Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saint's Day

Grace and greetings.

This is a day of celebration and remembrance as we look to those who have passed on before us. In my 2 and half years here in Barrow, I have officiated over 90 funerals, including the one that I will be officiating tomorrow and one later this week. Both funeral were unexpected. The one tomorrow is for a full term baby that died in his mother's womb three days before being born. The other is for a man that we do not know how or why he died. I saw him at the post office on Tuesday, and he died Friday morning.
The following is my meditation for tonight's service.
For some reason, neither the cut and paste, or the copy and paste are working, so I will try later to edit this and update it.
Until then, Peace and blessings.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Grace and greetings.

It was a rude awakening here this past week weather wise; for the last couple of weeks we have had relatively warm temperatures, but Tuesday the cloud cover moved away and the temperatures dropped 20 degrees. Then last night an ice fog came through, leaving ice crystals on all metal, it is kind of cool...

But this is Halloween, the week where Sam and I go around and around on how he should focus on life. For him, the only reason to slog through the other 364 days of the year in to live for this night. All week he plans on how he is going to dress up, for school, after school, the Halloween dance, the haunted house, and then of course, tonight. All else takes a back seat to this week, including the script for the two movies he has been working on for the last month. It goes without saying that his homework is somehow non-existence for the past week as well.

Well, it is time to go review tomorrow's two sermons, or at least one sermon and one meditation--a short sermon--

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October Saturday Afternoon

Grace and greetings.

Again, I am late in letting you know what is going on here at the "Top of the World", (at least as far as the United States is concerned.)

I survived the Presbytery meeting, sort of. The Saturday of the meeting, I ended up throwing up all day, and sick Sunday as well. As it turned out, the group from Taiwan and our Presbytery executive filled in for me at both services, so I guess it was okay. The meeting it self had a few moments of concern, but otherwise went well.

We had some disappointing news from Sam's teachers this past week; even if he passes all his classes this semester, and at this moment is in doubt, he will still be half a credit short in math, so he will be sticking around until the May 2010 graduation. Other than that, he is acting out as most teenagers, defying his parents, already knows everything, and trying to go his own way, (as long as the parents pay of course). He is still looking at film school for after high school, but we will see where he ends up.

I got to speak with my daughter this afternoon. She is now stationed at Fort Gordon, Georgia; but the good news is that she is in school for computer work rather than in Haz Met. I feel much better now that she is safe around computers than the dangerous materials. Her family is still in Birmingham, only four hours away, but she does not have gas money to get there. She is planning to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her family though. Yes, I wish that she were stationed at Fort Richardson outside Anchorage, but feeling good that her training will take her in a different direction.

Last month, Kim ended up with swollen feet, ankles, and legs. We ended up taking the next plane out so she could see a cardiologist and her pulmonologist. After she was given some diuretics, she ended up losing 25 pounds of water weight. Though she is still swelling, it is not as bad as before, she is suppose to see her pulmonologist in November. Both she and Sam are fighting sinus infections, so we will see how the health of the family lasts.

Winter has finally arrived in Barrow, we think. The last several days have been snowy and blizzards, today is just overcast with dark clouds off the coast. The air temperature has been in the twenties and thirties, but the wind chill has been down around zero.

The Angels and Yankees have been rained out for today, but I ask for you to continue to believe, as the Angels will take the next two games in New York and go on to the World Series.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Presbytery of Yukon

Grace and greetings.

For the next several days, we will be hosting the Presbytery of Yukon. In the Presbyterian Church system, we are set up much like the United States government. Starting at the local level we have the individual congregation; then we have a geographical level called the presbytery, which there are 177 presbyteries in the Presbyterian Church (USA), [PC USA]; then presbyteries are grouped into another geographical organization called Synods, there are 16 synods in the PC USA; then there is the denomination known as Presbyterian Church (USA).

The Presbytery of Yukon is made up of 23 congregations from Anchorage on north, and everything west of the United States/Canadian Border. We meet twice a year, rotating to different places each meeting. This time the meeting is here in Barrow. We will have close to 100 people participating in the three day event. Today is mostly different committee meetings and registration for people coming in. Friday and Saturday will be the actual meeting dates with a worship service Friday evening celebrating communion (also known as the Lord's Supper).

This meeting and worship service is going to be special, as we have a group from the Taiwan Presbyterian Church to sign an agreement between the indigenous people there and here in the North Slope and Western Alaska. The agreement will be signed in five languages; Tiawan, English, Inupiat, Yupik and Korean. The agreement is that the different groups will learn from each other; the Alaskans will share their political knoweldge; while Taiwan will share their success in reclaiming native languages and values.

We are hoping this will be a spirit-filled meeting and that you will join us, physically, mentally or spiritually.

Peace and blessings.

Monday, October 5, 2009

More tragedy in the midst of celebration

Grace and greetings.

It has been a long time since I have posted anything here. It has been a wild a crazy summer, I will try and fill in the past in the next few post. Part of my own personal problem is that I write my post in my mind, but want to post with pictures. But I do not have the pictures I want, so I put off writing the post. So I am back to writing the post and worry about pictures later.

The spring whale harvest was very poor this year, so the fall whaling season was looking for better results. The spring season is usually the big hunt, but this year only four whales were caught. So when the fall whaling started last Saturday, the first three days caught ten whales, and lost one of the twelve possible strikes. (The whalers are allowed 26 "strikes" each year for the eight villages here in the North Slope. A strike is one shot; it would be like having only 26 arrows, if one misses, you lose). So people were feeling pretty good with the whale hunts...

Last Monday, on the way to school, two four year old girls fell through the ice while walking across the lagoon. Once they were discovered, they were not able to revive them, even though they tried all the way to Anchorage.

With the families traveling to Anchorage, and me sick all last week, I was still not sure who the families were, or who was going to officiate the funerals. Part of my problem, was that nobody ever contacted me. As it turns out, the aunt of one of the two girls, contacted her pastor, rather than me, who probably should have been contacted. As it turns out, the mothers' are cousins, so the two girls grew up together.

I met with the families the night before the funeral. Though I was still not sure, I recognized the parents, but not sure of their relationship to the church. We planned the service with the pastor that was first contacted preaching and me officiating the service.

During the visitation, one of the uncles came up to me to comment that the wedding that I officiated only five weeks ago, one of the girls was the flower girl that I carried down the isle at the end of the wedding service. So I probably had met both girls...

Like in life, the two girls were buried in the same grave site together, in different caskets, to remain forever side by side.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Turning our lives around

Grace and greetings.

It has been several weeks since I wrote anything here or on Facebook. I hope to fill you in on our lives here in the North Slope; but tonight I am going to get back in the swing with my meditation from this evening.

“Turning Our Lives Around”
Ephesians 4.25-5.2

This is a continuation of the reading from last week, reminding us that we are one in Christ; One faith, one baptism, one Lord and Father of All. As we hear the writer from the Letter to the Ephesians, how we are to deal with each other. It sounds so easy, but like many other simple ideas and concepts, they are hard to keep up and follow.

As we follow the reading, we are told that it is okay to become angry, and we do. But that we are not to hold on to our anger, especially over night. If we need to speak to somebody about our anger, speak in a way that will build up the Body of Christ, not to tear it down. We each think that when we “speak our peace,” we do so meaning to encourage one another. But in reality, all we do is continue to anger and frustration rather than bringing about true peace.

We hold onto our anger and grief; our resentment and bitterness. I can speak to my own holding on to my hurts and frustrations throughout my twenty plus years of ministry. Soon it becomes too much for me, and I will speak words that I do not mean to speak, and they will come out at the wrong person at the wrong time. We are reminded to be imitators of God. God can be angry with us, but God forgives us, and welcomes us back.

What would the world look like if we were able to live this simple statement? Would the world be a different place if we did not hold onto resentment, bitterness, wrath and anger? Let us start in small places where we have the ability to make those decisions, starting one day at a time, one moment at a time.

What would our lives look like if we looked at each other as Christ sees us, with love? How would that change our responses to each other? This is not something that is going to happen all at once, but we can try. We can try one moment at a time. If we stumble, holding onto our anger and resentment; give it to God, let God hold onto it for you. Let God wash the situation; let God wash your resentment and wash the other person with love. See where that takes us. Then build up on it, one moment at a time, once here, once there, and see how our lives can be turned around by God’s love that works through each and every one of us. “Forgive each other as God has forgiven you. Be imitators of God as beloved children. Live in love, as Christ loves us.” Amen

Peace and blessings

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Bright Thursday morning

Grace and greetings.

We have made it to Anchorage on our two week whorl wind tour.  We spent the Fourth of July with my brother and his family in Portland; enjoying the time with them; the fireworks and the excitement of the neighborhood fireworks setting the neighbors lawn on fire that was quickly put out.

We spent a week in Seattle shopping, seeing old friends and being able to spend time with my sister and her partner.  We looked at schools for Sam, and the winner so far is the Art Institute of Seattle.  They have several Bachelor of Arts programs.  The two tracks that Sam is interested in is "Animation" and "Digital Film."  He is leaning towards the film making but we will see what happens over the next year or so.  One of the pluses for the Art Institute of Seattle, is that it is a three year program, but goes throughout the year, which means one can not spend the summer making money to pay for the next year.

Tuesday Kim finally had her court date with the Social Security Disability judge which was held via video teleconference.  The judge had two witnesses: a psychiatrist and a vocational expert.  Our attorney was impressed that the judge had done her homework and reading Kim's file.  Because of that, after Kim's testimony and the one of the other experts, the judge ruled that Kim fit the definition of disability without all the other testimony we were ready for, including me.  That is a big relief for us.  Now Kim needs to figure out who she is now that she has been declared "disabled." 

The rest of the week here is going to be spent doing the normal vacation type events: catching up on movies, shopping, doctor appointments and seeing a tour of some of the glaciers tomorrow.  Since there is no movie theater in Barrow, Kim and Sam came down with a list of movies in mind.  The movies we have seen so far: Star Trek, (with my brother and his family), Wolverine, Angels and Demons, Transformers, Night of at the Museum, and Harry Potter.  For me, the best was between Harry Potter and Star Trek; for Kim it is those two and Angels and Demons; for Sam it is Wolverine.

Well, it is time to get some breakfast.  I will try and post our time with the glaciers later, after I can up load the pictures on our own computer.

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Grace and greetings.

Kim and Sam have now joined me in Seattle. We spent the July 4th weekend with my brother and his family in Portland, and we promptly were sun burned.

While we are back in Seattle for this week, Sam has been catching up with some of his friends and so are we. We have done many of the tourist stuff, like buying clothing, shoes, etc; and of course eating out at real restaurants that we have been wanting to try again.

Last night we were able to make it to the Texas Rangers-Seattle Mariners game. We were hopping for good seats but still ended up in the upper deck, which of course the sun beat down on us until the fourth inning, after it finally became a wonderful night. Unfortunately the Mariners lost 6-4, where just like last week against the Angels, the Rangers scored all their runs on home runs.

What is amazing at the moment, is that we have not seen that many movies yet. In the past when we get out of Barrow, the first thing Kim and Sam check out is what movies are playing. We have only seen two so far, "Transformers" and "Star Trek." Though Kim and Sam really loved Transformers, I thought it was a let down from the first one, and too much fighting of the transformers, still had a hard time figuring out who was who.

Today we are on our way to a church retreat to see some friends that we will miss if we go to church tomorrow. Then we will have dinner with my sister and her partner. Then we leave for Anchorage on Monday for Kim's Social Security Disability hearing on Tuesday.

Well it is time to get ready to go out into the "HOT" Seattle weather...okay it is only in the low 80's, but it is hot for us.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A Walk on the Beach

Grace and greetings.

Yesterday, I went for a walk on the beach. To get down from the retreat center to the beach I had to take a set of stairs that I was told that was equal to a ten story building. Once I got down to the beach, I saw things that I have not seen in a while, sea weed, algae, sand dollars, shells and more algae, and more drift wood. Along the way I found a carving in the sand wall. I was first attracted to the shell below the carving, then I found the carving. As I walked along the beach on Puget Sound, I found a few other carvings as well.

After about an hour and a half of walking, I realized that I did not put on any of the sun block that I purchased on Sunday for just this occasion, oh well. By the time I got back to the retreat center, my arms were a little pink. It was not until over night that the slight burn on my arms and parts of my legs showed up. After all the time out, I was very luck that it was a very mild sun burn, it could have been a lot worse.

We have three more days here, then Kim and Sam will join me from Barrow and we will head to Portland to spend the July 4th weekend with my brother and his family.

Peace and blessings.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday in Seattle

Grace and greetings.

I have made it to Seattle for a conference on Preaching. Like the picture here on the left, I will be looking backwards in this blog. I took the picture while waiting for Samuel to get out of his driving class out at the college. While sitting there, I noticed the telephone poles in the mirror and just liked the way they lined up, one can tell that they go on into the distance, but able to see each pole by itself.

The past week was long; I was trying to get things tied up so I could leave, but also dealt with other matters that drains the person mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. But I also was able to play volleyball again; that by it self can restore my soul. It felt good to be on the court, and not having my knees hurt. I think it goes back to earlier in the year when the doctor injected my knees with steroids and a pain killer, as well as taking glucosamine/chondroitin. I had tried the glucosamine before, but I guess I did not take it long enough, or I did not give it time to work with my body. This time I had been on the glucosamine for about a month before I started to play volleyball.

I had not been able to load my pictures from the camera to the computer, so I had to wait until I got a new cord in Seattle. I ended up buying a card reader, but it would not read the card. Then, while looking around on my computer, I found a SD slot for the card, and it loaded right up. Here all this time I was waiting for something so I could share my pictures, and I had it with me all the time. The same can be said about our relationship with God and each other, sometimes we feel that we need to do something, or be about something, instead of just letting God do the work with us and it happens.

Well, it is a fantastic afternoon here in the Seattle area, so I am going to go out and enjoy the trees, as well as the rest of the area.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

Grace and greetings.

Following this morning's service, I had the opportunity to speak with my father, wishing him a "Happy Father's Day." He said they got up and went to church, then out to eat with some friends, enjoying their day. They had arrived shortly before I had called, and being true to my father, he was starting the grill for some chicken.

Here, we had lightly blowing snow, but now it is sunny. Though today is also the Summer Solstice, we are not really affected here as else where, for the sun does not set until August.

Anyway, I got a chance to relax in between services to watch the Angels-Dodgers game, only to get frustrated when the Angels blew both of their chances with the bases loaded and gave the game away. At least Matt Kemp scored the first two runs for the Dodgers. From what I understand from old classmates from Edison High School in Huntington Beach, that is where Matt went to school; not the same years of course...

I am not sure why I am also putting in my message from tonight's service, I feel burned out and tired, and this just seemed flat, maybe it will do something for somebody out there. Then again, it could just be a lousy sermon.

“OPEN WIDE YOUR HEARTS”
2 Corinthians 6.1-13

In the lectionary reading this evening, we pick up a few verses where we left off last week. Paul is still trying to get through to the Corinthians with whom he has had an up and down relationship with throughout the time since Paul helped start the Christian Church in Corinth. In reading of the two letters that we still have in existence, we realize that there are references to other letters that Paul wrote to the church, trying to heal the factions within the congregation.

Paul writes to the church on behalf of the other workers, stating they are “Ambassadors for Christ” coming to them with authority. But he also asserts that as we are all in Christ, we are ALL NEW CREATIONS; we are all made new. Within the newness of Christ, we should be able to put aside our differences and come together and sisters and brothers in Christ. Paul requests that they do not take God’s grace in vain; for God’s time will be when it happens, and it God’s time is now.

Paul appeals to the group in Corinth to trust in the message that Paul and the others working with Paul bring to the people. Paul writes of his troubles that he has experienced, in Corinth and throughout his ministry. Paul tells of his pain, his loss, and his love for the people of Corinth. Therein lays the message of Christ that is so often lost in the world of riches and might. So often in the world, we look to superior military might; we look at the riches of a person or nation. But Christ came with his strength in his weakness, by going to the cross. Paul too expresses his weakness means strength in Christ. The message is not as the world gives, but as Christ gives to us. As we empty ourselves, we find God.

All too often, we end up in arguments in the church. Sometimes those arguments can be summed up with the quote: “The reason that fights in churches get so vicious is that the stakes are so low.” We find ways to divide ourselves over petty differences. We get into arguments over the color of the carpet; over who is doing what for which committee; who got snubbed at the nominating committee; whether a picture or flags belong here or there. The arguments are not over salvation or how to fully use our gifts for the betterment of the Realm of God.

It is this type of arguing, over the pettiness of the church, that Paul is writing to the people of Corinth and to the people of the future church. Paul is telling the people of Corinth, that like any parent of an adult child that is misbehaving, and fighting tooth and nail to prove it; Paul is saying, “We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. In return—I speak as to children—open wide your hearts also.” (Verses 11-13)

Open wide your hearts to God, and as we open them wide to God, we will be opening them to each other as well.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rotarian Again

Grace and greetings.

Tonight I joined the Rotary Club again. I was a member when we lived in Columbus, Ohio. Sam was born while I was a member, and for the first year of his life, I could swear that he had a better attendance record than several members; the same could be said of Presbytery meetings at the time. Now I am a member of the furthest northern club, (any real surprise there?)

After the meeting, Kim and I drove around a little so Kim could have some time out of the house. As we were driving, out of the ice we could see lone seals here and there. This was the first time that I have seen a wild live seal up here, cool.

We are also trying to get the church ready to paint, though the weather has been some what dry, it still has been pretty cool, high 20's to high 30's, but the wind chill around 25. Hopefully we can start painting sometime next week.

Right now, other than trying to get Sam to do something other than watch TV or be on the computer without World War Three, life is going along about the same right now. No funerals at the moment, but several weddings scheduled. I get to get off the North Slope next week with a conference in Seattle for a week. Then Kim and Sam will join me in Seattle, and we will have a little more than two weeks in Seattle and Anchorage before coming back to Barrow for two weddings. Good reason to be coming back.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Four Funeral and a Wedding

Grace and greetings.

This past week has been another emotional roller coaster and left me drained. After the funeral on Monday for Martha Marie, the murder victim, another prayer was answered but it meant the passing of another person. Martha Aiken, a pillar in the community and church for many decades entered the Church Triumphant with a smile and tear Tuesday morning. She had been ill for the last several years, and truly missed her husband, Robert, who had passed away several years earlier. Her funeral service was probably the longest that I have attended or officiated, five and a half hours. Her sister, the Reverend Mary Ann Warden, helped officiate the service with me. It was a time of mourning, as well as a time of celebration.

Then yesterday, we had another celebration, a time of joy with a wedding. It was good to have the people gather for a joyous occasion. From last Tuesday to yesterday, that meant four funerals and a Wedding. I kept looking around for Hugh Grant to show up...oh wait a minute; the movie was four WEDDINGS and a funeral.

Here is my message from this evening....

“We are a New Creation”
2 Corinthians 5.6-17

As we hear the words of Paul, we can with confidence come together to become one in Christ. With Paul, we yearn to be with God, but we are still here, alive in this place and time; so even if we are not comfortable, or at home in our own bodies, we live them for God. As we go about the business of our own lives, God will call in account of our lives for what we do with the gifts God has given us; do you use the gifts for good or ill?

Christ is giving us the opportunity to choose which of the many answers we may have in life, to choose to live solely for God. Make all our choices for God, in all that we do. Many of us speak of our faith, our ability to pray and sing for God; and then walk by our sister or brother as if they do not exist. We may continue to see others from a human point of view, and make our judgments on what we see and what we know. We make judgments on where they may or may not go to church; what clothes they wear; where they may or may not work; how they treat their families. If we have Christ in our hearts, we are given the gift to no longer see each other in human terms, but as God sees us. Do we see somebody who is intoxicated or high most of the time? Or do we see the Child of God who hurts so much, that the only way they can deal with the pain is to drink?

Throughout the ages, the people in the church have been called hypocrites, because they are seen professing their faith on Sunday morning, and rejecting the existence of their Christian brothers and sisters week in and week out. Being human, we hold on to grudges; old beliefs; past histories of each other. We are called to view each other as God views us, we are called to forgive and to love so that we may become a new creation in Christ.

But that new creation is not just for us as individuals, it is for us as a society as well. We have experienced death in our own community all too often. We mourn our loss, and look to one another to comfort us. Do we hear the call to life? Do we as a community realize that we are a New Creation, called and loved by God?

God continues to bestow gift after gift upon us, as individuals and as a community. Are we willing and able to recognize those gifts from God? Sometimes we think, God answers the prayers of one that may not favor many. Martha Aiken prayed for the last year or so to be lead home. Many of us, myself included, were not ready for her to leave. But now that she has returned home to God, there are others that will be called to step forward to become the pillar of the community that Martha was for us. Sometimes we follow in somebody else’s shadow or footsteps, never to take on the gifts we are given until that person is no longer with us to rely on. As Jesus was preparing his disciples for his departure, he told them that he had to leave in order for the Holy Spirit to come and guide them. In Martha’s case, she knew her faults and failings, she knew too, that many people placed her on a pedestal; which is the last place she wanted to be. She wanted to live her life for God, using the gifts that God gave her, that she may be a New Creation and help the Inupiat people to be that beloved New Creation as well.

Go and claim your gifts; proclaim the gifts that God has given you, as individuals and as a community. Become that New Creation. Tell all the world, so that all may know; In Christ Jesus, we are a new creation, our old life has passed away, and everything has become new again.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Children of God

Grace and greetings.

The funerals for the young couple that died last week are almost over. Friday, we had the funeral for Scooter, who had done the shooting. Tomorrow we will have the funeral and burial of Martha. I am still not sure what I will be saying tomorrow, but I pray that it fills the need and speaks of God's love for us.

I have included my message from tonight's service. As it deals with adoption and the accidents of birth, one person suggested using parts or all of it tomorrow since Martha was adopted, as many are in the North Slope. We will see if I use it or not. Anyway, here is my message from tonight...

“Children of God”
Romans 8.12-17

This past week as people in the group in the internet were discussing this passage, they we attracted by the phrase, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear but you have received a spirit of adoption.” As they were telling of stories of individuals that had been adopted or knew of somebody adopted, for they did not know too many people around where adoption took place. Then I wrote, explaining my observation here in Barrow, and I am sure that it is true in most of the indigenous cultures, that adoption is a common place event, affecting most of the families here one way or another. Not only that, but with the adoption, the person is part of BOTH families, the birth family and the adopted family. Then another person commented that she experience the same thing with the Inuit people in Northern Canada. There are many things that the dominate culture of the “white European decent” can learn from the Native cultures, particularly when it comes to dealing with extended family.

In the passage from Romans, we hear that by the Spirit, we are adopted into the family of God. I personally have a problem with that statement. The reason I have a problem is that before anything else, there was God. God formed the chaos into Creation and blessed it. God created us in God’s image and blessed us. So even at the very beginning of time or at the time we were in our mother’s wombs, we were already in the image of God, we were already called by God, we were already in the Family of God, and God continues to create and bless.

There are many times that we forget who we are, and become wrapped up into the chaos of the world around us. We lose the voice that speaks to us of God’s love and God’s inheritance. We abuse the gift we have and need to turn again and remember who we are, that we are the Family of God.

A famous preacher, author and retired seminary professor, Fred Craddock tells of a time when he and his wife were eating at the Big Bear Inn in eastern Tennessee. While they were waiting for their meal to arrive, an older man, about 80 sauntered over to their table and said, "Good evening. Y'all on vacation?" "Yes," said the Craddocks. As they talked with the man, the subject of Fred's occupation came up. It's always interesting to see how people will respond when they find out you are a pastor! When the stranger learned that Fred taught at a seminary, he said, "Oh you teach preachers! I have a story about a preacher," and the man pulled up a chair. The old man said, "I was born back in these mountains. My mother was not married, and the reproach that fell on her, fell on me. The children at school had a name for me and it hurt a lot. During recess I would go hide in the weeds until the bell rang. When I went to town with my mother, the men and women would stare at her, and then they would look at me. It was a painful time. I guess I was in 7th or 8th grade when I started to go hear a preacher. In a way he frightened me, and in another way I was attracted. When he spoke, he thundered. I was afraid that people would say 'what's a boy like that doing in church?' so I would go in just in time for the sermon and then I would rush out. One Sunday, however, some women lined up and I wasn't able to get out. I began to sweat and get cold and I wondered, 'Oh no, somebody's going to say to me, what's a boy like you doing in church?'" Just then I felt a hand on my shoulder. I looked out of the corner of my eye and saw the preacher! I thought to myself, 'Oh no, he's going to guess.' The preacher looked straight at me and stared into my face. And then he said, 'Boy, I know who you are and I know who you're father is. You're a child of.... you're a child of.... you're a child of God. I see a striking resemblance!' Then he patted me on the shoulder and said, 'Go claim your inheritance, son.'" At that, the old man got up to leave. Fred Craddock asked, "What's your name, sir?" The old man turned and said, "Ben Hooper." Ben Hooper who had served as Governor of Tennessee for two terms!

We are of two families, one of Spirit and one of Flesh. God created us to be in the world around us, but not to be of the world. Jesus, born of the Spirit and Flesh, showed us how to go about our lives without getting caught up in the world around us. God has bestowed many gifts upon us; though sometimes we luck out with the families that we are born into, we are all of the family of God. Like Ben Hooper, go and claim your inheritance.

Alleluia and Amen.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Thursday Afternoon

Grace and greetings.

I wanted to continue posting pictures for the blog, but something wrong with the cord that transfers the pictures from the camera to the computer; so the pictures may have to wait until after I get outside (off the North Slope-also means outside of the State).

Life is still going on here. Right now we are waiting for the Medical Examiner in Anchorage to release the bodies of the two involved with the murder-suicide. It looks like I will be officiating the funeral for "Scooter" first, maybe tomorrow if his body arrives on tonight's flight. That means Martha Marie's funeral will be either Saturday, Monday or Tuesday. With Martha's funeral, it will mark my 82nd funeral to officiate in the two years that we have been here in Barrow.

At the church, we are trying to get the building ready for the fall Presbytery meeting here in October. The painting season for outside is very limited and short. Right now we are trying to scrape the old paint off, but it starting snowing Saturday afternoon, and I have not tried since due to the rain and work schedule.

Right now, we are trying to get things ready for Kim's Social Security Disability hearing next month. She is very anxious in filling out all the paperwork, but then again, there is a reason we are filling for disability...

Sam finishes up his driving classes tonight; the class only lasted for four weeks, so we will probably wait and give him more driving time before trying for his license.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day of Pentecost

Grace and greetings.

I had been writing a blog all week long in my head, but never getting it down in print. The last several days have been emotional rollercoaster. Thursday, snow returned, leaving us with a light blanket of snow which melted by the end of the day. But I also received notice of a death in an Anchorage hospital of a church member who had suffered several strokes. Before his last stroke, he was seen throughout town in one of his two wheelchairs; one motorized that he was able to zip along with; the other he pushed himself backward with his one good foot.

Then Thursday afternoon, a couple from Chicago came to Barrow for the day, and had arraigned for me to renew their wedding vows for their 30th anniversary. This was the first time that I had officiated a service for rededication of vows.

Then on Saturday morning, the community of Barrow woke up to the news of a high school couple whose relationship was not working out; the young man shot his ex-girl friend and then shot himself. He died of his wounds, and she is currently in Anchorage; last I heard was on life support. (Monday afternoon: I have since found out that she did pass away yesterday.)

Saturday night, snow returned, as if to blanket our sorrow and pain with several inches of the white stuff. We went out to dinner to celebrate Kim's birthday, then came home to watch "Gandhi."

Most of the snow is gone as I type, but the pain is still there from yesterday's shootings. But God's spirit continues to flow down upon us, and through us. Here is my meditation from this evening....

“Pray the Spirit”
Romans 8.22-27

On the evening of Pentecost, we gather to worship and pray together. In this passage, Paul starts off that the whole creation is groaning in labor pains. The whole creation, everything in creation is before God, praying. All life, all animals, all mountains, and valleys, beaches and streams are lifting prayers and praises up to God. We join our voices with all of Creation in our worship of the Lord our God. Even those times where we do not know where our next step should be, we worship God.

Yesterday brought out the pain and anguish of prayers that could not find any answers. Prayers that mothers remembered the birthing pains they went through for life, to see life taken from them. Questions continue to be asked, and it seems as though no answers are coming. We know that we are God’s children; we know that God has blessed us and continues to call us forth for adoption to redeem us. But as we hold our dying loved ones in our arms, we continue to lift up our prayers, hoping against hope that God will answer our cries. Paul writes, “For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”

We come before God, knowing that God will be able to use our grief to bring us into God’s light and love. There is a book that has been out for the last couple of years now that many people have read; it is “The Shack” by Wm. Paul Young. The story is that of a father, and family that has lost their youngest daughter to a rapist and murderer. Though her body has never been found, they did find the remains of her cloths, blood stained; but still they hold out for hope. The book tells of the story of the father, Mackenzie, and how he has dealt with the great loss through his depression that he names “the Great Sadness.” Four years after his daughter’s disappearance, Mackenzie is given a note to meet God at the Shack where his daughter’s cloths were found. The story goes on to report about his time and meeting with God. Of course, as in all good books, there are twists and turns, guilt and redemption. Some questions are answered, many other questions remain.

In the Romans passage, we read that as the whole creation in pain, and yet continues to lift up prayers and praise to God. We read that even in the times it is the hardest for us to pray, even when we are in our own Great Sadness, God’s Spirit, comes to pray for us, and intercedes for us even when we can do nothing more than sigh. Along with the Great Sadness, there is the Great Nevertheless; though odds seem to be against us, nevertheless God comes out victorious in the end. Even when the disciples were faced with the death of Jesus, and lost all hope, nevertheless, God brought Jesus back from the dead, and promised the same for us.

This is the day of Pentecost, the day that the Spirit fell upon the Disciples and spread throughout the land and the ages. The Spirit of God continues to come to us, praying for us, lifting up our voices for us, even in those times when we can find no voice of our own. Though we walk through our valleys of shadow and death; as we experience our own Great Sadness; nevertheless, God comes through in the end, God DOES Triumph.

God is here; God is with us; God is here with us always. Alleluia and Amen.
Peace and blessings.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Still Around

Grace and greetings.

Things are still happening here in Barrow, we are alive and kicking. I am preparing for another funeral and thought I would sent a post while I have the internet connection. Last night and earlier this morning I was having trouble, yet again, with my internet connection. Someday I would like to get a real connection for the church.
Here is my meditation from last night.

“God’s Promise”
I John 5.6-13

In the court of law we are sworn in to “Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.” In the letter from I John, we hear that God has testified to the truth about the relationship between Jesus and God. Not only is there human testimony, but God’s testimony as well. “This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: The Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree. If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater: For this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son.” (Verses 6-9)

God comes before us to testify on Jesus’ behalf, and we the jury, are called on to believe the testimony of God. God comes to us throughout history continuing to speak to the human situation and call us back into relationship with God. All along the way, God gives us divine witnesses along with the human witnesses. Jesus comes along to “drink the same dirty water, walk the same dusty roads, and sleeps in the same fragile tents as human witnesses. That witness is very often indistinguishable from other human witnesses.” (Feasting on the Word; year B, volume 2, page 538.) We continue to read throughout scripture how God’s testimony mingled with human testimony, side by side, together.

Therein lies the paradox that we are called to hear and believe. God comes to us, in the lowly places, and not with trumpets blasting, “here is the word of God…” God continues to come in the midst of our lives to give witness, but are we able to give the ear to hear, and the heart to believe? Many people would prefer that God would silence all other voices, in fact many try to do this on their own; but God continues to come to us, quietly, in our own dusty roads, drinking the same dirty water and sleeping in the same fragile tents as we do. Jesus lives with us, walking with us, drinking with us, sleeping with us, and still giving testimony to us about God, and God gives testimony back concerning Jesus. It is like a comment about the Trinity: “God laughs with Jesus, who sings with the Spirit, back and forth, as they are one.”

As we read in this letter by “the elder,” he does not so much speak to us, but sings with us, in the hope that sooner or later we will recall the tune and melody of our own heartbeats to a rhythm long forgotten but not completely lost, that we too may sing along. In the world of sin and grace, we come to hear God’s call, God’s testimony to the truth. God calls us to join in to be witnesses of the truth; that we too may sing with God; sing to the Creator, who sings with the Son and the Spirit, reminding us of the tune that continues to beat in our hearts. Hear God’s song so we may sing along, giving witness to all that may hear us.
Peace and blessings.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Updates

Grace and greetings.

A few people have written me concerning Kim and Sam, so I thought I would answer here too since I brought them up in earlier writings.

The story, "The Miracle Boy," though was written earlier this year for a writing class, took place last year at the end of March and beginning of April 2008. Sam is doing better, he still has his days as well, but he will be finishing up the school year with finals next week. Then he will return this coming fall to finish up the two credits he is short from graduating. He is not sure where he will go, but he knows that he wants to go to college. His plan is to live at home for a year or so to save some money before going off to the big cities. He will probably continue his education with classes out at the two year college here in Barrow. Sam started taking Driver's Education out at the college last night and it will run for about five weeks, two nights a week.

Kim is slowly over coming her pulled two teeth and dry socket. After everything is healed, about six months to a year, they will put in permanent bridges. As for her Social Security Disability hearing, the Judge has postponed the hearing for two months so we can find legal representation. We will meet again July 8th, this time in Anchorage. Otherwise, she is still trying to do things without getting sick again, either with the pneumonia or falling down as she still has the weakness in her right side.

My own depression cycle is starting to lift. This morning I am feeling and thinking clearer than the last several days. Time will tell. Of course, one of the problems of living in the Arctic is the availability of services. The counselors over at the Mental Health have gone from missing one clinician, to now they are down four. There is only one clinician for the North Slope at the moment, with another person helping out when she can. The North Slope is made up of eight villages, with the geographical size of the State of Minnesota. Each of the clinicians would take a week in one of the villages and spend three weeks here in Barrow. Now they are down to just the one. Of course when we ask if there is any body coming in the near future, they can not say anything, which means probably not. The loss of the last two clinicians was especially hard on Kim and I, for they were the people we were seeing. It is much harder on Kim, because she has so few that she can trust right now.

Well, I have to go and get Sam to school.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Here in Barrow

Grace and greetings.

A friend recently wrote asking a variety of questions, maybe some of them can be brought out again. How did I end up here? How long will I stay?

I moved to Anchorage between my junior and senior year in high school. (She knew this part of the story, since she was one of the friends I left behind in Whittier, California). I had asked my father if I could move back to finish high school in Huntington Beach. He told me to give Alaska six weeks; and I stayed for 13 years. We spent the last twenty years throughout the United States; serving churches from Northern New York to Ohio, Montana, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Mexico, Florida, Pennsylvania and Washington. In December 2006, I came to Barrow to interview for the position of Senior Pastor. Since my wife spent her internship here, we knew somewhat of what to expect. I did not really think that I would take the position, but as time went along, so did the my hearing of God's spirit.

We have been here for two years now; my "contract" is worded that after three years the congregation will pay for the moving expenses back to Seattle. It cost the church $25,000 to move us up here, so that is a powerful incentive to try and make it for another year. My contract does not have an end date, per se, so who knows.

I know that I am called here, but like many places that are so isolated, it is hard at times. Last week we were in Fairbanks, which is 500 miles to the south of us, and there are many trees there. Here in Barrow, we are 450 miles north of the tree line, so no trees. We are still in the throws of winter as it snows outside; that can drain the spirit. At the moment, my spirit is draining.

Where and when do we go from here? My only answer is that is up to God. Right now, consider that not many people can last up here for that long. You have to be called to the place in order to stay, and thrive. With the economy were it is at the moment, it is probably good to have a safe place to be. I love the people here, and I know that I have been a positive influence for many people in the community, not just in the church.

So, I take it one day at a time. If I were offered a dream position elsewhere, would I take it? Today maybe, tomorrow, probably not.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Grace and greetings.

We arrived back from Fairbanks Tuesday evening; I was tired, angry, frustrated and depressed. Kim made the quick remark that I was already missing those "sticky up things." That is what we jokingly call trees when ever we go somewhere off the North Slope. As I thought about it, the statement made sense. The only "trees" that we have here, are our "palm trees." The trees are made of driftwood with strips of baleen nailed to the top of them.

I have not thought about it before, but I guess I do miss trees. The nearest trees are over four hundred miles to the south of us. Most of the portion of Alaska that is within the Arctic Circle are above the tree line. For me, I guess it was something that I did not think about until after the fact. Most of the people in the polar parts of the world comment that they did not notice they missed the sun until after it had returned. I guess my missing the trees are the same, I did not realize that I missed them until I left them behind again.

We are hoping to make it back down to Anchorage this summer, then I will get to see some of those "sticky things" again, and I will appreciate them a little more.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Miracle Boy

Grace and greetings.

Below is a paper that I recently wrote for my creative writing class. I wanted to share it with a few others, but was having trouble emailing it, so I am posting it here on my blog. This is a story of my son, Samuel. I hope that it raises some of the issues that we deal with up here on the North Slope.

"The Miracle Boy"
by
D. Ian MacInnes-Green

He was sitting on the plane to go down to Anchorage along with everybody else on the sold out flight. Everybody was excited about the possibility of the Girl’s Basketball team heading off to the State Tournament. It seemed that everybody noticed him as well. Ten hours before, he was contemplating suicide, the risk was high. But now he was calm a collected. He talked with some of the other passengers, but mostly it was a quiet trip for him and the officer that was escorting him to an Anchorage facility. The officer held the literal keys to his freedom; for he had hand cuffs on his wrist and shackles on his ankles. He was not thinking too much about being a miracle boy at that moment….

Not quite twenty years earlier, his parents were talking about having children. They wanted to have children but were not in a rush to have them. They knew that they needed to be financially secure to have children, but they never were financially secure.

His mother has always had a problem with the medical profession; they would keep telling her that all her problems were in her head. When, in some cases years later, she was able to prove that it was her physical body that betrayed her, not her mental ability. So when conception was still difficult, the doctors said to keep trying. The fact that all her life she had problems with her menstrual cycle was of no consequence to the doctors. Finally, after three years and several doctors, one doctor admitted that she had endometriosis, a problem where the endometrial particles were not completely flushed out of her system each month, and they built up tissue outside of the vaginal area. The doctors performed several laparoscopies to try and clear things out, but it did not work. It was not until she had a laparotomy that the medical world found out that she had stage four (out of five) endometriosis. Once her tubes and other reproductive organs were cleaned out, she was able to conceive. It happened a month after the surgery, not intentional, but it happened.

Because of the issues associated with the endometriosis the pregnancy was watched very carefully. The last several months she was limited to light duty, but not quite complete bed rest. The boy’s parents were excited and nervous. They would watch with excitement as they felt him move around in the womb. It reminded them of a dolphin, so they would call him “fin” for short.

The parents had planned to have the delivery as holistic as possible. They had two friends to go through the Lamaze training with them in case the father was not available to be there. As the boy’s parents were both ministers, the father’s position would sometime take him away. The parents tried to make all the “right” plans for the birth.

Then the day arrived for the Miracle Baby to be welcomed into the world. Early in the morning of that eventful day, the water broke. The mother woke up, thinking that she had wet the bed. She woke up her husband to confirm that her water had indeed broken. Since it was only 2:00 o’clock in the morning, she called the doctor on call, and was told not to worry, and come in to the office later that morning. They changed the sheets to the bed, where as the husband promptly went back to sleep. The mother-to-be could do no such thing. In fact, she became angry and resentful of her spouse to so calmly go back to sleep. So she stayed awake, sitting there nervous, worrying about every small detail, include that fact that she could not go back to sleep herself.

The expectant parents arrived at the doctor’s office shortly after they opened. It was soon confirmed that her water had indeed broken and the baby was on its way. The parents were admitted to the local hospital that the doctor worked with, and they waited.

Part of the problem already was that there were no birth contractions to speak of, so the medical staff hooked her up with medication to help bring on the contractions. AND THEY CAME. She had been on the medication for about five hours, but she still had not dilated beyond a couple of centimeters. (The mother needs to be dilated at least ten centimeters in order for the baby to pass through the birthing canal.) One of the partners who had gone through the Lamaze training with them was a nurse, and this just happened to be her day off, so she was able to be there with them.

The prenatal doctor came in and said that the medications were not working in bringing about the birth. It was time to prepare for a cesarean section; the couple asked for a few more hours. The time finally came: it was closing in on the magic hour of 24 hours since the water broke and she had not dilated beyond the two centimeters, it was time for surgery. The parents finally agreed, signed the papers so that the surgery could take place. At 11:01 PM (23:01 on a 24 hour clock), on this particular Tuesday night, the Miracle Boy was born.

If there was anything constant in the boy’s life, it was change. By the time that he was in his third year of high school, he had lived in eight different states, ten different communities, fourteen different houses, and ten different schools. He could no longer trust that any friends that he made, he would be able to keep. There was one time in his early years, when he made an observation and question to his father, “It is September, are we moving?” That particular September, no they were not moving; but there were too many other September moves throughout his short life.

Finally, when he started high school, he thought that he found a place where he belonged. He made friends that seemed like they would last. The school itself was an alternative school that was geared to the personality and understanding that he needed. Then his father was offered a position far away, in a small isolated village inside the Arctic Circle in Alaska.

He moved with his parents to the village up north, he gave it a try, but he just did not feel like he fit in anywhere in this “new home.” He had lived through too many changes, too many times to move, no real stability. This time he thought he would make one more move; this would be his choice, his decision. He would end the torture that had happened all his life; it would end here and now.

He really wanted to end his life, but ended up being helped out of the situation. The people who were trying to help, including his father, took him to the local hospital, where he agreed to go to the hospital in Anchorage. In the village, they have no humane way to handle anybody who is suicidal except to “arrest” them, put them in police custody, until the person is “transported” to the Anchorage facility. In the case involving the Miracle Boy, this meant flying down on a crowded, overbooked plane, with a majority of classmates and their families to travel with him. Only, he was handcuffed and shackled for his “safety”, the “safety” of the officer escorting him down, and the “safety” of the rest of the passengers. But by the time the flight had actually happened, he was not longer suicidal or even thinking in those terms.

Since that flight, and the three week stay in the hospital that followed, he has found a new lease on life. He has started making friends, this time not worrying about who was going to move first. He is looking to graduate from high school and go on to college. But right now, it is just one day at a time. Even though his parents do not always agree with the decisions that he makes, he is still, and always will be, their Miracle Boy.

Peace and blessings.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Saturday Afternoon

Grace and greetings.

It is another Saturday afternoon, and I am fighting to do a tail spin into a depression. Just like the weather outside, it is overcast and cold, just another depressing day. I am sure that I will be over it soon. Blah, blah, blah...

The picture on the left was taken in basically the same spot as the one I posted on Tuesday. We have lost a lot of snow, but still more to go. Like most of Alaska, spring is usually more about melting snow and showing the dirt, mud and trash that is all around.

Kim had two teeth pulled last week, and she is still down and out. She went back to the dentist yesterday, only to find out that she had a "dry socket." Sam is sitting and watching Disney channel, working on the intellectual part of his life...yeah right. Sam has decided not to try and graduate this school year, so will return in August with two credits to go. In the meantime, he has shocked everybody by deciding to go out for football. He has survived his first three days of conditioning; without understanding anything about the game, they (the coaches) have put him on the defensive line. At 250 pounds, he still has some weight behind him for the others to push around. I am sure once he gets into a physical routine, he will drop 20 or so pounds. We will see how this plays out.

Kim and I leave for Fairbanks tomorrow night so we can meet with Social Security Disability. We have been waiting five years for this hearing, and now the company hired by the Board of Pensions said Kim does not fit their definition of "physical disability;" so the dropped her last month. So we go to the hearing representing ourselves. Of course SSI Disability is TOTAL DISABILITY; meaning can the person sweep the floor? Can the person flip hamburgers at McDonald's? Our reply for the last one is that we do not have McDonald's up here in Barrow. Yeah, that will fly like a lead balloon too. Anyway, that is were we are at the moment.

Peace and blessings.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Explain UP

Grace and Greetings.

One of the on-line groups that I am a part of, sent this little statement in, and so I am passing it along. I have seen it somewhere else, so it has been around the block a time or two, but still worth pondering.

EXPLAIN “UP“

Lovers of the English language might enjoy this. It is yet another example of why people learning English have trouble with the language. Learning the nuances of English makes it a difficult language. (But then, that's probably true of many languages.) There is a two-letter word in English that perhaps has more meanings than any other two-letter word, and that word is 'UP.' It is listed in the dictionary as being used as an adverb, preposition, adjective, noun, or verb.
It's easy to understand UP, meaning toward the sky or at the top of the list, but when we awaken in the morning, why do we wake UP? At a meeting, why does a topic come UP? Why do we speak UP, and why are the officers UP for election and why is it UP to the secretary to write UP a report? We call UP our friends and we use color to brighten UP a room. We polish UP the silver, we warm UP the leftovers and clean UP the kitchen. We lock UP the house and some guys fix UP the old car. When it threatens to rain, we say it is clouding UP. When the sun comes out we say it is clearing UP. When it rains, it wets UP the earth. When it does not rain for a while, things dry UP.

At other times the little word has a real special meaning. People stir UP trouble, line UP for tickets, work UP an appetite, and think UP excuses. To be dressed is one thing but to be dressed UP is special. And this up is especially confusing: A drain must be opened UP because it is stopped UP. We open UP a store in the morning but we close it UP at night. We seem to be pretty mixed UP about UP! To be knowledgeable about the proper uses of UP, look the word UP in the dictionary. In a desk-sized dictionary, it takes UP almost 1/4 of the page and can add UP to about thirty definitions If you are UP to it, you might try building UP a list of the many ways UP is used. It will take UP a lot of your time, but if you don't give UP, you may wind UP with a hundred or more. One could go on & on, but I'll wrap it UP, for now; my time is UP, so time to shut UP!

Don't screw UP. Send this on to everyone you look UP in your address book.

Now I'll shut UP.

Peace and blessings

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I am Confused

Grace and greetings.

I am confused; this evening my 26 year old daughter called me up with her own frustration. A few years ago, my daughter joined the National Guard, then broke her hip while in training and received an honorable discharge. She has since come back from the broken hip, (including baring two children since then) and is back in shape. For the last several months, she has been waiting to sign on the bottom line with the US Army; she finally got the call to come in this afternoon and get her orders. As she sat there waiting, the recruiter came up to tell her that the US Army did not have any jobs for her. They gave her two reasons: she was a FEMALE with PRIOR SERVICE. They then turned around and signed up a male that was sitting there, granted, it was for the infantry, and women are still not "infantry." So basically they told her to go home and check back with them in a few months....

Right now, she is in too much shock to know what to think, or how to respond. Her first thoughts are to sue for discrimination. Her next thought was to check out a few of the other branches, maybe the Marines.

In the meantime, her youngest turned three today, so she had to be of good cheer for her children. I ask that you keep her in your thoughts and prayers...and if you have any suggestions for her and or me, please let me know.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

With Spring comes mud

Grace and greetings.

We have now had three days in a row that the temperature made it above the freezing mark. That means things are starting to melt. Sunday we had the first rain fall in six months. Grass on the side of our house makes its appearance for the first time in 2009.

Of course with Spring rains, comes the melting of the snow. With the melting of the snow, comes mud. This time of year, as in most other places that experience winter snows, is called break-up; as the snow and ice melt, the rivers start to break-up. Here, all our roads are dirt and gravel, (except in the winter, when it is ice and snow). With break-up, comes pot holes. Now of course we are not talking about your occasional pot hole here or there, we are talking about holes on every road. Some of the pot holes can be small enough to just be a quick bounce; where others will break axles. Most of the pot holes do not come in ones or twos, but in bunches. Some are like the small ruts that remind people of the rail road ties; others seem to be big enough to swallow whole cars.

This will be the general story for our roads for the next five to six months...pot holes, graders to try and level out the roads and water trucks to keep down the dust and dirt. All this fun until the next snow fall, to cover and fill in the pot holes with snow and ice again.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring is Here...at least for today

Grace and greetings.

It has been over a week since my last entry; I want to assure everybody we are alive and doing well...sort of. The picture on the left was taken just a few minutes ago, 23:09, or 11:09 PM. I will post the two other pictures as well. For the past week the air temperature has been above zero, right around 10 degrees. Then today it jumps up to 35 degrees, everything is melting and will be a great big mess if it keeps up. But the forecast is for cooler temps tomorrow, back into the teens.

To answer many questions that are out there, let me try and answer them en-mass.

First, concerning Kim: Her lungs seem to be stable at the moment. She did not have to have surgery this past December. She did have two teeth pulled Thursday though, so she is still a little dizzy with the pain medications. On another front, we have been waiting for her to have a hearing on her SSI Disability claim since she fell back in 2003. The company that oversees the paperwork and meets with the official Judge pulled out of Kim's case last month. Now we have a hearing next week in Fairbanks, so we get to represent ourselves. We are not real hopeful for her to get SSI, since their definition is TOTAL disability; i.e. can she flip hamburgers? Our major hope and prayer hangs on the Bi-Polar diagnosis, if the judge will see that as a total disability. The main difference between the Church's definition and SSI, the church defines "anything that disables and impedes from what she has been trained and educated." So the church could see a disability, but SSI would not. Of course she has to apply for SSI in order to be on the church's disability. Of course this hearing in May already has cost us the air fare to Fairbanks, $1,100.00 that we really do not have just to throw away. We were told that we could ask for help since we are more than 75 miles away, but I am not holding my breath. We will see how it all falls out next month. Of course, planning for the worst case scenario, Kim loses her disability and we lose her $2,000 a month to help out to pay off her medical bills from Seattle as well as last year in Anchorage.

Sam is finishing up his school year, they have about three more weeks before finals. He tried to make up credits so that he could graduate next month, but just is not going to get there. He will be two credits short of graduation. So he will be returning to school August 17th, and then in December, he can choose to graduate then, or stay in school until next May. We will see how that falls out then. Other than that, he is the normal teenage trying to get out of as much home work and house work as possible.

I myself am surviving. Kim and I just finished up on a Creative Writing class on how to write our own stories. We turned in twenty page papers at the end of our short five week course. Each week, we had to turn in five page reports on different understandings of writing, (voice, point of view, etc.), then we could put them all together and connect the different papers into one big one paper. The teacher is hoping to "publish" the class papers sometime this fall. Again, we will see if that happens.

Another excitement for this last couple of days is that Willie Hensley was up here, speaking at the college's commencement and then a book signing day at the library. Willie Hensley was one of the main forces in helping the Alaska Native Lands Claims Act get through congress and then President Richard Nixon's signature.

Otherwise, I have a new assignment; I will be heading out to Louisville and then Chicago in July for a Cross Cultural Training. The time in Louisville, Kentucky is with other Presbyterians; then in Chicago will be with other people who serve or will be serving in cultures that they (ministers and missionaries), did not grow up in. I have six books that I need to read before hand, plus a few others that are recommended. It will be a challenge for this slow reader.

Well I think I have gone overboard in the information if you are still reading to this point. I will try and post some more pictures tomorrow....

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Finally, the Air Temperature is above zero

Grace and greetings.

As Spring moves closer to the Arctic, yesterday and today the air temperature has have been above zero, even though the wind chill have been around -10. According to the weather on MY GCI page, is at 6 above, the themomator outside our house is all the way up to 12 degrees. Yeah!

The picture on the left was taken a couple of days before the sun officially rose above the horizon. But is giving you a different view of Barrow.

I am late getting to the office today, so I have to go.

Peace and blessings.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunrise

Grace and greetings

Yesterday morning was my third Sunrise service here in Barrow. The first time in 2007, the air temp was -15; last year was -35; yesterday was only -10 but the wind chill was closer to -30.

The other services pictures were published in the Dyersville, Iowa newspaper, because one of our church members was a reporter, and would still be in contact with his home paper. Unfortunately, he and his wife moved the Wisconsin last summer after spending twenty some years here.

The weather was nice and clear in the morning, as you can see from the picture, but by the afternoon, the clouds moved in. With the three services on Easter, concluded a run of 14 services in fifteen days for me. My mind is still fried, particularly now.

The other picture is inside our sanctuary, with the cross and lillies. Yes, we get live plants up here, but they do not always last that long. Anyway, I hope everbody had a great Easter.

Peace and blessings

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Angels' Loss

Grace and greetings.

As most of you know, I have been a fan of the Los Angeles Angels before they moved to the "Big A" in the late 1960's. Even though I moved from Southern California in 1974, I continue to follow the Angels, win or lose. Last night they lost their third game of the season, this time it was their famed Bull Pen who let them down. They lost the game to the Oakland A's 6-4. But that was not the real loss of last night. The starting pitcher for the game, Nick Adenhart, was killed in a hit and run accident early Thursday morning, only hours making his season debut. There were two others killed as well. It turns out that a driver ran a red light, hit two cars, including the one Adenhart was in, and then took off. The police were later able to track down the driver and arrest him.

As we move into the major days of the Holy Week, I ask for your prayers to be with Adenhart's family, the Angels' organization, as well for all the families involved.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ash and Ice

Grace and greetings.

For many years I used to write poetry. I had two books worth of my poems, until we accidently left them in Pennsylvania when we moved to Seattle in December 2003. I am trying to start to write again. Last week there was a "Poetry Contest" held at the local library with the topic of "New Beginnings." The following is a poem that I entered:


ASH AND ICE

Black is my night
Fierce is the wind in my heart
I am afraid.
The void in my soul
Will not heal

The Fire is dying
Embers of ash on ice
I implore the pitch
To cover me
As a blanket of endless sleep

The Embers fade
Lost for all time.
Fingers take hold
I do not resist

Not Death, but Life
Answers my cry
I witness hope
I meet joy
I experience life dancing

I observe the last ember
Lost in ash and ice
Brilliance blinds
I AM
The Phoenix rising

(c) D. Ian MacInnes-Green
22 March 2009
Peace and greetings.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Meditation

Grace and greetings.

Here is my meditation from tonight's service, that I wish to share with you. We have just finished up five days of Revival, and right now I am too overwhelmed to write about it. But I will be addressing the Revival within the next few days.

Emptying of Ourselves

Philippians 2.1-11

We come many times to hear this passage, and we hear it with the confidence that all is right in our world; “for every knee shall bend…confessing Jesus Christ is Lord.” But is that really what is being said here? Is that really what Paul was meaning when he wrote to his beloved church in Philippi? He was calling the church to rejoice, but not to celebrate too soon.

Hear the first five verses again, with a different understanding. “Since there is encouragement in Christ, since there already is consolation from love, since there is already sharing in the Spirit, with compassion and sympathy, MAKE MY JOY COMPLETE: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than your selves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interest of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.” The church then, and NOW, is to MAKE Paul’s Joy complete: everything we do, we do it with the understanding that it is to help others. All that we do, all that we love, all that we are about, is in the humility of keeping the others in our minds.

But the passage is not just to make us a door mat for everybody to step on. Usually when we do that, we become resentful of others, even those whom we are called to serve. Think back to your worst job that you may have had in your life. Cleaning out the honey buckets? Washing the floors over and over again because of all the mud that was tracked in? What about back breaking work, in extreme weather, either the cold or heat? I can think of several jobs that I truly disliked, and even hated. But I think the worst job I ever had was while I was in High School; I was picked up by my “boss” along with 6-8 other teens, and we were dropped off in different neighborhoods to sell magazines door to door. Of course, our pay was on commission, so if we did not sell anything, we did not make any money beyond the minimum wage we were paid. As it turned out, we started after school, between 4 and 5 PM and worked until about 9 PM. By the time we got home, it was late, and there was still homework to be done. In two of my classes my grades dropped from an “A” and “B” to “D’s” in both classes. My mother promptly made me quit my job. I hated it and am lousy at selling door to door. I had to “sell” myself in order to sell the magazines, which is probably why I did not sell too many.

But as we think of our worst jobs, Paul is calling us to be of the mind of Christ, to be able to serve one another with joy in our hearts, and helping others. The only people I helped in selling door to door were my employers, has they still made money on me. Our work should not be about the money, it should be about the Glory of God, and how we are fulfilling the work of God by our employment, our work, our volunteer positions, and our very selves.

Look at your life, what you do. Are you serving God in such a way as to bring Glory to God? Do we serve others with a song in our hearts and souls? Are we of the same mind as Christ in our compassion, sympathy, love and encouragement that we do it freely, without resentment and anger? Even if we answer “no” to the above questions, hopefully it will lead us into the ancient hymn that Paul quotes to finish out this passage:
“Who, though he was in the form
of God,
did not regard equality with
God
as something to be exploited,
but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
and became obedient
to the point of death—even death on a cross.
Therefore
God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth,
and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”

Peace and blessings

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Political Resurrection?

Grace and greetings.

This past week, Ted Stevens was granted a full pardon if you will from the prosecution, as it dropped all charges from his conviction last fall. The trial was flawed, and the prosecution knows that it can not overcome those issues so has dropped everything instead.

Ted Stevens said that this day would come, that he was exonerated from all wrong.

Now, the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin is asking that Mark Begich resign, because he stole the election under the false pretense that Stevens was convicted. Of course, Mark Begich has no intention of resigning. I have not heard or read if the 80 plus year old (I think 84) Stevens would take his seat back if given to him. After 40 years, he probably was use to the job, so he probably would jump at the chance.

My thoughts on the whole thing: Yes, the trial was flawed, the press and prosecution was admitting that throughout the trial. The prosecution is dropping all charges because the trial was flawed, not because Ted Stevens was innocent of all charges. Nobody has ever asked that Stevens spend time in jail, but even the Republican Senators has asked Stevens to step down. We will see where this takes us.

Other than that, the weather is trying to get above zero, but not quite there yet. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, which means next week is Holy Week and then Easter. It will be another very busy week for me.

Peace and blessings.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Remembering and Speaking out.

Grace and greetings.

I am not sure if you can read the comic strip, but I received it in an email this morning, asking to send on the message that we never forget. Quickly, the girl notices the number tattoo, the gentleman quickly tells her his story of the concentration camps. She asks if he keeps it to remind him; his answer: "no, to remind you!"

The reason I wanted to copy this and place it here in my blog is because for my wife Kim, this conversation, or one very like it, happened to her many years ago. When Kim's mother was in the hospital, her roomate was a survivor. Kim being an innocent little girl asked about the number tattoo, and the woman told Kim her story over the next couple of days. She no longer had any family left alive at that time, so she make Kim her "Legacy", Kim is the one to tell her story that we may never forget; that we may forever speak out. The woman died shortly afterward. Please continue to speak out at the crimes against humanity that continue throughout the world, in the name of God, nation, fighting terrorism or for whatever reason. Genocide must not happen again, and yet it does.

Getting down off my soap box now; I heard back from the person I was thinking of when I wrote an earlier blog about lost friends. Not only did the one person write me back, but two others did as well. Be sure to keep in contact with your friends, where ever they may be.

Peace and blessings.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Revival

Grace and greetings.

My email is not working again. So I thought I would try and send this to see if we can print on a color printer.

We are planning a Revival here in Barrow. It is the first one in a while at the Presbyterian Church; it will be the first one that I have ever participated and been apart of. We are bringing up the Rev. Joan Gray, who is the Past Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has grown up in the South, and Revivals were part of her life, so she is going to lead ours here this coming week, Wednesday April 1 through to Sunday Morning, Palm Sunday, April 5th. I ask for you to join our prayers that God's Spirit renew and revitalize Barrow and the North Slope. We continue to deal with the pain and suffering of those left behind from the loved one who have committed suicide, intentionally or accidentally.

Peace and blessings.

The High Priest

Grace and greetings.

Here is a picture of Mount Redoubt as it erupted earlier this week. The picture was published in the Anchorage Daily News, taken during an early morning eruption and the storm that goes along with it. Though the ash has not made the 1,000 mile journey north, it has blanketed parts of the South Central Alaska, including Anchorage, which has interrupted the air flights, including to Barrow and other villages. For the villages, when the planes do not fly, then we do not get food, supplies, mail as well as the people traveling in and out of our villages.

I am still not feeling 100% yet, and hopefully will get back to writing again. Below, is a copy of the meditation from tonight's service.

The True High Priest
Hebrews 5.5-10

As we come to consider what this passage is about, let us look at the role of the High Priest at the time. In the Jewish temple, there is a place called the Holy of Holies. It is the most sacred part of the temple. Only the priest that is serving for that time can approach. It is part of the family tradition of being from the Levite line, you will serve your time, usually a year as the community priest. This is a person who is totally human, with all the faults, tears and misunderstanding as the rest of us; but for this time, the priest would enter into the Holy of Holies to offer up the prayers as well as the sacrificial acts and prayers of the people to God. The priest is someone just like us, struggling along like the rest of us, who is also called upon to receive, to bear, and to lift before God the needs that are common to us all. It is with this understanding, that Jesus is being associated with the priesthood forever. To be able to see Jesus this way puts him squarely in our nature and our world, and sees his work as intimate, connectional, and costly.

Jesus is the priest that offers up our prayers to God, though he does not offer up sacrifices any more, but offers up the prayers with loud cries and tears. He continues to present himself to God on our behalf. Jesus, being the obedient son, asks that his hardship and suffering be taken away; but knows he has to follow the path that God has set before him; that he goes to the cross, that he may come out on the other side of death and the tomb through resurrection and new life.

As we read this passage, and remember Jesus in the Garden before his death, we remember his anguish, passion, tears and cries to God. He is not lifting up a lamb or dove, or even bread and wine; he is offering up his soul with the prayers for all to understand; the grief of the world is upon his shoulders. Into the presence of God, Jesus offers weeping and screaming in the lifting up of prayers and he is lifting them up to God on behalf of the people.

His passion embodies and suffers not only the guilt of the world, but also the grief of the world, the anguish, isolation, the longing, misery and rage, crying out to the heavens. He comes before God, not only for his own deliverance, but for the cries and tears of us all. The passage declares that Jesus is the “priest forever”, and he is lifting up our prayers, pain, agony, desperation with loud shouts in prayer.

If we are now the Body of Christ to one another, to our community and the world, where does that leave us? I believe that it means we step into the priestly role with Christ to lift up the prayers of the people. We lift up all who have reason for tears and loud cries, mourners, the war-ravaged, the poor, the terrified, the oppressed, those who are too much alone, the hungry and the forgotten. Their tears, cries, and clenched silences are gathered into a groaning divine cry, ceaselessly rising, painfully lifting the suffering world toward hope of transformation. We, as the Body of Christ are not only to hear these cries lifted up to God, but to join in and lift the prayers up as well.

Peace and blessings.