Every year on the Feast Day of St. Francis, we bring our pets to church, and I have the privilege (as pastor) of blessing them in a special ceremony. It’s kind of a party. It’s always a lot of fun. And, it’s sometimes noisy.
That’s not unusual at our church, because people often bring their dogs (and cats!) every Sunday. But on this special day, we celebrate them specifically. St. Francis, after all, was a guy who paid a lot of attention to animals: he preached to birds, he talked a vicious wolf out of attacking a village, and talked the villagers into feeding him! He also saw all of creation as his brothers and sisters—brother sun and sister moon, brother wolf and sister sparrow.
We need reminding that the natural world is not property for us to own and use as we will—because ultimately, nothing actually belongs to us. All is God’s, and we have been given the responsibility to care for creation—for the earth, for the waters, for the creatures. We have not done a very good job.
God’s dream is to heal everything broken, and our relationship with our planet is broken. Our pets represent the wild natural world—just as we care for them, so it is our responsibility to care for the whole of the earth. They remind us that we are not alone, that we are interdependent, that we are responsible to something (and Someone) more than ourselves.
And so, we bless them. We bless them to say we’re sorry. We bless them to promise that we’ll do better. We bless them because we have so often cursed them. We bless them because they are a blessing to us. We bless them because God’s blessing is for the whole of the earth, not for humans alone. We bless them not because they need our blessing, but because we need to give it. In blessing them, we humans are saved—saved from selfishness and anthropocentrism. We are saved FOR them, to be good and faithful stewards of the gifts that God has placed into our keeping.
And our pets are gifts to us indeed. Please join us on Oct 5 at 5pm as we celebrate the gift that they are to us. Come and be blessed as we bless them.