Shishmaref FAQs

1.Bless you! Did you just sneeze? (How do you pronounce Shishmaref?) It’s like shish-kabob but with mar ef at the end. Sh- as in Shine; -ish- as in Danish; -mar- as in March; -ef as in  effluvium. Shh-ish-mah-ref. 2.Can you see Russia from your house? (Where is Shishmaref?) No. We cannot see Russia from our house. Actually, the best view from the parsonage is facing the wrong way anyway. Our bay windows look across the bay (living up to their name in a way most bay windows can only dream of) and southward toward the mainland. However, even if we were pointed at the sea, we are not close enough to Russia to see it. Sarichef Island, where sits Shishmaref, is off the coast of the Seward Peninsula of Alaska. (A name I cannot seem to pronounce correctly. I always want...

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All Other Ground is Shishmaref

I chose the words for my title very carefully. It is a good title. I like it because of the positivity I hear in it. This ground, this place is not just our ground. It is not just the ground of 600 Inupiat people, who have lived here for generations on the edge of the world. It is all of our ground, because the things happening here matter for all of us. The climate change that immediately threatens the way of life in Shishmaref, is the same climate change that is a threat to all other ground as well. The only difference is, we see our homes toppling into the ocean. We can look at our fourth sea-wall and how thin and fragile a barrier it is between us and the melting stormy northern seas. But Shishmaref is not the only ground sinking into the ocean. For our...

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God’s Grace Is At Work Despite This

My quick and dirty Lutheran Response to the Daily News headline “God Isn’t Fixing This” and its condemnation of prayer as useless platitudes. — The profoundness of misunderstanding that has to go on for such a headline to run is near unapproachable. This misunderstands God, Prayer, Action, and the whys and hows of all three. First about prayer: the idea that prayer is somehow divorced from action is at stake here. Prayer is labeled as “platitudes” and it is implied that real action is necessary instead. But if prayer is truly platitudes and some sort of mystical thing divorced from reality, I would never do it. In fact, that would mean I have never prayed ever in my life. But this is not prayer. It is not true that prayer does not build...

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On Joyfully Serving

This Lent we have been journeying through our new mission statement. We heard how we are Called by Christ, remembering our baptisms; we heard also how we are Gathered in Grace, how our sins are forgiven and we gain freedom in community. Today we begin the last part: Joyfully Serving. So how do we be joyful in our serving? Sometimes, it seems joyful serving is more of a prayer than a reality. We don’t really want to serve our neighbors. Given the choice of feeding the homeless at 6am on a Saturday, and sleeping in, why I think I’d rather take sleeping in! For help in this prayer for joyful serving, one place we can look is at the Fourth Commandment. What’s that you say? Honour thy father and mother? What does that have to do with joyful serving? I suppose I’m bad...

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On FWEdom

Tonight we hear in First Corinthians that in Christ, “each has been given a manifestation of the Spirit for the common Good.” To one is given the knowledge, to one is given sweet licks on the guitar, to one is given joyful noises, to one is given the ability to bake bread, to the one is given the gift of soups, to one the fine painting skills of tiny ceramic eggs, to another the ability to make beauty from their giant mess of paints on the same ceramic eggs. On and on, all of our gifts are given and activated by the same one God. All of these manifestations of the spirit are given to us, not for our own health or our own independence. Not for one-upsmanship, nor the ability to say “my egg is better than your egg, her egg is better than his” but First Corinthians...

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Qoheleth Chapter Nine

Translation from the Anchor Bible commentary by R.B.Y. Scott 9 1So I thought about all I had observed—that just and wise men and what they do are in God’s power; whether he will favor them or not, no one knows. Anything may happen to anyone; 2 the same chance befalls the innocent and the guilty, the good and the bad, the clean and the unclean, the one who brings a sacrifice and the one who does not. As it is with the virtuous, so it is with the sinner; as with the one who swears, so with him who is afraid to swear. 3 This is the worst of all the things that happen under the sun—that all meet the same fate. That is why men’s minds are full of evil, and madness is in their minds while they live—because their only future is to die. 4 It is true that “while one is...

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