A sermon preached at Kowloon Union Church on Sunday 5 June 2011 by the Rev. Phyllis Wong. The scripture readings that day were Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35; 1 Peter 4:12-14, 5:6-11 and John 17:1-11.
I would like to begin my sermon today with a story that I heard recently. This was in fact an episode from the popular science-fiction series called the Twilight Zone. A man, let’s call him David, was alone in his room and was worried about money. Then there was a knock on the door, and a strange man in a suit, rather like a salesman, made him a very strange proposition. The “salesman” presented David with a box and said that he would leave the box with David for a week. If he does not do anything, then after a week, the salesman will come back and take the box away and nothing would happen. But if David wants to make some money, all he has to do is to open the box and press the button inside the box. Then the salesman will immediately come back to take the box away and at the same time give David one million dollars! This was too good to be true and David asked: what’s the catch? What would happen if I press the button? The salesman said, well, if you press the button, someone in another city will die as a result of your action. But don’t worry, this person is not related to you in anyway, he would be a total stranger to you. After that, the salesman left. David struggled for the whole week. He didn’t want to cause someone’s death, but he is tempted by the money. After all, he needs the money, and it’s a complete stranger, not related to him in anyway, and of course the whole thing could be a joke, he doesn’t think pressing a button would really kill anybody from another city. So after a long week, on the last day, he couldn’t resist the temptation and he opened the box and pressed the button. Immediately, there was a knock on the door, and the salesman presented a case full of money and asked for the box back. David was very surprised but also very happy with the money. But he asked: did someone really die after I pressed the button? The salesman answered firmly: yes. David asked: so what are you going to do with the box now? The salesman looked at David with a strange grin, and then said: I am going to another city, and find someone unrelated to you, a total stranger to you, and make the same proposition to him!
What do you think of the story? Does it help you to realize that everything we do may have serious consequences for people from other parts of the world, and vice versa? Thus there are no total strangers, for we are all inter-connected by our actions and their effects on one another. Taiwan’s plastic can be our carcinogenic noodles, Japan’s nuclear power plant can be our radioactive rainfall, and our air conditioners can be the world’s global warming.
Today is June 5, it is the World Environment Day. It is a day designated by the U.N. General Assembly to deepen public awareness of the need to preserve and enhance the environment. In the Christian community, the Hong Kong Christian Council has designated today as Environment Sunday and call for Church’s concern on environment issues and Church’s role in this important aspect. Our church has thus designated this Sunday Worship as Environment Sunday. The environment matters to Church for the earth is God’s creation.
We are connected in One World
From Genesis, God inspires us to understand the origin of this universe. We know that God created the world and regards everything he created as good. God has created the natural environment, the animals on land and in the sea. God also created human beings in his holy image and they are called to be God’s stewards to take care of the earth. We human beings are thus only a part of God’s creation and we have no rights to dominate over other organisms, nor over nature. We don’t have the rights to pollute the air, the water and the land. It is also absolutely wrong to mistreat animals.
Not only do we have no rights to control the world and all kinds of organism for our own personal desires, the world created by God is holistic. Everything in the world is interconnected. After the earthquake, the tsunami and the subsequent nuclear crisis in Japan, when I went to supermarket with a boy of 13 years old, he was very conscious not to buy any food products from Japan for he feared that the radiation problem will cause health problem. From the case of Japan, we will then realize that we are living in a world in which everything and every human being are so interconnected. All people and organisms, as well as the environment are interconnected and interdependent. We are like a body, a symbol of Christ’s body, in which all our activities will affect one another.
In John 17:1-11, it was emphasized the close relationship and connectedness between Jesus Christ and his Father, the Creator of this universe.
Jesus Christ, helped the world in general and his disciples in particular to be connected to God. Jesus was sent by God to the world to reveal God’s glory.
God had sent Jesus Christ, his only Son to the world so that we may know God and be united and connected once again with them.
Jesus loved his Father and the Father loved him. In this great love and connectedness with God, Jesus will do whatever necessary for the benefit of the disciples who were God’s chosen ones.
Jesus’ connectedness with God and in God, is an important spiritual insight to help us to realize the significance of the inter-connected of human beings and the world.
When we realize and feel we are connected to the world, we will then generate more love to look after and to take care of our environment.
When we love the environment, we don’t want to see her sick and in pain. If we know that people in the world are all our sisters and brothers created in the holy image of God and loved by Christ, we may stop taking advantage of the poor and the vulnerable.
The connectedness is grounded in the loving relationship with God. The promise of Jesus Christ who has prayed for us and left us in God's hand has given us hope. Jesus prayed for us to keep us and protect us from the world’s temptations. The communion with God through Christ and be part of the Body, is a key to live a green life and to cultivate churches which are agents of building a sustainable world for the benefit of all both in our time and for our future generations.
Gabi, a church member, has been concerned with environmental issues. She has great passion in preserving Mother Earth and has taken concrete actions in her daily life. I would like to invite her to share with us now.
- When are connected with God in love, we will love the environment which is God’s creation.
- In love, we work together with faith and unity. We will support each other.
- Our suffering Christ who had died on the cross and endured the pains, has given us, as individuals and church community the courage to stand against the world values of greed and selfishness. Christ helps us to stand firm for our Christian values of charity, compassion, humility, simplicity, justice and peace.