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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Lord God Made Them All......

In response to early requests here at MOLC I promised to give you a few ideas for prayers dealing with changes that come about in our lives when we welcome or must bid an earthly farewell to the "other" members of the families we create: namely our pets.

My beautiful 3.5 year-old dog, Emily Louise (or Emmy-Lou, or Lou-Lou) was a rescue from a shelter in Georgia. She was transported via relay from one volunteer driver to another all the way to Greene County, New York, some 70 mi north of me. Adopting her has been one of my very best decisions EVER!

I offer these prayers to you, hoping that they may address your needs - or those of a friend. They are also being made available to Ramapo-Bergen Animal Rescue, Inc. a shelter in Oakland, NJ which I have supported in one way or another for over six years.

I want to put in a plug here for all shelters... support them in the ways you can, just as you do with your parish community, with time, treasure and talent. There are always pets to walk, groom, play with, supplies to be purchased, vet services which cost the shelter to provide. And, when possible, consider adopting from a shelter. Give your home to an existing pet that needs a chance in life to show the love they have within.

And, as with all entries on MOLC and on the Farm in general, we welcome your comments and contributions. May God bless our every endeavor.

Before Adopting or Purchasing a Pet

Holy God, giver of life, we ask your assistance in chosing a pet that we can care for and live with. Help us to understand the responsibilities you have given us as caretakers of this earth and particularly the responsibilities involved in bringing this pet into our home and making it our own. We ask your guidance and gift of discerning hearts. Amen.

Before Adopting a New Pet after the death of a beloved ______

Spirit of the Living God, you renew all things and call us to love again and again. Be with us as we decide to adopt (purchase) a new ________. We will always remember our beloved (name); no other animal could possibly ever take (his/her) place. We choose now to welcome a new member into our home - not as a replacement - but as an addition. Having learned from (name) just how much love we had to share, open our hearts to love again. Help us to remember how fortunate we are to welcome another one of your beloved creatures into our family. Amen.

Thanksgiving for a Pet

We thank you, loving, gracious God for surrounding us with the wonders of nature and the diversity of creation. We wish to give you thanks particularly today for the gift of (name), our new (animal). As you have entrusted us with (his/her) care, give us grateful hearts for (his/her) companionship in our journey together. All this we ask in Jesus' name. Amen.

For a pet that is ill

Dear God, we place our trust in you to ease the (sickness/pain) our our dear (animal, Name). We ask you to give skill and kindness to the vet staff who is caring for (Name). If it is your will, heal our dear friend that (his/her) body may be refreshed and our spirits lifted to spend more days together. Amen.

For a terminally ill pet

Holy and merciful God, look with compassion on (Name), a creature of your own making. We understand that (his/her) health is failing and that (he/she) will not be with us much longer. Give us the strength to make the right decision as to the time when we must let go and offer (him/her) back into your loving arms. Help us both to make that transition with grace and love, ever grateful for all the affection (he/she) gave to us unconditionally over these past (years, months, days). And in the days to come be near to us in our grief and dry the tears from our eyes. Amen.

For the departed pet

Loving God, you can feel the loss of even one sparrow. Be with us now as we say goodbye to our beloved (Name). Be with (him/her) as (he/she) leaves this life behind to find a new life with You. Welcome (him/her) into your arms and your realm of Paradise where (he/she) will bask in the light of your Love. We remember (Name) and give thanks to you for allowing (him/her) to enrich our lives in so many ways. Take care, Lord, of our dear (Name) until we come to see both of you again. Amen.

For those who mourn

Dear Jesus, our hearts are hurt. We miss (Name) so much and we just feel sad. Help us to remember (Name) in a very special way so that, after a while, when we remember them we can remember how happy we were when (he/she) was here and that some day we will see (him/her) again. Amen.

Spirit of the Living God, look with compassion on us who mourn the death of our sweet, dear friend (Name). No one can ever take (his/her) place and our hearts are broken. Be with us in the long dark nights, in the sad moments we have yet to face. We know we are better people for having loved this wonderful animal. Help us bear that in mind in our present loneliness. Comfort us in our loss. All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ who with you and Creator of all things live and reign forever and ever. Amen

Copyright © 2005 K.L.Joanna Depue and Deacon J

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When it comes to a short "service" for a beloved pet, I think it best to involve all members of the family in ways they can participate. As in the case of a human being who has passed from this side of being to the greater glory of "all the Saints", make the service a celebration in the best possible sense of the word. You had - in many cases - the unquestioned love of another living thing. You experienced their "personality" as few others did. They made you laugh, cry, worry, and, in some cases, sat with you while you went through all these emotions. What a gift they gave you! Remember it, savor it, grieve its loss, remember you will know that love again when, at the end of our journey we all return to the seat of Love itself.

So.... write a little something to say, sing a favorite song, gather a favorite toy or two, draw a picture, put together some photos in a folder or on oaktag. Invite friends. Tell stories. After the interaction, have someone say one of the prayers below or make up your own. Then have a celebration meal. Afterward, put some momentos in a binder or album you might get from a dollar store. Carefully letter your pet's name on the binding. That way some of your memories are in one place and portable. This may be a good idea because people move from time to time.

If you decide to bury your beloved pet you may choose a favorite towel or blanket instead of something more formal. If you have chosen to have your pet cremated, you might scatter the ashes at a favorite "sunning" spot out of doors, or under a certain tree or in the surf at the beach. Let your heart make the decision on this one.

Bear in mind (and this is my opinion and experience) amazingly few relationships are as exquisitely intimate as the one we have with a beloved cat or dog or bird or iguana, even though it is unlikely that the two of you have ever had an exchange of words.

With a love that BIG, your emotions may be just as big. Treat yourself gently in the process, and involve God and family and friends in your adjustment period.

Monday, April 18, 2005

A Parable about a Pastor's Lot

Here ye, here ye... those in ordained ministry... an item submitted by the Rev. Sue Doohan, Pennsylvania parish priest (associated with, as a parable of some pastoral interactions...... have you had similar experiences? Thanks, Sue, for your contribution!


There once was a family who hired a cook.
"We want to eat pancakes," they said to the cook.
‘Oh, I know how to make them, I know what I’ll need.
If you’ll show me the kitchen, I’ll just take a look’
Said the cook.

The family just pointed, so off went the cook
To hunt through the cupboards and search through the pans
and come back to say, ‘I must cook your pancakes, I’m not sure I can.
I have a recipe …the milk and the oil and the flour I found.
But I can’t find the eggs!’

"We don’t have any eggs," said the family.

‘Oh,’ said the cook, ‘that’s not such a problem. Just go to the store
and then you can have them.’?

"The store’s too far and eggs too expensive," said the family.
"We just want our pancakes."

‘Well,’ said the cook, ‘how about your neighbors? They seem quite nice.
Go ask for some eggs, you won’t have to ask twice.’

"We don’t know our neighbors, they don’t seem like us;" said the family.
"We just want our pancakes, what’s all the fuss?"

‘Then go get some chickens,’ said the cook, ‘any kind will do. Just feed them some corn and they’ll lay eggs for you.’

"Chickens have feathers and besides that they smell," said the family.

So, the cook searched the kitchen, both high and low.
There’s no nook or cranny the cook didn’t go.
Off in the corner, way back from the light,
the cook found a box that said: Pancakes. All right!

Inside looked like flour, the box said ‘complete’.
You just added water all nice and neat.
It didn’t need milk and it didn’t need oil, and it didn’t need eggs!

Quick as a flash cook threw it together
to bring to the family on Grandma’s old platter.
They looked just like pancakes, all round, brown, and flat
and covered with syrup (the family liked it like that.)

"These don’t taste like Grandma’s!" the family exclaimed;
"they’re not the best pancakes. The cook is to blame!"

So, up to the attic went Cook in a flurry
to find Grandma’s recipe, in kind of a hurry.
When cook came back down the family was waiting,
they wanted some pancakes they’d give an "A" rating.

‘I have Grandma’s recipe!!’ Cook said with a smile.
‘I can make you good pancakes, but it might take a while.
I can make them like Grandma. I know what I’ll need.
Here’s Grandma’s recipe, just let me read:
it takes milk and some oil and some flour and eggs.’

"We don’t have any eggs," said the family.

Cook looked at the platter still there on the table:
‘These ones from the box that
said they’re complete,
these are the ones you’ll just have to eat.
They'll just have to do,’ said Cook.

"They’ll just have to do," said the family as they started to eat, and they gave her a look.
(But somebody whispered,
"We need a new Cook!")

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