Animals, Human and Otherwise

November 9, 2012

Excerpt from Genesis 9:8-17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark."

Reflection by Quinn G. Caldwell

Did you catch that?  In today's story, which comes near the end of the whole ark episode, God makes a covenant not just with Noah and his descendants, but with every living animal, everywhere.
 
How does one make a covenant with an animal?  A covenant is a contract, pure and simple, an agreement between two parties that spells out how they will behave with one another.  "If you give me X, I will give you Y."  "If I do this, you will do that."

So what is the birds' quid to God's quo?  What is it that God needs, or even wants, enough to make a contract with zebras?  What could dinosaurs or dolphins possibly do that's enough to pay for God's offer of a future?

It turns out that what your cat can offer God for her salvation is just what you can offer: exactly nothing.  It turns out that covenants with God aren't quite the same as covenants with everyone else.  It turns out that with God, it's not so much a quid pro quo as a quid pro nil.  The promise, the salvation, the future on offer to every living thing is free, and there's nothing you or your cat can do to earn it, or to lose it.

So why don't you go find an animal you know, and celebrate?

Prayer (best said while holding or snuggling your favorite animal):

God, I thank you that in you, through you, and with you, the world, the animals, and I have a future.  Amen.

About the Author
Quinn G. Caldwell is Pastor and Teacher at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC, in Syracuse, New York, and co-editor, with Curtis J. Preston, of the Unofficial Handbook of the United Church of Christ, published by The Pilgrim Press.

Click to order Hark! Advent Devotionals 2012 from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.

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