Dog Stories: Sermon Illustrations (sans sermon)

Walking my dog MoMo this morning offered a few moments of quiet before a busy day. The air was chilly and calm. I could hear birds calling and singing from amidst the branches of bare trees. The sky was a clear baby blue, with traces of red & pink lining a few scattered clouds as the sun rose.

I realized as I looked around me that this beautiful autumn morning…could just as easily be a beautiful spring morning. Without leaves on the trees to identify the season, there was almost no way of knowing whether it was a day in the midst of a season of dying…or a day in the midst of a season of rebirth.

Where in your life & in your world do you feel yourself worrying that a season of death may be approaching? Could it be that a season of new life is dawning instead?

Dog Stories: Sermon Illustrations (sans sermon)

Now that the leaves are falling in earnest, MoMo occasionally snarls and jumps and snaps to catch an autumn leaf that crosses in front of him on the breeze. It’s quite a sight to watch MoMo snag a leaf between his teeth with instinctive aggression, smack his jaws to test the taste and chew-ability of this mysterious morsel, and then let it drop to the ground quickly when he realizes that the leaf doesn’t suit his palate.

When do you find yourself grabbing for something that you want, without really pausing to assess the “nutritional value” (spiritual, emotional, physical) of that item?

Or, to look at the illustration from another direction: how often do you lash out impulsively when something or someone crosses your path, perceiving a threat without (again) pausing to see what or who is really in front of you?

Dog Stories: Sermon Illustrations (sans sermon)

We have a dog, MoMo, a fully grown (all of 17 pounds) miniature pinscher adopted from the Humane League. MoMo has a pleasant demeanor–except when he’s not in the mood–and I like him best at night when he curls up next to me on the couch while I watch tv.

Having a pet (like having kids) lends itself to experiencing an abundance of everyday moments that could be great sermon illustrations: little truths and observations that have great parallels to the life of faith…if only I would bother to develop them in a sermon.

Instead, I’m putting them in blog form. “Dog Stories” are open for your own interpretation and spiritual reflection!


MoMo wears a harness around his chest when we walk, with the leash clipped onto the harness at his shoulder blades. When MoMo lunges forward against the harness–inevitably at the sight of a squirrel–I can feel, amazingly, through the harness and pulsating along the taut leash, his pounding heartbeat in the palm of my hand.

How do you understand and sense the Spirit’s presence with you, so close that She can feel your heartbeat?

Are you aware of and careful with your connection to all people, to all sisters and brothers? Aware of their heartbeats? Careful with the ways that you may pull or strain others?