For two summer weeks I was "village pastor" in Shishmaref, Alaska, a tiny barrier island along the Chukchi Sea, with a population of 600, 95% of them Alaska Natives—most living a subsistence based life. That means they spend much of their time hunting, fishing and gathering almost all of their food.
Climate change dramatically impacts survival in a subsistence way of life. So does the matter of what one could expect as a "normal" day, week or month. Even a relatively simple matter like heavy fog can put fishing on indefinite hold.
There's one church in Shish—it is ELCA Lutheran, but "open to all." Next door stands the parsonage, one of few buildings with running water. And beneath its kitchen window, on the highest sand dune in the village, lies a field of white crosses—the church cemetery.
There life and death meet. Whether physical or spiritual, Shish lies on the border between. For the people of God living there—seeking survival in both realms—spiritual subsistence is summed up by these words of Paul to the Corinthians—pretty much every one of them ... especially that God is faithful.
Gracious God, although our physical subsistence often approaches gluttony, we can never be too full of spiritual food. May we remember, acknowledge and appreciate all you have provided for us. Amen.
1 Corinthians 1:3-9 (NRSV)
3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus,
5 for in every way you have been enriched in him, in speech and knowledge of every kind—
6 just as the testimony of Christ has been strengthened among you—
7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.
8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you may be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.