On Sunday afternoon, the front lawn of the church will be overrun with all species of God's creation for our annual pet blessing from 1-3 p.m. It is a fun celebration wherein we gather in the spirit of Saint Francis, who himself lived in harmony with creation, to enjoy the animals entrusted to our care. Amidst all of the sniffing, barking, meowing, and squawking, we ask God's blessing upon the animals that capture our hearts and become part of our families.
As we gather together, we do so to recall a vital aspect of our faith as Christians. We believe that all God created is good, as stated in the first chapter of Genesis. However, when man turned away from God the consequences affected all of creation. God placed man as the tenant or manager over his creation.
When man turned to his own interest and desires, it disordered his God-given role in creation. It is a reminder to us all that sin always affects others. Sin is never contained, solely affecting the one who sinned. Part of the consequences were that the earth was subject to futility, to borrow Paul's language (see third chapter of Genesis). The ground would not bear its fruits without toil and labor. Man's motives became self serving, disordering his role as manager over the animals.
The amazing, merciful, and beautiful reality is that the story does not end here. When Jesus died for us, he not only redeemed us but all of creation with us. Jesus' blood shed upon the cross covers our sins, and also those of the earth (quite literally). It begins God's process of restoring creation. Paul reminds us in Romans that all of creation (the land, its creatures, and ourselves) is being freed from the bondage of sin. He uses the image of childbirth to indicate how the process has begun, but is not fully realized or completed.
Sunday as we gather to bless our pets, or perhaps to adopt one just blessed from the Canine Soulmates adoption agency, we do so to recall and participate in what God is doing. Over a hot dog, ironic choice of food I now realize, we celebrate all that God is accomplishing as he redeems the whole of his creation. And as my wife likes to joke, we let our minds wander to envision what more obedient creatures look like in God's fully restored creation and kingdom! So grab your pet(s), invite your friends and neighbors, and enjoy fellowship during our annual pet blessing as we remember God's great plan for us all.