Blessing of the Animals (from Sundays and Seasons)

Sundays and Seasons (DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION)

Blessing of Animals

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Introduction

This service may be used on or near the commemoration of Francis of Assisi, renewer of the church, 1182-1226 (October 4). For practical reasons, an outdoor setting for the service may be preferred. If the service is held indoors, an artful tablescape at the entrance might include feathers, antlers, an abandoned nest or chrysalis, a birdhouse, small cages, fishbowl, leashes, bridles, and the like. A photo display of members with their pets or working animals might enhance informal conversation after the service.

 

Call to worship: Psalm 84:1–4

 

How lovely is your dwelling place,

            O LORD of hosts!

  2My soul longs, indeed it faints

            for the courts of the LORD;

            my heart and my flesh sing for joy

            to the living God.

  3Even the sparrow finds a home,

            and the swallow a nest for herself,

            where she may lay her young,

            at your altars, O LORD of hosts,

            my King and my God.

  4Happy are those who live in your house,

            ever singing your praise.

 

Brief reflection on the Earth as God’s sanctuary, the whole Earth as God’s house.

 

gathering hymn        All things bright and beautiful

Refrain

            All things bright and beautiful,

            all creatures great and small,

            all things wise and wonderful,

            the Lord God made them all.

 

1          Each little flower that opens,

            each little bird that sings,

            God made their glowing colors,

            God made their tiny wings.  Refrain

 

2          God gave us eyes to see them,

            and lips that we might tell

            how great is God Almighty,

            who has made all things well.  Refrain

 

Text: Cecil F. Alexander, 1818-1895, alt.

 

 

Greeting and Prayer

 

The joy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the compassion of God,

and the creative power of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

And also with you.

 

Let us pray.

Source and sustainer of life, we cherish the myriad works of your hands. Water, earth, and sky are yours, as are all their inhabitants, wild and tame. We thank you for creatures that nourish and serve us, befriend, enrich, entertain, and protect us. May we, who are made in your image, care for them well. And may your groaning yet wondrous creation rally and thrive, revealing to all who come after us your wise, redemptive, transfiguring love; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

 

First Reading: Genesis 1:1, 20-28, 31a

 

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,  20God said, "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky."  21So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.  22God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."  23And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

             24And God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind." And it was so.  25God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

             26Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."

             27So God created humankind in his image,

            in the image of God he created them;

            male and female he created them.

  28God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.

 

 

Hymn           This is My Father’s World

 

1          This is my Father’s world,

            and to my list’ning ears

            all nature sings, and round me rings

            the music of the spheres.

            This is my Father’s world;

            I rest me in the thought

            of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;

            his hand the wonders wrought.

 

2          This is my Father’s world;

            the birds their carols raise;

            the morning light, the lily white,

            declare their maker’s praise.

            This is my Father’s world;

            he shines in all that’s fair.

            In the rustling grass I hear him pass;

            he speaks to me ev’rywhere.

 

            Text: Maltbie D. Babcock, 1858-1901

 

 

GOSPEL: Matthew 21:1–5

 

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples,  2saying to them, "Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me.  3If anyone says anything to you, just say this, 'The Lord needs them.' And he will send them immediately."  4This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet, saying,

             5"Tell the daughter of Zion,

            Look, your king is coming to you,

            humble, and mounted on a donkey,

            and on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

 


Meditation

 

 

Prayers of Intercession

 

Let us pray.

Gracious Lord of love, we affirm our vital connection with all living creatures. Empower us to seek their welfare, intervening where needed, defending and tending your world with grace, compassion, and dignity. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Patient Lord of life, guide our choices so that we might safeguard habitats, ensuring, by your grace, that the mysteries and beauties of nature unfold for future generations.

Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Saving Lord of lords, your word foretells a day when the wolf will lie down with the lamb. Renew our vision for the peaceable kingdom. Lord, in your mercy,

hear our prayer.

Hear our prayers, gracious God, for the sake of Jesus, our Savior and Lord.

Amen.

 

 

Blessing of Animals

Almighty and everlasting God, Creator of all things and giver of all life, let your blessing be upon all these animals. May our relationships with them mirror your love, and our care for them be an example of your bountiful mercy. Grant the animals health and peace. Strengthen us to love and care for them as we strive to imitate the love of Jesus Christ our Lord and God’s servant Francis. Amen.

 

The minister/ worship leader circulates through the congregation, asks the name of the animal, places his/her hand on the animal’s head (if appropriate) and then blesses the animal]:

 

[insert name], you were created by God, and you are loved by God.  May you and your human family experience joy and companionship together, and continue to be a blessing to each other.

 

The service continues with the following dialogue.

God is the source and loving sustainer of all that lives—of species endangered as well as those newly discovered and named. Called as we are to wisely care for this diverse and imperiled web of life, let us again offer ourselves as advocates, donors, and active stewards, being reverent and mindful toward all creation.

Water, earth, and sky are home to us all. We accept God's call, in the name of the Good Shepherd who taught us to pray:

 

The Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

            hallowed be thy name,

            thy kingdom come,

            thy will be done,

                        on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses,

            as we forgive those who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

            but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,

            forever and ever. Amen.

 

 

Blessing

Compassion, creativity, and joy are ours through Jesus Christ.

May the Holy Spirit move us to preserve and enhance life on Earth,

giving clear witness to the life-giving purpose of our Creator.

Amen.

 

Sending

Go out into God's world. Live in peace with one another

and with all God's creatures. Thanks be to God.

 

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