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‘Silent Night’ at 40 degrees below Shishmaref, Alaska, is often used as an example for those wanting to tell the story of climate

change in the Arctic. But Marvin Jonasen, pastor of Shishmaref Lutheran Church, says the city is about much more. On Christmas Eve, children of this Inupiaq Eskimo village on Sarichef Island some 120 miles north of Nome, will gather as they did last year in this photo. Instead of a village whose surrounding Arctic tundra makes the pages of National Geographic, Jonasen said the focus will be something else: “A living photograph of 164 children and 10 teacher/helpers gathered in front of the sanctuary, bringing together the community in a moment of faith, hope and love that truly refl ects a culture that has faced tremendous challenges”—and an uncertain future. The service will end with “Silent Night” sung in Inupiaq with a “serene beauty that cannot be described in words, but only felt in its awesome depth of wonder and grace,” Jonasen said.

sibly underestimate the supplemen- tary but inherently valuable role of good works, per se. The apostle John speaks at some length on this issue. Robert E. Beranek North Huntingdon, Pa.

A right relationship Bishop Eaton writes about being Lutheran and suggests we ask peo- ple what we must do to be in a right relationship with God. I have been at worship in several ELCA congrega- tions. At the beginning of the service I learned that since I was baptized, I am in a right relationship with God. I joined others in reading the words of confession and heard from the pastor that now I have the entire forgiveness

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of all my sins, so that must mean I am in a right relationship with God. Later in those services, I learned that I would get even more forgiveness by sharing in the eucharist. Is this how “Lutherans have a particular way of understanding the Jesus story?” Russell Lee Albuquerque, N.M.

Being transgender Thanks for the article “Extending and receiving welcome” (Septem- ber, page 34). It’s great to hear Pastor Megan Rohrer’s story and be given a few websites for more information and a Q&A on being transgender. My bishop said I was the first in our synod to preside over a same-sex marriage hours after the Supreme Court ruled it legal. It was one of the most profound good news days in my 12 years of ordained ministry. I hope we hear more stories about these issues in the future. The Rev. Janelle Hooper Sugar Land, Texas

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Best issue The October issue of The Lutheran is one of the best in years. Lynn Madsen Golden Valley, Minn.

A moral responsibility Kudos to David K. Voigts for his excel- lent letter, “Facts on climate change” (October, page 48), explaining that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a moral responsibility. Despite criti- cism from some politicians, that is why it is appropriate for religious lead- ers to call for action on climate change. Terry Hansen Oak Creek, Wis.

An apology It’s time, as Lutherans, to publicly apol- ogize to all pastors who were asked to leave the ministry because of divorce. By apologizing, we can bring God’s mercy and healing to them and allow them back into the circle of our love. Tim Freund Columbus, Ohio

December 2015 49

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