Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Hope You Have a Green Christmas!

Every week the lifestyle section of the newspaper has a "green" page. It's filled with "green living" tips and resources. The information is usually upbeat, positive, and doable for a suburbanite like myself.

Through this section I've learned some useful information. Like, not only how to compost, but why composting keeps methane producing organics out of the landfill. Our family has almost completely eliminated throw-away water bottles because we are aware of the cumulative impact of those ubiquitous containers. We also learned not to idle our cars for more than a minute or two - a hard enough habit to break in our extreme winter climes - never mind all those minutes spent in drive-through line ups. But we kicked the idling habit (with reusable mugs in hand, of course!).

I've reduced my paperback book habit by about 80% by buying ebooks. And even recycled my old obsolete palm pilot into an ereader instead of purchasing a new device. We get one newspaper per week instead of five or seven newspapers (and pay for a full subscription for the priviledge of reducing the waste paper). We cook from scratch (with local ingredients) as much as possible. All these small "green" habits have been encouraged and informed by this one page in our once-per-week newspaper.

So, with that history of great, usable info, I wasn't surprised at the recent "green Christmas" article. Among the now-predictable tips: LCD Christmas lights in modest proportion; a good quality fake Christmas tree; regifting or no gifting; and shopping the local farmers market for locally raised turkeys, to name a few.

I was able to sit back and go, LCD - check, tree - yup (except for the good quality part, our tree is the Charlie Brown equivalent of a fake tree, purchased for $15 one year when money was too tight to afford a real tree and since kept for sentimental - and environmental - reasons), regifting - no problem, and local turkey - we'll see.

But wait a second. That takes care of the world's idea of a green Christmas. What would God's idea be for a green Christmas? I don't think it is just about sewing reusable gift bags.

The Psalmist writes in Psalm 23:
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.  2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
       he leads me beside quiet waters,
 3 he restores my soul.
       He guides me in paths of righteousness
       for his name's sake.

When I think about connecting our spiritual lives (or all of our lives, because according to Rob Bell, Hebrew has no word for spiritual) to the concept of green, this Psalm fills my mind. In verse two the psalmist tells me God makes me lie down in green pastures.

Which is kind of funny because as I write this the lanscape outside my window is blanketed in white. In fact, if Currier and Ives could withstand the -30C temperature + windchill, the setting would make a postcard-perfect painting. The field of white dotted with snow-leaden evergreens might gladden the hearts of those wishing for a white Christmas, but to me the sight represents months of difficult, cold winter until the advent of spring.

The fact is, I'm not getting anywhere near a green pasture in the near future and I'm well past the age when the idea of lying in the white field outside my window holds any appeal.

What I find interesting about this Psalm, is the original audience lived in an arid land. Green pastures would have been as rare, or more rare, than they are in Alberta, Canada. The land God gave to Israel wasn't a perpetually lush land. The people would have waited for the rains that brought rich grazing to their flocks with every bit as much anticipation as I look forward to spring thaws.

Our lives are like that. For the most part, much of our lives are barren and dry (or cold and white), or to use the Psalmist's next image, like wind-tossed seas. But this is not the condition God created us for. He created us to be under his care, well-fed, refreshed, and renewed in his presence. But it gets better. There is a reward for allowing God to shepherd us. From his presence our souls are restored and we are led into righteousness, for his name's sake (to Christ's glory). Is there a more beautiful metaphor for the simplicity of God's relationship with us?

This Christmas season, when you read about a "green Christmas" and do all the small things you can do to be a wise steward of what God has provided, will make small adjustments to your daily life to be more, or rather, experience more "green?" Will you leave your barren and dry or storm-tossed life for a few moments or minutes or hours to place yourself in your true Shephard's care? Will you be renewed in green pastures and refreshed beside still waters?  Will I?


  1. Good Morning Everyone! It's the first really bad weather of the winter season here in upstate N.Y. Sleet for me, strong winds, rain and then blowing snow coming later. Roads closed, traffic lights not working.
    Probably the story in quite a bit of the country.
    So I pray a safe drive for you and your loved ones!

    Wenda I so appreciate your thoughts today on a green Christmas. There's no surprise that green and blue are considered the calming colors. God used them in abundance in His garden. Maybe green is his favorite color too. I think there are more greens in this world than any other color. Like Jill's post yesterday, we need to remember to walk with Him there and find rest.

    Stay warm and dry, friends!

  2. Good Morning Debra,

    Sometimes I find that when the storms rage outside, it's a great time to retreat an refresh inside.

    Stay warm and safe!

  3. On the green issue, I've always been frugal, which often translates to being green. I am legendary for reusing gift bags.

    My favorite part of your post today, though, was the passing comment by Rob Bell, about the Hebrews not having a word for spiritual. Spiritual was normal life to them. I love taking a fresh look at the Bible through Hebrew eyes. They had a very right brained and holistic sort of culture. That fits my way of thinking and living.

    By the way, it's gray and dreary in Virginia today, but at least it's warm.


  4. It's very cold here in Washington, but I'm so thankful it's not white like it is in Alberta!

    Thanks for this reminder about being renewed and refreshed. I always have the water, but I forget about the green pastures. There is something so calming and soothing to me about taking a drive out in the countryside. I think I need to do that very soon. Thanks Wenda!

  5. Even the roads are white in Alberta this week!

    Hubby and I just came in from pushing out a car stuck in front of our driveway. Third vehicle this week.

    Why don't people understand that rear-wheel drive cars do not belong in this part of the world?

    Okay, back to my "green" place.

  6. So often we settle and think this is as good as it's going to get for us, but i think god wants so much more for us. The trick is listening to the shepherd's voice and following him to those hidden pastures where we can rest in him.

  7. Great pondersome post, Wenda!

    My part of Virginia is green and warm-ish (I suspect it's warmer outside than inside my house) with a touch of wet, murkiness. I might have overdressed my kids for school.

    Now I better get to what I was gonna get to on the family computer becuase typing on it is paining my back. Plus Rush Limbaugh is about to begin and I can't listen to him with Max and Ruby on.

  8. Wonderful post, Wenda. Like Dina, I also loved that passing comment by Rob Bell. (That man is anointed!) And I love your reminders to lean toward simplicity in all things and to rest in the Lord.

    As for greening my Christmas... There are so many things we can do, and I don't even scratch the surface. Like Dina (I think we're the Wonder Twins lately, Dina! Maybe it's from reading the same books) I re-use giftbags. When they're haggard I tear the handle part off and recycle the bag part.

    Another thing I'm doing is looking at the labels of things I buy. Sometimes it is worth it to me to pay a little more for something that originated closer to home.

    Thanks, Wenda. God has truly been speaking to me this week about the lack of balance in my life. I appreciate your words!

  9. Beautiful post, Wenda. I like thinking of going to my "green place" with the tie-in to Psalm 23.
    Where's my green place today? I'm going to have to find it in His presence, because my house is a mess, I still haven't put up my tree, and here in Colorado this morning it's -35C. Frozen nose hair weather. Thank God I can live from the inside out, and spiritual realities are far more valuable than natural things!

  10. Though a blizzard is having its way with Normal, just staggered to my favorite latte time with a soulmate~

    Whew! Going green? We're working on it here in Normal! The compost is churning out good bacteria--though it's frozen!!

    Go figure!!


  11. Hi Wenda,
    Thanks so much for this post. I have to admit that I have to work a little bit harder at being a good steward. Especially when it comes to plastic bottles out of the vending machine at work.

    If you didn't see Suzie's last post to my walking info yesterday I would encourage you to go read it. I think she's found her green place with God and we need to pray her to be able to walk in it again.

    It's really windy here today in Cincy and the temp is going to drop to the point that it's only 24 tomorrow. Yuk. And my students are graduating from the college of nursing. I think I'll temporarily move my walking area into the local museum and look for a green place of rest in a beautiful landscape. Keep warm!

  12. Hi Wenda,

    I enjoyed your posting today...especially about placing yourself in 'your true Shepard's care.' That line spoke to me...

    Stay warm.


  13. Today was a day to retreat and refresh for me.
    Blessings, andrea

  14. Hey Wenda, we have the same weather here in Saskatchewan. And the trees look lovely all decorated in frost!

    We are slowly switching over to the new lights. They had an exchange program here for a couple weeks where you get 50% off a new light set if you bring an old string but we missed it. Hopefully they'll have the same thing next year again.

    And I love the aspect of saving trees by reading ebooks.

    Love the referral to Psalm 23. Good analogy.

    Great post, Wenda.


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