4 October 2015
St. Francis’ Day
Pet Blessing and Harvest Home
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
We go off script on this Sunday, using lessons appropriate for pet blessing and the idea of bringing home the fruits of the harvest. So, there is no link to the lessons on line. You’ll just have to dig out a Bible and look them up.
I must confess, I am not a pet person. We have two dogs currently, but I think of them as Shelley’s dogs. Most of the time, I see them as a nuisance. I know I am in the minority here, and do understand the attraction of animals as pets.
The choice of the Genesis lesson may seem odd for a pet blessing. The lectionary assigns this reading as one of the options for this Sunday, anyway, as the background for Jesus’ saying against divorce (of which, more another time). What I find intriguing is that God decides it is not good for the human to be alone, and desires to create “a help meet for” the human being (KJV). The Hebrew for help is ezer, which implies no sense of inferiority. The word is often applied to God. The footnote in the KJV says the Hebrew says “a help as before” the human being. The implication is a face-to-face relationship. God creates all the animals as our equals for mutual help. The Genesis passage then connects the creation of animals with human intimacy. Our relationship to God’s creation is to model and be modeled on human intimacy and commitment: the two become one flesh. Of course, Genesis has in view also the one flesh of any children. All of creation is one household, in which we have the role of stewards. The human being is wed to the whole of God’s creation. This is a much richer relationship than we usually account between ourselves and the cosmos.
As children, we often learn of the gift of biological life through pets. We see kittens or puppies born. We see goldfish die. We grieve a beloved dog’s death. We learn to feed and walk and groom and otherwise care for a favorite pet, and the consequences of a failure to care. The biblical view of all the animals and the rest of a creation is not of a resource to be exploited, but a partner to love.
Even the readings about sowing and reaping give the same impression. The sustenance provided by farming is not a resource to be exploited, but a gift to be used, and not just for our own benefit, but to lubricate the flow of gifts throughout God’s household. This would be a great Sunday for a stewardship sermon. Having pets (particularly as children) teaches us how we are related to God’s creation and to one another.