What would you do a few days before you flew to Sweden to accept a Nobel Prize? Donna Strickland was at Westminster United Church in Waterloo, Ontario. Her friend Lynn Macauley sets the scene:
“Donna is so down-to-earth and real, and now here she is handing out hymn books and turning on the lights and making sure the washrooms are all clean. Because, what else would a Nobel Prize laureate be doing? But when you’re Donna, that’s what you would be doing!”
Strickland blessed science with her contributions to a powerful laser that, according to this profile, “essentially harnesses the energy of light in a way that could sculpt matter.” Today, the laser is used in corrective eye surgery, medical imaging, and industrial machining. For her contributions, in 2018, she became only the third female recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics. She won for work published in 1985 when still a Ph.D. candidate. But there she was, blessing her church in the days before receiving the most prestigious award in science. Macauley nailed it: Donna is “just so fabulous!”
Scientists Bless Us
Strickland is certainly one of the thousands of science professionals who serve the church as ushers, teachers, worship leaders, elders or deacons, youth volunteers, and more. They are no different than the rest of us—answering the call to serve the churches they love. They give countless hours to those communities that connect them to God by inviting them to worship, to grow in discipleship, and to flourish in fellowship. Sometimes, that leads them to clean the washrooms.
But that is not the only way scientists bless the church.
Those same science professionals handing out hymnals, working the soundboard, and serving communion also represent Christ in their scientific and technical spheres. They read the book of nature, trying to heal all the parts of creation that suffer, including God’s children, through discovery and application. To be concrete, I might very well benefit from Strickland’s discovery when it is time to repair my declining eyesight. We are impoverished when we don’t acknowledge how the work of science professionals serves the church.
- Learn more about Donna Strickland and the ways she has blessed science.
- I wrote about Strickland’s fabulousness (and that of other Christian scientists) for Orbiter.
- This podcast introduces pastor and social worker Dave Eckert’s fabulous work at the intersection of the church and mental health.
- BioLogos has published pastor and radio talk show host Rev. Dr. David Anderson’s prayer for scientists.
- Clergy occasionally will bless science labs in Christian schools. What would it look like to do the same for the labs and classrooms of the scientists in our congregations?
- Here is our collection of resources on science as a Christian vocation.
- We are currently working on a curriculum that honors the call of scientists and celebrates the ways they bless the church.
Let’s Bless the Scientists
Recently I attended a meeting hosted by our friends at Blueprint 1543 with several psychologists who want nothing more than for their psychology to benefit the church. I spoke with one of those amazing individuals who juggle multiple callings. Dave Eckert works on the front lines of people’s most urgent needs as a social worker focused on mental health emergencies. He also serves as a teaching pastor for his church. As if that were not enough, now he also leads innovative efforts bridging the church and mental health care providers.
Eckert was intrigued when I mentioned the concept of science as a Christian vocation. His church includes several folks working at a local pharmaceutical company. He noted their church regularly blesses teachers, missionaries, and a few other professions, recognizing and supporting how they bless the church. “But how do you do that for science professionals?” he asked. The church gladly receives what science professionals bring to church, but how do we offer a blessing in return?
Quickly, with a few others at our table, we brainstormed several relevant scriptures. Let me offer them to you in the form of an actual blessing (with verse citations). Certainly, you could rework this, utilizing those same texts, for a prayer, a Bible study, a sermon, or any other contexts where your ministry seeks to encourage the scientists (past, present, and future) in our congregations. Let’s bless the scientists who have so generously blessed us.
A Blessing for Science Professionals
Gracious God, we marvel at your handiwork (Psalm 19) throughout creation. You created the smallest particles and basic cells that give us all matter and life. You created the great expanse of the heavens and the mindboggling complexity of the human brain. You knit (Psalm 139:13ff) all these pieces together with fixed laws in a manner that sustains the birds in the air, the lilies in the field (Matt 6:25ff), and all of humankind that bears your image (Gen. 1:26ff).
We ask you bless the science professionals who discover and then teach to us your glory as it is declared in the heavens (Psalm 19). Bless all who study creation so we can better exercise dominion as its stewards (Genesis 1:26ff). We ask you to bless those who discover and then teach us how you have fearfully and wonderfully made us (Psalm 139:13ff). We give thanks for the manifold ways science professionals make your power and nature understood through what they reveal to us about your creation (Romans 1:20).
Bless all those who bring Christ’s healing of mind and body to the nations of people that have multiplied across the Earth. Give your blessing to scientists, engineers, and technologists, who see the hungry or the thirsty, the stranger or the naked, the sick or the imprisoned (Matt 25:35ff) and utilize their gifts of math and science to care for them. Bless the science professionals of every kind who seek your will and serve others with whatever gifts they have received (I Peter 4:10) in order to advance your kingdom.
May our community of Christ followers be a place of encouragement and comfort that empowers science professionals to grow in their faith and live out your will as they minister to all of creation. May we delight in their discoveries, give thanks for the ways they help creation to flourish, and join with them in giving all praise and honor to you, our Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Amen!