Do Dogs have souls?

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When you hear the terms “soul” and “spirit,” what comes to your mind? Many people believe that these words mean something invisible and immortal that exists inside us. Individuals and communities think that at death, this invisible part of a human leaves the body and lives on.

I have conducted many funerals, and I endorse this hope, and often speak about the essence of God’s Spirit which dwells within us, merges with the greater Spirit which we call ‘God’. Where two become one, and where the person, (myself included when my time comes), will find ultimate peace, ultimate fulfilment, ultimate healing and ultimate wholeness, which is called SHALOM.

A member of my family is very poorly at the moment, and may die. He gives us joy, he eats with us, sleeps in our house, shares our joys and sorrows, he shows emotions and intellect, he is quiet yet noble, he is our dog Danny, a greyhound. He is a part of our family, and that means also God’s family, and because of this, I know God treasures him and loves him.

Danny has taught me many things, to trust, to love, to give and receive affection, to depend on mystery and relationship between a human and a canine friend. He has been there in times when I just needed someone to cuddle, he has been there jumping around the garden in happiness when I am doing the gardening.

Do Dogs have souls ?… I know they do. Love and trust which Danny shows me are qualities that God shows to each one of us. As humans, we have to encourage each other in times of difficulties and sow seeds of love, to bring about the kingdom of God. It seems to me that Dogs are our companions in this task. Danny has accompanied me on many a pastoral visit, and the person I am visiting has spoken more to him than me !

There is divine connection between humans and dogs, a connection which is moulded and forged in the mystery of God. Now it is my turn to be with Danny, as he journeys through this very difficult path, visiting him and comforting him, feeding him and yes his Spirit is bruised, but still strong. I am there for him , as he has been there for me. Surely that is what the Kingdom of God should look like , being visibly there for each other. ?

I pray that when the time comes and I release Danny back to God, God will bless him and say ‘Well done my true and faithful servant, in you, I have been well pleased’

Prayer

God who shows us how love

We thank you for the love and joy our pets bring us.

We thank you those with healing hands heal and restore life to our pets

We thank you for the divine connection you give all animals.

Enable us as partners in your creation to recognise your divine Spirit in our animals,

to always be kind to them, and never abuse their trust in us.

For your kingdom would be poorer without them.

Amen

©Ruth Dillon

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Releasing the Spirit …

As we approach Advent and Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus yet as sure as eggs are eggs we will also be on the path which leads us into a deeper understanding of God . We have celebrated various Christian festivals in recent weeks All Souls day, All Saints, day and concluding with Remembrance Day

As a young 18yr old student nurse, one of my first jobs was to prepare the body of a person who had recently died. The sister told me to talk to the person as though they were still here, then tenderly touch and wash them.

After washing, we wrapped the body in a white sheet, tightly…and it has been this image that has stayed with me all my life … the image of being encased, ‘womb like’, waiting for something to happen … the physical body in a state of slow decay.. Yet the spirit being released …soaring to its final destination… to be a new creation

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I have never seen a soul take flight… yet I have felt what is like to be so overwhelmed with awesomeness that my inner body responds in wavelike motions… it’s a though my Spirit is wanting to reach some ‘outer part’ that I can only glimpse at… yet she can see and feel the Creator God more intimately than I can.

There will be opportunity to reflect on the birth of Jesus through the following weeks, yet I think the final word needs to be with the image of the Spirit soaring to merge with essence of God who is Creator, Redeemer and Comforter… what a happy occasion that will be. !!

The song is one I remember singing as young child, then I heard it sung again in Jamaica at a graveside during my ministerial training … the image of a bird, the Spirit flies to be be in completeness and oneness with God.

The Journey begins ..

Jesus walking on water !

It’s been nearly two weeks since Easter, and we should be full of the joys of Spring, for through our understanding of Resurrection, the Jesus of History and been changed to the Christ of Faith … yet for some people… Spring has not arrived (quite literally here in England !! ) and the cold winds of depression and weariness can easily fill the void in our lives, where Holy Saturday seems to loom equally large.

As Easter people, we should be living in the light of the Resurrection … living with hope filling our lives, however today’s political and economic climate can be so overpowering, that it engulfs any hope we may have experienced on that Easter morning, and our Easter euphoria may only last a short time.

It seems to me that ‘Holding on’ to what is good in our lives is the key; not to be consumed by the negativity that the culture dictates , but to recognise that our journey HAS begun … and that Jesus said it would not be an easy road that we travel upon. On the road to Emmaus , the two companions were frustrated about the political unrest in Jerusalem, and distraught about the crucifixion and death of Jesus, nevertheless they recognised Jesus , not through conversation, but in action, an action of breaking bread.

The only way that other people can recognise the risen Christ … is through our action; so we need to encourage each other, support each other, be inclusive, recognise when someone needs a shoulder to cry on, be sensitive when difficulties arise, speak about injustice and know that through our actions, other people may see the Resurrected Christ, then Christ then will become alive, and real.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,.            Teresa of Avila

Weaving the ‘Resurrection story’ in our lives

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The more Easter sermons I share with congregations, the more I pay attention to and am amazed by the loud voice of the women on Easter Sunday !!! They play such a central role on this great day. They stand in such stark contrast to the disciples, all who had fled, and now declare that the women’s story is an idle tale or outright nonsense.

Good news is what we hope for, we long to hear it but it often requires a leap of faith, a willingness to believe what we have not seen with our own eyes.

As Martin Luther King once said Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Good news can transform us and everything we know, but……. sometimes we are not quite ready for it.

Resurrection is seen and experienced in the quality of the lives of those who live out their faith in the Risen Lord We see it most clearly in the transformation of Peter, who went from misunderstanding the Scriptures to interpreting them through the lens of the Resurrection. We see it in Paul who had set out to put Christians to death, only to become the champion of “dying and rising with Christ.”, but the resurrection is not just for people… it is also situations and relationships, where all seems lost , then a new spark or light rays shines through and shatter doubt , fear and injustice, and replace them with strength and hope.

Such lives are evidence that Jesus has risen from the dead and is alive in the world today. By this I mean we see with new insight , we see the world through Jesus eyes, not through our own , if we accept that at Easter something happened to transform, renew, and enthuse the disciples… well I want some of that, and I expect we all do . This is the resurrection. Making a brand new start today …through the eyes of the resurrected Jesus

God has woven resurrection into our daily lives so we can learn the shape of it and perhaps learn to trust the strength of it when our own time comes.

We are “Easter people”……. when we put on brand new lives, not merely brand new clothes.

Easter Day is the key to our faith and to our hope,

It is central to everything that Jesus taught, concerning himself and the Kingdom of God

It is central to everything that the church has proclaimed, since the day that Jesus ascended into heaven.

Alleluia .. Christ has risen !!

Prayer

Loving God

we thank you today

for that which we cannot understand

but which we can appreciate, and experience.

Pour out upon us, a renewed faith in your power

and the peace that comes with hope in you

and in the resurrection of Christ our Lord.

Amen

Small boy reflecting on Good Friday

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I have a had a very interesting Good Friday.The service went well , ecumenical , quiet and reflective with some music from Keith Duke from Lindesfarne; only one reflection from Mary Jesus mother, and then each person took a nail to the cross and laid it down before the candle was extinguished.

How ever the most powerful image that will remain with me, is the image of my 8 yr old grandson on the floor gazing at the cross( see picture). When I asked him if he was OK … he said yes .. I was just thinking about the pain that Jesus must have had once nails were in him …..he then told me that he liked the red cloth as it reminded him of the blood , but also of the pain the world we live in.  I said that many people live in Good Friday and Holy Saturday mode … that all people can daily see and feel is pain and terror and fear, never getting to the resurrection hope that Easter Day brings.

Even though I obtained have a first class BA honours in Contextual Theology, and Masters in Theology, this simple act and conversation with my grandson that I witnessed spoke to me much more that words can imagine.

He knew pain, from his short life and personal experience, and knew it was part of life and living …yet he sat here thinking about how Jesus had helped him.

Thank God for children , who minister and teach us !!

Good Friday God,

When we can be immersed in Liturgies and words ,

The simple act of a sitting and reflecting in a childlike way …is all it takes ..

As we gaze at the cross, let us be aware of the pain of others

As we see your arms outstretched holding the world in an embrace.

Heal our wounds by your love for us

As we hear the cries of  friends,  families and strangers  who stood  before you .

Help us move from

the pain of living …..to the hope of abundant blessing.

In Jesus name …..we  pray this today Amen

The ‘scent’ of Love

 

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My favourite perfume is Green Tea, by Elizabeth Arden … Not that I ever wear it a great deal, apart from special occasions, however I also love to have aromatherapy burning in the house. I adore the many scents and fragrances and often will mix them up and see what will develop. Although it has been a while now, I used make bread, which can evoke such memories of warmth and comfort, yet I feel one of the most tangible ‘scents’, is the scent of Love. I have been in a room where I have felt the magnetism in the air between two people, and again when I read the reading of the woman who anointed Jesus from the Gospel of John, I wondered what the atmosphere would have been like.

The onlookers would have been shocked and disgusted, that Jesus allowed her to anoint his feet; not a slave, but a woman of status, and her hair not bound and tied up like a good obedient Jewish woman would do, but let down, flowing locks for all to see, so she could wipe the excess oil from his feet. This act of true devotion has been discussed many times, and yet again, I too am reflecting on it. Recently, I thought that the smell of the oil would have been with Jesus for a long time. I know when I spilt aromatherapy oil on my fingers, the smell lingers for ages. Jesus knew that this caring and tender act would be a ‘final goodbye’, for now he faces Jerusalem; the city that is full of betrayal, deceit, bitterness and death.

He can smell the tension in the air, yet…. The overpowering scent which he will take with him is one of Love.

A scent which will sustain him through the difficult days ahead.

A scent which will calm his nerves

A scent which is just for him

And what does Mary get in return?…As she anoints his feet with oil, and the fragrance permeates every pore between them, she wipes his oily feet with her hair, and as the oil sticks to her hair it becomes drenched, so she unwittingly anoints herself on her forehead with the same oil . That simple, yet important act of courage and faithfulness, has been blessed by God.

As disciples, we serve the God of Love, and it is that Love which will be our ‘scent’ in the world, a scent which will linger, a scent which means devotion, a scent which will carry us through our difficult and sometimes tortuous journey of life.

God who is Love

whose Love for us is overflowing,

whose Love for us is eternal whose love for us is seen in the act of a woman

Bless us with the oil of gladness and faithfulness

So all may know that we are your disciples

Amen

What a privilege !

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I am always humbled when I conduct a funeral. I think it is such an honour to be there with relatives and friends as they ‘hand over’ the person that they have loved and cherished over many years to God.

However, it does need reinforcing that God never leaves us, and ‘Time’ as we understand it, is all too precious. However in God’s ‘Time’, life and death merge into a cyclical time, not linear. God is present with us in this life and also continues to cherish us through into the phase of our journey… the circle of existence. We are all part of the essence of God, so when we journey through to the next part of our existence that we call heaven, I like to think that the Spirit of God that dwells within us, merges with the perfect essence of God, which we call Love, and therefore we become a new creation.

We are changed and transformed into something that radiates God’s love even brighter than before. I am not so bold as to think that I know what heaven is like, however as I Christian, I believe and have hope,  that we have a new beginning surrounded by the Grace and Love of God; that I am reunited with all my friends and relatives, whatever their colour, gender, race or creed. ‘For there is nothing in this world or the next that can ever separate us from the Love of God’. What a privilege to have faith!!

God who is Love,

Enable us to recognise your Spirit within others

So we may look into their eyes

and see your love radiate back to us

So we may feel the pain,

and hold your hand

So we may speak word of comfort

And show you that we care

What a privilege and blessing it is

to have you in our lives

Amen