We’re driving down a dark and quiet street in the coastal town of Hahei, New Zealand, when Zach suddenly calls out, “What’s that on the road!”
It’s a possum and in the split second it takes for the driver to react, rather than slowing down, Aron speeds up!
“What are you doing?” three voices in the car cry.
“They’re pests here,” he explains, accelerating even more.
The possum stops and stands on its hind legs, staring down the car bearing down on it. The screaming inside the car increases and Aron decides the wiser course might be to break and drive around the possum. (As Miriam’s partner Dan comments later, “You played chicken with a possum and the possum won!”)
It was an interesting lead up to the Blessing of the Animals this Sunday, 16 October, 10am, at Canberra Baptist.
This is a service where everyone brings their pets (or emails me email@example.com – preferably by today! – a picture of their pet) and we give thanks for ‘all things bright and beautiful, for all creatures great and small,’ for all things that God has made! (After the service you are also invited to bring some food – or duck to the shops – and join us in Telopea Park for a picnic!)
It is true, however, as we were reminded in New Zealand, that some animals become – not blessings – but curses. As a land mass that was geographically isolated for over 80 million years, New Zealand’s wildlife had evolved in the absence of land mammals and had no defences against new pests and predators. The introduction of possums (brought from Australia in 1837 and reintroduced in 1857 to establish a fur trade), and rats (which came on ships) and stoats (introduced in 1879 to control rabbits which were destroying sheep pasture) have all had a devastating impact on native plants, birds, reptiles, and invertebrates.
But the apex pest continues to be – as we were also reminded – human beings! It is human being who have been responsible for the introduction of all the other pests and predators.
But it is also human beings who are working hard to eradicate pests (as humanely as possible), to restore areas of virgin forest and wilderness, to replant trees and to reintroduce species that have been wiped out.
It seems that we, as human beings, have the capacity to change direction (Just like Aron did in the car! Even if that particular creature was a pest!) and to make decisions that will restore – rather than destroy – the world around us. That is the key takeaway from the ancient biblical story of Noah and the flood, that after all the wickedness and the destruction, God sets God’s heart on restoration, on fruitfulness and abundance, on sustaining life forever. The sign of this, in Genesis 9, is a rainbow in the skies. As God says (Genesis 9:16), “When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”
So please join us this Sunday to give thanks for the beautiful world we have been given – and especially the animals who are such a significant part of our lives – and to recommit ourselves to continuing to change direction so we are also a ‘wise and wonderful’ part of this world that God has made!
Grace and peace,
PS Don’t forget to pack a picnic for this Sunday 16 October, and join us in Telopea Park! (Next Sunday, 23 October, there’ll be morning tea after church, so please stay for that!)
PPS As always, if you would like to be unsubscribed from this weekly email, please contact the church office – firstname.lastname@example.org