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
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,
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
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
May God use these words to hone our critical spirit (1
Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1).
Our Radical Wickedness
Exposing Our Phoniness
By Pastor Marshall
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
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
Sunday, November 6, 2016
First Lutheran Church of West Seattle
4105 California Ave. SW
Music of Bach, Pergolesi,
peace to all readers of
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
to this month—of
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
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.
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)
A Reflection on Tithing
We don’t know much about life in the Garden, before Adam and Eve
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
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
Lectures on Galatians (1535),
With the Mind:
Readings in Contemporary Theology
3-5 pm in the Church Lounge, Saturday, November 26th
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.
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;
(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,
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
page on Thrivent.com.
Sign up for
the Bartell Drugs
Scrip program and designate First Lutheran Church of
4% of your purchases will be automatically
donated to the church.
Also Amazon.com has a program called
that one can sign up for.
There are still a few spaces left for Christmas
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.
will be commemorated this year
our Columbarium Liturgy and Holy Eucharist.
Plan to attend this solemn occasion at 11:30 am
in the chapel.
Sunday, November 6th
All Saints’ Sunday
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
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
plus your friends and family to come and enjoy the
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
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.
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
But it will not be a success unless
bid on items, and have a good time!
See you Sunday,
December 11, 2016 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm!
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
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?
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
not and overcome. How does
a shining light have such power? On this read Ephesians 5.11–13 noting the
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
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?
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,
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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
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.
All the Saints