Receiving a Goat for Christmas

Goats are at the top of my Christmas giving list this year. I’ve also been encouraging family and friends, especially children, to add a gift selection from the Gifts for Life Catalog to their wish list for Santa. I decided to practice what I preached and ordered a goat for my own child’s Christmas stocking. While I was at it, I also ordered goats for my new goddaughter and her sister. I thought the gift of generosity to those in need and a practiced faith was among the better gifts a new godmother could give.

As I filled out the online order form, I wondered, what would it be like to actually receive one of these goats? How would I react if I depended on the arrival of a goat on my farm to actually feed my family? I’m sure I’d see the goat as cute, and I would smile in delight as it arrived at my farm. But I would surely also see it as a source of milk for my children, supplying them with much-needed protein and calcium. I could make cheese with this milk, providing food for myself and my neighbors. Maybe I could even sell the milk and cheese to others in my community and earn some cash from this goat? I could feed myself, I could feed others. What joy! What possibilities!

Gifts for Life, Development, Goats, Family, Episcopal Relief,

I would need to water and feed this goat. Many who depend on goats for milk might not have clean water available for both themselves and their livestock. I would hope I had clean water, land, a fence and shelter to protect my goat. Once a valuable gift like a goat is received, you have to be a good shepherd of it.

As our own Good Shepherd cares for us, providing us with clean water and food to sustain us, we might imitate Christ by being a Good Shepherd of our own gifts of talents, time and money. We all came into this world with nothing; everything we have was given to us in some way by others and by the grace of God. Like a good shepherd, we need to take good care of our gifts, making sure they are used in the best ways possible.

As we send Gifts for Life to others this year, I pray we might imagine receiving the gifts we send, whether it is a goat, a cow, seeds, or simply money for vaccines or malaria nets. I pray we might imagine not having these life-giving necessities, then imagining the joy, the surprise, the delight – along with the possibilities – of suddenly being able to use these gifts to sustain both ourselves and others.

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Cynthia Coe is a Christian formation consultant and writer of the Abundant Life Garden Project, a children's curriculum by Episcopal Relief & Development.

Photo courtesy of Harvey Wang for Episcopal Relief & Development.

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