October 2014


Kierkegaardian Reformation


Reformation Sunday is October 26th. In that regard, Thomas Cahill, best-selling author of the “Hinges of History” series, has written: “It is not so very surprising that Luther was often misunderstood in his time. He might have been better appreciated in the nineteenth century by Kierkegaard” [Heretics and Heroes: How Renaissance Artists and Reformation Priests Created Our World (2013) p. 173].

     Agreeing with Cahill, I have written: “When Luther says ‘the world is one big whorehouse,’ Kierkegaard would agree. When Luther says ‘all bishops nowadays are of the devil,’ Kierkegaard would agree. And when Luther says ‘faith takes no holidays,’ ‘what is of God must be crucified in the world,’ ‘preference must be given to truth’ over friends, ‘we have no greater enemy than ourselves,’ Kierkegaard would agree again. And when Luther also says that ‘this life is not a life… but a mortification and vexation of life,’ that we should ‘neither fear death nor love this life,’ ‘love of oneself… is always wrong,’ ‘the majority remains blind,’ the gospel makes Christians ‘sleepy and secure’ when they wrongfully suppose ‘there is no further need to do anything, give anything, or suffer anything,’ ‘Christians are few and far between,’ ‘reason is the devil’s prostitute,’ the believer ‘hangs between heaven and earth,… suspended in the air and crucified,’ and ‘is lonely in the faith,’ Kierkegaard would also agree. And when Luther says that ‘the life of a Christian is as hard as if he were walking on… nothing but razors,’ ‘there is no life… on earth more wretched than that of a Christian,’ ‘counterfeit faith… does not produce a new man, but leaves him in his former opinion and way of life,’ Christians who mock God ‘have been baptized in vain,’ the clarity of the Bible ‘ensures the victory over evasive subtleties,’ those who reject God’s attack on sin ‘show plainly that they are damnable knaves,’ ‘baptism has made the repose, ease, and prosperity of this life a very poison… to its work,’ ‘a Christian is uplifted in adversity, because he trusts in God; he is downcast in prosperity, because he fears God,’ and that martyrdom helps Christians ‘receive salvation’ – to all these and many more like them, Kierkegaard would say yes, yes, and yes” [Kierkegaard for the Church (2013) pp. 302-303]. May God bless you as you keep these things in mind during our celebration of Reformation.

Pastor Marshall


Plumbing the Depths


Robert W. Jenson’s Metaphysics

Christianity’s proclamation is basically simple (Matthew 22:36-40; John 20:31) – but when it comes to explaining it (1 Peter 3:15), difficulties crop up (2 Peter 3:16). Often we give up on these, however, erroneously supposing that such stress and strain go against the Christian faith. In Robert W. Jenson’s new book, Theology as Revisionary Metaphysics: Essays on God and Creation, he helps us plumb those difficulties and depths (Ephesians 3:18), instead of turning our back on them.

     But first, what is a revisionary metaphysic? According to Jenson, it is a description of the world implied in the Christian message that does not rule out change, freedom or surprise (pp. 3, 31, 44-45) – something which classical metaphysics often did with its categories of being and necessity.
     One of Jenson’s more stirring thoughts has to do with Christian mystery: “That God is unknowable must not be construed to mean that he is but vaguely glimpsed through clouds of metaphysical distance, so that we are compelled – and at liberty – to devise namings and metaphors guided by our religious needs. It means on the contrary that we are stuck with the names and descriptions the [Bible] contingently enforces, which seem designed always to offend somebody; it means that their syntax is hidden from us, so that we cannot identify synonyms or make translations. It means that we have no standpoint from which to relativize them and project more soothing visions” (pp. 70-71). On this matter, it’s worthy of your consideration how he links divine mystery to flat-footed Bible verses.


Stewardship 2014


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

Budget                            $18,872                          $162,601

Received                        $19,615                          $160,066



   Faithful Stewards

Moses proclaims: “You shall take some of the fruit of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God gives you.”  “Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God.”   (Deuteronomy 26:2, 4)

When we give to our church or other places where people in need are helped, we are thanking God for this journey to the promised land.  We are giving thanks for the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  May we keep this in mind as we plan our giving to the church over the next year.

     Thanks be to God!

                                    ─Melanie Johnson, Church Council


ANNOUNCEMENTS: Many Thanks to all who supported and donated to the School Supplies collection in August for the West Seattle Helpline.  We were able to donate: 17 eraser pks, 2 pks colored pencils, 18 boxes of crayons, 1 pencil sharpener, 3 spiral notebooks, 35 glue sticks, 15 pocket portfolios, 7 three ring binders, 2 pencil boxes, 3 pencil pouches 17 pencil pks, 6 pen pks, 14 rulers, 12 marker pen pks, 14 scissor pks, 13 composition books, 7 pks of notebook dividers, and 2 backpacks.

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

KORAN CLASS:  A four-week guided reading of the Koran begins October 2nd 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.   


Wolfhart Pannenberg


“The Son is a condition of

the deity of the Father.”

(ST 1:322)

requiescat in pace



                       PRESIDENT'S REPORT....by Larraine King


As saints of old their firstfruits brought……..to God, the giver of all good,  so we today firstfruits would bring.  This is part of the first verse of Hymn #404.  Very appropriate words as we enter our Pledge Card/Stewardship Drive.  We all have things we can give, “ourselves, our time, and our possessions,” as our Offertory prayer states.  To what are we giving first place?  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 Christ-like 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 2015 and return it to church by Sunday, October 19, 2014, even if you are not able to pledge.  The council will be contacting those who miss the deadline.  We will be using the information gathered from the pledge cards to craft the 2015 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 and two Bible studies on Wednesdays.  The Deo Gloria Cantores are back rehearsing on Thursday nights and singing at the 10:30 am Sunday Eucharist.  St. Nicholas Faire preparations are progressing.  If you have yet to deliver your item(s) from the “Christmas in July/August” tree, please bring it to the church office.  We need everything by early October, so the baskets can be assembled.   Remember that hunger takes no vacations, so try to buy a non-perishable food item every time you purchase groceries.  The need is great.  With the weather cooling off, there will also be a greater demand for assistance from the West Seattle Helpline.  Donations of any amount do make a huge difference.  We are blessed.  We can share with our neighbors.

     Financially, the church is still running about $2,500 below projected giving to meet the budget.  We have made up about $1,000 from June and July, but the offerings (as well as attendance) during the summer have been lower than in previous years.  Please try to meet your pledged giving and help us stay on budget. 

     Installation of the new floor in the parish hall is completed.  A huge THANK YOU (!!!) to Tilden School for these outstanding improvements to our facility.  With the new floor and freshly painted walls and ceiling, it completely changes the look and brightens up the space.  The school spent around $25,000 to complete this project.  We are grateful for these enhancements to our basement meeting space.

     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. 



Dangerous Faith

(available here)

by Bob Baker

Raised a Lutheran, are you? Then you know Martin Luther’s “Ah ha” bolt of lightening while studying Romans: We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and not by works of the Law.

     Now that is a bit of a mouthful that may get shortened to “Saved by grace through faith,” which itself may get shortened to “Saved by Faith”.

     Could there possibly be danger in such faith? Recently we spent a couple of months in Pastor Marshall’s Sunday morning class studying a sermon of Martin Luther. The sermon of course was full of arresting and challenging observations and assertions. And Pastor Marshall is most adept at highlighting and polishing them.

     One such comment Pastor Marshall made was that we, Lutherans in particular, are in danger of having “Faith in Our Faith,” rather than “Faith in Jesus Christ”! The danger here is that our confidence may be that we have faith, which is faith in our faith; rather than confidence in the atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The language-tricks we play on ourselves are as dangerous as the language-trick between Eve and the Devil. I was arrested and found guilty on the spot!

     To deflect from my guilt, I immediately had the thought, “how sad so few people are in class this morning.” Week after week, Pastor Marshall invigorates and challenges us, and makes at least some of us so glad to have the opportunity to be there and benefit. Having myself graduated from a Lutheran seminary, I can say that none of my classes were as good as any given class session with Pastor Marshall.

     Come to a class with Pastor Marshall and discover the dangers and riches of faith in Jesus Christ. Only eternity hangs in the balance!


What We’re Supposed to Be


Shakespeare on Being Human


Pastor Marshall

A prestigious university professor has confessed: “Perhaps I am emblematic of everything that is wrong with elite American education, but I have no idea how to get my students to build a self or become a soul” (“How to Break from the Flock,” The Seattle Times, September 10, 2014). Out of love for American education (Jeremiah 29:7), the church is bound to remind our country of the Christian ideas in William Shakespeare (1564-1616) about being human – ideas which should be taught in our secular, public schools. These ideas have been wonderfully collected and explained by the famously prodigious Yale University professor, Harold Bloom, in his 750 page book, Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human (1998).

     In an early passage from his book Bloom notes how Hamlet teaches us the value of perpetually arguing with ourselves over our “clashing realizations” (p. 7). This idea nicely fits with Romans 7:23 on how we are “at war” within. This inner conflict is worth thinking about (Philippians 4:8-9) – how we are necessarily problematic to ourselves. This insight is the beginning of becoming a person.


October Book

With the Mind:  Readings in Contemporary Theology

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

The book for October is The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood (2012), by David R. Montgomery, a geology professor at the University of Washington. This book is about the intersection between science and religion. It tells about how this geologist changed his mind about the flood. “Like most geologists, I had come to see Noah’s Flood,” he writes, “as a fairy tale – an ancient attempt to explain the mystery of how marine fossils ended up in rocks high in the mountains. Now I’ve come to see the story… as rooted in truth…. The discoveries of science have revealed the world and our universe to be far more spectacular than could have been imagined” before (p. 253).

     A copy of this instructive 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 more constructive view of the relationship between geology and the Bible.



The West Seattle Helpline is to be the Extended Ministry chosen to support during the month of October.    Because there is such a great need to help families in our neighborhood pay for utilities and rent so that they can stay in their homes, we have decided again to ask you to consider giving a little extra to the Helpline. 

     The number of families among us that need extra money to pay their utility bills, is unthinkably high.  We probably have little understanding of what some of our neighbors go through each month just to make enough money to pay for heat, electricity, and water.  As I think of these, it would be like anticipating a chronic power and water outage.  What if the stove didn’t work and we couldn’t cook food? Or what if the refrigerator had no power, the food would be spoiled?  With no water, how could you take care of basic sanitation and hygiene?  And as cooler months approach, what if we had no heat because there just wasn’t enough money to pay that bill?  These are the questions that many of our West Seattle residents face monthly.

     Couldn’t we all just give up one latte a week or limit ourselves to just a couple each week and donate the money saved to support the Helpline?  Or maybe dessert is our favorite indulgence.  Donate money saved from cutting back on those delectable luxuries.  Whatever you feel you can donate, whether it is because you have adjusted your spending or just off the top of your income, you can know that by helping the Helpline, you have done a good work out of the generosity of your heart.  Please pray that you will be able to give a little extra during the month of October to this very deserving extended ministry.



Sunday, December 7 from 4pm to 7pm


Sign-up sheets will be posted later 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 


     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. Plus there will be an additional surprise from Maryhill Winery.  You’ll have to come to find out!  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 donate money that will help cover the cost of completing the gift baskets that will be sold and 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 for the Extended Ministries Committee



The Ministry of Acolyte

First Lutheran Church of West Seattle

By Dean Hard


2015 will mark the 68th anniversary of the Ministry of Acolytes in our parish.  This ministry was begun in 1947 by the Rev. Norris R. Halvorson our 7th pastor (1945-1959).  Pastor Halvorson trained the acolytes the years he served as our pastor. 

    In 1959 the Rev. M. Donald Hinderlie was called as our 8th pastor. Pastor Hinderlie continued the acolyte program but assigned the teaching to the interns (seminarians) serving our parish.  In the summer of 1968 Rev. Hinderlie asked Dean Hard, our then Assistant Choirmaster and Youth Advisor, to take over the training of acolytes.  Forty-six years later Dean continues this teaching ministry.

    Most but not all Lutheran churches have acolytes.  In most cases the acolytes are shown how to light candles in "one easy lesson" and little else.  Our program is unique in the Lutheran Church in that it requires of each student a commitment of eight 1½ hour classes of instruction, required reading, practice time, and the satisfactory completion of a two hour written exam.  The subjects covered are:

  • Acolytes:  The Who, What, Why and How.

  • Lutheran Worship:  A Historical Overview.

  • Vestments:  The Things We Wear.

  • The Sacraments:  Holy Baptism and Holy Communion.

  • Church Architecture/Liturgical Space/Holy Ground.

  • Holy Objects:  How We Handle Them.

We will begin the classes mid-January 2015.  If you have any questions please call the church office.  Watch for more information to come at the end of the year.



Daniel 1.20

Monthly Home Bible Study, October 2014, Number 260

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).

Week I. Read Daniel 1.20 noting the line in every matter of wisdom and understanding,… [they were] ten times better. Does this mean that Christians are smarter than everybody else? On this read 1 Kings 10.23-24 noting the words excelled, all and wisdom. Does this mean that Christians are not only the best Sunday school students, but also the best mathematicians and chemists? On this read 1 Corinthians 1.26-2.9 noting the words wise, worldly, standards, shame, lofty, plausible, secret and hidden. So are there different types of wisdom? On this read John 14.27 regarding peace, noting the line not as the world gives. Does this same alternative mode of peace also apply to wisdom? On this read 1 Corinthians 3.18-21 noting the words age, fool, folly, craftiness, futile and boast. See also James 3.13-17 noting the words works, meekness, devilish, peaceable, mercy, fruits and uncertainty. Ευπειθης, the word translated as open to reason in this verse, only occurs here in the New Testament. What kind of a restriction does it provide for godly wisdom? Does that help you?

Week II. Read again Daniel 1.20 noting the same line in every matter of wisdom,… [they were] ten times better. Following up on last week, what are the hallmarks of godly wisdom, if not math and chemistry? On this read Colossians 2.2-3 noting the words mystery, Christ and wisdom. What then is this wisdom of Christ? On this read John 16.7-11 on the Counselor, or Spirit of Christ (John 14.26, 15.26, 16.14), noting the two words sin and righteousness. On sin, read Mark 7.18-22 noting the words heart, evil, licentiousness and pride. If our hearts are so bad, are we like that overall? On this read Romans 7.18 noting the line nothing good dwells within me. Why is this so hard for us to accept? On this read Job 34.5 noting the word innocent. Read also Isaiah 64.6 noting the words righteous and polluted. These two passages show how corrupted our self-understanding is. On this read Jeremiah 17.9 noting the words heart and all. Do you agree?

Week III. Reread Daniel 1.20 noting that same phrase again in every matter of wisdom,… [they were] ten times better. Why doesn’t worldly wisdom understand our sinfulness? Why do we think we’re better off than God says we are? On this read 2 Timothy 3.2-4 noting the words money, pleasure, form and power. Why can’t we clean out this corruption? Why do we deny the power of our faith to help us out? On this read 2 Corinthians 4.4 noting the words god and blinded. On this god, read 1 John 5.19 noting the words world and evil one. Read as well Luke 4.5-6 noting the words all, kingdoms, delivered and will. So if we’re blinded by the devil –the god of this world – what comes of that? On this read John 8.44 noting the word lies. Is that it? Are we by nature liars about our sinfulness? Is that what our blindness does to us? What do you make of this?

Week IV. Read Daniel 1.20 one last time noting again the line in every matter of wisdom,… [they were] ten times better. Now what shall be done about this sinful predicament of ours? On this read 1 Corinthians 1.30 noting the words our and righteousness. How does Jesus become our righteousness? On this read 2 Corinthians 8.9 noting the play between the words rich and poor. When we become rich in this verse, then we are righteous. No longer does sin, failure and evil define us. In God’s eyes we are now righteous and pure. But note that we do not do this by ourselves. Jesus instead does it for us. On this read Colossians 2.13-14 noting the words alive, forgive, cancel, demands and nailing. Here we see what we need to be righteous: forgiveness. It’s what makes us alive before God. But this cannot come about without Jesus putting a stop to the demands of the divine which says that sinners must be punished. And he does this by being punished in our place – being nailed to the cross. This is the second piece of godly wisdom that can be found only in Christ. Do you think that it, together with the words about sin, makes for greater wisdom than can be found anywhere else about anything else? Why or why not?


A Qur’an Manual


Pastor Marshall’s Guide


Pastor Marshall has been offering his class on the Qur’an four times a year since 2003. As the result of a presentation he gave on the Qur’an in Irvine, California, this past May, he has composed a condensed version of his class in written form, called A Manual on the Qur’an for Christians: Highlighting Key Passages. It is designed to state clearly, in one short pamphlet, what every Christians should know about the Qur’an. It’s a little over sixty pages long.

     Copies are available on the window ledge by the church office. Feel free to pick up extra copies to give to your friends.




Remember in prayer before God those whom He has made your

brothers and sisters through baptism.

Sam and Kevin Lawson, Jim Coile, Anelma Meeks, Kyra Stromberg, Nora Vanhala, Mary Goplerud, Michael Nestoss, Cynthia Natiello, Leah Baker, Clara Anderson, Peggy & Bill Wright & Wendy, Bob & Barbara Schorn, Cameron Lim, Ion Ceaicovschi, Luke Bowen, Tabitha Anderson, Max Richardson, The Jones Family, Robin Kaufman, Rosita & Jim Moe, Asha Sagmoen, Dano, Karen & W. Erick, John Bertelsen, Marie & Rick Collins, Karen Klein, Dee Grenier, The Rev. Bill Hampton, Jeanie Goodwin, Nathan Arkle, Mark Jarvimaki, Lauren Kinney, The Robert Peters Family, Judy Earle, Jeff & Dolly Shale, and the Frank Henderson family. 

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

     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 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 Most Holy Lord and God, come into my heart and by your power draw it to yourself. Guard me from every evil thought, and so warm and enflame me again with your most gentle love that every suffering may seem light to me. Help me in my every need. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


                          [For All the Saints (ALPB, 1994-1996) 4 vols., III:436, altered]