07 October 2007

Celebrating animal friends

Our animal blessing was this afternoon in the churchyard at Our Saviour. The 7th annual, honoring St Francis whose feast day is October 4th -- offered to the community and benefiting our local animal rescue and adoption non-profit, All God's Creatures. Today was the best attended of the seven and raised the most money to date.

In general, things went well, if you're not looking for great liturgy. The person who normally plays the keyboard had the opportunity to see her son who was passing through Charleston and, good for her, took it. So, we sang a capela -- one verse of All creatures of our God and King as an opener and wound our way through all the verses of All things bright and beautiful while the offering was taken up. Whitby, one of our two dogs, couldn't resist and sang along. The laughing overtook the singing a time or two. The meditation was met with significant canine competition. But, the kisses I received when I went animal-to-animal for the blessing bought wholesale forgiveness.

The dogs were, however, doing what they do, what they're supposed to do -- barking at each other, not paying attention to humans, sniffing everything and everybody. In fact, the most tense moments during the hour weren't actually caused by the dogs, but by "owner error." For example, when two dogs wind leashes around the ankles of a human, who was holding those leashes and who didn't disable their extension/retraction feature for the occasion? I could go on ...

The meditation I offered was an exerpt from a longer sermon by the Rev'd Dr Scott Cowdell entitled "Animal Care and the New Creation" and is included here.

Blessing animals is a reminder that God is bigger than our own hearts, and that God's purposes take in all creatures. We bless them today to recognize their importance in their own right -- that their being and their end is God's to give and part of God's plan. Blessing animals is a sign of humility and respect on our part, and an admission that humans aren't the centre of everything.

Moreoever, the animals we bless today are our companions. They're part of our lives, they share our homes, the mammals among them may even share our joys and sorrows. ... Because they're our companions, our friends, we're reminded that friends aren't there to be used; they're not part of any calculation of our own benefit. Friendship is one of life's great, unmerited gifts, and a sign of God's care for us. Friends are the tonic of life, and our animal friends are no exception. So our blessing today is also an act of love, of friendship and of thankfulness.

Refreshments were served. Dog biscuits for dogs and dog biscuit-shaped cookies for the humans. Yes, there is such a cookie cutter. The three cats were left out at refreshment time and didn't seem to care.


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