God, goats and gifts

By Cath Taylor

Posted in Faith

“You got me a what?”

Uncle Graham is squinting at your card, breath a little yeasty from the Christmas pudding. Frankly, he’s disappointed. It was socks he wanted. Socks. Or a fishing magazine. He also had his eye on a new case for his iPhone.

You got him a goat from UnitingWorld’s Everything in Common ethical gift catalogue. Worthy, but clearly not his favourite.

“Well, it’s for a family in Zimbabwe…” you tell him, a little flustered. “They’ll breed the goats and with the money they can get for them at the market, they’ll send their children to school. It’s pretty cool, actually.”

Uncle Graham looks skeptical. He doesn’t actually say it, but you can see what he’s thinking: “So you got me nothing. You got them goats, but you got me nothing.”

Let’s face it: not everyone loves goats, and not everyone gets the idea that you bought them something for someone else. (And actually, some people genuinely need socks).

So here you are, with your anxious thoughts about Christmas consumerism, desire to do something to change the world, and cranky Uncle. What to do, what to do?

Maybe you can buy Uncle Graham the socks, buy your seven year-old niece that unicorn cushion she desperately wants (just go easy on the glitter). But don’t stop there. If you’re really about living out the Christmas message, and not just token goat-gifting, sit down and tell your niece the true story of a gift that transforms lives.  

Start it with the birth of a child, born in a part of the world where mothers still give birth in fear of their lives, and tell her what that first life means. Tell her it means you’re on the side of children everywhere born in the dirt, because they are loved and grow up to do great things. Tell her it means every person matters, even if their beginnings are hidden by hay. Angels sing for people like this.

Tell her that’s why you wanted someone to gift a goat in your honour this Christmas – or a beehive, or school stationary. These gifts give people everywhere the chance to make a life for themselves, using the skills they’ve been given, just the way you and I would. These gifts are love in action that extend beyond Christmas time.

Christmas isn’t just about making sure our nearest and dearest have everything they need. Christmas is about being swept up in a powerful gift of love and sharing that as far and wide as we can – the meaning, as well as the outcome.

For more information about UnitingWorld and how to donate, please visit unitingworld.org.au. To purchase a gift from the “Everything in Common” catalogue, please visit the Everything in Common website.

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