Why We Mourn the Death of Animals

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Why We Mourn the Death of Animals

A Memorial Service for the Animals Message
Celebrated at:
The University of Pittsburgh Chapel
Johnstown, PA

9 July 2011

By Frank L. Hoffman

Scripture References:

Genesis 3:1-5
Numbers 22:28-30
2 Samuel 12:1-7

Hymn: Morning Has Broken

Sermon: Part 1

A true memorial service is natural part of our circle of love.

We mourn the death of both humans and animals because we love them.

And because of the pain of our mourning, we want to remember our departed loved ones, and the loving things we remember about them, as a way of keeping them close to us.

We also want to think of them being in heaven, fully restored, and free from all pain and suffering.

But this explanation doesn't fully answer our question...

Why do we mourn the death of an animal?

It’s because we have made a spiritual connection with the soul and spirit of that animal, or even the entire animal kingdom.

By comparison, we have no such spiritual connection with an inanimate asphalt road surface.

We may like driving on a smooth road surface, but we don’t form any loving relationships with it as we do with our fellow human beings or animals.

We may even get upset when the road surface begins to break up and gets pot holes, but we don’t mourn it, and immediately want to heal it and rush it to the vet for treatment, for we have no spiritual connection with it.

This is also the problem with most people who cause or contribute to the suffering of animals, for they have hardened their hearts so they can no longer have such spiritual connections or feel any empathy for the animals.

But if we have a companion animal get injured, we do rush him or her to the vet for treatment.

And those companions that die spiritually remain in our hearts and souls for years, if not the rest of our lives.

We also mourn animals that we don’t even know personally, for we instinctively know that they are suffering at the hands of our fellow human beings on farms, in slaughterhouses, in laboratories, and from those who make sport of killing them.

The tragedy of this systematic suffering and death is that the people who do these horrible things know full well that the animals are suffering, but they don’t seem to care.

And this hardness of heart, which is so prevalent in the world around us, we mourn even more.

For all of these reasons, and more, we have gathered here this morning to lift up these animals in prayer and thanksgiving as a memorial to each and every one of them.

As part of this spiritual connection we have with animals, we often talk to them, even the ones we don’t know personally, and hope they really understand what we are saying; but inwardly we wish they could respond to us in our own language.

People have been doing this for thousands of years, even as far back as the Garden of Eden, and there Adam and Eve seem to have been able to actually talk to the animals.

Note the account of one of these times in Genesis 3:1-5…

3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?"

2 And the woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;

3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.' "

4 And the serpent said to the woman, "You surely shall not die!

5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
NAS

Here in the garden, Eve shows no surprise that the serpent talked to her and she enters into a normal conversation with him, as if she was used to doing this all the time.

Such a conversation, and the fact that the serpent is referred to as being crafty, is proof that the animals have souls and spirits just as we do.

It is only after this deception that God seems to have removed the power of human speech from the animals, which was more than likely done to protect the animals.

However, this change in the animals’ ability to communicate in no way diminished their status before God.

They were still living souls just as we are.

Another of these talking with the animals instances is recorded in Numbers 22:28-30, when the prophet Balaam goes against the will of God, and God sent an angel with a flaming sword to stop him.

His donkey saw the angel who was standing before them, but Balaam couldn't see him, so he kept striking his donkey with his stick for not proceeding forward as he wanted he to do..

28 And the LORD opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, "What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?"

29 Then Balaam said to the donkey, "Because you have made a mockery of me! If there had been a sword in my hand, I would have killed you by now."

30 And the donkey said to Balaam, "Am I not your donkey on which you have ridden all your life to this day? Have I ever been accustomed to do so to you?" And he said, "No."
NAS

This donkey was trying to save Balaam’s life from the wrath of God, even though Balaam probably didn’t deserve it, but she did it anyway.

And if God would open the mouths of the more than 50 billion land animals, and probably and equal number of sea animals, that suffer and die at the hands of our fellow human beings every year, we would hear them cry out and ask…

Why are you doing this to me?

Why are you betraying me?

Why?

Why?!

WHY?!!!

Let’s think about these things as we sing the hymn penned by Francis of Assisi: All Creatures of Our God and King

Part II

As we continue with our discussion on the spiritual bonding that we have with animals, let’s look at the story that the prophet Nathan told to King David after his adulterous affair with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband. (2 Samuel 12:1-7)

1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said,
"There were two men in one city, the one rich and the other poor.

2 "The rich man had a great many flocks and herds.

3 "But the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb
Which he bought and nourished;
And it grew up together with him and his children.
It would eat of his bread and drink of his cup and lie in his bosom,
And was like a daughter to him.

4 "Now a traveler came to the rich man,
And he was unwilling to take from his own flock or his own herd,
To prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him;
Rather he took the poor man's ewe lamb and prepared it [her] for the man who had come to him."

5 Then David's anger burned greatly against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die.

6 And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."

7 Nathan then said to David, "You are the man!"
NAS

This lamb was like a daughter to this poor man!

This is the kind of relationship we should have with all animals.

We have been corresponding with Patsy for many years, and even though it’s been more than 9 years since Stormie died, she still refers to herself as Stormie’s Mom.

And even in David’s anger against what the rich man had done, he still didn’t understand these spiritual and emotional bonds between humans and animals.

This poor man didn’t want 4 more lambs, and Patsy didn’t want 4 more dogs.

He only wanted his lamb back, and Patsy only wanted Stormie back.

These are the kinds of feelings and relationships we should have with every animal on the planet.

For when we do, we will begin to free them and the whole of creation from its present corruption.

And God has been calling…

Who hears Me?

Who is listening?

Who is willing to help free my beautiful creation and the beloved souls in it?

Who is willing to respond, Here I Am, Lord! Send Me!

Amen!

Hymn: Here I Am, Lord