Recycling

Recycling creates jobs.

Its economic returns are well documented.

About 24,000 people work in recycling

That generates some 13-billion dollars annually.

There are many benefits in processing these materials –

Including alumina, plastic, and soft drink containers,

Steel cans, detergent bottles, newspapers, and trash bags,

So, consumers help when they purchase such items.

These materials could be collected, processed

And manufactured into a variety of new products.

But consumers should buy the right kind recyclables,

And they could have these materials collected

At curbsides, drop-off centers, or refund centers.

Remember recycling reduces the amount of waste to landfills.

It helps conserve natural, and valuable resources, and saves energy.

Above all, it creates jobs from which many workers benefit.

Recyclables cost go up, and come down depending on supply,

And recovery facilities sort these products for manufacturing.

“God, help us recycle our products.  Guide consumers to care for the environment, and in providing jobs for people.”

Amen

Juneteenth Freedom Day

Activists have succeeded in pushing Congress

To recognize June 19th as a national holiday

On June 19th, 1865 General Robert Granger

Issued a proclamation notifying black slaves

In Texas they were free.

This “Juneteenth Jamboree” grew in stature

And in many states it has become mainstream.

The Anacostia Museum of the Smithsonian Institution

Has had an exhibition about Juneteenth.

Reading of the works of African American novelists

Like Ralph Ellison, and Maya Angelou are popular.

Singing of traditional songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,”

And “Lift Every Voice and Sing” are sung at such gatherings.

Celebrations on “Jubilee Day” are picnics, rodeos, and cookouts.

Families celebrate reunions, park parties,

Attend blues festivals,

And there’s a Miss Juneteenth contest.

But revelers never forget to have a Strawberry soda –

The drink associated with these festivities.

And, for the more serious minded,

There are lectures, exhibitions of African American culture

Accompanied by a voter registration drive.

To top it all, everyone should be part of a barbecue cookout,

The centerpiece of most Juneteenth celebrations.

“God, on this day of remembrance bless these Juneteenth festivities when African Americans began their fruits of freedom.”    

Car Trips

People like going on trips.

They like travelling in their cars,

And going to different places.

But they have to do so safely,

That’s why it’s wise to wear a seatbelt.

It doesn’t make sense risking your life

When you drive in areas that aren’t safe.

That’s why it’s best to know about your destination.

Often, this could be a problem in some cities.

Drivers could be caught up in rush hour traffic.

It could be dreadlock trying to navigate your car.

Is your vehicle in good working condition?

Are you familiar with the area where you’re driving?

These questions are important for a driver’s safety.

A number of other questions come to mind.

What would you do if you have a flat?

Do you have roadside service?

Is the area safe if you’re stranded?

That’s why before venturing out do your homework.

Make sure you have a smart phone for emergencies.

Safety matters the most when you’re driving.

So, it’s good to obey the speed limit.

Drive with lights when it’s overcast,

And always be sure you have enough gas.

These are the responsibilities of a good driver.

“God, help us to make trips safely.  Be with us and let us be cognizant that we ought to take all necessary precautions when driving.”

Amen

Save the Pangolin

The pangolin is an endangered specie.

Eight of these species

Are protected under international law.

Still, they are hunted for medicinal properties.

This creature is prized in Asia

Although there isn’t any evidence

That this scaly mammalian has properties

Beneficial to human health.

But what could conservationists do?

They should help save this bizarre little creature.

So, it doesn’t disappear from the environment,

For man-made threats are causing mass extinctions.

Efforts are made at Save Vietnam’s Wildlife –

A conservation reservation program

Inside the Cuc Phuong National Park.

To save the world’s most traffic mammal,

The Vietnamese government has decided

To crack down on this illegal wildlife trade.

Researchers also found in Thailand

That 36 percent of all reptile species

Are often traded on the Internet.

About 90 percent were caught in the wild.

“God, help conservationists’ programs to safeguard the world’s biodiversity.  Guide them in their efforts to save creatures like the pangolin.”

Amen

Symbolism of Fire

Fire is an emblem of divinity, political, and social unity.

For millions of years our ancestors kept warm with fire.

It protected them from being attacked by wild animals,

Served as a meeting place for tribal communities,

Where religious rites like chanting, and telling stories were performed.

Most importantly, after a hunt hunters cooked their meals with fire.

Ancient traditions glorify fire.

In the Hindu tradition the goddess Shiva –

Destroyer, transformer, maintainer, and preserver is depicted as dancing in a circle of fire.

The Book of Exodus described Moses’s encounter with a burning bush.

Classical Greek mythology showed how Promethus –

The champion of mankind stole fire from the gods to give to humans.

And Acts of the Apostles reminded Christian believers

How the Holy Spirit appeared to the disciples as flames of fire.

In ancient Persia and Rome fire played a prominent role.

The Zoroastrian religion made use of fire, and clean water to represent ritual purity,

While priests tended the eternal fires on fire-altars.

In the Roman religion Vestal was the Roman goddess of the hearth,

Who was the protectorate, and were served by chaste Vestal Virgins.

Today, Paris burns a flame of national significance.

It’s known as The Eternal Flame at the Arc de Triomphe.

John F. Kennedy’s Eternal Flame symbolizes eternal life,

While the flame at the War Memorial

Shows Americans’ profound gratitude towards the remembrance

Of our dead service men and women.

“God, help us to understand more fully the symbolism of fire.  Let us be always cognizant of the good things it signifies.”

Amen

Peacemaking

Peacemaking is more than winning wars.

A peacemaker isn’t a nation’s warrior.

He or she should strive without conflicts.

This person should love their country,

And has its interests at heart.

Peace often calls for patience.

It’s an ability to negotiate sensibly.

A peacemaker has to be able to compromise.

This should be the goal of every ambassador.

Building bridges to people and nations

Should be a silver lining that a negotiator should pursue.

This is what rulers try to accomplish.

But few of them will succeed if this isn’t done wisely.

An ambassador will do anything to seek a lasting peace.

Christian leaders will remember the admonition –

“Blessed are the peacemakers.”

They view their subjects as children of God.

Such rulers will be judges among nations.

And they are the arbitrators of warring states.

They shall beat their swords into plowshares,

And used their spears as pruning hooks.

People shall learn war no more.

And their neighbors will live in peace.

“God, help warring nations seek peace and understanding.  Guide their rulers as they negotiate so that they will have a lasting peace.”

Amen

The Serenity Prayer

Reinhold Niebuhr was author of this prayer.

Since its inception in 1943,

The prayer has had an interesting history.

It was hijacked in Germany,

The country where Niebuhr’s parents were born

Before settling in the United States.

Niebuhr’s life was as a preacher, writer, professor,

And ambassador to European countries

Especially Germany and England.

He met with the World Council of Churches,

And shared his thoughts on ecumenical ventures

Of various denominations – Episcopalian, Methodist,

Congregationalist, Reformed, and Evangelical Lutherans.

For 40 years Niebuhr has been prolific.

At the Union Theological Seminary in New York

He ruffled feathers with his opposition to American neutrality

During World War Ⅱ, beliefs in racial equality,

And outreach to the poor in the ghettos.

Niebuhr served as a guest on panels, and was welcomed internationally.

On the lecture circuit he was known for his correspondence

With Church leaders, and lived to see Europe liberated.

The serenity prayer captured life’s vicissitudes.

He did an amazing job in responding to the challenges of his era.

“Loving God, you have blessed mankind with the loving spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr.  Grant that his legacy will live on as people utter the serenity prayer known worldwide through the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings, and its many renditions on postcards, placemats, and souvenirs.”

Amen    

God in Nature

The 17th century Jewish philosopher

Of Dutch origin, Baruch Spinoza viewed religion

In Theological-Political Treatise as superstitious

He considered nature and God ubiquitous

Nature encompasses everything Spinoza considered Providence.

Every aspect of its essence is reflected in good and bad experiences.

Miracles described in the monotheistic faiths of Judaism, Christianity,

And Islam could be explained through the varieties of ever-changing nature

These are natural occurrences that surprise people when they occur.

The first rainbow that humans saw must have struck them as a miracle.

But science later showed this resulted from scientific evidence.

Prophecy could be viewed as another of these phenomena.

In ancient times people were uneducated and had vivid imaginations.

Many of their delusions were motivated by vivid dreams and visions.

In modern society these ancients would be seen as having psychotic episodes.

But these visionaries appear to the Israelites to be filled with gifts of a Creator.

Therefore, God was perceived as being human and personalized.

Nature is all good and bad things that exist in the vast Universe.

It’s therefore more realistic to think about the Divine as nature.

God in nature is material and immaterial.

God doesn’t have human characteristics that are alluded to in sacred texts.

This spiritual essence is universal and governs all things.

So, putting a human face on God of nature is an error.

The Golden Rule

Every religion has a golden rule.

Treat others as you want to be treated.

How marvelous are those words!

They show the depths of love and compassion.

So, what should you do if your neighbor offends you?

Some may say like the bible verse “an eye for an eye.”

But this will only make the whole world blind.

Instead, it’s better to practice forgiveness.

But suppose the hurt is quite great.

What should you do to soothe this pain?

It’s better to pray and be in the right frame of mind.

Talk your situation through with a loved one that you trust.

If that doesn’t work, seek the help of a trusted counselor.

Suffering a painful hurt could be devastating.

So, it’s better to know that two wrongs don’t make right.

Why rub salt in a wound that’s already deep?

Instead, endeavor to ease the pain and find peace.

Always remember to look for a ray of sunshine.

This is better than the disastrous consequences.

So, let’s live by the golden rule.

Human Rights

How would you like to be a human rights defender?

What does this mean?

Where do you work?

And what could you expect?

These answers are challenging.

A human rights defender fights to protect people’s rights.

He or she promotes the welfare of citizens.

Their work is local, national, and international.

They are the defenders of  diverse cases.

These range from employment issues, health care, life’s problems,

Food, water, executions, torture, indigenous, and women’s issues

These individuals fight for rights for all.

Problems are everywhere in our world.

They exist in democratic and non-democratic nations.

Challenges vary from HIV/AIDS, the coronavirus, migration,

Structural adjustment policies, and political upheavals

Defenders monitor regional and worldwide conditions.

They collect and disseminate information,

And work to bring reports to key political and judicial officials.

These organizations publish reports about their findings.

And they ensure accountability with respect of legal standards.

“Loving God, help the human rights defenders to work in the interests of their countries.  By doing so, give them wisdom, and the will to be effective change agents in their communities.”

Amen