Posted on Thu, Oct 6, 2011
Sermon for Blessing the Animals 10/2/2011
Keystones in the Kin-dom of God
Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt
October 2, 2011
Blessing of the Animals
This morning, I hope to highlight for us some keystones in the Kin-dom of God. It is very helpful for us to be outside for this particular sermon, because we have the opportunity to witness with our own senses, with our eyes and ears and with our senses of touch and smell, many of the ways God has blessed us. In the final example we will come to know that it is true because of what we know with our whole being; heart, mind and soul. Would you pray with me?
God we thank you for this beautiful place where we can come to experience you this morning. Show us your word, make it real to us and make the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts pleasing and acceptable to you. AMEN.
In an interview with Hannity and Clomes, right wing political pundit Ann Coulter said, and I quote, "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours.'"---Hannity & Colmes, 6/20/01. You heard it correctly, “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, “Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours!” Can you imagine God talking like that? Of course not! God never said any such thing. Hear the word from Genesis 1;
27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. 28God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ 29God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. 31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Let’s think about dominion. The Hebrew word radah is the one used in the original text. Radah is a royal word. It refers to kings and kingdoms, and implies the sovereign rule of a good king, a kind king, a king that cares about his subjects. This is the kind of King that is in line with the desires of God. Psalm 72, verses 12 – 14 show us what Radah dominion looks like. Listen to it. “He delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper. He has pity on the weak and the needy and saves the lives of the needy. From oppression and violence he redeems their lives and precious is their blood in his sight. There’s no way around it, God in Genesis does seem to endorse some brutality, some taking all that an enemy has to offer, so brute strength and brute military force. Now let me be clear, God does not suggest that against one’s own people or environment or animals or fish or plant life. God says care for them. Protect the earth because I have some news for you, we can’t just drive over to the Planet Dealership and get a new one. This IS the one God has given us, this IS the one we have and will have on out into eternity and God is not standing ready to hand us another when we’ve worn this one out of worse yet blown it up.
Caring for every creature, caring for the waters, caring for every plant and all parts of our universe is a keystone of the Kin-dom of God.
Pets are Keystones in the Kin-dom of God, too. You know that because you have experienced it. You might have been sick or you might have just had a little headache and before you know it your cat or dog or other pet will be right up beside you. They may not be able to verbalize it, but they know something’s wrong and they will do their best stay right with you until you feel better. Some of you, like me, have had times of deep grief and your pets knew it. Cats are great about this. Sometimes it feels like mine are trying to get right up under me. They sit with me in moments of struggle and in their own way remind me that they love me, that God loves me and they stay with me until the struggle passes. I know many of you have shared the experience of losing one of these beloved children of God. I’ve had a lot of pets in my life and I’ve had to let some of them go. My heart had hurt over that as much as with many of the people I’ve had to let go of. And somehow, just like with our beloved ancestors and family members, they live on in our hearts. I believe with all my heart that pets and all animals are gifts that God gives us to care for, to love the way God loves us and to remind us, even in the most difficult of times that God never lets us go. Pets are a Keystone in the kin-dom of God.
I want to illustrate the final Keystone for today with a song. The song describes it best. All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all. Each little flower that opens, Each little bird that sings, He made their glowing colours, He made their tiny wings. The rich man in his castle, The poor man at his gate, God made them high and lowly, And ordered their estate. . The purple headed mountain, The river running by, The sunset and the morning, That brightens up the sky;− The cold wind in the winter, The pleasant summer sun, The ripe fruits in the garden,−God made them every one: The tall trees in the greenwood, The meadows where we play, The rushes by the water, We gather every day;− . God gave us eyes to see them, And lips that we might tell, How great is God Almighty, Who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.
You, my sisters and brothers are Keystones in the Kin-dom of God. With Jesus as our cornerstone, we are called to build the Kin-dom of God, to care for it, to make sure it lasts forever. This is our truth, which is the actual meaning of the word translated “stone”, Jesus is our truth, the Bible is our truth, our own experience of God is our truth. I like what Biblical Scholar Sharon Ringe says, “Once again, we see that spiritual growth isn’t about hierarchy, privilege, or status, but rather about service, compassion, generosity, and hope… “proper fruits.”
Keystones in the Kin-dom of God: Care and concern for all of God’s creation, loving and receiving the love of pets as a reflection of God’s love, the people of God with Jesus as our cornerstone, our truth. With all of this, we will bear “proper fruit,” a mission for which I believe you and I are very well-suited.
God bless you. AMEN.