There is a sacred bond between human beings and their animal companions. In recognition of this bond Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church holds an annual “Blessing of the Animals” on the front steps of the church. Church members, and members of the community, are invited to bring their pets, or pictures of their pets, and introduce them and have them blessed with the words “Bless you [name of animal], you are part of God’s creation.” In most years the exuberant congregation is made up mostly of dogs and their people, but cats, birds, turtles, guinea pigs, lizards, and snakes have also attended.

Because animals are not well known for their interest in sermons the ceremony is short, and often noisy, making it a wonderful event for young children. The message of caring and being cared for is meaningful to people of all ages, even if they are not “animal people.”

Many Christian traditions hold animal blessings in early October to coincide with the birthday of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. Francis honored animals as messengers of God’s grandeur and worthy recipients of care and respect from human beings. He recognized that God’s creation is marvelously diverse. Animal blessings are a way of lifting up his teaching and celebrating God’s world of magnificent differences.

A recent article in The Lutheran magazine entitled “Bless all the animals” notes that:

Numbers tell that millions of Americans share their homes with animals. The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reports that 63 percent of U.S. households have at least one animal.

In many of these homes the animals and the humans bless each other with attention, company, and affection. Services of blessing recognize the blessing that flows from animals to humans and back again 365 days of the year.

Let my words serve as your invitation to join us on Saturday, October 7th for this happy event at 3534 Lakeshore Avenue (corner of Lakeshore and Mandana) [map]. As we bless the animals, we will remember that they bless us. As the article I quoted above puts it:

Feeding, training and caring for animals are good spiritual practices in and of themselves, but it turns out that they’re also good for us . . . Petting a cat or dog can lower blood pressure. . . Walking your dog can get you off the couch and help with weight control.

In the words of the Doxology that we sing during worship on Sundays: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”