Marking the Season of Creation

A cuddle for a tabby cat, and Charlie (Year 2) with his dog, Ernie

A cuddle for a tabby cat, and Charlie (Year 2) with his dog, Ernie

Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger, Senior Chaplain

Each year Christians from around the world set aside the month of September to celebrate God’s beautiful earth and to re-commit themselves to preserving and restoring the planet. Known as the Season of Creation, this year’s theme is “Jubilee for the Earth.” 

Jubilee is an ancient, biblical concept that reminds us that ecosystems as well as people need time to rest and rejuvenate. Jubilee enables justice and liberation for people and land. This week we are thinking about creation as the home that we share with all creatures.

‘But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; …and the fish of the sea will declare to you. In His hand is the life of every living thing…’                                                                                       (Job 12: 7, 8b, 10a) 

Pets are one of life’s blessings. Their unconditional love, energy and distinct personalities add a richness to our lives. The cat that I grew up with, ‘Tabitha’ aka ‘Tabby’, was endlessly patient with the large bows that were tied around her neck, and the rides in the doll’s pram that my sister and I subjected her to. 

Katherine and Tilly
My dog Tilly, who I adopted in the Northern Territory when she emerged from the scrub and was trotting around the school grounds looking for an owner, brought me no end of joy. She also caused anxiety due to her mischievous antics! 

After we left the NT and moved to the ACT, we lived next door to an Anglican church. Tilly’s tendency to get out of our large fenced yard was infamous. One day she ran over to the church right as a funeral was finishing. Her energetic frolicking was thankfully well received by those at the funeral who remarked that their loved one had been a dog lover. 

Needless to say, I invested in padlocks for our gates soon afterwards, to make our yard more secure and prevent a repeat performance! 

We share our homes, and indeed our earth, with a huge diversity of fellow creatures. The fragility of our earth is felt by all her creatures – those who walk on the earth on two legs and four, those that fly and those that swim. The devastation caused by last summer’s bushfires had dire consequences for people, land and animals. There has been a 71% decline in koala numbers across northern NSW bushfire-affected areas. Unless change occurs, koalas are under threat of extinction. We also need to consider the ways that introduced species have negatively impacted native flora and fauna. 

Our life together, as creatures co-existing on this planet, is dependent on humans, the creatures whom God has entrusted with the care of creation, playing our part to preserve and nurture our shared home in any way we can. 

Action often begins with noticing and paying attention to what needs there are around us. The following prayer is an invitation to notice and act in tandem with God: 

Loving God, 

We give you thanks for the animals in our homes who de-stress us, comfort us and remind us to have fun. 

Today we offer up prayers for those involved in animal welfare and conservation work: for the RSPCA, the Animal Welfare League, for Earth Watch, World Wildlife Fund, Animals Asia, our local animal shelters and adoption groups. 

We pray for those who are working at policy levels, and for those tending to the needs of animals. 

We pray for the farming communities that have animals in their care. 

We pray for animals without a home; help us not to turn away, but to bring them to a place of safety, where they can be fed, given medical treatment, and the chance to find a loving home. 

Help us to be generous: with money, time, or offer of hospitality within our homes to abandoned pets, or for respite care for pets whose owners are unwell or in hospital. 

We pray for vets, vet nurses and vet practices: enable your wisdom and compassion to be evident wherever there are sick or dying animals under their watch. Enable the animals to sense your presence. Comfort grieving owners. 

We remember our animal companions who are no longer with us physically. We give thanks for the gifts they gave us and the variety of ways they enriched and blessed our lives. 

In Jesus’ name, who loves and cares for all that is,

Amen

 

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