Pacific Northwest Annual Conference
 Creation-Care, 365

 PNW United Methodists
Caring for God's Creation

Creation Quote:
Thomas Merton

Tools for Renewal:
Christmastide Gems

Small Steps:
"Simplify the Holidays" Pledge

Lectionary Links

Events & Actions:

Creation Keeper:
Covenant UMC


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"CC-365" Archives
Please click on the above link to find an indexed list of our archived issues.
Issue #63 "Christmastide Caring" December 4, 2012

Every year at the beginning of Advent, Creation-Care, 365 offers a variety of ideas and resources for approaching Christmastide with joy -- a joy in knowing that amidst all of the busyness, consumption, and stress of this season, that this is an ideal time to give expression to our faith-filled, creation-caring values.  I'd like to begin this year's issue with a glimpse of how my family tries to approach Christmastide, with the hope that it may help you to think about what is most meaningful and creation-caring in your own celebrations.

When our daughter Thea was born in 2008, my husband Aaron and I decided that we wanted to create
St. Nicholas providing food during famine
St. Nicholas providing food during famine
Artist: Elisabeth Jvanovsky
Source: St. Nicholas Center
Christmas-time rituals that would convey to Thea something of our faith, care for God's planet, and care for other people.  We decided that we wanted to observe a season of generosity (rather than a single, present-opening frenzy on Christmas morning) that begins on St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6) -- the feast day of a "real person" (as Thea likes to say) who shared Christ's love with children and other vulnerable members of his community.  On the night before St. Nicholas Day, Thea puts out a pair of boots; in the morning she wakes to find that "St. Nicholas' helpers" have put simple gifts (e.g., maple candies, an ornament, tickets to a puppet show) in her boots.  From this day until Christmas morning, we read stories about St. Nicholas, Jesus' birth and life, and other special books that help us to talk about why Christmas is so special.*  During these weeks of Advent, we all pretend to be St. Nicholas' helpers and joyfully find ways to share Christ's love with others (e.g., taking treats to our local firefighters, delivering blankets and coats to the cold-weather shelter and hanging out with people there, making simple gifts for loved ones, slowing down and enjoying each other and friends, and making lots! of birdseed and fruit ornaments so that we can do what St. Francis suggested and help God's creatures to enjoy the feast of Christmas).  During this time, Thea also receives and opens gifts from friends and relatives who have a clear sense of what Christmas looks like around our house (because we've told them well in advance) and honor what we're trying to grow here.

Each year on Christmas Eve, we gather with neighbors -- familiar and not -- and friends at our neighborhood park and decorate a large cedar tree with our birdseed ornaments.  Rain or shine, we bring candles/flashlights, hot chocolate, and our best singing voices to celebrate this sacred night together.  Folks come back to our house for more stories* and food; Thea especially loves the moment when she and her friends have a "snack attack" on the annual gingerbread house.   On Christmas morning, we wake slowly, go to church, and then visit and feast with friends/relatives we know would otherwise be alone on Christmas.  

Christmastide is a slow, gradual process in our house . . . one that (hopefully) allows us enough peace to avoid running roughshod over others (including God's creation) and gets us into the habit of noticing and savoring God's grace on a daily basis.  However you celebrate Christmastide in your home, I pray that you will enjoy this precious opportunity to welcome Grace-incarnate into your midst more fully.

Grace and Peace be with you,

Creation-Care Projects Coordinator

PNW Office of Connectional Ministries     



*Here are some of the books we enjoy during this season: St. Nicholas: The Real Story of the Christmas Legend, by Julie Stiegemeyer; Silent Night, by Juliet Groom; Night Tree, by Eve Bunting; The Longest Night, by Marion Dane Bauer; My Very First Bible Stories: Baby Jesus, by Lois Rock; Who Is Coming to Our House?, by Joseph Slate; Joy to the World: Christmas Stories from around the Globe, by Saviour Pirotta; St. Francis and the Nativity by Myrna Strasser; and Song of the Stars, by Sally Lloyd-Jones. 

QuoteCreation Quotes

Thomas Merton   Thomas Merton

In Seasons of Celebration



"The Advent mystery is . . . the completion of all that was still incomplete, all that was still partial.  The Advent mystery in our own lives is the beginning of the end of all, in us, that is not yet Christ.   

And this is surely a cause of joy!"


 SmallStepsTools for Renewal
Green Christmastide Gems
Some of our favorite Christmastide tools from past issues of Creation-Care, 365
Small_StepsSmall Steps... for Greater Good
Take the Pledge: "Simplify the Holidays"
From the Center for a New American Dream (CNAD) Simplify the Holidays booklet



"The holiday season is arguably our greatest cultural paradox. Tradition, family, and faith are obscured by the pressures to spend. We all want to show our loved ones that we care about them, but we don't want to go broke in the process. And isn't it possible to celebrate without leaving a trail of trash that will stay in the landfills long after the season has passed?


"New Dream's [CNAD's] Simplify the Holidays Pledge offers many fun and creative actions you can take to add more meaning and environmental mindfulness to the holiday season. This year, take the pledge to simplify your holidays!"



For further, faithful reflection on the holiday season, please watch the Advent Conspiracy's introductory video.  Then consider taking CNAD's Simplify the Holidays Pledge.  The pledge contains 15, simple/simplifying ideas from which to choose; for example:
  • GIVE THE GIFT OF TIME by creating your own gift card for service (e.g., babysitting, carwashing, petsitting, chores, making dinner, organizing an outing).
  • OFFER TO TEACH A SKILL YOU POSSESS (e.g., knitting, photography, computer skills, financial planning, a foreign language, music lessons, canning, cooking a favorite recipe).
  •  GIVE BACK TO YOUR COMMUNITY by preparing care packages for the homeless, or volunteering at an organization to help those in need during the holiday season.
  • PREPARE YOUR HOLIDAY MEALS with as many seasonal, locally grown, and/or organic foods as possible. 

Lectionary Links
Some excellent, on-line sermon helps -- most of which coincide with the Revised Common Lectionary:
Events & Actions
Autumn 2012 - Winter 2013
Also for Autumn... Sustainable Autumn Living Guide: The Presbyterian Mission Agency offers suggestions on how to live in more sustainable and just ways as you work, eat, celebrate the holidays, and prepare for winter.  
Creation Keepers
Covanent UMC
Covenant UMC
Spokane (WA)

The following comes from Rev. Gregg Sealey, pastor at Covenant UMC, about the church's Advent preparations -- this year and last.  Thanks and blessings, Covenant UMC, on your striving "to live God's love" by fostering a "better world"!

"We used ["Better World Shopper" guide] last year during Advent, and gave every person or family in the church a copy (they could make a donation if they wanted, but we intentionally told people to take one no matter what).  We were trying to increase our congregation's consciousness about how, what and from whom we bought products instead of getting mindlessly swept up in the consumerism of our society.  Our worship team grabbed onto this concept and helped to make it come to fruition last year.  In speaking with people, I tried to impress upon them that we need to be cognizant of the companies that we support, because we must realize that is part of our Christian witness.


"This year, we're building on that concept and connecting somewhat with the group from Advent Conspiracy ( to invite our folks to truly engage the meaning of Advent and Christmas by spending less on meaningless gifts and giving more to causes that make a difference in people's lives.  The invitation this year is to calculate how much less people will spend and give that as a 'love offering' (either by giving a donation to an UMCOR project of their choice, or possibly using our Christmas Eve offering that will go to a local group and international mission) to make a difference in the world."


"Creation-Care, 365" is a free, bi-weekly resource of the PNW Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  Subscribers are welcome to reprint any/all of the materials contained within; cite "Creation-Care, 365," Thanks and God bless you in your creation-caring efforts.