Christians and Catholics…. The Catholic views of Mary, the saints, the pope, and purgatory are just a few” (p. 9). He also discusses the Bible, the Church, God, Christ, the sacraments and the human being.

     A copy of this very helpful book on our Romans Catholic neighbors 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 what it means to be a Catholic and how Lutherans should best relate to them.


ANNOUNCEMENTS:  HOLY EUCHARIST – THANKSGIVING EVE:  Thanksgiving will be observed with Holy Eucharist on November 23rd at 7 pm, in the chapel. 

BOOK SIGNING PARTY Sunday, November 13th, noon, in the parish hall.

Compass Housing Alliance is in need of Christmas gift items for their housing centers for both men and women. Listed here are the items we will be collecting over the next couple of weeks: gift cards in $5 to $25 increments for fast food restaurants, coffee shops, Target and grocery stores; new sweatshirts (L, XL, XXL sizes with the tags on), underwear, flip-flops, hats, scarves and gloves (in dark neutral colors). New toiletries in small sizes are always needed. Please leave your donations at the office. The items collected will be delivered after Sunday, December 11th.

West Seattle FOOD BANK has been approved to participate in the Thrivent Choice® program. It will be added to the Thrivent Choice online catalog within the next week.  For detailed information about this program, please visit the Thrivent Choice page on

Sign up for the Bartell Drugs Scrip program and designate First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.  4% of your purchases will be automatically donated to the church.  Also has a program called Amazon Smile that one can sign up for. 

FLOWER CHART:  There are still a few spaces left for Christmas flowers.  Are you able to share the cost this time? 

FOOD BANK COLLECTION suggested donation for November is holiday foods: canned yams, turkey, gravy, cranberries, stuffing and pumpkin. 


All Saints’

will be commemorated this year Wednesday, November 2nd,  for our Columbarium Liturgy and Holy Eucharist.  Plan to attend this solemn occasion at 11:30 am in the chapel. 


On Sunday, November 6th

come celebrate

All Saints’ Sunday at:

  8:00 am Holy Eucharist

10:30 am Festival Eucharist

  3:00 pm 40th Anniversary Recital


A tea reception will follow the recital in the parish hall.  Join us to toast 40 years of fabulous music by our own Andrew J. King with the 1976 Noack organ.


St. Nicholas Faire

Sunday, December 11th, from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm


The St. Nicholas Faire is coming soon and preparations are moving full steam ahead.  All we need is YOU!!! plus your friends and family to come and enjoy the festivities.  Please plan to join in the celebration.

     We have gift baskets to bid on – kitchen items, “handy-man” tools, coffee, children’s activity books, family fun, games, Italian items, wine, Hello Kitty, Mariner memorabilia and Seahawks gear – just to highlight a few. And we have a couple dozen gift cards to local merchants for purchase, always a good idea for that person on your list who has everything.  Plus a ring toss game and wine tasting.

    Admission, which helps defray any costs of putting on the event, is $5 per person or $15 per family if each attendee brings a can of food, and $10 per person and $25 per family if you do not contribute a can of food for each person. (Just a piece of info – all of this money is usually given to the Helpline and Food Bank because donors help pay the cost of hosting the Faire.)  This year when you pay your admission, you will be entered in a drawing for a special prize.  There will be no additional cost for this.  It’s just an extra for those who attend.  You will need to be present to collect your prize if your name is drawn.

     Sign-up sheets are now posted in the Parish House on the bulletin board between rooms C & D.  This year we are asking for donations of wine, beer, and/or sparkling cider for prizes in the ring toss game; helpers in the kitchen and at the event; expert bakers to provide us with elegant desserts to share; and people to help close the silent auction tables and distribute the baskets to those who bid the highest.  It takes a lot of people to make the St. Nicholas Faire a success.  Your willingness to help and support this is very much appreciated. 

     Remember, this is a fund raiser for the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline.  Every dollar that is contributed and raised will be given directly to these two deserving extended ministries.  But it will not be a success unless you come, bid on items, and have a good time!   


See you Sunday, December 11, 2016 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm!


Larraine King


Mark 1.34

Monthly Home Bible Study, November 2016, Number 285

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 Mark 1.34 noting the word demons. What are they? On this read Revelation 12.9 noting the phrase his angels. So demons are bad angels – invisible agents doing the work of the devil on earth. Read also Ephesians 6.12 noting the line spiritual hosts of wickedness. This adds that these hosts of demons, which are many, are at work against God’s people. And read 2 Corinthians 11.15 noting the words servants and disguise. Here we see that the demons serve the devil and don’t appear to be what they are – they’re invisible. On what they do to us, read 2 Corinthians 12.7 noting the word harass. Why do they do this? On this read 1 Timothy 4:1 noting the phrase doctrines of demons. This is because they cannot tolerate the sound doctrine in 1 Timothy 1.10 regarding Christ. What is that doctrine? On this read John 8.12 noting the line light of the world. What does the devil and his demons think of that light? On this read 2 Corinthians 4.4 noting the word blinded. How bad is that?

Week II. Read again Mark 1.34 noting the same word demon. What becomes of that blindness noted last week? On this read 1 John 3.8 noting the line destroy the works of the devil. How does Christ do that? On this read John 1.5 noting the words shines, not and overcome. How does a shining light have such power? On this read Ephesians 5.11–13 noting the words expose, secret, visible and becomes. This goes back to the disguises noted earlier – and its deception and invisibility. There is a weakness, then, in demonism that cannot tolerate exposure. On this read Matthew 10.1 noting the words authority, over, cast and out. Note also the word greater in 1 John 4.4. Should we not then fear demons? On this read John 8.44 noting the words father, do, desires and lies. Does that mean we empower demons beyond their own intrinsic powers by enabling them? What is the chief ways we do that? On this read 2 Corinthians 2.17 noting the words word and peddler; and 4.2 nothing the words word and tamper. How bad is this of us to do?

Week III. Reread Mark 1.34 noting the line Jesus would not permit the demons to speak about him. Why not? On this read Acts 16.16–18 noting the words girl, divination, proclaim, salvation and out. Why was Paul annoyed with her? What was wrong with her saying these men are servants of the Most High, who proclaims to you the way of salvation? Was that a false statement? No, not at all. Why then not let her get the word out if it’s true? On this read Philippians 1.15–18 noting the words envy, rivalry, partisanship, pretense and rejoice. Are not these two cases alike? Well, note that divination is missing from the second one. So that is the game-changer or deal-breaker. That’s why in the first case the girl had to be silenced, but in the second case Paul’s rivals could speak and were even encouraged to do so. What’s so wrong with divination? On this read 2 Kings 17.7–18 noting the words sinned, secretly, idols, stubborn, divination and anger. What makes divination sinful? On this read Deuteronomy 18.10 noting the words divination and soothsaying – which means divination is about foretelling the future in order to find help in times of trouble. But this clashes with Psalm 121.2 that our help only comes from the Lord. Why is that a problem?

Week IV. Read Mark 1.34 one last time noting the word speak. So if the demons are forbidden to speak about Christ, who then can? On this read 1 Peter 3.13–17 noting the words zealous, reverence, defense, conscience and behavior. Why does the righteousness of Christ have to be matched by those who would want to speak on his behalf? Is there some sort of a validation going on here? On this read John 13.34–35 noting the words love, loved, know and if. How can that be? On this read 2 Corinthians 5.17 noting the category new creation. Does this newness prove Isaiah 55.11 that the word does not return… empty? Is that important to you? Why?



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Marlis Ormiston, Linda Olson, Mariann Petersen, Evelyn Coy, Eileen Nestoss, Tabitha Anderson, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Ion Ceaicovschi, Celia Balderston, The PLU Music Faculty, Mike Harty, Leonard Richter, Esther Ko, Tim Chadwick, Linda LeGrande, Heidi Anderson, Shirley Domory, Matt Anderson, Curtis Storbakken, Jordan Corbin, Sheila Feichtner, Angel Lynn, Linda Anderson, Josh Carling, Taylor Toth, David Pete, Jim Olson, Margeen & Chris Boyer, Rick Collins, Linda Hagen, Mira Frohnmayer, Lee Thoren those infants and families affected by the Zika virus, the great migration from the Near East into Europe and other parts of the world, our presidential year, and our police forces. 

     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 those mourning over death:  Pray that God will bear their grief and lift their hearts:  Pray for Lynn Hopson and family on the death of her mother, Dee Grenier.

     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 November.  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:  Saint Andrew, the Apostle.



A Treasury of Prayers


God in heaven, teach me to stand more boldly on your side, to face the world and all the enemies of the Church more courageously, and not become dismayed by any storms of temptation; may my eyes be steadfastly fixed on you in fearless faith; may I trust you with perfect confidence that you will keep me, save me, and bring me through by the power of your grace and the riches of your mercy. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

            [For All the Saints I:262, altered]