Praying for Wisdom as ‘Created Co-creators’
This is the seventh and final post in our series on Science-Engaged Worship.
Grace Wolf-Chase is a Senior Scientist and Senior Education & Communication Specialist with the Planetary Science Institute, and also serves as Vice President of the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS) Board of Directors. She has decades of experience in astronomical research, integrating scientific research with public education and outreach, academic dialogue between science and religion, and communicating science to diverse religious communities.
When the young King Solomon was asked by God in a dream what God should give him, Solomon requested “an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil…” (1 Kings 3:9). Pleased with Solomon’s request, God granted him wisdom and much more (1 Kings 3:10-13). I think there’s a lesson in this text beyond God’s rewarding the selflessness of Solomon’s petition. Not only didn’t Solomon ask for personal gain, he also didn’t ask God to solve the challenges that would come with his leadership; rather, he prayed for the capacity to carry out his role as king in service to God.
How often do we pray for the wisdom and know-how to fulfill our duties as God’s stewards of the Earth, rather than pray for God to affect changes we’d like to see in the world? In my church, we often pray for wisdom in applying science and technology to mitigate the climate crisis, to care for the environment and Earth’s biodiversity, to facilitate social justice, and to conduct ethical medical research, while at the same time expressing our humble gratitude for being part of an awesome, diverse, and very good, creation.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) designated September 12, 2021 as “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Sunday, and chose a hymn with the same title to express how the people of the ELCA live in service for the life of the world. This theme conveys our call to be active – not passive – agents of Christ, and to use our individual and collective talents to affect life-enhancing changes.
In his book The Human Factor, Lutheran theologian Philip Hefner proposed that we think of human beings as created by God to be co-creators in the creation brought into being by God. This theological anthropology embraces human agency, freedom, and our significant capacity for creativity. I suggest that when we offer the “prayers of the people,” we remember to thank God for the gift of science, and that we ask for God’s help in exercising our God-given creativity to use this gift to become more responsible caretakers of our world and all its inhabitants.
A final note: the gift of science is for everyone. If you would like to engage with science yourself or with your community, please check out my project, Engaging Faith-based Communities in Citizen Science through Zooniverse.