Environment Sunday 

17th July 2022

Our church is dedicating this Sunday to the Environment as well as holding baptisms. 

Readings 1 Corinthians 12. 12-27 (The Message)

Each of us is now a part of Christ’s resurrection body, refreshed and sustained at one fountain—his Spirit—where we all come to drink. The old labels we once used to identify ourselves—labels like Jew or Greek, slave or free—are no longer useful. We need something larger, more comprehensive. I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. If Foot said, “I’m not elegant like Hand, embellished with rings; I guess I don’t belong to this body,” would that make it so? If Ear said, “I’m not beautiful like Eye, transparent and expressive; I don’t deserve a place on the head,” would you want to remove it from the body? If the body was all eye, how could it hear? If all ear, how could it smell? As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it. But I also want you to think about how this keeps your significance from getting blown up into self-importance. For no matter how significant you are, it is only because of what you are a part of. An enormous eye or a gigantic hand wouldn’t be a body, but a monster. What we have is one body with many parts, each its proper size and in its proper place. No part is important on its own. Can you imagine Eye telling Hand, “Get lost; I don’t need you”? Or, Head telling Foot, “You’re fired; your job has been phased out”? As a matter of fact, in practice it works the other way—the “lower” the part, the more basic, and therefore necessary. You can live without an eye, for instance, but not without a stomach. When it’s a part of your own body you are concerned with, it

makes no difference whether the part is visible or clothed, higher or lower. You give it dignity and honour just as it is, without comparisons. If anything, you have more concern for the lower parts than the higher. If you had to choose, wouldn’t you prefer good digestion to full-bodied hair? The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other

part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body— that’s who you are! You must never forget this.

Gospel Reading – John 4.13-14

Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’


Loving God, by whose great generosity we are granted the gift of life, so breathe on the spark of your presence within us, that we

 burn with a flame of love that banishes our fear, and lights up the world around us. We ask this in the name of Jesus, Light and life of the World. Amen.


Baptism services remind us that we are all one community, one body in Christ. No one can say to someone else you don’t belong here, or go away, we don’t need you. We are all equal and important and necessary just as we are.

Today I want us to think about the world. 

Lots of people and lots of birds and animals, fish and insects and creepy crawlies and the list goes on –  live here.

What can you see?

A polar bear.   A sand martin.   An orang-utan.  A bee.   And a whale.

Orang-utans live in great tropical forests. They depend upon the forests for food and shelter, as a well as a  place to live and to play. But the forests where they live are being chopped down and cleared away to make space for acres and acres of palm oil plantations to make lipsticks and margerine, shampoo and pet food, sunscreen and bio diesel. When the forests go, the orang-utans have no where else to live. It seems as if we are saying to the orang-utans ‘Go away you don’t belong here’.

Polar bears live in the Arctic where they go hunting across the ice. They dive into cracks and holes in the ice to catch fish and seals. But climate change is making the world hotter and the ice is melting. Without the ice the polar bears cannot hung fish and seals. Instead they and their cubs starve. It seems as if we are saying to the polar bears, ‘If you can’t cope with climate change and melting ice caps, then we don’t need you.’

Sand martins spend the winters in Africa and the summers in Europe. In the spring they fly thousands of miles across the Sahara to Britain and in the autumn they fly the same thousands of miles back. But climate change is making the world hotter and when they fly over the Sahara Desert, the air is so hot that many martins simply cannot cope and they fall to the ground. It seems as if we are saying to the sand martin ‘If you can’t cope with climate change, then there’s no place here for you any more.’

Around the world in different oceans live whales. Whales get caught up in fishing tackle and crashed into by shipping. They are disoriented by noise from oil exploration. Every year fewer and fewer whales are born. It is as if we are saying to the whales, ‘Go away, we don’t need you’.  

But we do need whales! They are amazing creatures. In the oceans there tiny tiny things called phytoplankton that, like leaves on trees, convert carbon dioxide and sunlight into oxygen and energy. And phytoplankton provide food for slightly bigger plankton and the plankton provides food for all manner of other sea creatures – including whales. But there is one thing that phytoplankton needs and that is iron. And do you know where that iron comes from? Whale poo! If oceans are to remain healthy with phytoplankton providing oxygen and energy for plankton and seaweed, and  fish and other sea animals, then we need  whales.

What about bees? Bees live in lots of different parts of the world feeding on nectar from plants. But we have been getting rid of wild plants and hedgerows, and spraying fields with herbicides so that there is not enough food for the bees. And we have been spraying crops with pesticides that kill not just the ‘pests’ but the bees too. Every year there are fewer and fewer bees. It is as if we are saying to the bee, ‘Go away, we don’t need you.’ 

But we do need bees. Without bees to fertilise crops we won’t have apples and pears, or strawberries and cherries, or figs and kiwi fruits, or almonds, avocados, mangos …. the list goes on and on. 

If we are not going to say to bees and whales, to orang-utans and polar bears, to sand martins and to so many other amazing creatures – we don’t need you, you’re not part of our world, then we have to change the way we live. We are one body, we are one world.


Take a look at your left foot. Think about people who cannot move freely, perhaps because of illness or disability; perhaps because of imprisonment; perhaps because they are women. Think too of animals that cannot move freely. May they be treated with compassion. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now look at your other foot. Think about people who are having to flee from danger: from war and fighting,  from oppression and prejudice, from poverty, from floods , from wild fires, and from hunger. Think too of wildlife that is being forced out of its natural habitat. May they be protected and welcomed. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now look at your hands. Think about people who use their hands to stack supermarket shelves, sew clothes, pick fruit and vegetables – especially those in poor working conditions. Think about people who use their hands to care for others:  cleaners, nurses, care workers. Think of those who use their hands to care for the environment. May they all be treated fairly, may they be valued and supported. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now think of your bottom. Think of times when it is easier to sit back and do nothing, times when it is easier not to stand up for those in need: people in our own country who have to rely on food banks; people  in North Africa facing hunger as wheat prices rise; seabird colonies facing extinction because of bird flu, the world as it struggles with the climate crisis. Give us courage to act for we are all body. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Now think of your heart: think of all those you love and all who love you. We pray for those in need of healing and comfort: Angela Robinson, Jeane Dunsford, Alban Clarke, Joy Clarke, Lawrence Bell-Wright

We remember those who died recently: Pat West, Iris Lofting, Isabel Howlett, Hazel Acus, Anne Lawry, Peter Rivett.

and those who have died in past years: David Brown, Derek Marshall

Unite us all in your love.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Lastly try and look at the end of your nose. Think of those things which are hard to see, those things we would rather not see, those situations we would rather overlook: poverty, injustice, homelessness, hate, prejudice. Give us wisdom to understand ourselves and the world in which we live and to tend to its needs. May we be agents of change.

Lord in your loving kindness:

Hear our prayer. 

Merciful creator and Father

 accept these prayers for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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