If action on climate change is an integral part of responding to the Gospel message today, this needs to be reflected in the liturgical life of the Church. The sermon or homily is potentially especially important for inspiring believers to become actively engaged. Below is just one example. For sample homilies on a variety of social justice issues see
Other sermons and resources are available on www.interfaithpowerandlight.org
Preaching on Care for Creation - Pentecostal
Christian Scriptures and God’s Good Creation
Some notes on the Gospels, Epistles (especially those of Paul) and Revelation, by Rev Meredith Williams
For Christians, Scripture is bookended by the wonders of creation and new creation; the ‘beginning’ and the ‘new beginning’; Heaven and Earth (Genesis) and the new Heaven and new Earth (Revelation). These images are not incidental or decorative; they are proclamation about our God, our world and our place in it.
Christians honour and accept the Hebrew/Jewish Scriptures, regarding them as sacred writings and part of the self-revelation of God. We receive them through Jesus and understand them in light of Jesus’ life and teaching.
Christian theology of creation is to a large degree dependent on the stories, insights and wisdom contained in Jewish Scripture, including in mythology and liturgy.
The Prologue to the Gospel of John affirms the presence and agency of Christ – the Logos or Word of God – in Creation.
“In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him … What came into being through him was life …” [John 1: 1-4]
John goes on to identify this originating God-Word with Jesus, the Christ.
Jesus speaks of God’s care for humankind through the cycles and provision of nature
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear” Matthew 6: 25 - 33 and Luke 12: 22 - 31
God clothes and feeds us, as God does the animals and plants.
God’s blessing and providence are seen in the abundance and flourishing of nature.
Matthew 5: 45 “God makes the sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil”
The biblical notion of “first fruits” and the offering of the first part of the harvest is seen as a giving back to God in acknowledgment that all provision comes from God.
Jesus speaks of God’s love and care for creation
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.”
Luke 12: 6
“Consider the ravens: They do not sew or reap; they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.” Luke 12: 24 and similar in Matthew 6: 26
“Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these.” Luke 12: 27 and Matthew 6: 28
In the teaching of Jesus, the kingdom of God likened to natural growth, development and harvest
Jesus uses natural imagery and example in his similitudes and parables. See especially Mark 4 – parables of the sower, the growing seed, the mustard seed. This surely indicates Jesus’ appreciation of and respect for nature, and it affirms the role of the natural world in revealing the ways of God. There is much to be learned about God and the world of God’s love by observing and appreciating natural processes. As we watch and care for nature we draw near to God and learn to live in God’s way.
The New Testament uses many natural images for the people of God, the church, and the life in faith
“I am the vine and my Father is the gardener” John 15: 1
“I am the vine and you are the branches” John 15: 5
God is like a shepherd; we the sheep/flock – John 10
“Fear not, little flock, it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” Luke 12:32
The Good Shepherd searches for and rescues the one lost sheep – Luke 15
The community of God’s people, its life, growth, and health are likened by Paul to that of a plant – I Corinthians 3: 6-7
Another example of Paul’s use of images from the natural world is found in Romans 11: 17-18, where Paul says the Gentiles are ‘grafted’ into the ‘plant’ of Israel.
The cosmic Christ – sent to redeem the whole creation
Christians affirm that the Christ became flesh in Jesus of Nazareth, and that in his death and resurrection, God has re-asserted the divine claim over the whole creation. This is not only about God who affirms the life and worth of each human being, but God who acts in hope and love for all creation.
“God loved the world [kosmos] so much that he gave the only son …” John 3:16
All things were created in and through Christ, and Christ is the living power that sustains all things and holds all things together – Colossians 3: 15-17
In Christ … a new creation – II Corinthians 5: 17-18
Vision of new heaven and new earth
The final Book of the Christian Bible, Revelation, describes a prophetic vision of God’s ultimate plan for the flourishing of all creation and human beings living in harmony with it.
There is abundant provision of water, sunshine and the fruits of creation in great variety. The vision includes human beings living together in peace with one another and with all created things
Revelation 21 – the new heaven and new earth; making all things new; God’s light, peace and security for all
Revelation 22 – the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God; on each side of the river the tree of life, providing fruit and giving healing
Truths about God, human living and dying revealed through nature
In speaking of the Christian assurance of resurrection to eternal life, Paul makes brilliant use of the example of plant growth. In I Cor 15: 35-41 and beyond, he talks about the way a seed develops, changes and grows into a plant. There follows a beautiful expose of natural variety and praise of the ‘heavenly bodies’.
Climate justice from a gospel perspective
The Gospels present a Christology of service
“If any one of you wants to be great, he must be the servant of the others.” Mark 10:43
Jesus’ second commandment, to love our neighbour as ourselves, includes looking out for the well-being of others, and service of others. According to Jesus, we must not try to dominate others; certainly not cheat or harm them in any way. Greatness is found in service. We are to serve one another as Jesus served us. This, surely, includes upholding justice, and forbids exploitation. It follows that we must care for the environment in such a way that people have safe places to live; that people’s livelihoods on the land are not destroyed for unjust profit; that people have access to clean water and air; that land is available for agriculture; that enough basic food can be grown, harvested and shared so that all people have enough to eat; and that biodiversity is preserved for the health of the planet on which all creatures depend.
Effects on the poor
“In as much as you helped one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it for me … And in as much as you refused to help one of these needy ones, you refused me”
Matthew 25: 31-45
Those who have contributed least to the crisis of climate change and global warming are suffering first and most.
The deterioration of the environment and of some sectors of society affects the most vulnerable people on the planet. Both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all the attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest people. For example, the depletion of fishing reserves especially harms small fishing communities without the means to replace those resources; water pollution and drought particularly affect the poor who cannot buy water or live where it is available in utility; rises in sea level mainly affect impoverished coastal populations and small island nations [Ref. Laudato Si’ para 48]; floods devastate communities of people who can only afford to live in low-lying areas; deforestation for cash cropping robs traditional farmers of their livelihoods and source of food; indigenous peoples lose culture, connection and identity.
Appreciation of nature is appreciation of God, the Creator, who loves and cares for the world s/he made and who provides for humankind through the health and abundance of the natural environment. In studying and enjoying nature we come to understand God better, and discern the way in which we are to live. In caring for the natural environment, we serve and care for one another, as Jesus taught us we should.
(Rev.) Meredith Williams October 2022