Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Thursday, October 2, 2008

"A dead dog!... why me?"

Another ministerial memory.... I have had quite a long association with an alcoholic guy in town here. I have helped him move his stuff several times (heaps of it! He gathers rubbish.) and generally tried to be a supportive friend in his life. He was helping a woman tidy up her section and rang me to ask if I could use my van to move the weeds and rubbish to the rubbish tip. Wanting to support this positive activity in his life I agreed and turned up at the house at the appointed time. He met me and asked that before we loaded the rubbish "would I do a favour for the lady of the house?" He would not tell me what the favour was but led me up the path to the house where I met the woman and a couple of her friends. They too did not tell me what was wanted, but led me down the hall to a bedroom, there curled up on the bed was a dog, dead for the last four days! The favour they asked was would I "say a prayer over the dog?" They had a special "coffin" made and they were going to put him in it and bury him, but before they did it, could I say a prayer? They did not teach me about "Prayers for dead dogs" at theological college? My mind was racing, what can I say? What should I say in such a prayer? Did I believe in "dog heaven"? ... and then the wicked side of me thought (because the lady was obviously very fundamentalist) .. was the dog "saved" any way? Well of course I said I would. We reverently gathered around the bed and we thanked God for pets, for friendship, for memories and I prayed for the people as they adjusted to their loss. They were happy, and now ready to bury their dog in this expensive looking polished box. I went back to loading rubbish in the van thinking, "Well that was a new experience!" One thing about ministry is it keeps throwing at you new, interesting and mind stretching experiences.

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