Holy Chaos

That’s what I called our worship services today, Holy Chaos. We had our annual pet blessing, a service held on Sunday morning, in the context of the worship service, Eucharist and all.

Some folks suggested, earlier this week, that we bless the animals in the beginning of the service so that those who wanted to leave afterward, could. I declined that suggestion. In my mind and experience, (I’ve done pet blessings every year in church for the last 10 years), the blessing of our beloved pets falls squarely in our worship in the same order and manner of the other rituals of sacrament. True, blessing our animals is not a sacrament in the way that Baptism is or Eucharist. But because we are blessing our animals in church there is something sacred, sacramental about it. I placed the pet blessing in the same order of worship as a baptism or the wedding vows – at the end of the Liturgy of Word – following the opening prayer, the scripture readings, and the (very brief) homily, after the homily we blessed the animals…then we skipped the prayers of the people and the Nicene Creed and went straight to the Peace, followed by the Eucharist, the entire service, 55 minutes…

In spite of a long history offering pet blessings, I don’t think this church has every done it quite this way before. I began the service with some instruction on the how and what and where of things, and reminded the people that the service would be a little chaotic, in a holy way, and that was OK. I said, if we don’t get anxious, then our pets won’t either – and since the pets can’t do anything wrong, then there is nothing to be anxious about. Then I encouraged people to be sensitive to the animals around them, to give people and pets appropriate space.

Can I just say – everything went really well! Between two services we had a total of 77 dogs, 5 cats, two hermit crabs, a chicken, and a horse…(the horse had to stay outside the side door, I was worried that he’d crack the tile floor or slip on the tile)…All were blessed, and all had fun. Probably 1/3 of the people attending church today were visitors, there just for the pet blessing. I hope they had a good time too!

It was really fun to stir things up a bit, to invite some Holy Chaos into our lives, and to find in it a real sense of joy.

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About Terri C Pilarski

I am an Episcopal priest serving a delightfully progressive, interesting, creative congregation. I have been married more than half my life to the same man. We have two grown children, plus two dogs and two cats, although the number of four legged household members changes from time to time. I love to garden, knit, read, and play on Facebook or with my blog. I have been a practitioner of daily meditation since I was nineteen. I practice yoga five days a week and walk every where I am able too.
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13 Responses to Holy Chaos

  1. Diane says:

    that sounds so great! we had our animal blessing in the afternoon. not as many visitors as last year, sadly. bad, cold, rainy weather may have had something to do with it.

  2. RevDrKate says:

    I LOVE it! I took Maggie to the early afternoon Catholic blessing service which was supposed to be in the parking lot, but due to a downpour was relocated to the priests’ very large garage. Father P saw us there and after the service said, “Well hi, if I’d known you were around we could have done this together!” WOW! Maybe next year we will have an ecusmenical pet blessing….that’d be a kick!

  3. Lauralew says:

    I’m looking at all of the blogs from this week’s animal blessing–as our parish is doing it next week due to the diocesan convention this week. This is to see what can be done in a less chaotic way (as if animals can be controlled) in a service. I’m thinking that I’ll only take one of our cats next week, although the cat that really needs the blessing won’t be the one we take. She is awful to get into a carrier!

  4. That sounds great! Love the picture.

  5. Crystal says:

    very cool!i’ve never been to a pet/animal blessing. it sounds wonderful. i LOVE “Holy Chaos.” We had a bit of chaos yesterday as the children carried boxes of rocks to the congregation and everyone was asked to take as many as they wished or felt needed to represent the burdens and problems they were dealing with. then they brought them up at communion to lay down before the Lord. i think it went well. not nearly as fun as an animal blessing but still experienced some Holy chaos.:)

  6. Rev SS says:

    Picture great, and love the idea of incorporating it right into the worship service. Due to desire to focus on World Communion Sunday solely this week, our blessing of animals will be next Sunday … at 2 in the afternoon, on our open lot next door to the church building! (and we’re in suburbia where I doubt we’ll have any animals bigger than dog and cat!)

  7. Sherry says:

    We did ours similarly. All the animals stayed for the entire service. I had to laugh, one of those acting as usher had her dog in toe. He was wonderful, though a few of the pewed dogs were aroused by seeing him march so solemnly up and down the aisle! No fights, and plenty of pets and dog kisses for everyone. We had a grand time. Even a few barks at just the right moment to make a point!

  8. karlajean says:

    How wonderful to do the blessing during service. I advocated for this, but our worship commission thought of all reasons not too: what about allergies? What about children afraid of animals? ” I don’t think this would be worship so I would’ t attend . I am glad you stuck to your heart.

  9. you’re very brave!I’ve never tried to make it part of the regular service, always Sunday afternoon in a brief context of prayer and reflection on Francis.You’re right, though, it brings in newcomers, and visitors, and neighbours who were formerly afraid to darken the door lest they be signed up for something!

  10. Mary Beth says:

    This is awesome! WE did Saturday afternoon. I’d love to do Sunday.

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