Blessings, Dogs and Us

Children’s Sermon for All Saints Sunday  November 6, 2011

The Rev. Barbara Mraz

         We just heard a reading with a lot of blessings in it.  To bless something is to ask God to notice this thing and love it in a special way.  It’s like we put a little bit of God onto someone when we bless them.

Maybe your parents or your Grandma says, “Bless you.”  That means they are asking God to take special notice of you and love you.

In church, the priest ask God to bless all of us here – to notice us and hear our prayers and help us out in some way that is good for us.

So in the reading Jesus says that certain things are worthy of blessing or special love, and a lot of them apply to you – and me.  At certain moments God is close to us, however that works.

Raise your hand if any of these things are true for you:

I get sad sometimes – Jesus says bless you.

I have felt badly bad about losing a friend or being disappointed about something at school  or at home– Jesus says bless you.

I want to do the right thing really badly but slip up.  Jesus says bless you.

Sometimes I really try to help people get along who aren’t getting along with each other – and it can be really hard to do this.  Jesus says bless you.

I feel angry when  someone says something bad about me that is untrue.  Jesus says bless you.

          And Jesus calls us to remember that these things have happened to everyone so don’t feel alone because God understands even if no one else does.  Jesus says bless you.

          So Jesus says that God understands when these things happen, and even when they happen, God is there, loving us.

Another meaning of “blessing” is something really good that God places in our lives.  What are some of your blessings? (say in one word)

We don’t have time to talk about all of them today, but I think that one of the blessings that God places in our lives is dogs.  Not the mean, bitey dogs, but the good dogs.

So I want to bring out a guest now and ask you to be quiet and respectful and do everything you can to make her comfortable because she’s and this might be pretty hard for her, but she’s doing it for us because that’s what dogs do.

I’ve asked her here so that when I talk about the blessings of dogs you will have something to look at besides me!  I think we can learn a lot about God from looking at dogs.

This is Roxie Hansen, Luke and Paul’s dog.  She is five years old and was adopted from the Humane Society a while ago. No one but Roxie knows where she was before that or how she was treated but now her job seems to be to love her new family and bless them  — that is, give them things that are so good they are hard to explain.

In fact, what is God spelled backwards?

I want to use Roxie to talk about what God might be like and how God blesses us. Maybe you have another type of pet like a cat or a guinea pig or a parrot who is like this too

Dogs are welcoming.  When we come home, they’re always glad to see us, even if we’ve been gone for minutes.  Today is called All Saints Day and this is a day when we think especially about people we have loved and lost.  Who?  And when someone we love goes to heaven, I think that God will welcome that person home as enthusiastically as Roxie welcomes Paul and Luke.

Dogs are forgiving.  Even when you accidentally ignore your dog or hurt her, very soon that dog is back with you, sitting by your side, loving you anyway.   Dogs forgive.  So does God.

Dogs are trusting.  I don’t think they plan ahead or worry about what might happen tomorrow.  We never see them making a list of thinks they have to do.  They’re happy with what’s going on right now.  They’re enthusiastic:

Want to go in the car?  Great!

Want to go for a w-a-l-k? Great?

Want to just sit around and do nothing?  Great!

Want to the vet?  Great.  Oopps.  Not great.

There are a lot of stories and movies about dogs.

Some of your parents (or grandparents) might remember a TV. series about a collie named “Lassie.”  They had some pretty incredible stories about Lassie.  One time Lassie came running up to her person, Timmy, and barked three times.  Timmy said, “What’s that girl?  What?  Billy has fallen down the well at Old Man Foster’s farm and needs help?  Okay girl, go get help! Woof!  Woof!”  And Lassie takes off to get the fire department or whoever.

Actually dogs can do some things we can’t.  Dogs can smell at least 1,000 times better than we can.  So some of them they can sniff out drugs in suitcases and people buried under buildings.  Some of them can tell when their person is going to have a seizure before the person knows and can make them lay down so they don’t fall.  (The dog says to the human “Down!”)  And some dogs are trained to go to hospitals and nursing homes and just seeing their happy faces and wagging tails make people happier.  And of course, God can do some things we can’t too – like create the world.

Today we’re going to baptize Bristol and Anabella.  That means that we welcome them to be with us here at St. John’s and we will ask God to give them a special blessing.  That is a promise from God that Bristol and Isabella that they will always be one of God’s beloved children, no matter how old they are.

Maybe we should baptize Roxie, too?

We usually don’t baptize animals because I think God holds

them in a special place in God’s heart and loves them. And if we did dogs, we’d have to do mosquitoes and dolphins…..

So we’ve talked about what a blessing is today – it is a asking God to be especially kind and loving to someone.  On this All Saints Day, who would you like to have God bless?

We don’t usually baptize dogs, but we do bless them and ask God to be with them and be especially good to them.  And we can try to be good for them. A great bumper sticker said this “God be the person my dog thinks I am.”

Before we leave, I think we should ask God’s blessing on Roxie, don’t you.  So let’s say together (not too loud to scare her)  God bless you Roxie.


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