"As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark." (Genesis 9:9-10)
And here we are, in 2009, and we still marvel at a rainbow after a storm, the "bow" that was placed in the sky as evidence of the promise made by God to the beloved people and to all the animals of the earth.
We are here today with more evidence of God's love – our pets— to bless these faithful companions of ours. I am sure that God smiles in love at each one of our precious friends – at the love we hold for them and even more so for the unconditional love that they hold for us.
The break neck speed at which we live our lives hardly leaves time for a pet yet there they are …always glad to see us …always ready for us to be with them…they make the most of every moment we give them.
They seem to realize that in spite of our daily anxieties, our frustrations, the time spent away… their job is to love us…regardless… faithfully… steadfastedly….
Sort of like the love that God holds for us – unconditional… faithful… steadfast…
There are many things that we can learn from these faithful companions so it seems important to recognize this love today and to turn some of it back their way.
In that most individuals of the world are not able to have the luxury of pets for the sole purpose of loving them, we need to be especially thankful for this point of privilege in our lives. And it is a point of privilege.
"An estimated 16,000 children die from hunger –related causes every day." …Even in our city that has so much poverty, it is difficult to imagine children starving to death. Yet it is real in far too many places.
In many parts of the world, one animal can mean the difference between life and death. A goat, a cow, or flock of chickens – these are more than pets… if we can imagine the idea of "more than a pet."
These animals are capable of making the difference between poverty and self-sufficiency – the literal difference between life and death.
[If you want a chance to learn more about giving an animal to someone across the world…to someone who needs us to make that difference check out the Episcopal Relief and Development web site – www.er-d.org/giftsforlife.]
We live in a time that calls for radical change. It is a time of transformation, of deliberately learning how to give love rather than just be recipients of love…of learning how to love regardless…faithfully…steadfastedly…
God put these animals in our care. With all the animal abuse and puppy mills in the news lately, one can wonder just why God chose to trust us with these precious gifts. But they have lessons for us to learn.
As a part of the process of transformation – from these animals, whether we have them for our own love-and-be-loved-selves or whether we give one in an effort to make a difference, these animals teach us what it is to be selfless…what it is to love without thought of self…what it is to be faithful.
They give us comfort…they recognize our moods…they can even save our lives…they offer themselves to us wholly during our times of happiness or sorrow. They will give us everything they can…
Like God, all they want from us in return is our love…
Our animals are about to receive a blessing. In that moment and forever more, let us realize them for the blessings that they are. Amen.