The Blessing of Animals
During this time of COVID-19 many people have benefited from having companion animals at home …or in our case our daughter’s dog, Alfie.
In so many ways animals, great and small, are a blessing.
In this video we thought we celebrate this … the blessing of animals. On the day this is video is released it will be just over a week till the feast day of the Christian leader who is renowned for his connection with the care of all creation, St Francis of Assisi. His feast day is October 4th
O God, our God, how great you are.
We praise you for your creation and all that is in it … including we humans.
We are in awe at the complexity and beauty of all that is
Thank you for the light which wakes us
morning by morning,
and for the greater light which shines in Jesus Christ.
You are always more ready to reach out to us than we are to reach out you.
Enable us to search our souls and be honest about our need … our need for the hope you offer through Christ … our need for the forgiveness and healing you offer in Christ …
Enable us to receive your love and grace and empower us by your Spirit to live more fully in the way of Christ … loving you, our neighbours and ourselves … and caring for the good gift of your creation.
We pray in the name of Christ, Amen.
Introduction to the theme and reading
Have you heard the quote attributed to St Francis of Assisi to the effect that Christians should preach the Gospel at all times and only when necessary use words? Well, sorry to be a spoil sport but there is no evidence that he ever said this and besides he was well known for preaching with words … apparently, he danced on one occasion when preaching a sermon to a congregation that included the Pope of the day.
That said Francis (who was born in 1182 and died in 1226), and the community of followers that gathered around his leadership, was all about living out the gospel in deed as well as word. His life was marked by shunning of worldly goods, prayer, humility and service of the poor.
As a young man Francis experienced a conversion: he gave up the prospect of a life of power and riches to share in a radical living out of the way of the cross of Christ.
 Michael W. Blastic, “Franciscans” in William H. Willimon and Richard Lischer (eds.) Concise Encyclopedia of Preaching, Louisville Westminster, John Know Press, 1995, p. 158
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.
In “Together in Song” there is a brilliant hymn by William Henry Draper based on the Canticle of the Sun which is a prayer attributed directly to Francis.
Prayer of thanksgiving
God, our Creator,
We give thanks for the blessing of companion animals … and we think of those creatures special to us.
Thank you for the joy, playfulness and sometimes the surprising humour they display. Thank you for their company in lonely hours and the healing their presence can bring. Thank you for the pure beauty of every animal…
Blessed are you, Lord God, maker of all living creatures. You called forth fish in the sea, birds in the air and animals on the land. You inspired St. Francis to call them his brothers and sisters. Help us to care for the animals entrusted to us.
In the name of Christ, Amen.
Prayers of intercession
There is a wonderful prayer which comes probably from the 19th century but reflects the spirit of the ministry of Francis and is associated with him. Let’s make this prayer our prayer …
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is discord, union;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
for your mercy and truth’s sake.
O divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours
now and forever. Amen.
Word of mission
Go forth into the world in peace;
be of good courage;
hold fast that which is good;
render to no one evil for evil;
strengthen the faint-hearted;
support the weak;
help the afflicted;
honour all people;
love and serve the Lord,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you,
and be gracious unto you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you,
and give you peace. Amen.
Unless otherwise stated prayers are either by the author or based on resources from Uniting in Worship 2 © Uniting Church Press, Sydney, 2005. And images are from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain.
 Adapted from prayers found at https://www.humanesociety.org/sites/default/files/archive/assets/pdfs/faith/blessing-of-the-animals.pdf