World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

You are here: Home / Resources / Documents / Sermon Worship Service for Climate Justice 12 November 2017, 9:30 St Paulus Church, Bonn, Germany

Sermon Worship Service for Climate Justice 12 November 2017, 9:30 St Paulus Church, Bonn, Germany

Sermon by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit General Secretary of the World Council of Churches Worship Service for Climate Justice 12 November 2017, 9:30 St Paulus Church, Bonn, Germany

11 November 2017

Sermon by Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit
General Secretary of the World Council of Churches
Worship Service for Climate Justice
12 November 2017, 9:30
St Paulus Church, Bonn, Germany

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ, dear fellow sisters and brothers in the one humanity. Today we are praying for and we are celebrating our wonderful Earth, our common home. We are praying that we on our pilgrimage towards the future are led to an island of hope. We are celebrating the beauty of all life that is created. We are celebrating that we are together on this journey, on this pilgrimage, this voyage. That is why we are here in Bonn. That’s why we are here in the church.

We have heard a story about five foolish and five wise bridesmaids. What makes people wise or foolish?

There is a need for wisdom, a desperate need for wisdom in our world today. A wisdom that is seeing and understanding the reality, discerning the times in which we live, and a wisdom that have the courage to say that something was wrong, the courage to act in a new way, preparing for the future together.

Behind everything that happens here in Bonn these days, behind all the work we do as politicians, as civil society, as people of faith to address climate change – there is a struggle about being foolish or being wise.

We need the wisdom of creation – the wisdom the Creator has shared with us and which is expressed in many ways in our Bible. The Biblical texts have a strong message to us about seeking wisdom, a wisdom that corresponds to the wisdom of the Creator that creates and care for all creation.

Therefore, I also want to read some other verses from our Bible, from the Gospel of John: “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, and without Him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in Him was life. And the life was the light of the people. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.” (John 1:1-3)

This is a story about creation. It is a story that we find in the very first page of our Holy Bible. But it is the story told again in the first page of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning - was the word.”

Another way to interpret the word “logos” is to see it as wisdom. That is relating to the story of the whole Bible about how God creates through God’s wisdom – God’s word that has the courage to let something come forward, and human bodies – somebody - that is also capable of doing something wrong. Totally wrong. So that the creation can be led into darkness. God cares for all that is created – not only human beings – as God is the creator of everything, of everybody - even you and me, not only the first human beings, and the first animals, and the first plants.

We have been reminded through the 500th anniversary of the Reformation about Luther’s teaching of our accountability to God the creator – and that God is our creator today, every day. In the catechism of Luther we learned that the wisdom of God is working in this world and creating something new every day. And we are also reminded that this wisdom is coming to us through Jesus Christ, who is God’s wisdom, who is through whom everything and everybody are created. Jesus Christ is the word, the wisdom, the light that shines in the darkness we make.

We are here to seek wisdom today, wisdom to take care of this one planet, the creation of God that is granted to us, but also to our children, to our grandchildren, as it was to granted to our parents and our forefathers and foremothers, and to all that lives on this planet: animals, plants, everything.

We are in a situation that some might feel is as we are going to the end, to the night. The message of the Gospel is that we are going to the morning, to the dawn. The light is coming. We have the possibility to seek the wisdom of the creator, shared with us in Jesus Christ. We can also find some of this wisdom when we listen to one another, and how the Holy Spirit has given us wisdom in different times and cultures. We have learned that we should particularly listen to many of those who live in a relationship to nature where the wisdom given in nature is part of their daily wisdom. Therefore we are happy also to listen to our sisters and brothers in the Pacific, our fellow voyagers from Fiji, everybody who can tell us something about how do we live together as human beings, and as creation, with all that God has created, in a way that is sustainable, in a way that also makes this planet a place for new creation, for re-creation and new creation. And therefore, we rightly are reminded today that we have to ask for the right wisdom, the wisdom that can bring us salvation, a wisdom that can bring us hope. A wisdom that we do not always carry but that we can find.

In the ecumenical movement of the Churches, seeking unity, justice and peace, we have been listening to one other for many years. We have been listening to the wisdom of what different cultures and would say particularly indigenous cultures have to say. A wisdom that but is given to the different church traditions, and which we have learned to share. We have also learned to listen to the wisdom of different religions. Together we have to answer the question: How to live together, how to live in peace with one another, and in peace with God’s creation?

One of those who has been with us in this ecumenical movement for a long time and who has also been particularly reflecting on how to we take care of this creation, this diversity of creation, sharing this wisdom of creation is Bishop Emeritus Bärbel von Wartenberg-Potter. I would like to ask you two questions:

  1. Why has care for the creation become something at the center of the ecumenical movement and something as a matter of your heart?
  2. Why have you called for a “green reformation” and what do you mean by that?

We have commemorated and we have celebrated Reformation as a very important development in the history of the churches but also of societies and of the world reflecting on why we need to be critical, why we need to repent, why we need to change our direction and be honest and serious about it.

Now we are reminded that this reformation must go on. We need a green reformation where we really are serious about our role as human beings in the whole of God’s creation. We are also reminded this morning that the light shines in the darkness. It was not only the past. It is also today: the light shines in the darkness. The light of God is breaking through the darkness - shining on us every da.  The darkness did not overcome it. The darkness will not overcome it.

There is hope but there is also a hope that goes beyond what we see today. We have to keep this hope in our heart and bring the signs of this hope into a new reality. That is what it means to follow Jesus Christ, to be created in Him, and to be together with Him, receiving the light, and let the light shine forth through our lives, through our work, through our words, through our prayers, through our worship. That is why we continue also after this event here in Bonn on our pilgrimage of justice and peace. Let us go together. Amen.