The Season of Creation - Blessing the Animals
Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger – Senior Chaplain
Each year Christians 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.
The Season of Creation begins on September 1st and ends on 4th October which is the feast day of St Francis of Assisi (1182 -1226). St Francis is the patron saint of ecologists, due to his care for animals - he has a fascinating story on many levels.
One of the traditions that has developed around the story of St Francis is the Blessing of the Animals service. This a chance for people to bring their pets and animals to church to thank God for the joy and companionship that they bring to our lives. It is also a chance to acknowledge our interconnectedness with all creatures. Next year we might get adventurous and try a Blessing of the Animals service in our chapel grounds.
This year at Radford, we still want to give thanks and bless the animals in our midst, so we are holding a Virtual Blessing of the Animals service. You are invited to email photos or videos of your pet to email@example.com. Please include your pet’s name. People can also be in the photo. Photos will be collated and shared amongst the Radford community in Week 1 next term.
When I shared the idea of a Virtual Blessing of the Animals with a Radford colleague, this was her response:
I keep thinking (fondly) of the episode of The Vicar of Dibley, where Geraldine has a special service for the animals. The choirmaster has his mouse peeping out of his top pocket, and Hugo Horton brings Patricia, the stuffed owl. Naturally, the choir sings ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’.
This week, I am babysitting my daughter’s budgie Frankie, who is an incredible “hi vis” yellow, sulphur coloured. So, I am right in the headspace for this, though I prefer my pets to be “without borders.” Every day I feel blessed when the wild birds visit my balcony for a snack, a drink, a bath, or even, for the lone currawong, some Canadian cranberries – sweetened with apple juice, not sugar.
Caring for creation begins with noticing the animals in our midst, wherever we encounter them. In the words of the poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861), the divine is closer than we realise if we take the time to notice:
Earth's crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God,
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.