Blessing All Creation

This morning, I went to the Blessing of the Animals at St. John the Divine. It's one of those services -- or rather events -- in New York City that people say you MUST see while living in the city. Now, it's a worship service in the Christian tradition in all actuality. And yet, sitting in this packed Cathedral, I was disappointed with the lack of the holy. To bring animals into a worship space and celebrate God's creation is a wonderful, important and prophetic action. St. John the Divine has been said to do it best. And yet, how do we claim a sacred space? I mean, let's really celebrate all creation. Great. But, don't silence the congregation in doing so! Dogs are welcomed to bark and yap while children are hushed. Animals process down the aisle in all their glory while the congregation is not called forth into any procession. How do we cherish our own sacred creation when we are not invited to sing, dance and pray from our own hearts and with our own voices? To celebrate God's creation is to celebrate all of these noises and awkward movements. Are we really supposed to sit idle and lame while the clergy and dancers do all the action for us? Doesn't this come awfully damn close to something that should be found in the Theatre District rather than God's house?

The Dean of the Cathedral preached about evolution. While I appreciate his stand on including the value of scientific exploration within a practice of faith, I squirm with this lack of concern about the federal government's role in this divide. We cannot be prophetic without criticizing the forms of power that oppress God's people and creatures from relishing in divine glory. To speak of President Bush without questioning his place in this is pure bullshit.

This is unique day that we celebrate St. Francis where the people from all over the city (and animals from Westchester) arrive at the doors of St. John the Divine. This is day that we should be talking about how we relate to this created world and each other, right? At least, that's what I thought. Perhaps we should even dwell on the Scripture in Matthew 6 (though perhaps an exegetical sermon is too much to ask). How can we not worry about clothing or food? How can we not worry about tomorrow when our world faces destruction? When levies have broken, tsunamis have flooded, rainforests are destroyed and our air is filled with toxins, how can we not worry about tomorrow? Where in God's name is the the realm of God in this mess? How can we only worry about today's worries? Perhaps we need to stay with this question a little longer. It should be part of our search toward wholeness -- not something limited to academia and its ivory towers. To commune with nature and realize our place within it's blessed creation doesn't require my study of John Cobb, Sallie MacFague or Larry Rasmussen. It comes when I pet a neighbor's dog. It happens when I smell a flower. It happens in a Farmer's Market on 116th Street. It comes when we step outside and realize that we are all a part of God's wonderful make and creation. This is what we should have celebrated this morning in the middle of this performance at St. John the Divine. Or should I say, this is what we should begin to celebrate at St. John the Divine and continue outside its regal doors.

God forgive us.

1 comment:

loren said...

Hi Pastor Peters,

I never heard of this blessing of the animals before. It did seem a little strange.