Kudos to St. Francis

Sigh.

Now we arguing about a domesticated animal (in this case, dogs), being instrumental as a sort of a sub-means of grace.

Let me preface my comments by saying that dogs, as domesticated animals who along with all creation groan for their redemption, serve and love man.  That is a remarkable trait in animals.  But they are not “means of grace” by any stretch of the imagination.   At  best, they are what Jesus made of them as was His using sheep as his example – faithful to their master.  Therein, in itself they do serve as a good example of faithfulness to the tasks God has given them.

I shall let an example of my own preaching experience serve as an example.

In my first parish out of the Seminary, they had a tradition of “children’s sermons.” For the sake of theological honesty. let me state unequivocally, those are most often directed at adults rather than the kiddies.  In response to that notion, and being in a first congregation and trying not to make waves until I could without worry, I went along with the idea.

My text?  John 10:3-4:

“The man that guards the gate opens the gate for the shepherd. And the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. The shepherd calls his own sheep, using their names, and he leads them out. The shepherd brings all of his sheep out. Then he goes ahead of them and leads them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice.”

It would be untoward to state that sheep were stinky animals famous for being dumb as a post.  Wrong direction.  They were, however, players in salvation for the Jews of the Old Testament – so much so that Jesus Himself was called the “Lamb of God.”  Well into the evening, having everything else done, I pondered late on Saturday evening, what to do for a KS (kiddie’s sermon) on the text.

After being at it for awhile, my faithful (to an extreme, as I will highlight shortly) buddy, my snow white West Highland Terrier got up from his nap at my feet and wanted some luvin’s.  Although I would never say so in front of my pug, who is about as faithful and has almost the same intuitions about his master as did my Westie, Lord MacDougall, Duncan of Lorn (on his AKA registration and whose name I use as my URL), was the best piece of dog meat God ever created.  Faithful to a fault, understood well over 100 words (Westies are famous for that!), and well aware of his Celtic lineage, and my buddy for over 17 years on this ole globe.  As I petted him, I slipped off into a mood.  It hit me!  Nuts to it -I’m gonna do that!

So at KS time, all the kiddies sat around me.  I would sit at the foot of the altar, and they would gather round.   My very first KS, I took them on a guided of our the chancel and altar area.  Well received.  Anyway . . .

I got them all seated, and began explaining the connection between Jesus and sheep, and did so in elementary terms.  Then the coup de grace.

I said  to the kiddies, let me show you exactly what I mean.  Whereupon I used my deep command voice, and said: “Mac, come to Papa!”  My wife, in the narthex, holding Mac, simply released him at my command.  He walked out of the narthex into the sanctuary, and directly up the center aisle.  None of the “oohs and aahs” fazed him.  Papa had called him – he walked dead center 23 pews directly to my lap.  Never wavered.  I closed matters out with that being the essence of what Jesus was saying.  It all ended with kids petting him and loving on him until my wife got there with the leash.  She went to the back and took a seat next to Mary, our organist, and Mac laid down and took himself a well-deserved nap.  I sat in my pew – thankful for getting through it and for the break with the Hymn of the Day.

Needless to say, that became everyone’s fave “children’s sermon.”  Now –

Was Mac a means of grace, or merely instrumental in my delivering the means of grace through the spoken word?  The answer is obvious.

Mac did what dogs are called by God to do – love, and be faithful to their masters, as does my Pug, Conan.  They are faithful to a fault, often well past death (watching Conan mourn the death of his Mama and my dear, dear love and wife, Lorraine, in December, for three months, was heart-rendering.  Her pillow became his at that time.  If I uttered the word “Mama,” he would bury his head in my side.

My point in all of this?  Synod puts forth good money in its support of a “K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry.”  Is it money well-spent?  The jury is still out.  Pastor Rojas simply puts in all in its proper perspective.  Judging by some of the comments in places, he erred tremendously.

Will dogs go to Heaven?  Sorry, beyond my pay grade.  Are dogs “means of grace?” No.  Dogs are faithful in their role given by God to love God’s highest creation – mankind.

My buddy Mac did what he did simply because he did his master’s bidding immediately at the sound of his master’s (my) voice.  He wasn’t the Gospel, but as with Jesus and sheep, he served as an example of faithfulness.  The main issue.  The main question being much the same –

Are we?

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