November 2017


Kierkegaard’s Two Last Words


On November 12th we will commemorate Søren Kierkegaard (1813–55) as we have every year since 1980. He was a Danish Lutheran writer known for his deep commitment to Christian discipleship.

     Shortly before he died he published a discourse or sermon written some few years earlier. He did this to give us his last will and testament. In this discourse on the changelessness of God (KW 23:267–81) he compares God to a mountain and also to a water brook. Regarding the first we learn that we should fear God. For he is the one who “remains absolutely still and looks, without a change of countenance.” He can do this because he is “eternally sure of himself” (KW 23:274). So we can’t push him around. This is terror. We can’t manipulate him. No, he is the one with whom you will “have to make an accounting” (KW 23:275). So fear him and obey him.

     But when you fail to comply (as you most surely will) and are sorry for it, do not wither in shame and fear. Know instead that God is a refreshing stream of water. This is mercy. So “scorched by the heat of the sun, dying of thirst,” you find a spring. “Ah, delicious coolness!” (KW 23:280). This is grace. Delight in it and rejoice, for your salvation is at hand.

     These two thoughts, then, were what Kierkegaard wanted us to remember from all that he wrote and published. These two thoughts were what he believed gets us through this life. Hold onto them and thank God for them as we approach the end of the Church Year.

Pastor Marshall  



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


The Reformation at 500


Arriving at Truth²


By Pastor Marshall


Our ninth installment on the significance of the Reformation, comes from Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World, by the best-selling author, Eric Metaxas (New York: Viking, 2017) pp. 440–41:


Luther had begun by arguing for a view of the truth, but in so doing, he had dragged with him the brand-new idea of truthful argument. Perhaps this is the greatest part of his legacy, that in fighting with Rome, he semi-wittingly discovered that truth had a nature that was, as it were, both noun and verb. The world had always understood the idea that truth was what was right and true, but suddenly now how one sought the truth and whether and how one argued for the truth were on the table as well. Thus, because of Luther, truth had become two things, had burst into another dimension. It had overnight been doubled, or perhaps squared. There was first what was true, and suddenly there was also the process of how one determined what was true. And this second thing mattered as much as what was true. How one arrived at and argued for truth must itself partake of truth. Thus the means and the end had become inextricably and forever intertwined…. In this Luther had unwittingly been the vessel for what was the greatest revolution in history, the one that would lead to all the others…. It followed that the idea of human rights must soon come onto history’s docket… [Luther suggested] that… truth might be discovered and embraced outside the worldly institution of the church. This was itself a revolution, one that is still being fought today and will likely always be fought, as long as human history continues. But it is this that has changed everything, and this that is Luther’s principal legacy in the world.

So the truth that Luther argued for was that all people are sinners and that they can only be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. But this is not known through edicts from the church – which often gets it wrong. It rather comes through the power of the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to see what’s in the Bible. This individual searching of Scriptures (Acts 17:11) is the new way of apprehending the truth. And it has transformed lives both for the good and for the bad depending on how open we are to the Spirit’s guiding. May more good come from this than evil.




Feeling “Bah, Humbug” about the St. Nick Faire?


Do you get tired of hearing about the Saint Nicholas Faire? The expense. Months of preparation. Hype and ballyhoo. On and on. What about doing something else for a change, something different? Wanting something new and different is a basic human predilection that even Luther knew about.

      Try a remedy? No, this remedy is not “discontinue it.” The remedy I have in mind gets rid of the Blahs! Get Excited. Motivated. Involved. Better yet, a painless remedy! The Remedy? Simply visit the West Seattle Food Bank (WSFB) during operating hours on Tuesday through Friday, best between 10 AM and 1 PM.

      See that vital place in action. Meet dedicated staff people. Meet knowledgeable volunteers. Meet grateful clients. Observe the interaction between staff, clients, and volunteers: Respectful, Helpful, Caring.

      What does respectful, helpful, and caring look like? Well, for example, instead of a line of people walking in and being given a prepackaged bag of foodwhich may not meet their dietary needs or cultural preferencesinstead you walk in and find yourself in a compact grocery store with shopping cartsyes, shopping cartsand organized shelves of food, a refrigerator section, and a freezer section. Everything is color coded and labelled for quantity allowed according to family size, etc. Plus a whole section for baby needs.

      In an area that seems nearly as large, a team of volunteers sorts through and organizes donations. A considerable amount comes in from grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries, and food recovery effortsbut not all of it is usable. So much comes in after the weekend that all of Monday is spent sorting, keeping what is usable, and getting ready for that week’s distribution. What an operation!

      Over 900 families a week are served. Over 100,000 lbs. of food a month are distributed. Last year 8,400 individuals were served, including 3,200 children and 1,200 seniors. The muscles of the operation last year were 455 volunteers who put in 22,860 hours of volunteer service.

         Yet there is more! The WSFB also delivers food to shut ins and other people without means of getting to the food bank. All of this, and more, continues week after week, month after month, thanks to donors who make the whole operation possible.

     Getting tired of fundraisers? Maybe so, we are constantly being asked to support this or that worthy cause, but I suspect you feel less stressed than the person who fights hunger daily and often goes to sleep having lost the fight that day.

     Visit the WSFB. Get energized to do and donate even more.

St. Nick, I want to be one of your elves!


St. Nicholas Faire

Sunday, December 10th, from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm


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

     We have gift baskets to bid on – kitchen items, tea, “handy-man” items, children’s activity books, Italian items, wine, Hello Kitty, storage containers, Mariner memorabilia, and Seahawks gear – just to highlight a few. And we have gift cards to local merchants for purchase, always a good idea for that person on your list who has everything.  Plus there will be a ring toss game and wine tasting for a nominal donation.

    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.)

     New this year when you pay your admission, you will be given a BID NUMBER to use on the Silent Auction item bid sheets.  This should help to protect the privacy and security of all bidders.  

    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.)

     New this year when you pay your admission, you will be given a BID NUMBER to use on the Silent Auction item bid sheets.  This should help to protect the privacy and security of all bidders.  

     Again this year when you pay your admission, you will be entered in a drawing for a special prize.  There is 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.  All the money that is contributed and raised is 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!   


Larraine King

See you Sunday, December 10, 2017 from 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm!




Faithful Stewards


Let’s think about the choices we face today.  Will our choices help us walk in the path of our loving Lord or lead us astray?  One path may lead to blessings for ourselves and for others, and help someone meet Jesus.  One path may lead to adversity or painful consequences. 

     When the choice is difficult we can call on the spirit for help making the best decision, not only for ourselves, but also for the sake of those whose lives we may influence. 

Loving God, help me remember to pray about the decisions I face today and to always be an unwavering Steward.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.     

Melanie Johnson, Church Council


November Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

The book for November is The Reformation: A Very Short Introduction (2009) by Peter Marshall, professor of history at the University of Warwick. In this little book, Marshall summarizes what historians have made of the impact of the Reformation over the years. His conclusion is that its primary outcome is “division and the emergence of strategies for coping” with it (133). This supplants the older view that the Reformation resulted in “modern capitalism, the concept of political freedom, the advancement of science [and] the decline of magic and superstition” (129).
     A copy of this useful little book is in the library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss the results of the Reformation.


Ephesians 4.1

Monthly Home Bible Study, November 2017, Number 297

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 Ephesians 4.1 noting the phrase lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called. Why isn’t faith enough? Why do we also have to live a certain way? On this read Ephesians 2.10 noting the words for, works, should and walk. Why does faith require works? On this read Ephesians 4.20 noting the line you did not so learn Christ. What is there about Christ that requires works to follow faith? On this read Ephesians 5.2 noting the line walk in love as Christ loved us. Does this mean that loving behavior is required of all who believe in Christ because he was a loving man? On this read Ephesians 2.15 noting the line create in himself one new man. How does faith in Christ lead to such a new creation for us? On this read Ephesians 3.14–19 noting the words riches, strengthened, inner, dwell, hearts, rooted, love, power and fullness. So faith brings individual strength now as well as the opening up of heaven  as is stated in Hebrews 10.20. Do you agree?

Week II. Read again Ephesians 4.1 noting again that worthy life. What is it composed of? On this read Ephesians 4.22 noting the old nature and former manner of life made up of deceitful lusts. What’s wrong with those deceitful lusts? On this read Ephesians 5.6 noting the line deceive with empty words. What’s empty about them? On this read Ephesians 5.16 noting that we are to make the most of the time because it is evil. So it would be a lie, or deceit, to encourage time off and easy living. On this read Ephesians 6.18–20 noting the words alert, perseverance, boldly and ought. No time off here. No laziness allowed in this life. Why is that? On this read Ephesians 6.12 noting the words contending, world, rulers, darkness, hosts and wickedness. Why is this such a struggle which needs our undivided attention? On this read Ephesians 5.11 noting the word expose. How is this done if there isn’t any cooperation? On this read Ephesians 5.13 noting the phrase exposed by the light. How does it do that? On this read Ephesians 5.14 noting the line Christ shall give you light. And what is it? On this read Ephesians 5.9 noting the words good, right and true. Does that settle it?

Week III. Reread Ephesians 4.1 noting again that worthy life. What else is in it? On this read Ephesians 4.23 noting the line be renewed in the spirit of your mind. What does that entail? On this read Ephesians 4.26–28 noting the words angry and give. How do those words renew our minds? Not being angry changes our disposition. On this read Ephesians 4.32 noting the line forgiving one another as God forgave you. Thinking like that veers clear of anger. And regarding being generous and giving to those in need, that changes your character. On this read Ephesians 4.13 noting the line attain… mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. With that fullness you can be generous with the poor – since there’s no scarcity of spirit in you. How does all of this renew the mind? On this read Ephesians 5.17 noting the play between the words foolish and understand. A renewed mind isn’t foolish. Instead it hankers after God’s will. Sound right?

Week IV. Read Ephesians 4.1 one last time noting again that worthy life. How do we get there if we’re hopelessly foolish? On this read Ephesians 2.3 noting the line by nature children of wrath. What this does is take away our self-confidence. Where then does that leave us? On this read Ephesians 2:4–7 noting the words but, God, rich, made and show. How does God do this if we are so unworthy? On this read Ephesians 5.2 noting the words love, gave, for, sacrifice and to. If the key is that this sacrifice was given to God, then we see how God reaches out to the unworthy. On this read Ephesians 1.5–8 noting the words destined, freely and lavished. Here we see a divine excess that benefits us. Without it we would remain fools. On this read Ephesians 1.13–14 noting the words heard, sealed and inheritance. This is about being over-powered. On this note the line the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe in Ephesians 1.19. Do you like being over-run? If so, why?


Praying Seven Times a Day

Pastor Marshall

June 2004

Revised November 2017



O Lord, we thank you for this new day and for keeping us safe through the night.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.


Morning (8am)

Father in heaven, guide us all this day long so that we may do what is pleasing in your sight.  In Jesus’ name we prey.  Amen.


Late Morning (10am)

O God, by your Spirit open our minds so that we may learn anew your Word and diligently follow it.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen. 



God the Father of us all and King of the universe, we thank you for your dear Son, Jesus Christ, his sacrifice on the cross and our faith in him that saves us from being eternally punished for our sins.  Amen.



In your mercy, O Lord, bless your Church, break the devil’s hold on us and through your Spirit lead us and all people into your kingdom.  In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.



O God, for Jesus’ sake, have mercy on us and forgive our sins and the evil we have done this day.  Amen.



Grant us your peace, O Lord, through the hours of this night and at the end of all the ages.  In Jesus” name we pray.  Amen.



1. Psalm 119:164 says we should pray seven times a day.  These seven little prayers are one way to do that.  Martin Luther said this verse from Ps. 119 expressed “our ceremony of hours,…. The daily universal praise, since seven is the number of the universe.”  He also noted that “many bless God but only when He does good to them…. But not so the spiritual man…” (Luther’s Works 11:525, 524).  These prayers help you pray through thick and thin and not only when you’re happy. 

2.  In The Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia (480-550), Chapter XVI, the seven times for daily prayer in the monasteries were: Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers and Compline.  They began in the middle of the night around 2 am.  So using Psalm 119:164 has been a long-standing practice in the church and should continue to be. 

3.  The times I have suggested are not the only ones to use.  Make adjustments as you wish.  They are flexible.  Just keep the seven separate times each day. 

4.  The words also are not the only ones to use.  Make up your own if you wish.  You should try, however, to address a different theme in each of the seven prayers. 

5.  My prayers are brief. This is to make them easier to memorize.  Memorizing them helps you say them wherever you are when the hour of prayer strikes.  Remember that Luther believed prayer should be “brief, frequent, and intense” (LW 21:143).  In St. Benedict’s Rule, however, each hour of prayer lasted an hour or so being filled in with singing, praying and reading Holy Scriptures aloud.  If time permits, that would be good to do.  Materials from the Lutheran Book of Worship (1978) can be used to add to these small prayers provided here. 

6.  I use the pronoun “we” in these prayers.  I do that to show our church praying together.  These are not to be private prayers even though for most they will be prayed alone. 

7.  R. R. Reno has recently written that these prayers, or ones like them, are “the womb of our new life in Christ” (In the Ruins of the Church: Sustaining Faith in an Age of Diminished Christianity, 2002, p. 155).  So these prayers hold great promise.  God bless you in your discipline of daily prayer. 

8.  And if you want to study more on the ins and outs of prayer, check out my Chapter 10 in Kierkegaard for the Church (2013), especially footnote 21 on true prayer standing over against “dreamy loitering” over God. 



HOLY EUCHARIST – THANKSGIVING EVE:  Thanksgiving will be observed with Holy Eucharist on Wednesday, November 22rd at 7 pm, in the chapel. 

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 10th.

FREE MONEY?  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 help this time? 

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

All Saints’ X
Join us this year for the All Saints’ Litany,
Wednesday, November 1st,
for our Columbarium Liturgy and Holy Eucharist. 
Plan to attend this solemn occasion at 11:30 am in the chapel. 


Melting Frosty the Snowman

and Overturning the Calamity of Christmas by

Preaching Søren Kierkegaard’s Sickness Unto Death (1849)


By Pastor Marshall

October 2017


WITH ALL THE GOOD CHEER going around at Christmas time, it’s hard to believe that God gets into “hot water” this time of year (118)? But that’s exactly what happens. And so I suppose that no good deed goes unpunished (Oscar Wilde)—even when it’s God’s. For Christmas is grace, mercy and blessing (John 1:17)—but in our hands it becomes a curse. For God’s largess is “repaid with ingratitude” (118) (Hosea 13:6). So God gets into trouble because of us (Isaiah 55:8, Romans 1:25).

       But how so? Well, when God tightly links himself to his only son, Jesus Christ, in the holy incarnation in the barn at Bethlehem, it boomerangs on him. That’s because we take the miracle for ourselves, rather than celebrating Jesus as we should. By so doing peanut brittle wins out over the bread of life (John 6:35). Then the “likeness between God and man” revealed at Christmas, degenerates into “flippant or brazen forwardness” (121) (Hebrews 10:31). Our over-heated theological misappropriations melt ol’ Frosty the Snowman, if you will—one of the cultural icons for Christmas. We take advantage of God’s incarnation and use it for our own self-aggrandizement (2 Corinthians 6:1)—thinking that if God becomes man in Jesus at Christmas, then all humans everywhere are hot shots. By so doing, we turn Christmas into our exaltation or “apotheosis” (73)—rather than preserving it properly, as the very glorification of Christ, the miraculous savior (Matthew 1:21), the only divine and human mediator (1 Timothy 1:5). In the name of Christianity, we then are “absorbed in all sorts of secular matters” (33). We take Saint Athanasius’ famous dictum from the 4th century that God became man so that we might become God (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1999, §460) and twist it all around—turning Christianity into pantheism (117). We become “brazen” (118) in exalting ourselves and using Christmas to defend ourselves and to explain our first rate promotion (John 3:30). Then the likeness between God and man at Christmas “merges into one” (117)—turning likeness into identity.

       In this way we use Christmas “as an ingredient in human importance, in becoming self-important directly before God…. Everything that in the old days was regarded with horror as the expression of ungodly insubordination is now regarded as genius, the sign of a deep nature.” Now “the Christian conceptions float free unchristianly in the air, they have been used for the most aggravated rudeness.” Now “God’s name is the word that most frequently appears in daily speech and is clearly the word that is given the least thought and used most carelessly, because the poor, revealed God (who instead of keeping himself hidden, as the upper class usually does, was careless and injudicious enough to become revealed) has become a personage far too familiar to the whole population” (115–16). Now subordination to God has given way to some sort of contrived, holy, insubordination (Isaiah 5:20). Now the command to obey God has given way to an invitation to imagine new worldviews. This is the calamity of Christmas! Obedience to God is lost in the “vagueness [of] high-powered psychological investigations to the nth degree” (78–79). That’s because rational analysis “snips off a little bit from both sides and thereby gets along more easily” (100). And so we have a jumbled mess—the “prostitution of Christianity” (102).

Using Christmas in this illegitimate, rational way, leads to an “overestimation of the things of this world to the extent that the eternal can be no consolation” (70). Bereft of the eternal, we have “no power over” ourselves (68) (John 6:68). We have become “an imaginatively constructed god.” “In so far as the self … works itself into the very opposite, it really becomes no self.” Now the self is “its own master, absolutely its own master,” and in this is “its pleasure and delight” (69).

But this pleasure is “fleeting” (Hebrews 11:25). Its “proficiency in imaginative constructing does not stretch that far, even though its proficiency in abstracting does; in a Promethean way, the infinite, negative self feels itself nailed to this servitude” (70). These pleasures are only “glittering vices” (46). For when “the illness is most critical,” the sick person feels well, and “considers himself to be in excellent health” (45).

Is there, then, any way to save Frosty from melting—so to speak? Can we get God out of the hot water and stand the snowman upright again? Yes, but one must give up on being one of the superficial, nominal “cultured Christians” for that to happen (56). More diligence is needed. All “sinful watering down” has to be thrown out (95). A “most rapturous love” for God has to take over (103). But moving away from the natural, animal way of life never comes simply as “a matter of course” (58). No, the self “must be broken” first (65)—so it can “dare to believe” (113). “Lost in possibility” and the heights of imagination, with “ever greater ingenuity” (98), we have to turn around and regain “the power to obey” the Lord God Almighty (36). We have to eschew our “selfishness and pride” (112). This will take “humble courage” (85) to move beyond the “natural man [with its] merely human self” (81). That’s because our problem is “self-willfulness against God, a disobedience that defies his commandments” (81). So we need to “hear and understand” and be willing “to follow every least hint from God as to his will” for us (82). But alas, “most men probably live…. either in a certain endearing childish naiveté or in shallow triviality” (107). Against this we must become obsessed with God—made mad by his presence and anything but well-balanced and moderate (34, 38, 56, 57, 72, 84, 86). All “flabby and spineless” Christianity has to be done away with (96). We must kill our “selfish self” (81) and take up a new “theological self” (79).

Furthermore when Christmas is degraded and stripped of its offensiveness by allowing for “man’s coming too close” to God (125), then all hope for a life with God is gone. We can’t “humble” ourselves and believe (78). And so a “sickness of the self” settles in (21). Here there is no “consciousness of the eternal” that causes a break through, so that the “battle” of faith may begin in us (60)—and faith may indeed be “found on earth” (129n). Then one opposes going the way of “thousands upon thousands [who confirm] that one can have faith in Christ without having noticed the slightest possibility of offense” (128n). And what is that offense which is so essential yet missing among so many would-be believers? Just what is it that frosts us and pulls us away from faith?

The offense is that God is not “the fond father who indulges his child’s every wish for too much” (78). And that divine unwillingness, which has to do with our sinful longings (87), is “diametrically contrary to” the escape speculation wishes for (120). Sin indeed is what blocks the easy and “tiny little transition from understanding to doing” (93)—and so also faith. Here “the lower nature’s power lies in stretching things out,” dodging the “decisions and conclusions” it doesn’t much care for, and expanding “esthetic and metaphysical comprehension, which ethically is a diversion” (94). The offense in this is that our reasoning—incapacitated by sin—fails when it comes to God (Matthew 11:25). That’s because our Savior Jesus “must be believed” (95)—with not “one more word; there is nothing more to add” (122). It can’t be rationally apprehended. For “to believe is… to lose the understanding in order to gain God” (38). God in Christ must be miraculously revealed and believed in (John 3:16). We must not first wait around for some theological “champion” to defend and explain Christianity to us, which we would otherwise imagine to be a “poor, miserable” Christianity (87). No, we must believe without anyone helping us first (Philippians 2:12). We must leap into the waiting arms of God—showing “courage to lose” our lives in order to win them back—redeemed in the eyes of God (67). For it is “insolence… to want to comprehend that which does not want to be comprehended” (98). In this way—underscoring this offense—we keep watch “so that the gulf of qualitative difference between God and man may be maintained” (99)—precisely what Christmas threatens to take away. Admitting to a severe account of sin is what keeps this gulf more radical “than ever before” (121). And those who go this way aren’t marked by “popularity” but “insignificance” alone (128)—and faith.

       Now why did God take such a risk knowing that we would surely be “reaping the harvest” of degradation through it (119)? Well, it was all for Christ and our salvation in him by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). God dared the incarnation for that alone—so we could “come to him… in Christ” (125). Our kinship with him through the incarnation of Christmas was never to extend beyond that point of contact and for that purpose (1 John 4:10). For without this connection there could never be any “reconciliation” with God (120n) and faith. Only through the death of Jesus on the cross “for the sake of us” all (113)—can the punishment of sin be clearly ended, as if it were finally “drowned in the sea” (100).

       And just as God “protects” the incarnation with the offense of sin (117, 125), so we must also do the same through faithful preachers—those who make their lives and ministries “concerned and accountable in fear and trembling,” and thereby become “a nuisance to others” (123). We need pastors like this because most people “never advance beyond what they were in their childhood and youth: immediacy with the admixture of a little dash of reflection,” since to become spirit “seems to be a waste of time” (57). We need pastors, then, to push us beyond where we want to go—by splitting up those merged categories (2 Timothy 4:3).

       But alas, pastors have been “deserted by every elevating conception,” reducing their office to “a way of making a living, devoid of the slightest mystery.” And so they’re “no different at all from being a merchant, lawyer, bookbinder, veterinarian, etc. on weekdays” (102). They are without faith and “rapturous” love for God in Christ. That’s why they don’t care to speak about Christ “all day long and all night, too” (103). They would rather give reasons for belief, with distant, intellectual acuity—through a phony form of “preaching” (104, 130). But a lover, in his right mind, would never “think of conducting a defense of his being in love.” That’s because by so doing he’s saying that his love is “not the absolute, unconditionally the absolute” (103). Therefore defending love fails because the lover is “more than all reasons and any defense: he is in love. [And anyone who defends love] is not in love; he merely pretends to be, and… he is so stupid that he… informs against himself as not being in love” when he tries to defend his love (104).

       Such pastors don’t care about diligence (Matthew 22:37). All they ask for is that you go to church “every once in a while,” and then, on behalf of God, get thanked “for the honor of the visit” and favored “with the title of pious” (116). They don’t push the people on to confession and forgiveness of sins, but let them go on “happily in pagan peace of mind” (117). These dull, inoffensive pastors are happy if everyone in church simply becomes a “copy” of each other (52, 101) (2 Corinthians 3:17). For it is “dangerous to venture” out individually—and so “not to venture is prudent” (34). That’s because the world thinks Christianity is “too high, because its goal is not man’s goal, because it wants to make man into something so extraordinary that he cannot grasp the thought” of salvation (83). And so they drop all “earnestness of existence” (130) and “reassure” everyone of their salvation (57). By so doing these cowardly pastors avoid “every gust of unfavorable wind” (91). And so they come across like they “really do not know what they are talking about” (64).

       By way of all of these negative examples and admonitions against them, we know what good pastors are. May God have mercy and send us such pastors (Philippians 1:6), so that “the infinite, chasmal, qualitative abyss between” God and his people is “confirmed” by their ministries (129), and that God’s no longer in “hot water” (118), and our differences with him are firmly set (99)—and Frosty’s left standing. Amen.





(References to the Hong & Hong edition of SUD, Princeton University Press, 1980.)


The Endowment Fund

Putting the Church in Your Will

By Pastor Marshall

Our church endowment fund continues to grow.  We thank God for all who have made gifts to this fund and the support it provides our church. Especially we thank God for the major donors to our endowment fund – George (1925-2003) & Marion (1929-2005) Colvin, Lila Granaas (1913-2002), Cynthia Natiello (1958-2016), Orma Nesheim (1917-2010), and Willis (1921-2001) & Alida Rottman (1922-2011). 

    Take this occasion to consider including the church in your will.  If you would like to do this and have not done so already, think of giving 10% of the residual value of your estate to the church.  In this way you will be able to tithe the income the investments of your estate has earned over the years.  This is a fitting way to thank God for the blessings of prosperity we all enjoy.

    Our endowment fund was established in January 1996.  The gifts made to the fund are never spent.  Most of the interest earned is added each year to help meet our budget.  In this way you can go on supporting our church long after you have departed to join the church triumphant.  Glory be to God!

George & Marion Colvin

Lila Granaas

Orma Nesheim

Willis & Alida Rottman

Cynthia Natiello



Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Mia Schorn, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Asha Sagmoen, Melanie Johnson, Kyra Stromberg, Marlis Ormiston, Eileen Nestoss, Emma Sagmoen, Celia Balderston, The PLU Lecturers, Tabitha Anderson, Jordan Corbin, Nell & Paul Sponheim, The Rev. Al Bidne, The Rev. Mary Rowe, The Rev. Mert Johnson, The Rev. John O’Neal, The Rev. Kari Reiten, The Rev. Paul Smith, The Rev. Pari Bailey, Ion & Galina Ceaicovschi, Nathan & Les Arkle, Margaret Douglass, Chris & Margeen Boyer, Sharon DeFray, Elizabeth Banek, Clinton Johnson, Brian Mac, Jeanne Pantone, West Side Presbyterian Church, Diana Walker, Jack & Sheila Feichtner, Michael Simonds, Karen Granger, Lee & Lois Snook. 

     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, Mildred Nikula, Mary Goplerud.

     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 Rachael Foster and family, daughter of The Rev. Keith Krebs.  Pastor Krebs served here at First Lutheran Church from 1964-1967.

     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


Deliver me, O God, from my little fears, and spoil for me whatever confidence I have left in anything but your victory in Christ crucified. May his holy body which was wounded for me, and his precious blood which was shed for me, strengthen and preserve me unto eternal life. In his blessed name I pray. Amen.

                                                                           [For All the Saints II:158, altered]