What does a Pig Blessing, Laetare “Rose” Sunday, and the parable of the Prodigal Son all have to do with each other? They all happened at St. Christopher’s Community Church on March 31st.
First, the pig. Meet Julian. He’s 9 months old, quite docile yet talkative, easy to hold, and (to the amazement of some) a blessed little creature. He happened to miss the Feast of St. Francis with the Blessing of Animals back in October. So when his caretakers contacted Fr. James recently, they set up a time to bless Julian. It just so happened that it was Rose Sunday and that the Gospel lesson was Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).
Next, the pink. It’s Lent. The color of Lent is purple. Why is Fr. James in pink? Firmly denying that it’s Hello Kitty Sunday, Fr. James says, “Rose. The color is ROSE. It marks the halfway point of our fasting seasons, Lent and Advent. The theme on Rose Sunday’s is that God is always good and so even in times of trial we can and ought to offer praise to God and rejoice in the character of God.”
Third, a Prodigal Sunday. The Gospel reading, read aloud from the center of the congregation was Jesus parable of the Prodigal Son. In it, Jesus tells of a Father’s loving acceptance of a wayward, rebellious, and debasing son, who has previously taken half his living father’s estate, squanders it, shames himself and his family. His rock-bottom moment comes at his last job before returning home. He’s a swineherd. A famished swineherd who begins to envy the pigs’ their food. So he returns to his family asking to be hired on as one of the family’s workers. The Father runs out to meet him. Won’t hear anything about becoming a hired hand, and throws him a welcome home party. Jesus uses to imagery of pigs, considered unclean by his hearers, to illustrate the depths to which the son had sunk.
So why bless a pig?! Well, first because in Christ we have learned to love the Creator’s creation, to see it’s goodness. Secondly, because we stand on the Scripture in Acts 10 where God reveals to the fledgling Church that nothing God has made clean should we call filthy or profane. There is no one that God cannot or will not love nor is there anything God cannot transform to good (i.e. redeem). Fr. James said, “Julian [the pig] and I share more in common than you might think. The Law judges him profane by his nature. I, too, by virtue of being a gentile and a sinner am judged profane by the Law. Yet, in Christ, I am, like the Prodigal Son, restored as a family member, God’s family member. If God can restore me, God will have no issues bestowing a blessing on a little pig.”
Here’s the point of this last Sunday: there is nothing about any creature, human or otherwise, you or me or someone else, that God cannot bring into perfect goodness and wholeness. No one ever need be afraid they cannot turn to God at any time and find loving acceptance, mercy, forgiveness, and restoration.
If this is a message you needed to hear and something you’d like to talk more about, please contact Fr. James at pastor /at/ stchristopherolympia /dot/ org .