9They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
Today we celebrated the blessing of the animals. And whereas there was one small dog last year that wasn’t excited about a blessing and snapped at my hand – there was another darling dog this year who leaned out several times hoping to give me a ‘kiss’.
There is something interesting about holding our service on the front lawn near our busy corner. I wonder what it looked like to those driving by or waiting at the intersection stoplight. We had set some chairs along the walk for those who might have had trouble walking on the uneven grass. Others brought lawn chairs or blankets from home and sat beneath the trees. We set up a large wood table for an altar and brought out a nice reading desk. On the table were a small bouquet of flowers and the bread and wine for communion. I didn’t wear my usual alb, just my black slacks and clergy shirt, though I wore around my neck a kente cloth stole given to me by my inner city parish in Detroit when I left.
Was it clear to our passersby that this was a worship service? That we came to honor and praise that power of life and love at the heart of existence?
Would people have any appreciation for the sacred texts that had been assembled and preserved over some 1,200 years beginning near the end of the Bronze Age and handed down in its present form for another two thousand years? Handed down because in these jewels of human creation we hear the voice of the divine? Handed down because they bear witness that the heart of the universe is life and love?
Was it clear that this was a gathering taking place in remembrance of that man from Nazareth who fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fish – a sign and promise that the essential and enduring truth of life is found in shared bread? Would they have seen in the act of breaking bread the story of a man whose life was broken upon the cross in order that his life might be in us? Would they have recognized that we were doing something far more than mere fun – something that bears witness to the interconnectedness of all life and to our calling to be caretakers of God’s creation?
Do you think from our small gathering of humans and dogs (all dogs this year) that passersby would know that we are declaring that all things have their origin in this author of life and that all that is is both good and blessed?
Would they know that we are keeping alive the message that all creation was meant to be a chorus of harmony? Would they know that the resurrection of Jesus was divine testimony to the ultimate truth of his life and work – to the ultimate truth of sacrificial love? Would they know that we are seeking to align ourselves – like a compass needle to magnetic north – with a world where swords are beaten into plowshares and the lion lies down with the lamb? A day when all the earth is reconciled and imbued with the Spirit of God? A day when every debt is lifted and every tear wiped away.
Do even we who are gathered together understand all this?
Probably not. But we keep telling the story. We keep reading the ancient texts. We keep acting out the sacred drama of shared bread. We keep singing the hymns and offering the prayers and opening ourselves to that divine Spirit in hope and confidence that we will be shaped by it, that we will know something of its lasting peace, its enduring compassion, its profound courage, its imperishable life.