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07 October 2011

Noble lives

Noble lives

The Nobel Prize in physics was awarded to three scientists whose research shows the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate. The nature of this expansive force is still puzzling as their elusive reference to "dark energy" indicates. The findings shocked cosmologists who until now had expected that an ongoing slowdown would ultimately lead to a cosmic crunch at the end of time.  

There's also a lot of dark energy at work on earth as the recent uncovering of the mass grave at Abu Salim top-security prison shows. While the 'Arab Spring' alludes to new life, the spark for the revolution in Libya lies, among other things, in the long fight of victims' families for justice for the estimated 1,270 prisoners who died there in 1996. Soon, forensic investigators will begin the exhumation and the families will finally have the chance to bury their dead. 

It reminded me of the story of Rizpah (2 Samuel 21:1-14). In a country marked by famine, the cycle of violence had claimed the lives of seven of her family members. Rizpah stays on the mountain where their bodies had been left. For months she pours out her love and grief by protecting them from the vultures by day and the wild animals by night. Reports of her tenacious fight eventually reach the corridors of power. King David orders the removal of the bodies and following a proper burial the famine is lifted from the land. 

The courageous vigil of a humble concubine changes the heart and policy of a powerful ruler. Her stand against the dark forces by day and by night is key in the turnaround of a nation. While she lives in the midst of a cycle of violence, she carries something of the eternity that God places in the heart. Her time of mourning takes place 'under heaven' and is a powerful statement of righteous advocacy on earth (Ecclesiastes 3).  

The chemist Daniel Shechtman who received this year's Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the structure of quasicrystalssaid: "A good scientist is a humble scientist." The biblical account in 2 Samuel 21 shows that a good leader is a humble leader - someone who prays, listens to the rumours from the periphery, recognises the godly cause in simple acts of righteousness and changes his heart and course in its light. 

While it was widely expected that the Arab Spring would be recognised in the Nobel Peace Prize, may we pray for peace and for the change of hearts in rulers and citizens, for people walking in darkness to see a great light. In the week that the Nobel Prizes have been awarded for outstanding achievements in physics, chemistry, medicine, literature, and peace-building, may we shine in our daily commitment to God. 

It is part of the enlightened energy that plugs into the expansion of God's universe. And while it may come as a shock to many, that kingdom is not grinding to a halt any time soon. In fact, it is said of the Prince of Peace that there will be no end to the greatness of his government and peace. He will establish and uphold it with justice and righteousness forever.

Marijke Hoek, coordinator Forum for Change