December 29, 2019

A Message from God about Abbey the Dog

Passage: Romans 8:18–25

Click here to listen to this reflection.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God. —Romans 8:19


God in Christ came to earth to redeem humanity from its brokenness, but in his letter to the church at Rome, Paul promises that all creation will share in the same redemption.

Romans 8:18–25

 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

So probably most of you know that this is the first time in nine years that I have not celebrated the service of blessing for the animals without my co-pastor Dudley. I know that there are many of you who have gone through the same thing since the last Blessing of the Animals Worship, including one that Jo prayed for just a moment ago who is being put down this afternoon.

We think of families like that. Someone sent me this email years ago and it spoke to me, maybe it will speak to you.

It was A Message from God about Abbey the Dog.

Abbey died at the great old age of 14 and left behind Meredith who was four years old and very sad. Meredith asked her Mom if she could send a letter to God.

Dear God,

Will you please take care of my dog? She died yesterday and is with you in heaven. I miss her very much. I am happy that you let me have her as my dog even though she got sick.

I hope you will play with her. She likes to swim and play with balls. I am sending a picture of her so when you see her you will know that she is my dog. I really miss her.

Love, Meredith

Then Meredith’s mother helped to put the letter in an envelope with a photo of Abbey. Meredith said we have to put a lot of stamps on this envelope because heaven is far away.

A few days later, there was a package at Meredith’s house. It was wrapped in gold paper. The package contained a book by Mr. Rogers: When a Pet Dies.

Inside the book, the original letter from Meredith to God and the photo of Abbey. There was also another note:

Dear Meredith,

Abbey arrived safely in heaven. Having the picture was a big help and I recognized her right away.

Abbey isn't sick anymore. Her spirit is here with me just like it stays in your heart. Abbey loved being your dog. Since we don't need our bodies in heaven, I don't have any pockets to keep your picture in so I am sending it back to you in this little book for you to keep and have something to remember Abbey by.

Thank you for the beautiful letter and thank your mother for helping you write it and sending it to me. What a wonderful mother you have. I picked her especially for you. I send my blessings every day and remember that I love you very much. By the way, I'm easy to find. I am wherever there is love.

Love, God

Now some people think this is that just a sentimental apocryphal story, but some people consider it serious theology. Some smart theologians scoff at the thought that we will by reunited with our pets in the life of the world to come. I don’t know.

But St. Paul writes to the Church at Rome:

“the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.”

The great 20th century Swiss theologian Karl Barth said:

Therefore, nothing will escape color which has ever been wingbeat of the mayfly in far-flung epochs of geologic time.

God will not allow anything to perish but will hold it in the hollow of God’s hand, as God has always done, and does, and will do. God will not be alone in eternity, but with the creature. God will allow it to partake of God’s own eternal life.

Pictures below are courtesy of Kitty Bliss and Kathy Piepgras.