Often, when we think of caring for creation, we give immediate consideration to protecting our precious lands, air, water, forests. Animals, however, are frequently overlooked as an integral part of God’s glorious creation. Whether they are endangered species, companion animals, or animals raised on farms, they are all worthy of compassionate kindness. Yet animals, who have been entrusted to our stewardship, suffer needlessly as a result of our actions. Each year, millions of animals in the U.S. are discarded and euthanized in shelters. Billions of animals raised for food are legally confined their entire lives in cramped spaces barely bigger than their bodies to meet our increasing consumption demands. And in the past 40 years alone, the world has lost more than half of its wild animals. These are only three of many examples of how our relationship with God’s non-human creatures is sadly imbalanced. We are increasingly becoming aware that if any one part of creation suffers, all of it inevitably suffers. Lent gives us an opportunity to not only explore how we are connected to all of creation, but also to consider how we can live more compassionately, thereby allowing the entirety of creation to give God glory to the fullest.
Merciful Creator, through my daily actions, help me to love the all that you have created and love.
By Akisha Townsend Eaton
Questions & Actions
- Take a second and consider your relationship with animals, both ones you might love (like pets) and ones you might eat. What do you know about the animals in your life?
- In Genesis 2:18-19 we have an account of God creating animals as helpers and partners to man. The story goes on to indicate somehow the animal help isn’t all that is needed, but the implication might be that our relationship to animals in creation was first intended as one of partnership. How would this change how your relate to animals (as food or friends)?
- If you read the creation texts of Genesis 1-3 carefully, you will notice that there is a strong indication the start of things was vegetarian. This is reinforced by the fact that, after the flood, God makes a clear concession that humanity would now be permitted to eat meat (Genesis 9:2-4). Compare Genesis 9:2-4 to Genesis 2:18-19. What has changed?
- A common Lenten fasting practice involves abstaining from meat. Consider adopting this practice for today, or perhaps even this week. Reflect prayerfully at mealtimes on the significance of animals in your diet. Share your reactions to this limited fast below.