God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Why Do We Bless Aninmals?

RiverSong at Matthiessen State Park
Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which You give Your creatures sustenance.
                        St. Francis of Assisi, Canticle of the Sun

When I lived in Rome, one of the school trips we took was to Assisi. While on our way back to our hotel, we came across these Franciscan monks who had a circle of people around them. In their brown robes, sandals and oddly shaved heads, they were dancing and singing about a monkeys and bananas. There was such joy from the monks who were dancing and the kids who were joining in. There was laughter and music. These monks joined an order that follows the rule of Francis – vowing poverty and vow to practice acts of kindness. These simple joyful monks roused my curiosity to learn more about Francis. 
Francis was known as a saint who joyfully sings to nature and loves creation. The hymn All Creatures of Our God and King is based on his prayer the Canticle to the Sun. There are many stories of St. Francis with animals. One story has Francis making a trip through the Spoleto Valley. When he notices a great variety of birds. He ran up to the birds. Instead of taking flight, the birds waited for him and he spoke to them,
“My brother and sister birds, you should praise your Creator and always love him: He gave you feathers for clothes, wings to fly and all other things that you need. It is God who made you noble among all creatures, making your home in thin, pure air. Without sowing or reaping, you receive God’s guidance and protection.”
The birds responded by spreading their wings and stretching their necks. Francis walked among them blessing them. Francis rejoiced and from that day he started inviting all creation to praise their Creator. One of the traditions associated with St. Francis is the blessing of the animals which occurs on the day closest to his birth, October 3rd.
       The question has been asked: why are we blessing animals. In Genesis 1, we learn that God created all creatures on the earth and pronounced them Good. We want to be part of that message that creation is good and loved. So we are inviting the community to bring their favorite animals, to receive a blessing. We will provide time for us to remember those who have lost a companion animal. We will fellowship together over hot chocolate and cookies, and dog treats. Why are we doing this? We are going to be trying a number of new events designed to show that we as a congregation are kind and want to bring the gospel to our community. Some of these new things may do well and we will do them again. Some of them may not succeed and then we will evaluate whether to try them again. You are encouraged to come to show the community our kindness. We encourage you to invite friends and family, neighbors and strangers to come and experience God’s love of all creation.
God of the Sparrow 

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