A couple of weeks ago in his sermon our preacher was talking about a local congregation that had a “Blessing of the Pets”. While I always thought that this was a bizarre practice, I thought of it as fairly innocuous. Our preacher, though, went off on it, saying that when the gospel is ignored all you have left are empty practices like blessing of pets. (This is a very liberal congregation). I am not sure that I buy into his assertion that practices like pet blessings are a sign of an abandonment of the gospel. But in our bible study that week, there was a cheering section mocking such practices and lifting up the pastor for calling it out.
I was reminded of this when I came across the news article about a church blessing the hands of nurses for National Nurses Week. It was done by a church in south Georgia. You can find the news article & video here. In practice, it seems the same thing as a pet blessing…an extra-biblical practice that is not core to the gospel.
But I am uncomfortable criticizing it (and not just because it is an apparently evangelical church doing it–I usually find myself more critical of evangelical churches than of mainline or more liturgical churches). I think that the practice is an affirmation of the important role that nurses play in our society and asking God to use these hands to minister to others is at least a fair thing to do. (I admit that I don’t really know the content of the blessing).
I guess I would say the same thing for “pet blessings”. Pets play an important role in the lives of most Americans. They are not only companions, but can bring increased mental health and a purpose in living for many people. To thank God for them and ask that he use them in that role, seems (while not core to the gospel) at least not antithetical to it.
What are your thoughts? Do you see a difference between the two? Are both bogus or is there legitimate benefit in both. Have you ever participated in one or the other? Share what you think…
Again you can find the article & video here.