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.