So, who got stuff for Christmas? Who gave stuff for Christmas? Was it good stuff? I wonder where the stuff will be a year from
now? Christmas is often called the
season of giving, and people all over the world give one another gifts, even if
they don’t agree with or believe in what Christmas represents, I’ve never met
an atheist who refuses Christmas presents.
Big gifts, little gifts, the perfect gift and completely irrelevant
Did you ever give someone a gift and they just didn’t seem
to appreciate it? Maybe they didn’t
understand the significance or the cost of the gift. They didn’t realize the love that went into
creating the gift or the sacrifice that you had to make to buy the gift.
Or maybe it just wasn’t the
gift they wanted. Maybe it was the gift
you wanted. You know what I mean, you
took the words of Jesus to heart from Luke
6:31 Do to others as you would like them to do
to you. And it’s easy to take
that too literally sometime and we do or give to those in our lives based on
our preferences. But think about it, if
Angela and I went out to eat and I decided in my limited wisdom that I would
order for both of us and Jesus words came to mind I would order burgers for
both of us, great big juicy burgers with bacon and cheddar, cooked medium
well. I would have taken the words of
Jesus, to do unto others, to heart. The
problem is that Angela is a vegetarian, she doesn’t eat burgers. But I followed
the Golden rule. Or did I? Probably
what I should have thought is, We are eating out, what do I want? And ordered my favorite burger. And then realized that Angela, like me, would
like her favorite meal and I would order her Nachos.
All that was said to say that maybe you bought them the gift that you
wanted someone to buy you. And that
wasn’t what they wanted.
Or maybe they liked the gift you bought but got bored with it and it
ended up collecting dust in a corner or worse they just didn’t take care of it
and pretty soon the gift that you put so much thought into was broken.
How would you feel? Probably not
very good. God gave mankind an
incredible gift, well actually he has given us numerous incredible gifts and
some we have embraced, and some we have taken for granted and some we have
abused and neglected.
I often talk about the gift of salvation and the gift of grace but the
gift I’m talking about this morning is the gift of creation. The gift of the world we live in. Do we
ever stop and think about the world we live in?
And if we do think about it do we think of it as a gift or an
entitlement? Do we see the world as
something to be exploited or something to be treated with respect?
A few years ago I
was challenged by my son as to why I didn’t address environmental concerns when
We were having a discussion; discussion is a good word, over
big business, development, internal combustion engines and our society’s
reliance on fossil fuels. And in the
midst of one of his discourses he challenged me, his father, to take responsibility
for the mess the world was in.
Can you imagine? And
then he said something to the effect of “You say you serve and love God but how
can you allow them to do what they do to His creation?” I sputtered out a response and he replied by
saying “Why don’t you use your influence to do something?” You can tell he is an idealist by assuming
that I have that much influence.
Although in my office I have a quote by that great American
philosopher George Carlin who said “I have as much influence as the Pope just fewer
people believe it.”
My response was “Well I’ve preached on the environment.” To
which he replied “Must have been after I left.”
I didn’t even know he was paying attention.
So I went back through my messages and sure enough, I
hadn’t, felt kind of bad. Then I
discovered that I wasn’t alone. I am a
contributor to a website called sermoncentral.com. It is a place that depending on your scruples
you can use it to research messages or to plagiarize messages. I use it for research, my commitment to you
is that other people may preach my messages but I don’t preach other people’s
messages. As I told one colleague, some
of us have to keep writing them if the rest of you are going to keep stealing
them, but I digress.
So I went to Sermon Central and did a search in their data
base of over 150,000 sermons for environment and didn’t get any hits, I was a
little disappointed, then I realized that I had spelled environment wrong. So I
spelled it right and hit search and out of the 150,000 messages I got 12 hits
and 7 of those sermons had titles like “Remaining Encouraged In A Discouraging
Environment”, “How To Create A Safe Environment” and “How to Survive Working in
a Hostile Environment”. Out of a 150,000 messages there were 5 messages on the
That was over five years ago so I went back and checked and
now there are 7 messages on the environment and one of those is mine.
Apparently most evangelical preachers share former Vice
President of the US Dan Quayle philosophy, he said “It isn’t
pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and
water that are doing it.”
So I got to thinking about our responsibility to God and the
world he has allowed us to occupy. If we
go back to Genesis 1:27-28 We read: So God
created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful
and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the
birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” And in those two verses humanity
became tenants in the beautiful home that God had created. And to quote Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben “With
great power comes great responsibility”.
Some people have developed an entire cult around the
protection of mother earth, kind of an Eco-Theology and have begun to worship
the creation instead of the creator, and that is wrong. Number 2 of the 10 commandments is given to
us in Exodus 20:4 You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of
anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. Unfortunately for too many people the
heavens, earth and sea have become idols.
People miss out on the fact that there is a creator who is to be
The opposite of that are those who believe that we have been
given absolute dominion. In other words
the earth and everything on it has been given to us to use as we see fit and if
that means that at the end of the game it is gone while so be it, after all we
have been promised a new heaven and a new earth at the end of the story. They often will go back to the promise in Genesis 8:22 As long as the earth remains, there will be planting and harvest,
cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night. For them that is
evidence that as hard as we might try to use it up or destroy it that the word
of God promises that the earth will be around as long as we need it, and then
But really what does it say about our view of our creator
when we are intent on destroying that which he created. My son is an artist through the years he has
given me various pieces of art that he has created, and if I destroyed one of
those paintings or ripped up one of his drawings because it was mine to do with
as I like what would that say to Stephen?
Would it say “I love you and appreciate what you have done for me?” I think not.
The third option is something called Creation Care, which
sounds really cool but simplified it puts creation and the environment at an
equal priority with the salvation of humanity.
So when Jesus said in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so
much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him
will not perish but have eternal life. Now we usually understand that to
mean: John 3:16 “For God loved the (people of the) world so much that he
gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish
but have eternal life.” But this
philosophy would say that this scripture is not to be seen the way we would
traditionally interpret it But instead it should be seen more along the line of
John 3:16 “For God loved the world (the earth) so much that he gave his one
and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have
And with that it puts all of creation, all of nature, every
species on earth on equal footing with humanity. And that’s not what we are taught in
scripture. We are told in Psalm 8:4-6 what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human
beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower
than God and crowned them with glory and honour. You gave them charge of
everything you made, putting all things under their authority.
And then we have Genesis 9:2-3 All the animals of the
earth, all the birds of the sky, all the small animals that scurry along the
ground, and all the fish in the sea will look on you with fear and terror. I
have placed them in your power. I have given them to you for food, just as I
have given you grain and vegetables.
Face, it if God hadn’t wanted us to eat cows he wouldn’t
have made them taste so good. Although I
think deer hunting would be a lot more fun if the deer got guns as well.
So I think I lean more toward a Global Stewardship
model. This is where we are not only in
charge of our environment but have a responsibility to respect it. Carl F. Henry once offered this sage
observation: “Scripture does not set forth specific lines of ecological action, which
may vary with time and place. But it does adduce fixed principles that indicate
that God was not content to create a chaotic wasteland but rather a habitable
universe and that he expects his designated stewards to maintain it that way.”
Let’s go back to Genesis 1:27-28 We read: So God created human beings
in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he
created them. Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill
the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky,
and all the animals that scurry along the ground.” The word that people try to define is
translated “Reign over” in the NLT and ‘Rule over” in the NIV in the KJV it is
translated “Have Dominion over” in the original Hebrew it is rādâ and it can mean any or all of those
things. The interesting thing is that is
the same word that is used in Psalm 72:8 May he reign from sea to
sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. Or maybe you are more familiar with it
in the old King James Version Psalm 72:8 He shall have dominion also
from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. It was from that scripture that the
name The Dominion of Canada came from.
And so the scriptures do not lay out specific guidelines for
how we are to protect our earth, thou shalt not drive hummers and thou shalt
separate thine garbage. The implication
is there that if we are to be its ruler we are to be a benevolent ruler. And the question might be: why? And the answer is: because it’s not
ours. Never was and never will be we are
merely tenants, some of us might have a longer lease than others but ultimately
it will all go back to the owner. God.
And so you should
take care of it for Your Own Sake.
I would suspect that we have no homeless people here, we all
live somewhere, it might be a house, or a mini home or an apartment.
If you don’t take care of your home eventually it begins to
affect the quality of your life. The
roof begins to leak, the wind blows through the cracks, insects begin to breed
and take over. After all bugs love dirt
You ever watch the program Extreme Makeover? We used to watch it before it ended in 2012. Some of those homes were poor and spotless;
you can tell that the occupants take pride in what little they have. Others were dives, dumps and it has nothing
to do with the fact the folks are poor and hard done by they just didn’t
care. I think they should do another
program called Extreme Makeover: Two Years Later, and see what those new big
beautiful homes look like.
We need to take care of this planet because we have to live
here, that’s the bottom line, we have to drink the water and we have to breathe
And if that isn’t enough, if it sound slightly self-serving
to just do it for our sakes you need to do it For Your Kids’ Sake If we keep talking about the house we live in, if
you knew that the house you were living in you kids were going to live in and
their kids were going to live in would it make a difference to how you treated
it? If you knew that you weren’t just
responsible for the house while you occupied it would you take better care of
People are always commenting on higher rates of cancer and
Alzheimer’s today than there used to be and they may very well have a
point. And I wonder if it has to do with
the amount of garbage that was dumped into the environment over the past
century? Those of you old enough will
remember what happened with the “Love Canal” in Niagara Falls NY, and closer to
home the Sydney Tar Ponds and even closer with the Halifax Harbour. And while we can’t change the past hopefully
we can change the future.
Bacteriologist Rene Dubos said “The most
important pathological effects of pollution are extremely delayed and
indirect.” We are not just
poisoning this generation but also the next one. Most of us are willing to do
whatever it takes to ensure the safety and well-being of our children and
grandchildren. But are we willing to
change how we live. And I know pollution
and disregard for the environment isn’t a new problem and we’ve come a long way
from open sewers and garbage in the streets and if you don’t believe that than
travel with me to Africa or talk to Andrew about what he saw in Haiti. But we still need to get better at doing
And finally we need to change how we deal with the world For Your God’s Sake If we go back to
the original analogy of the house, someday the owner is going to want it back
and what will we say? I mean seriously
what will we say? Each of those species
that humanity has driven into extinction God created for a purpose and with the
same thought he put into you. Every
river that is now clogged with garbage and chemicals was created pure and
pristine. It goes back to how we treat
the creation is a reflection on how we view the creator.
And maybe part of the problem is when we lost sight of the
command in Genesis 1:27-28 So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God
he created them; male and female he created them. Then God blessed them and
said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the
fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along
the ground.” The command was to fill the world not just the
American author Henry
Miller wrote “What have we achieved in mowing down mountain ranges,
harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or moving whole populations about like
chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same restless, miserable, frustrated
creatures we were before? To call such activity progress is utter delusion. We
may succeed in altering the face of the earth until it is unrecognizable even
to the Creator, but if we are unaffected wherein lies the meaning?”
So what am I calling you to do? Just be responsible, separate your trash,
don’t litter, personally I think people who litter should be publicly flogged
but that is just me. Choose wisely. I’m not the greatest environmental example
but we do drive small cars that get great mileage, I think hummers and
escalades are just dumb, sorry if you drive one but they are. We have water savers on our showers, and
solar hot water at the house, I try not to idle my car like I used to, we have
programmable thermostats and have been replacing our lights with CFLs and LEDs
because if enough people do little things they can make a big difference.
And Cornerstone is working at reducing our carbon footprint
and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.
Through the years we have put in programmable thermostats, motion detectors
to turn off lights when we aren’t using them.
We replaced as many lights as we can with CFLs or LEDs. A few years ago we moved to time of day usage
for our heat which reduces the load we place on NS Power in the winter.
And this year we are embarking on a major project that will
eventually save Cornerstone money and will from the beginning have an impact on
the environment. If you were in the
Congregational meeting we had back in October then you know the basics. The scope has remained the same but the scale
has changed a little bit.
So in late December we started a three phase project that is
designed to save us money, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and ultimately
reduce our carbon foot print. Will it
keep the polar bears from drowning? I’m
not sure but if it cause more people and churches to think about how they treat
creation it might.
So two weeks ago we installed mini split heat pumps to heat
the office space instead of the electric base board heaters that we have been
using. Later this month we will install
2 five ton air to water heat pumps to heat the floor of the building. Continuing to use time of day power the
estimates are that we will be able to reduce our heating costs by an estimated
$5,500.00 a year.
In the spring we will be installing an 11 KW solar array on
the roof of the worship centre. This is
smaller than originally planned but the largest practical array that we can
install. This should produce about
$2,000.00 a year in electricity that will be used or sold back to NS Power.
The price tag on the project is $80,000.00 which will be
covered by an add on to our mortgage.
The first year the projected savings and production will cover the
payments. But each year with increases
in Power it will save us more and more.
The return on investment is estimated to be around 11 years.
And it’s not just to save us money, we are only tenants and
managers and we are ultimately responsible for how we treat what has been given
to us. And it was Albert Einstein who said “It is every man’s obligation to put back into the
world at least the equivalent of what he takes out of it.”
Time and time again in the New Testament Jesus tells us
parables of servants who were trusted with money, talents and properties that
acted foolishly and wasted that which they were entrusted with and in each case
they were condemn. Not excused not
commended but condemned for not doing the best with what they were given by
their master. Interesting.