October 2013


Our Dangerous Reformation


Taming How We Read the Bible


October 27th we will be celebrating Reformation Sunday. On that day we will celebrate Luther’s discovery that Law and Gospel are at the heart of the Bible – and that any view contrary to this one is false.

   In Alister McGrath’s popular book, however, entitled Christianity’s Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution – a History from the Sixteenth Century to the Twenty-First (Oxford, 2007), he disagrees. He says that the heart of the Reformation is a “spiritual democracy” – where all Christians are free to make of the Bible whatever they want – “as they saw fit.” McGrath says this was a dangerous idea because it created space for “entrepreneurial individuals to redirect and redefine Christianity” (pp. 2-3).

    But this isn’t the whole story – as McGrath knows it. There were also the Lutheran Confessions. Now they were designed to rein in our freedom and help us understand the Bible properly. But McGrath argues that they never caught on “in that biblical statements were accommodated to existing doctrinal frameworks rather than being allowed to determine them, and even challenge them” (p. 103). But that’s not quite right. The Bible always trumps the confessions, but the confession always question any divergence from them, so that a robust argument is required to change them, rather than a person’s creativity alone.

   So gives thanks for the freedom of the Gospel on Reformation Sunday – but also for the faithful curtailment inherent in the Lutheran Confessions.

Pastor Marshall


What a Relief to Read Luther


Kierkegaard’s Love for Luther’s Sermons


By Pastor Marshall


No one else loved Luther’s sermons – and studied them – as Kierkegaard did. “[What] a relief” he says it is “to read Luther” (JP 3:2464). This is part of what endears him to me – and what should also endear Kierkegaard to all Lutherans everywhere.

    Kierkegaard loved Luther’s sermon on the poor, faithful Lazarus and the corrupt rich man in Luke 16:19-31. In that sermon Luther imagines the wayward rich man thinking: “If a man’s poor, that’s his curse; if rich, he’s blessed; I am rich, and, therefore, I am blessed and have kept God’s commandment; Lazarus, on the other hand, is poor, and that’s because he is a sinner and God has punished him” (Luther’s House Postils, 2:229). In Luke 16, God sends that rich man to hell for thinking that way – something Luther is in full agreement with. On this point Kierkegaard notes: “Christianity’s promise of eternity is glowing because it requires such a complete forsaking of temporality, and further, that Christianity teaches specifically that to suffer in the temporal [realm] is the very mark of God’s grace…. [Success] in everything here in the world [is] the mark of the ungodly man. Everything comes his way as if he were in a state of enchantment; he becomes more and more confident and finally entirely confident in the delusion of being in the grace of God, of being God’s favorite – and then he dies and goes to hell. Humanly speaking, it is almost as if God were too cruel to the ungodly man by letting him have success in everything this way” (JP 1:843). May we with Kierkegaard cherish this passage from Luke 16 and Luther’s sermon about it.



PRESIDENT'S REPORT.... by Larraine King

As saints of old their firstfruits brought of orchard, flock, and field to God, the giver of all good, the source of bounteous yield; so we today firstfruits would bring, the wealth of this good land, of farm and market, shop and home, of mind and heart and hand….. This is the first verse of Hymn #404.  Very appropriate words as we enter our Pledge Card Drive, our Stewardship effort.  We all have things we can give, “our selves, our time, and our possession,” as our Offertory prayer states.  We work to divide up our talents, time, and treasures in the best way possible.  That is what stewardship is all about.  To what are we giving priority?  How do we spend our time and money?  How do we decide what gets priority in our lives?  These are important questions to ask ourselves, because if we are honest, the answers reveal what matters most to us.  Stewardship asks us to give of ourselves, to help others, to support the work of the Church.  It is not always easy, but it is part of being a Christian…. A world in need now summons us to labor, love, and give; to make our life an offering to God, that all may live.  The church of Christ is calling us to make the dream come true:  a world redeemed by Christlike love; all life in Christ made new.  (V.2)  Take some time to prayerfully consider your commitment to the life of the Church, your financial giving, and ways you might be of more service to her mission.  Plan to complete your new Pledge Card for 2014 and return it to church by Sunday, October 20, 2013.  The council will be contacting those who miss the deadline.  We will be using the information gathered from the pledge cards to craft the 2014 budget, so it is important to get the cards back as soon as you can.

     The Fall schedule is underway with education classes for all ages on Sunday mornings, as well as the Deo Gloria Cantores back rehearsing on Thursday nights and singing at the 10:30 am Sunday Eucharist.  The St. Nicholas Faire preparations are progressing nicely.  If you have yet to deliver your item(s) from the “Christmas in July/August” tree, please see to that.  We need everything by early October, so the baskets can be assembled.  Call me if you have any questions or concerns.

     Financially, the church is striving to keep expenses down.  But as members we still need you to meet your pledges so that money is available to pay bills and meet payroll.  We are keeping up with our budget needs, although early September offerings were a bit low.  Thanks to Tilden, the parsonage  carport roof and gutters have been replaced and the structure painted.  This is one of the projects that they did for us during the past school year.    Part of their commitment to being tenants is doing projects that will benefit the church as well as enhance the school.  We are delighted with their contributions.

     El Camino de Emaus will again be the extended ministry featured in October.  They provide a needed haven for worship and fellowship to the farm workers in the Skagit Valley.  Check out the bulletin board for a look at their newsletters.

     Let  the last verse of Hymn #404 be our prayer…In gratitude and humble trust we bring our best today to serve your cause and share your love with all along life’s way.  O God, who gave yourself to us in Jesus Christ your Son, teach us to give ourselves each day until life’s work is done.


Stewardship 2013


                                 Month (August)       Year to date (Jan-August)

Budget                            $18,424                          $158,736

Received                         $19,460                          $163,425











Considering Our Pledge

Recently I read a short article about the famous conductor Arturo Toscanini.  As a young teenager in the 1940s during World War II, I was introduced to classical music on the radio with Toscanini directing the National Broadcasting Orchestra of America.  Toscanini was well known for his quest for perfection which often brought emotional outbursts on the podium.  For example, at the conclusion of one of his unforgettable performances, this time a Beethoven symphony, which everyone, including the critics, thought was truly perfection, he thanked the musicians and said simply: “We shall try to do better next time.”

      Perhaps Toscanini’s remark to his orchestra can apply to us at First Lutheran Church of West Seattle.  We are entering the month of October, a time when we renew our yearly pledges for the new year ahead of us.  It would be appropriate for each of us to say: I will try to do better this year with my pledge, not only in my giving but also in other ways.  I can help by giving my time and using my talents I have for the Glory of God.  Prayerfully consider what you can do, what you can give, and how you can better serve. 

      We’re aware that everything we have belongs to God.  We use our wealth for the Glory of God.  Our Christian lives should be lives of sacrifice.  Give this some serious thought when you consider your pledge.

                                                                                                             Louis Koser, Former Church Council Member


October Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

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

The book for October is Debating Same-Sex Marriage (2012), by John Corvino and Maggie Gallagher. “This book is a debate about marriage as a legal and social institution: should it include same-sex couples? It is not about whether there is a constitutional right to such marriage, or about whether particular religious denominations should bless same-sex unions, although some of its content will be relevant to those debates…. This debate is challenging in part because of its implications for other large issues: the role of government, the significance of sexual difference, the needs of children, the function of social norms, the freedom of religion, and indeed, the nature of marriage itself. All of these are touched on here” (p. 2).

     A copy of this timely book is in the church library. If you would like to purchase one for yourself, contact Pastor Marshall. Feel free to attend our meeting when we discuss this hot-button social issue confronting Americans today.


ANNOUNCEMENTS: SCRAPPER’S will meet on Wednesday the 23rd and Thursday the 24th of October.  Join this group for the last meeting in 2013.

KORAN CLASS:  A four-week guided reading of the Koran begins October 3rd at 7:00 pm.  Interested?  Call 206-935-6530 to register or email deogloria@foxinternet.com.  

FOOD BANK DONATION suggestion for October is tuna and mayonnaise.   

NEW MEMBER CLASSES will be starting on Sunday, October 6th at 11:45 am in rm D.  If you are interested in becoming a member please let Pastor Marshall know.

Golden Fellowship I do want to write a late note to our dear Golden Fellowship friends!

     We have decided to change our luncheon schedule for this year.  We will meet only twice: once in December, and once in May.  I hope you can make these “gourmet luncheons” which only cost $5!

     Many thanks go to all of you, and the staff!  Kitchen Staff: Jane Collins and hubby Ken, Doris & Chuck Prescott, Howard Storhoff and Elmer Wittman.  Joan Olson for occasionally filling in, she used to be in charge and did all of this alone. 

     And Pastor Ron for the prayers, and did you know he is the “fastest waiter” in the west?  Thank you Pastor for all that you do!

     Thank you all! God Bless!         June Wittman





Every year for the past 20+ years Foss Home and Village has gone out into the community in search of “senior citizens” who inspire us by making life easier for everyone around them, who selflessly give to others in need, who model generosity, share their talents and skills with others, who show compassion, and who make a difference in the lives of others.  This year, one of our church members, Maxine Foss, will be honored for all she has done for her family, friends, and church.  She will be one of the several individuals to be recognized.  These honorees also serve as inspiring role models for all of us as we grow into active and productive older members of our society.  Age should not prevent us from being a force for good in our neighborhoods, nor should it keep us from helping others.  Those being honored come from diverse backgrounds and experiences, but each share a fierce love of life and of helping members of their community.

Congratulations Maxine!  And thanks for being such a quiet and consistent servant of others, always cheerful and always willing.




Sunday, December 8 from 4pm to 7pm

Sign-up sheets will be posted this month and preparations are underway.  Be thinking how you would like to help.  There are plenty of opportunities, but the most important action is to  MARK YOUR CALENDAR – INVITE YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!!!!!!  It will be a spectacular party with good food and beverages, creative and practical gift baskets you could give as presents, prizes to win at the wine toss game, and wine tasting courtesy of Maryhill Winery.  A super way to start off the holiday season supporting our local charities, and having an awesome experience, all at the same time!!!

    We especially need donations of wine for prizes from the Wine Toss Game, and home baked Christmas cookies and Scandinavian sweets. We had a great response to “Christmas in July and August,” and most of the ornaments were taken from the tree.  If you haven’t already brought your “ornament” item to the church, I will be giving you a reminder call.  And you can always still  donate  money that will help cover the cost of completing the themed gift baskets that will be sold and any other expenses that we have.

    Remember that the money we raise with your help from the St. Nicholas Faire, will be donated to the West Seattle Food Bank and the West Seattle Helpline.  Help us make this event fun, memorable, and successful!

Larraine King




Psalm 119.19

Monthly Home Bible Study, October 2013, Number 248

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).


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).


Week I. Read Psalm 119.19 noting the line I am a sojourner on earth. What does this mean? On this read Deuteronomy 10.19 noting the reference to Egypt. What does that suggest? On this read Joshua 5.9, noting the word reproach. And what was the reproach suffered in Egypt? On this read Exodus 6.9 noting the line broken spirit and… cruel bondage. How was this bondage so cruel? On this read Exodus 1.11-13 noting the line afflict them… with heavy burdens…. and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick. What does this say about the earth? On this read Genesis 3.17-19 noting the words cursed, toil, thorns, sweat and till. Does this mean that paradise is now inhospitable? On this read Job 14.1 noting the line that life is of few days and full of trouble. What else is bothersome? On this read Exodus 23.28-29 noting the hornets and wild beasts. Note also the scorpions in 1 Kings 12.11 and the poisonous snakes in Number 21.6. As Isaiah 11.8 makes clear, this world is not a place where it is safe yet for babies to play with snakes (asp and adders) – or wild dogs for that matter, as in Jeremiah 15.3. What do you think of that?


Week II. Read again Psalm 119.19 noting same word sojourner. So are we sojourners here because of the inhospitality of nature? Or are there other problems too? On this read Psalm 14.3, noting the words all, corrupt, none and good. Read as well Psalm 116.11, noting the line men are all a vain hope. How so? On this read Psalm 12.2, noting the words every, lies, double and heart. So is that why we’re all sojourners – due to nature and people being unwelcoming as they are? On this read Psalm 39.5 noting the words nothing and breath. Does that mean that this world is not the place for us? Is that why we are so flimsy and ephemeral – merely a breath? On this read Psalm 42.1 noting the words soul, longs and God. Is it ever said in the Bible anywhere that we should also long for people and nature? Why isn’t that the case?


Week III. Reread Psalm 119.19 noting again that word sojourner. So if we don’t belong here, where do we belong? On this read Philippians 3.20 noting the line our commonwealth is in heaven. Does this mean that heaven is our real home? On this read John 14.2 noting the word house. Note also Luke 9.58 about Jesus having nowhere in this world to lay his head. Why is heaven a better home? On this read Revelation 21.4 noting the absence of death and pain. Without those culprits plaguing us – death and pain – life clearly would be much better in heaven. Note also Romans 6.7 about being freed from sin. That also is a big plus. No wonder Hebrews 11.13-16 calls heaven a better country, and Hebrews 13.14 says that’s because it is a lasting city. Do you agree?


Week IV. Read Colossians 2.5 one last time noting again that word sojourner. So as sojourners, how do we get into heaven? On this read John 14.2-3 noting the two words prepare and take. How does Jesus prepare a home for us? On this read 1 John 2.1-2 noting the words advocate and expiation. What do these words mean? On this read Romans 5.9 noting the words wrath and blood. So by dying in our place for our sins, or being punished instead of us – being our expiation, or sacrifice – Christ becomes our advocate and reconciles God, or satisfies his anger, so that we won’t be blocked from going to heaven. On this point read Romans 5.1-2 noting the words peace, access, grace and sharing. None of this can be assumed in any way as coming to us easily. No, Luke 16.16 says no one goes to heaven except by violence – that is, through the death of Jesus on the cross and the reconciling of God. But how does Christ take us to heaven? On this read Ephesians 2.8 noting the words faith and gift, and John 6.44 noting the word draws. So we need to move from unbelief to belief – but God gets that going – not us – as John 15.16 and Romans 9.16 say. But then, after that, we are to ratify what God has done to us – by following John 14.1 and believing in Jesus. Galatians 5.25 also calls us to walk in the spirit by living righteously, after we have ratified God’s call by believing in Jesus. Is this whole scenario, your joy, then, as Galatians 6.14 says it be should? Why or why not?




Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Gerry Moulton, Leah Baker, Florence Jenkins, Jim Coile, Agnes Arkle, Clara Anderson, Peggy & Bill Wright & Wendy, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Ion Ceaicovschi, Cameron Lim, Luke Bowen, Dano, Karen & W. Erick, Mary Lou Jensen, Tabitha Anderson, Max Richardson, Gloria Belarde, Dee Grenier, Lou & Lori Landino, Richard Uhler, The Jones Family, Deems Tsutakawa, Ginny Mitchell, The Khamiss Family, Kirsten Christensen, Jerry Hollenback, Kurt Alfano, Dave West. 

     Pray for the shut-ins that the light of Christ may give them joy:  Clara Anderson, Agnes Arkle, Donna Apman, Pat Hansen, C. J. Christian, Vera Gunnarson, Louis Koser, Anelma Meeks, Olive Morrison, Dorothy Ryder, Lillian Schneider, Crystal Tudor, Vivian Wheeler, Peggy Wright.

     Pray for our bishops Mark Hanson and Brian Kirby Unti, and the bishop elect Elizabeth Eaton, 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 Fall.  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 Emaus 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 Frances of Assisi, renewer of the Church, 1226; Saint Luke, Evangelist; Saint Simon and Saint Jude, Apostles.

 A Treasury of Prayers


O God, I confess that, content in my dimness, I shrink from your Light. Comfortable in my coolness, I withdraw from your Fire. Forgive me for begrudging the coming of your Spirit, or for accepting your Fire, only to smother it selfishly. Forgive me and visit me again. I pray for a burning heart and not just warm thoughts. For there is much to see and much to do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


                                                    [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., II:42, altered]