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Let there be light

Here are 10 tips to equip church members, families, and individuals to respond to God’s call to care for creation and do justice with our neighbors during this season of Advent and Christmas.


No wonder we celebrate the birth of Christ in the darkest days of the year. Jesus came as the light of the world. However, God has been in the business of lighting up the world from the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:3-4). Look at a traditional nativity scene. See the sheep, the donkey, the cow, maybe even a camel? All creation rejoices in the divine light!

Christmas is a special opportunity to recognize God’s light and love—not only for humans but for all creation. Our response is to love in return.

Share these tips with your family, friends, and congregation. Choose any or all. Forward them to someone you care about. Cut-and-paste to put them with your email signature, in your letters and emails, worship bulletins, newsletters, social media, or website.

    • Christmas lights are symbols of the Light that came into the world with the birth of Christ. Enjoy them and use LEDs wherever you can to take care of the world that Jesus lit up with his presence.
    • Christmas-shop without plastic bags. We’ve been learning to take our own reusable bags to the grocery store. The same principle works in retail stores. Carry in your own bags, politely decline the store’s plastic ones, and tell the clerks you are cutting down on single-use plastic. It’s your gift to the planet.
    • Use and reuse gift bags rather than wrapping paper. While it might be fun to rip and tear into a wrapped present, the fancy paper itself is most likely laminated with plastic, foil, glitter, or other non-paper materials that contaminate a recycle bin. So, go for the bags!
    • Give fair-trade presents this Christmas. Buying fair-trade items provides the creators—farmers, laborers, and artisans—fair prices and stable incomes, reduces poverty, betters working conditions, and promotes environmentally sustainable practices. It’s a just and good deal for all! If you like coffee, explore the Velasquez Family Coffee website. There is a United Methodist connection there!
    • Give presence, not just presents. Give an adventure, an experience that can be shared, talked about, and remembered long after the usual “stuff” has been covered over in the landfill.
    • If you are caught in the dilemma of plastic versus cut versus live and want to make the Christmas tree tradition more eco-friendly, go for an artistic one made of wood. Scroll through these possibilities. Enjoy the creativity of the artisans and the simplicity of a “tree” that is natural, easy to care for, and long-lasting.
    • Give a JeltBelt. Stylish and stretchy, the belts are made from recycled plastic bottles. This gift holds up and cleans up too. Support a company that cares for the earth and give the recipients of your gift something to think about and talk about.
    • In the U.S. alone, coffee drinkers throw away 50 billion coffee cups every year! The Zero Waste Store has a sustainable solution—a reusable glass coffee cup with a grab-band of natural cork upcycled from wine corks.
    • Invite the children to make decorations for Christmas. Show them how to cut snowflakes from recycled paper or create a collage or ornaments using greeting cards from a previous year. Encourage them to find joy in reusing rather than trashing. The learning will carry on past the holidays.
    • Cut down on holiday food waste, which is a key driver of climate change. Send leftovers home with guests after a gathering. Bring your own takeout container when you meet friends for a dinner out. Compost. These simple actions show you care for the earth, for your family and friends, and for all who are and will be affected by climate change.

The United Methodist Creation Justice Movement is providing these tips as a tool to equip church members, families, and individuals to respond to God’s call to care for creation and do justice with our neighbors. For more information, go to umcreationjustice.org.

Last Updated on October 27, 2023

The Michigan Conference