Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.


Meaningful Gifts Redefine Christmas

What do you give to the person who has everything? What about a goat? Or perhaps a flock of chickens? Not only will the gift of a goat or chickens be unforgettable, it will be a more lasting present than most of the gifts given this year.

Of course, I’m not actually suggesting that you pack up a goat and ship it off to your Mom and Dad. The goat might keep the grass cut and the chickens could well provide some tasty eggs for breakfast, but livestock would be more imposition than gift for most Americans. But if the animals are given through Heifer Project International, the gift of livestock can transform a whole community over time.

I have seen this on the ground while working in Tanzania. The church I worked with there as an intern in 1998 took part in Heifer Project. The community had a cow that was donated by a person in America. The cow had gone to one family who raised it until the cow gave birth to a calf. They kept the cow and gave the calf back to the project, making their local Heifer chapter self perpetuating. Through a single donation, many families came to have a steady source of milk and a minor source of income. This is just one example of the many development programs offered at Any of these gifts will still be helping another community long after the latest electronic gadgets have become obsolete.

Heifer Project itself is just one example of several ways in which you can change your pattern of giving in a way that makes the world a better place to live. After all, Christmas is a time of giving to others. Yet much of this giving does a little to stimulate the economy, but does nothing to provide any lasting change. Much of the giving we do accomplishes nothing toward Jesus’ command to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and clothe the naked.

The rest of today's religion column is online here: Meaningful Gifts Redefine Christmas



  • At 12/12/2008 6:04 AM, Anonymous kelly said…

    In my previous church, we participated in a project like this one with our VBS children, and, we managed to buy livestock with loose change. The first day the children donated all the pennies they could find around the house, in the car etc. The next day it was nickels, and so on. By the last night, our 80 kids had enough loose change to buy livestock for a family in Africa. I actually think it was a goat! :)

  • At 12/13/2008 9:26 AM, Blogger Lauralew said…

    I talked to my family about reducing the gifts to the grandkids and buying a goat for a family, etc, and the hostility to that idea was incredible. So hopefully time will help with that particular paradigm shift!


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