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.