Genesis 1:20-25, 28 (NIV)
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Pastor Matt and I got engaged my senior year of college. Shortly after the engagement we made a lifetime commitment. I'm not talking about our marriage, but a commitment to a sweet, fluffy, ball of joyous happiness, a puppy. It all started one day when we went to the animal adoption center not to get a puppy but just to play with the animals. When we arrived it was closed but there was a large van parked in the front. We got out and talked to the driver. He was a rescuer on his way to drop off a litter of yellow lab puppies to a local pet store that had an adoption center. We couldn't resist, we wanted to meet those puppies. Once we got to the store and sat down with the yellow balls of fur we had four dogs in our lap playing and licking. Yet, there was one puppy that was more cautions. She sniffed around, checked us out before warming up to us. After a few minutes of evaluation on the part of the dog, she decided to make us hers. Pastor Matt and I were in love with this cautions, inquisitive, loving puppy who we named “Elsa.” To this day Elsa has brought us joy, love, and companionship. She is truly a gift from God.
Last week in the e-devotion Pastor Tim talked about the festival day of St. Michael and all the angels. Today we celebrate the feast of St. Francis. St. Francis was a well known Franciscan monk in the 1200’s. He had a love for all of God’s creation especially a love for animals. Most churches recognize this feast with a blessing of the pet. We too are celebrating the life of St. Francis by blessing pet this Saturday. (More information about this at the bottom of this email)
From the very beginning God created the animals along with people. Animals are a gift from God and what a wonderful gift they are! God created animals to sustain us, for companionship, and to bring joy into our lives. But with this gift came one of the first commands to “rule over” the animals. To “rule over” doesn't mean to take advantage of or threaten. It means to care for, to protect, and to nurture. This is the first command to be good stewards of the gifts given to us by God. What roles do animals play in your life? How are we caring for God’s creation? How can we be better stewards of the gifts God has given us?
“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.” --Martin Luther
Prayer of St. Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.