June 2013

All creatures great and small

Some years back, I used to take the boys and girls from Cheltenham College up to what was then a convent at Glenfall House up on the hills above the town to take part in their Corpus Christi procession. On one occasion, I was queuing up for tea in the kitchen afterwards, and a rather gruff man in front noticed a large slobbery labrador snoozing behind the servery and said to the somewhat formidable nun behind the counter ‘Sister, are you aware that there are animals in the kitchen’, to which she said, ‘Yes, some of them have two legs and some of them have four’.

We often include prayers for God’s creation in our services, but while the flora is clearly visible in the churches, the fauna aren’t. This is strange. Animals are a central part of God’s wonderful, rich and varied creation and they are obviously important to many people here: after all, they are the source of livelihood for vast numbers. But even for non-farmers, they can be a source of comfort. For me, dog-walking is when I sort out sermons in my mind. (I will leave it to others to decide whether this is time well spent.)

I think it would be good if we were to focus our attention on animals in our worship and give thanks to God for all of them. Accordingly, the Family Service at Clodock this month  is being transmogrified into an Animal Blessing Service and it would be wonderful if you could bring your animals along to what could be a rather lively occasion. And animals in this case includes creatures with any number of legs, winged birds, fishes of the sea (or pond) and creeping things that creep along the earth. (Anything actually venomous should be kept under proper restraint.)

I do hope that many of you will want to be there (accompanied or not). The occasion will, I am sure, be memorable – in the best sense of the word.

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