I was honoured to be asked to speak at St. Martin’s in Shenley for their pet blessing service last Sunday. That’s me in the back row, holding the angry-looking orange cat.
The service was warm and welcoming, and friendly for all ages – we heard the Creation story (with pictures), sang hymns both modern and traditional, and had time to reflect and pray for, and with, each other.
I also learned a fabulous way to add movements to the grace, which I’ll be stealing for my own ministry. It goes as follows:
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (arms out in front of you)
and the love of God (arms crossed over your chest)
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit (hold hands with someone close to you)
be with us all evermore, AMEN. (lift up your joined hands)
Here’s the talk I gave – you’ll need some Play-doh (enough for everyone to have some), but that’s it. Feel free to borrow this for animal/Creationtide services. Thanks go to Sarah Green, the Children and Families Worker at Homewood Road URC, for the idea – the bulk of the credit goes to her.
All-Age Talk on Creation and Pets
Clarify there are no right or wrong answers to wondering questions, and that it’s okay to wonder quietly and not say anything out loud.
I wonder what your favourite part of the story was.
I wonder what the most important part of the story was.
I wonder why God made the world.
I wonder what it feels like to make something.
Somehow ensure everyone has Play-Doh – with large groups, you may want to pass this out ahead of time.
The Bible says we are made in God’s image – that means we’re like God. We can make things, like God. We can love, like God. We can make choices, like God. Our creativity – whether with Play-Doh or paint or problem-solving at work or home or school, or anything else – is God-given. It’s special and important.
Now I would like you to choose somebody near you to take care of your Play-Doh sculpture for you until the end of this talk.
Did you choose somebody you know? Someone you trust? How does it feel to give something you’ve made to someone else to look after?
When God made the world, after allllll that time, he gave it to us to look after. The plants, the air, the water, and these precious animals we’ve brought today to be blessed – they are gifts from God, a sign of his trust.
What does it mean to take care of something?
Now I’d like you to look very very closely at the thing you’re taking care of, which was made by someone else. Can you see fingerprints in it, from where they’ve touched it?
The fingerprints of the one who made something are all over it.
Every one of us is made by God. Individually, uniquely. God’s fingerprints are all over us. And so, because we are like God, we leave fingerprints on the things we touch, and, like God, we have a choice. We can choose to use our hands, to leave our marks on the world – by feeding the animals we love, by watering plants, picking up litter that is hurting God’s beautiful earth, putting things in the recycling instead of the rubbish, by touching animals gently and in ways that are loving – or we can choose to leave fingerprints on the world that are harmful – hurting animals and each other, destroying God’s beautiful creation. We have that choice.
When we bless these animals later, we’re putting our fingerprints on them in place of God, because God’s body isn’t here right now, so it’s OUR job to take care of them FOR God. So I ask you, when you bring your animal to be blessed, or as you sit and watch the animals, think of how the love and care between people and animals is part of the job God has given us, and a way of being like God.
And when you leave this place, during the week to come, I invite you to pause. And look closely. At the falling leaves. At the whiskers on your cat’s face. At your child’s fingers as they sleep. At the arms and hands of the adult who takes care of you. Because when we pause, and look closely at the world around us, we can see God’s fingerprints.