Fulfilling Christ's call to love God, live in community, and serve our neighbor

A sustainable Moravian Christmas

December 2015: Environmental Stewards Team says celebrating can be environmentally responsible

I saw Christmas trees rolling down Interstate 81 on Nov. 5. A week later trees were offered for sale at the curb in front of some grocery stores. Winston Salem had their downtown decorations up before mid November. The American Holiday Machine has swung into action.

By the time this newsletter is released, we’ll all be humming holiday muzak. So, what should your response be? Do you feel pressured to buy expensive gifts for a long list of people in your life? Perhaps you can take comfort that scripture tells us in both the old and the new testaments that we are to be strangers and aliens in this world. Dare to be different when it comes to gift buying this Christmas. Give out of love and generosity of spirit and try to match your loved one’s needs with the present you place under the tree. Less is more.

Here are some sustainable ideas to guide your preparations this Christmas. As always, the underlying theme is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, a concept well known to Moravians.

• Think carefully about who is on your Christmas list and buy for those special loved ones.

• Try to give gifts that have purpose or meaning.

• Buy local gifts whenever possible. There are some great, unique shops in downtown Winston Salem and elsewhere that offer the wares of local artisans.

• As you shop, cast a discerning eye for quality over quantity. A more expensive item that will last longer is often a much better value for you, your loved one, and the environment.

• Consider vintage gifts which often bear unique qualities.

• Do you have a special talent or two? Painting, knitting, photography, crafting, baking, etc…? Use these God given talents to make handmade, one of a kind gifts for your loved ones.

• For all gifts, whether purchased or handmade, try to avoid materials that are non-sustainable such as plastics or synthetics. Cotton, bamboo and wool are some of the renewable materials.

• How about giving things that teach environmental stewardship? A book on square foot, organic or four season gardening and some basic tools might help create a lifetime gardener. Maimonides penned the famous idea “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

• Don’t know what to give your loved one? Make a donation to your favorite charity in their honor. We have many worthy organizations in our midst: Home Church, Sunnyside Ministry, Crisis Control, Food Bank of NWNC, Salemtowne, or the charity of your choice. Charity Navigator offers a website to help you assess the efficiency and work of many large charities. There are other such websites that offer good information to help you make your decisions.