This is Pentecost Sunday, considered the birthday of the Church. With Easter and Christmas it is one of the "big three" Christian holidays. There's plenty to love about celebrating Pentecost (wear red! read the Gospel in a language other than English! read the Gospel in English, even!). Some churches have birthday cakes. I can remember once as a Sunday School teacher bringing a kite shaped like a dove to church, festooning it with flame-colored ribbons, and hanging it in the stairwell leading to our classroom.
And - yes -did I mention some churches have birthday cakes?
But today, I was struck by two things during the service.
First, that I was going to be sorry to see the Paschal candle leave its prime spot in the chancel after today. Pentecost is considered the last day of Easter season, and so the Paschal candle, which is lit throughout the Easter season, will go into hibernation - at least, until the next baptism. I'll miss it.
Second, of all the scripture readings we heard today, the one that reached out and grabbed me was one of my favorite psalm portions:
Psalm 104, verses 25 through 28
O LORD, how manifold are your works!*
in wisdom you have made then all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the great and wide sea
with its living things too many to number,*
creatures both small and great.
There move the ships,
and there is that Leviathan,*
which you have made for the sport of it.
All of them look to you*
to give them their food in due season.
Let me summarize: God has pets! "There is that Leviathan, which you have made for the sport of it." I think of God enjoying, just reveling in, the antics of some great sea monster (I picture it as something between a whale and a sea-serpent, perhaps throwing itself out of the water and splashing back in). This can't be very different from the way I enjoy watching a cat play, or watching birds outside at the bird feeder.
And all these creatures, Leviathan included, look to God to feed them. Anyone who ever hears one of my cats complaining when one of the food dishes is only partially full will get the image here.
How marvelous is God's creation! And how generous is God, to share with us the ability to delight in other creatures around us, just for the sport of it.