Sermon Pentecost 19 October 15 2017

Genesis 1:20-31                         Psalm 8                                      John 10:2-5

Blessing Farm and Home Animals

May these words and our thoughts be acceptable to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Once again we read the wonderful story of Creation – not Evolution.  God created matter out of nothing.  Then He applied some laws to it, the first one being Gravity, so that the primordial soup, the Bible calls it the Waters or the Deep  (Genesis 1:2), clumped together into stars, planets, moons and galaxies;  Order out of Chaos.  Then God settled down to the detailed stuff, doing the fine work of creating fish, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals and plants, nothing about Evolution there either.  Evolution deals with the adaptation of the different species to changing conditions and the result of accidental or intentional breeding.  Then God created us, men and women, not from monkeys or from anything else, we were created and because we were superior to the animal and plant kingdoms, that is, not from them, we were given dominion over them and therefore became responsible for them too.

The world was created in Innocence.  When we eventually get to explore the universe, wouldn’t it be amazing to find a creation of remaining Innocence, where its inhabitants didn’t defy God and eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  They would be living in an harmony of which we could only dream.  If we do find such a place, I hope we pack our bags and leave right away, we wouldn’t want to sully them with our bad behaviours, lusts and desires.

Our fellow travellers on this planet our animal companions, from mammal to reptile, to fish to bird, to insect vary from us in that they still live in their own world of innocence.  Like us they have created social order in their schools, and packs, and flocks, and hives and nests and they have a pecking order, the alpha male or female being the leader, but the things they do they do in innocence.  When your dog chews your slipper or your cat scratches your furniture they are not being destructive for destruction’s sake instead they are fulfilling a need to exercise jaw and claw;  there is no evil in them.

Just after the bit of Genesis we read today Adam and Eve broke the trust God had in them and became aware of Good and Evil.  None of the other creatures in this world have the concept of Good and Evil.  It is the one thing that separates us from the animal world and everything else, and it’s something that we wrestle with all our lives;  it’s an awesome responsibility.  We are the shepherds of all things in Creation and have a fearful duty to do what is right, because we are the only ones who know the difference between right and wrong.  We are the stewards of Creation, its shepherds.

In the idyllic world that God created all living creatures fed on plants not on each other, but when Evil entered the world creatures started to eat each other and that was never God’s intention, so He put us onto the long journey of Redemption, which when we reach it, the wolf will once again lie down with the lamb, the leopard with the goat, the calf with the lion, as Isaiah prophesys  (11:6, 65:25).  Notably though in the idyllic world we are still needed to maintain order, we are called to work as God’s helpers in His Creation.

Eventually we will get back to that idyllic world only because we are being led by our Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ.  Like sheep we must follow Him away from Sin and into His Kingdom.  Our job is the same for the flora and fauna of this world, we are to lead it to its own redemption.  We are shepherds, we are stewards of the Earth.  That means taking care of the big things like the environment, in things such as purity of the air and water, upon which all life depends, not only our rivers and lakes but the oceans too, it’s an enormous job.  And we are to take care of the little things, birds and the bees and the ants and the spiders.  And we are to take care of everything in between because Creation works together within itself.  If we upset one thing the balance is broken and it’s never easy to get back to equilibrium.  We know that from our personal relationships, if someone upsets us it sure takes a while to get back to being on good terms with each other.  It’s the same with nature.

Our first attempt to build a good relationship with animals was for us to tame them, to domesticate them.  We made a deal with them;  if we provide the food and water, so that they don’t have to go foraging all day, they would plough our fields so we wouldn’t starve and we could feed them too.  We could use their milk, or their fleece, and we would be nourished and keep ourselves warm.  Then we domesticated wolves and bred them to become dogs, Evolution not Creation, and made the same deal, food and water for warning and protection and physical labour pulling sledges, hunting and their sense of smell to rescue us.  We domesticated cats, but there is no deal with them, we just feed them and cuddle them, apart from that, oh yes, some of them catch mice.

We have been given as Satchmo says  “A wonderful world”  and a wonderful relationship with the wild kingdom.  Not only do the animals help us, I think about Service Dogs, who intentionally care for us, for kittens and puppies who amuse us, and our horses and donkeys who know us, they need us.  God gave us dominion over the wild kingdom so when it got into trouble we would be His hands to rescue it.  God never wanted us to put it into danger which we sadly do.

Animals share this with us humans, they need blessing, because they are susceptible to the same perils as us.  They get sore backs and creaky joints, but they don’t get many hip replacements.  So we give thanks for them.  We give thanks for our relationships with them.  We hope to journey with them back to the Paradise from which we all came.  We must always remember to treat them with the respect they deserve because they too are a meaningful part of God’s Creation.  And we must give them the love they deserve.  Although they do not know the difference between Good and Evil animals have emotions just like us.  Love is one of them and I bet there is hardly a person in this room who has not experienced it from their companion creature.  God bless them, every one.  Amen.

 

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