Hey Family,

I was pranked when I came back from my sabbatical. It’s happened before. A few years ago, I returned to find my brown couch and lamp on the roof of building 3.

Here’s how the latest gag went down. It was Monday and I expected my office furniture to be rearranged. So, when I walked in (holding my breath) and saw everything in order, I sighed in relief. Balloons didn’t tumble out. Dixie cups filled with water didn’t line my floor and bookshelves. (That’s what the pranksters did to Pastor Craig a few years ago.) I thought I was in the clear, but I was wrong.

Then I got a strange text message that said the following: “Carlie, our darling collie is yelping and begging to get in line for your Sunday Pet Blessing. She is abashed that she is still wearing a onesie due to a recent surgery. She ask you to excuse any bad smell on the onesie…See you Sunday.” This picture was included.

I thought, “Oh no, a pet blessing. There must be some misunderstanding. Why would she think I’m giving pet blessings on Sunday? What am I going to tell this person?” While I was thinking, another text came in.

“Hi Darren, welcome back! I was told that one of the first items on your agenda upon returning is to offer pet blessings. It turns out, my daughter’s pet shrimp just died. We thought that it would last through 2021 since it lasted through most of the pandemic in 2020, but Shrimpy’s life was cut short. On Sunday, can you give a prayer for Shrimpy? It would the mean the world to my daughter. I’ll send a picture.

Here’s another one:

“Hi Darren. I’m so thrilled that you want to bless our pets upon your return this Sunday. This request might be a bit of a stretch, but, could you pray for my gopher, Digger, to come back to life. He had a run-in with a car tire. I’m glad you’re back at this crucial time to help Digger.”

Since this is a family blog, I won’t include the picture of poor Digger.

Here’s another.

Hi, Darren, I heard you are going to host a pet blessing service this Sunday! How fun! I will bring our ginormous 3 foot long, 9 pound Koi fish, Fatty. If you could let him stay in the baptism tub for the morning, that would be ideal. He’s a funny guy who thinks he’s a dog. He’ll jump out of the water so you can pet him. Fatty is excited. Thanks again!

One person sent me a video of his dog, “Murphy.” Here’s the message: “What an awesome idea to do a pet blessing this Sunday! We’ve been working on getting our 5-year-old Golden Retriever to sing “All Creatures of Our God and King.” I’ve attached a video of him singing and I think you will obviously notice he’s a qualified vocalist. Please include Murphy in your service. He’s been struggling with anxiety and could really use your prayers.”

I’ll be honest, I was fooled after the first message came in. In fact, I started to make a beeline to Andy Drake’s office to see if he knew anything about a scheduled pet blessing. But then, I ran into Louise in the hallway. I showed her the message about “Carlie” the Collie and then thought, “Wait a minute. I wonder if LW has anything to do with it.” She’s pranked our colleagues in the past, and from my experience, prankers have high recidivism rates. I’m still collecting evidence.

God loves the animals

But the truth is, animal blessings aren’t such a bad idea. God loves the animals and calls us to glorify him by caring for them and managing their environments.

Let’s get a little theological. Of course, only humans were made in God’s image, but we share much with animals. As one person wrote, “the creation of man and of these living beings is the work of one and the same day.”

Scripture records in many places that God is vitally concerned with the animals. When the flood covered the earth, God didn’t just preserve Noah and his small family (eight in all) but saved the animal kingdom as well.

Gen. 8:1 But God remembered Noah and all the beasts and all the livestock that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over the earth, and the waters subsided.

What’s more, animals suffer with us under the curse that afflicts the whole creation (see Romans 8:20). There’s also reason to believe that they too will share in the freedom that comes to God’s children when King Jesus appears and his image in us is fully restored.

Psa. 36:6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
            Your judgments are like the great deep.
            LORD, You protect mankind and animals.

The Story

This Sunday we’ll look at Chapter 2 of The Story. Please read the chapter if you can. It’s about how God chose the most unlikely duo imaginable to head up his forgiveness-of-sins-and-eviction-of-evil plan.

The Story Gathering on Sunday night at 6:30 PM

Please come out on Sunday night for our all-church Story gathering. We’ll watch an excellent video by Randy Frazee who will give us another perspective on the events of Chapter 2. Please bring your kids. We’ll tell them the Story and have some music and fun.

Discussion groups will meet inside and outside this week

Here’s a change for this week: we’ll have discussion groups that meet inside with masks and outside without masks. Last Sunday night we discovered that it’s not easy for everyone to manage on the grass, and it’s a little hard to hear with the freeway noise. So, if you came last week and had a hard time hearing or managing outside, please come back and we’ll make sure you are comfortable. We’ll also add a new discussion group because our groups were a little too big last week. So please come!

Because He’s “making all things new” (Rev. 21:5),