Called to serve God by increasing awareness of His presence and declaring His love



In times past people took their dogs to church and straw mixed with rosemary was often placed on the floor, and incense would have sweetened the air.

This month we are welcoming our pets to church. Humans, like animals, have senses and when all our senses are engaged in worship we are most truly ourselves before God. A Service of the blessing of pets is a wonderful opportunity to thank God for the gift of animals, and for us to ask God’s blessing on all that he has made. A blessing involves praise of God; the wish that spiritual good fortune will go with what is blessed and dedicates someone or something for a sacred purpose. A blessing also reminds us that all good gifts are gifts from God.

The animals of God’s creation inhabit the skies, the earth, and the sea.

They share in the fortunes of human existence and have a part in human life.

God, who confers gifts on all living things, has often used the service of animals or made them reminders of the gifts of salvation.

Animals were saved from the flood and afterwards made a part of the covenant with Noah.         (GENESIS 9:9–10)

Animals bless us with their playfulness and affection and simply through their trusting presence.

Throughout the Bible, God is likened to many animals. God has given us these stories to show us what he is like and to help us discover how we are meant to trust him.

In the beginning, when God created the heavens and earth, he gave us the gift of all the living creatures to live with us on the earth, both the tame and the wild animals. God loved the creatures and gave us the job of naming them and caring for them.

Each creature had its own special purpose and beauty. In the pages of the Bible, God compares himself to some of these creatures to help us understand what he is like.

First there is the majestic eagle. God told Moses that he had carried his people on eagle’s wings when he brought them out of Egypt to freedom. He had taught them to fly, just like an eagle teaches its young, nudging them out of the nest but then swooping down to catch them when they are falling.

Next there is the mighty lion. The prophets talked about God roaring from Zion, and the tribe of Judah is described as a lion’s cub. In the last book of the Bible, Revelation, God is described as the Lion of the tribe of Judah.

We then have the gentle dove. She is an image of the peaceful love of God who brought the news of dry land to Noah. She also descended on Jesus at his baptism, when the Father spoke and said that he was pleased with his beloved Son.

And then there is the poor goat. In a particular ritual in the Old Testament, the high priest used to lay his hands on a goat as a symbol of putting all the mess and failure of God’s people in one place. Then he sent that goat – the scapegoat – away into the desert as a visual aid of what God wants to do for us, to send away all that is bad in us.

The innocent lamb is often used as picture of God across the Bible. It was a lamb that was provided to rescue Isaac, and a lamb that was taken to the temple to die as a sacrifice, even though it didn’t deserve death. John the Baptist described Jesus as the Lamb of God and, at the end of the Bible, God is described as a lamb that has been killed but is now on the throne in heaven.

God is also likened to the loving hen. She provides us with a picture of the great compassion of God, who wants to gather us as his children safely under his wings.

And finally there is the steady ox. Jesus uses the image of oxen yoked together as a picture of what it means to become his follower. We are to link up with him, like one ox to another. It is a picture of God walking alongside us and sharing our load.

I wonder which image of God you like the best?

I wonder which image will stay with you and help you in the rest of the week?

Whatever the animal, let us remember that God carries; God protects; God inspires; God takes away our sin; God takes our place; God loves; and God walks alongside us.

From all that dwell below the skies

Let songs of hope and faith arise

Let peace, goodwill on earth be sung

Or barked or howled by every tongue!