Thursday, February 20, 2020

Farewell for animal friends

Some time ago, my friend Gary (Random Acts of Expression) and I wrote the outline of a funeral/farewell for service animals, and it expanded to pets in general. The topic recently came up in Clergy With Cats, so while we never finished it, we offer it here for comment and suggestions. 

Leader: Our help is in the name of God who created heaven and earth.
People: Our God is a very present help in all of times and places of need.
Leader: Not even a sparrow goes unnoticed by our God.
People: God alone knows how great the loss, even in what would seem unto others to be insignificant.
Leader: For God's mercy is wider that the universe, and God's compassion deeper than the ocean.
People: Thanks be to God.

Words of Grace: Genesis 1.1, 1.20, 1.22, 1.24-25, 2.18-20a

Sing Together: "God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale"

Let us pray:
Loving God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One,
        you have reconciled all of creation unto yourself:
Nothing is outside the reach of your redeeming work.
Not a blade of grass, not a droplet of rain,
        not a tiny spider, nor a grain of sand
        escapes from your reconciling love.
You have given us puppies and kittens,
        parakeets and hamsters,
        to know the goodness of our care
        and for we to know the joy of their keeping.
This is all a part of your wondrous grace
        which overflows
        filling all in all.

– animals matter to God – Genesis 9.9-17, the covenant is with all living creatures

We have gathered here to give thanks for (pet's name)
        and for all s/he has brought to the (family's name).
We have also gathered to witness to our faith:
        a faith that is big enough
        to include all the creatures of your creation,
        yes, even creatures of your new-creation.
Thank you, O God, for caring enough to include (name of pet)
        in your reconciliation,
        and thank you for caring for us here in this time and need.
Help us to imagine all of creation's goodness
        to be part of your eternal realm;
        for you would not exclude even the least of this world
        in the glory of the world that is to come;
        through Christ Jesus our Ambassador and Redeemer,
                forever. Amen.

Psalm 104:24
Job 12.7-10
something to add if a service animal

[If the pet is to be buried, the following words may be added]

We return to your earth, O God, what you have brought forth in your creation.
In love of [pet's name], we return her/him to you.
In faith, O God, we entrust what shall be to your never failing,
        always present love and sustaining grace.
May we all find in this time, the wisdom we need
        to be your servant-disciples,
        caring for each other
        and the whole world around us.
For we seek to be joyfully obedient to your will and your ways;
        in Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.

Sing Together:  "All Things Bright and Beautiful" or "All Creature of our God, Supreme" (All Creatures of our God and King)

Leader: Beloved in Christ, beloved of God, hear the good news:
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight.
(Luke 12.6)
From now on, we regard no one from a human point of view;
even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,
we know him no longer in that way.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:
everything old has passed away; see,
everything has become new!
All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ,
and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself,
not counting their trespasses against them,
and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us.
So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us;
we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
(II Corinthians 5.16-20)
People: Thanks be to God! Amen.

Leader: We go in giving thanksgiving to God, knowing our lives have been blessed in (pet's name).
People: We go in giving praise to God, that (pet's name) shared her/his life with us.
All: We go in peace. Thanks be to God.

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