Sunday, October 4 is the Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi, an Italian Catholic friar who loved animals and believed they were God’s beloved creatures. He rejoiced in the value and beauty that animals bring to God’s creation. He was even known to preach sermons to animals. Of course, many pet lovers like myself ask the question, do pets go to heaven?
“It’s no surprise that his feast day (Oct 4) became naturally associated with the blessings of animals,” says Pastor Craig Sturm, of Trinity Lutheran Church in Sherman, Texas. “Francis found ways to incorporate animals into worship, organizing the first live nativity scene.”
Do Pets Go to Heaven?
On October 4, Pastor Craig Sturm will preach on a question he gets asked often: “Do my beloved pets go to heaven?”
Different religions have various ideas of heaven, paradise, nirvana, and life after death. Few spiritual leaders answer this question directly, probably because religion focuses on people and not animals.
The Greeks believed that animals had souls. Some students of Islam say that all animals are submitters to the will of Allah, which makes them “Muslims” and that Muslims come to this earth for a period of time, determined by God, and then they return to Him for eternity. In this way, they say the Quran makes it clear that all the animals will go to Heaven.
Native American traditions say there is an afterlife for animals, and that all of life goes “home” after death and back to the Creator. But the Hindu religion says animals live on a different plane and do not go to heaven. Instead, they reincarnate into higher forms and ultimately live as humans, and thereby attain paradise.
Christianity and Judaism question whether a soul is required to get into heaven or if “spirit” is the same as a soul. Christians believe redemption and faith to be necessary to attain heaven—but can animals sin, have faith, or be redeemed? Seeking answers in Bible scripture can be frustrating because it focuses on human redemption, not animals.
UPDATE: What a wonderful message and day–we had a lovely time both at the pet talk event and the sermon itself. For those interested in hearing Pastor Craig’s message, you can watch the recording of the Facebook Live event here.
Free Pet Talk with Q & A
Those of us who love them, spoil pets while we have them. We consider them part of our family, and deeply mourn their passing. Many of us take comfort in a lovely story of the “rainbow bridge” where we all will be reunited on that future, happy day. But is it wishful thinking?
I believe that ultimately it comes down to faith. If you believe in a Creator that made all things and loves all that was created—why would animals be left out? If heaven is a place of delight and enjoyment for humans, and animals bring us great joy, I have no doubt that the Creator of such marvels designed heaven to perfectly satisfy us all.
Everyone is invited to attend the 10:30 a.m. worship service to hear Pastor Craig’s sermon addressing the question. He’ll share answers based on what the Bible says.
Blessing of the Animals
As part of Trinity Lutheran Church’s celebration, there will be a Blessing of the Animals. For your pets to be included, please e-mail a picture of your beloved pet(s) to the church office (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be included in a special video presentation. Or simply bring a picture of your pet(s) with you to worship.
Then at 11:30, bring your own lunch and join other pet lovers for casual food and fellowship. Drinks will be provided.
Pet Talk, Q & A, with Book Signing
At noon, join me for an informal Pet Talk covering fun information about cat and dog behavior, training and other pet-centric topics. There will be plenty of time to answer questions, so feel free to share your puzzlers here in the comments, or bring them with you.
I’ve been asked to have a few of my books available for sale, too–maybe can paw-tograph one to a special pet, or for a pet person as a future holiday gift? BONUS SURPRISE–I hope to have a preview copy of the next book to show attendees. It won’t be available until December, but you’ll get a sneak peek at the event (if my author copy comes in time!).
Trinity Lutheran Church, Sherman is located at 1515 N. Travis Street (just south of Albertson’s), and you can call the church office for more information at 903-893-3906 (tlc-sherman.org).
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