For me, more than anything else, perhaps, pets remind me most of God’s creation. I love being in creation. I love where I live here in Bellefonte, and I love to spend time out in the woods, on the trails, in the mountains and on the water. And, indeed, I see — and I celebrate — God’s creation that sings all around me each and every day. And it’s not just our pets — although we are primarily blessing pets today, and not so much livestock or the animals of the fields and forests… Although if you brought one with you, I’d be happy to bless it as well. But I look at the flora and fauna of the natural world, and I see more of a picture of our ecology; that is, how we are sustained by them. Their purpose goes beyond beauty; the plants and trees filter the air, give us clean oxygen and help cool the earth, among many other things. And livestock and the fisheries provide food and other essentials, among other things. But pets? Pets are really special. It’s as if God created all of these amazing resources in our world, but then especially blessed us with pets. These amazing companions who are so loyal, so unconditionally loving, and so willing to be by our sides. Animals bring us comfort at the end of a hard day. They reduce our blood pressure — it’s a scientific fact (at least when they’re not having an accident in the house…) And they even comfort and care for people who are sick and those with certain disabilities. I mean, how awesome is God to give us puppies, kittens, colorful fish, birds that can talk, and even hamsters, turtles, snakes and other creatures for our own enjoyment and care! We are certainly blessed by the pets God gives us. What pets give So, many of you know, I have a few pets — and they are here today. We have a 16-year-old dog who was rescued when I lived down in South Carolina. She keeps chugging along, but with cataracts and near-complete deafness and the typical arthritis, she doesn’t get out as much as she used to. But she still teaches me things. Can I dog be contemplative? I think so. When I sit with Sadie out on the back deck, I watch her sniff the air and feel the wind and just sort of gaze out at whatever shapes she sees now. And yet, with all her maladies, she’s content. It’s as if she’s teaching me that in all things, we can be content. We also have an 11-week-old puppy whose been with us for a little more than a week. Which means I’m not sleeping as well as I did … for a little more than a week… But every day with Chipper is like Christmas. He wakes up — not just every morning, but after every nap — as if it is Christmas morning! “Oh, Joy!” he seems to be saying. “We get to enjoy each other’s company again! Let’s celebrate! Live in the moment! Carpe Diem!” And we also have a very talkative cat whom the children affectionately call “Moo-Moo.” Despite her constant interruptions of any conversation that is being had in our home, Moo-Moo, surrounded by two dogs and two boys — is a force to be reckoned with. She will not be ignored! Pet stories We all have our pet stories, don’t we? Ever notice that when we meet new people, despite how different we may appear to be, we love talking about our pets— —and that’s something we have in common with each other all around the world. Our pets do that. See, our pets bridge that gap. And I think that was all part of God’s plan. And it’s why the psalmist of our reading today celebrates creation in jubilance. Pets are a reminder of creation — as I said earlier. And as such, we should continually take a page out of their book and celebrate with them more often. Caretakers Pets certainly are a blessing and a gift from our creator. They certainly take care of us. But equal is the blessing of our role in their lives and in all of creation. For we were charged with being their caretakers as well. The Creation Account in Genesis orders the world. It shows us that God created the universe and this earth, and God filled the earth with vegetation and animals. And then God called all of it good. And after everything else was created, God created humans. And God said to us to be fruitful with the gifts we’ve been given, and to multiply them. In short, God said to take care of them, and take care of each other. We have been entrusted to be the earth’s caretakers. What a blessing! What an amazing responsibility! Everything that God has given us blesses us in ways that we can see, and in ways that we sometimes can’t. Pets are the most profound image of this. We can hold them, pet them, walk them, play with them and just sit quietly with them. And they are content with all or any of it. They give us so much. When we look at pets as an example of the creation that God blesses us with, we too can be deeply contented seeing our role in creation as well. So today, we celebrate creation! Today, we celebrate the gifts of the companionship of pets! And today, we honor and glorify God for these amazing blessings by blessing the pets, and giving thanks for the blessing that they are in our lives.