Will Teenagers Save the World?

Science in Action Winner for 2013: Elif Bilgin

While sitting in the dentist’s office yesterday I read this wonderful article about a young teen in Istanbul who has developed plastic from banana peels. As a result she won the Scientific American 2013 Science in Action Award

Bilgin spent two years developing a robust bioplastic from discarded banana peels, enduring 10 failed trials along the way. As she noted in her project description: “Even Thomas Edison said, ‘I have not failed. I have just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’” Bilgin hopes that her material will someday supplant some petroleum-based plastics. Read the entire article.

The winning project in 2012 was the Unique Simplified Hydroponic Method, developed by 14-year-old Sakhiwe Shongwe and Bonkhe Malalela of Swaziland.

For more inspiration, check out last year’s amazing 13 finalists for the Science in Action award and this year’s fifteen finalists. I particularly loved:

Simultaneous Biopesticide Wastewater Treatment and Bioelectricity Generation in Microbial Fuel Cell (MFC) – by a 13 year old in India and  Electricity From Traffic by a 16 year old also in India. These ideas really could save the world.

The amazing creativity and out of the box thinking that has gone into these inventions really impressed me. While so much of the world is saying “We can’t live without petroleum products” or “we can’t feed the world without GMO crops” young people are going ahead and inventing new options. Maybe its because they expect to live in a petroleum free world, maybe it is because they are encouraged to be creative, maybe it is just God stirring new possibilities in minds that are open to change. I don’t know but I do praise God for it.

I would love to hear from others who have seen creative and inventive

Food Is the Physical Embodiment of Prayer

Food and faith - Bread and wine

Food is the physical embodiment of prayer. 

I could not help but think of this quote from Soil and Sacrament by Fred Bahnson this morning as I read through various articles about the impact of the decisions in Washington D.C. I feel a little like Pope Francis who during his recent visit to Sardinia, known for its palatial homes but where 51% of young people are unemployed, threw away his prepared speech and decried a global economic system that does so much harm.

I too am throwing away my “prepared speech” this morning, because my heart aches. Here in the U.S. we have gutted food stamps and support to the poor, denied healthcare to the millions who do not have it, frozen the budget and consequently decimated the lives of many low paid government workers who live from day to day . What has happened to our prayers that should be embodied in feeding and caring for those at the margins? What has happened to our compassion for those who cannot make ends meet? Why do we no longer heed God’s words to feed the hungry?

Yes I know some will say that is the church’s responsibility and it is but that is not their’s alone. All of us are responsible and the present financial capitalism which rewards those at the top while everyone else struggles, as Bill Moyers reminds us will consume us and democracy will be finished.

United for a Fair Economy posted this graphic How Do We Coddle the Super Wealthy? yesterday. I find it very sober reading. The super wealthy have convinced us that the poor are the ones who take advantage of the system while they are squeaky clean. And totally disrupting a democratically elected government and president is OK as long as its the poor and not the rich that suffer. OK I know that is my cynical read on the situation and it is not entirely accurate but it flows from a grieving heart this morning and so I hope you will forgive me.

Let me leave you with these powerful words from the book of James to meditate on this morning. It is quoted here from a new bible I received from Thomas Nelson recently entitled Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life. the translation is The Voice. 

Brothers and sisters it doesn’t make any sense to say you have faith and act in a way that denies that faith. Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you. It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and saying “Shalom friend, you should get inside where it’s warm and eat something”. but doing nothing about his needs- leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead. I know what you are thinking: “OK, you have faith and I have actions. Now let’s see your faith without works and I’ll show you a faith that works. (James 2: 14-17)

 

A Prayer for the People of Kenya and Pakistan

Micha Jazz of the Contemplative Network posted this prayer on Light for the Journey yesterday. May it remind us of the heartache suffered over the weekend by so many in Kenya and Pakistan. May it stir within us a deep desire for peace and a longing for God’s world where violence and war will no longer exist

Let us join our prayers for the people of Nairobi tonight.
Let s pray for peace and comfort for all those facing bereavement in Nairobi. Let us also pray for the perpetrators and their families. Lord have mercy.

Kikuyu Peace Prayer

Praise ye Lord,
Peace be with us.

Say that the elders may have wisdom and speak with one voice.
Peace be with us.

Say that the country may have tranquillity.
Peace be with us.

And the people may continue to increase.
Peace be with us.

Say that the people and the flock and the herds
May prosper and be free from illness.
Peace be with us.

Say that the fields may bear much fruit
And the land may continue to be fertile.
Peace be with us.

May peace reign over earth,
May the gourd cup agree with vessel.
Peace be with us.

May their heads agree and every ill word be driven out
Into the wilderness, into the virgin forest.

A prayer for Flood Victims in Colorado and New Mexico

I don’t usually post on Sunday but wanted to share this prayer just posted by my friends at In His Footsteps. 

Prayer for Those Impacted by Tornadoes in Oklahoma

The following prayer was posted by Bonnie Harr on the Light for the Journey Facebook page this evening.

Prayer for Oklahoma.

A Prayer for those in Granbury West Texas

via Associated Press. Photo by Mike Fuertes

The first piece of news that caught my attention this morning was about the devastating tornados that sped through West Texas last night killing at least 12 people. My heart aches for people whose lives and livelihoods have been destroyed in a few terrifying minutes.

Then I received a message from my friend Cherie Minton who together with her husband Jack heads up Hope Force International. Her request: “Pray for the first responders.” Coincidently my gospel reading for the morning was the story of the Good Samaritan. First responders – good samaritans, strangers become neighbours, those who respond to the divine spark of love within to show mercy, compassion and love to complete strangers often putting their own lives at risk in the process.

This was the background out of which I wrote my prayer this morning.

Lord of mercy,

Be with those who suffer.

Into their broken lives,

Bring hope and peace.

Into their devastated communities,

Bring restoration.

Lord of mercy,

Be with those who respond.

In their bravery,

Keep them safe.

In their compassion,

Show your love.

In their faces,

May we see Jesus.

A Prayer for Those in the Boston Marathon

 

This morning my heart goes out to all those impacted by the explosions at the Boston Marathon which left 3 dead and 147 injured.

God in the midst of senseless violence,

Come to us today.

Hold close to those who grieve,

Comfort those in pain,

Grant peace to all who fear.

Let us see your unfailing love,

In the kindness of strangers,

In the compassion of friends.

Let us trust your guiding hand,

In those who seek for answers,

In those who work for justice.

Let us hope and trust in your mercy,

Knowing that you have not abandoned us.

Amen.

Gun Violence in America – What Do You Think?

photo by Coe Hutchison

photo by Coe Hutchison

I don’t usually post about political issues, but the debate on gun control in the U.S. has so impacted me that I felt I could not keep silent. However when back in January this year, the NRA accusing the President of being an elite hypocrite because there are armed guards at his daughters’ school really made me angry. I don’t think the President’s children are more important than any others, but I do think they are more vulnerable and this type of comment will probably make them even more vulnerable.

It seems to me that the concerns about gun control revolve around our understanding of freedom. Does having assault weapons freely available make us “free”. I don’t think so but then I realize I did not grow up in this country and so have a very different understanding of freedom from the average American.

To Americans the concept of freedom focuses on the freedom of individual choice, which can be as trivial as the right to choose whether I want my eggs sunny side up or over easy, or as serious as the right to bear arms.  What I struggle with is that there seems to be little recognition of the often dire consequences our individual choices can have for the society or for the world in which we live. Freedom to do what we want and carry whatever type of gun we want, in my opinion, is not freedom at all. Yes I know  the dogma: “Guns don’t kill people, people do.” but if guns are not available there are far less gun deaths and we do need assault weapons to go hunting – that I think is massacre of another kind. And in a society with less guns all of us become free from fear.

To Australians freedom revolves around the freedom of society and the recognition that our decisions all have consequences not just for us as individuals but for all of our society and our world.  Consequently most Australians are willing to give up their guns for the good of a safe society in which we don’t have to worry about drive by shootings.  In the Australian political system voting is compulsory because of the belief that with the freedom of citizenship comes the responsibility of participation in the process that provides our freedom.

All of this leads me to my most important question about freedom “What does freedom look like in the kingdom of God?”  Obviously there is a element of individual freedom – all of us need to take on the individual responsibility to kneel at the foot of the Cross, repent and reach out for the salvation of Christ.  However our entry into the family of God faces us with serious consequences for how we act in society.  Our freedom as Christians means that we no longer focus on our own needs but rather “consider the needs of others as more important than our own” (Philippians 2)  It means that we live by the law of love – what James calls “the royal law” (James 2:8).  Paul sums this up very well “Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbour as yourself.”

If we truly loved our neighbours, not just those across the street that we wave at every day, but the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized, how would it change our attitude towards guns? Jesus us calls all of us to be citizens of a kingdom in which love not hatred reigns, in which peace not violence is proclaimed and in which freedom means we accept the restrictions on our individual behaviour to participate in the liberation of all humankind.

What do you think?

Godspace 2012 in review

Thank you for making this year the best ever on Godspace. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 260,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 5 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

And if you would like to help make 2013 even better please consider a small donation to Mustard Seed Associates so that we can upgrade the blog,  get rid of the distracting ads, expand the circle of writers and publish new prayer and liturgical resources.
  MSA is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

Prayers for those Impacted by Hurricane Sandy

A prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Sandy

A prayer for those in the path of Hurricane Sandy by Bonnie Harr

Hurricane Sandy is lashing the East Coast of the U.S. Widespread flooding is expected. Power outages could be extensive and the devastation to peoples’ lives will last for months.

As I watch the relentless march of this massive storm, I feel powerless. I am sitting comfortably, half a world away in Australia and it would be easy for me to ignore the problem.

All I can do is pray for those in its path and I thought that you might like to join me in these prayers The prayer above was written by Bonnie Harr for her Facebook page In His Footsteps. Here is my prayer for this day. Perhaps you would like to add your prayers to the comment section below.

Lord you are always with us,

In the quiet and the storm you surround us,

Your love stays closer than a friend.

In this time of storm be with all who are vulnerable.

Hold them close as the winds blow and the oceans rage.

Place your arms around them as the trees fall and the rivers rise.

Keep them safe from wind and rain and fly debris.

Guide those that respond,

Be with rescuers and firemen,

With electric workers and emergency crews,

With all who reach out to neighbours with your love and compassion.

Comfort and protect them in the midst of danger and of strife.

May all find shelter in the embrace of your wings.