Jesus, the Savior of the world, was born in the simplest of settings, a manger, surrounded by nature, and illuminated by a bright star in the sky. Jesus, Son of God, is the greatest gift from God. Jesus found joy and sustenance in God’s creation, the natural world for which we all depend. Heavenly gifts – friends and family, love and hope, sun and rain – do not require a trip to the store or the perfect wrapping; they are part of the perfect harmony of God’s Creation, Our Common Home, and it is our responsibility to honor and protect these wondrous gifts. This requires heartfelt resistance to the intense forces of materialism in our world.
As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, let us offer gratitude for all the wonderful gifts from our Creator. The renewed connection to God through his Son at Christmas time strengthens our minds and hearts to appreciate the natural beauty of the world and to fully revere the earth. Amidst the secular influences, we strive to keep the reason for the season always in our hearts and in our actions and to focus our eyes on the simple, beautiful gifts of the Creator.
Julie Peller Ph.D. is an environmental chemist (Professor of Chemistry at Valparaiso University ) and she leads the Environmental Ministry at Nativity of Our Savior in Portage IN. Julie has been writing a weekly column for church bulletins for the past ~5 years called the Green Junction and is helping to move the call of Laudato Si to action forward. Her Research Interests are in Advanced oxidation for aqueous solutions, water quality analyses, emerging contaminants, air quality analyses, Lake Michigan shoreline challenges (Cladophora, water, and sediment contaminants), student and citizen participation in environmental work.