I’m a big fan of the Mitford Series, anybody else ever read these books?  It’s a series of books written by Jan Karon about an Episcopalian priest in his early 60’s who’s serves in a little town in North Carolina.   One of the main characters in the book and my favorite, is a stray dog who shows up named Barnabas.   Father Tim, it seems, is perfectly set in his life.  A bit lonely perhaps, but comfortable for sure, until Barnabas shows up at the door of the church office.   Take a read:

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As he took the key from his pocket, he felt something warm and disgustingly wet on his hand. 

He looked down into the face of a large, black, mud-caked dog, whose tail began to beat wildly against his pant leg.

“Good grief!” he said, wiping his hand on his windbreaker.

At that, the dog leaped up and licked his face, sending a shower of saliva into his right ear. “Get away! Be gone!” he shouted. He tried to protect the notebook he was carrying, but the dog gave it a proper licking before he could stuff it in his jacket, then tried to snatch it from him.

He thought of running, but if anyone saw him fleeing before a shaggy, mud-caked dog, everybody in town would know it within the half hour.

“Down!” he commanded sharply, at which the dog leaped up and gave his chin a bath.

He tried to fend the animal off with his elbow, while inserting the key in the office door. If he were a cussing man, he reasoned, this would offer a premier opportunity to indulge himself. “ 'Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth,' ” he quoted in a loud voice from Ephesians, “ 'but that which is good to the use of edifying . . .' ” Suddenly, the dog sat down and looked at his prey with fond admiration.

“Well, now,” he said irritably, wiping the notebook on his sleeve. “I hope you've got that nonsense out of your system.” At this, the dog leaped up, stood on its hind legs, and put its vast paws on the rector's shoulders.”

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 Thus begins the adventures of Mitford Episcopalian priest whose life will never be the same as a result of this crazy dog named Barnabas! In reading some of the author’s notes about this series, Jan Karon sees Barnabas as kind of a Christ figure in this book, baptizing folks with his overwhelming welcome....a sloppy wet kiss you can’t help but love, and be forever changed by!

 This Sunday as we celebrate the great gift of our pets, may we open our hearts to a God who has chosen not only to work through we two legged beasts, but also our friends with four!

 Your friend and pastor, ready to take my 4 legged Christ for a walk, Brook

Tim Schaaf