Many congregations hold a “Blessing of the Animals” service on or around October 4, the commemoration of St. Francis of Assisi. St. Francis was known for his care for the poor, his simplicity of life, and his love of nature. Francis exemplified a spirit of honor, love, and respect for all living things, regardless of status, and is remembered for preaching to a flock of birds.
Francis preached to the birds about God’s loving care for them. At the end of his sermon to the sparrows, he offered them a blessing. Numerous Christian communities follow the example of Francis by offering prayers of blessing for our non-human kin.
As we participate in the blessing of the animals, we affirm our connection with one another and all God’s beloved creation. Within this blessing lies promise, commitment, and inspiration to care for what belongs to God, to live together in peace and harmony, and to embrace our calling to be good stewards of all that God has made.
This message is excerpted from “Living creatures of every kind” by Julie Kanarr in the October 2017 Gather magazine. Today we commemorate Francis of Assisi, renewer of the church, 1226; and Theodor Fliedner, renewer of society, 1864.
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