Blessing of the animals returns for a third year

Blessing of the animals returns for a third year

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A rabbit is held during a previous year’s blessing of the animals service at the Setauket Presbyterian Church, where the third annual event is slated for Christmas Eve. Photo from Mary Speers

The Setauket Presbyterian Church will hold its third annual family-friendly Christmas Eve manger service, with carols and blessing of animals, at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 24.

On the first Christmas Eve, it was the animals that made room in their stable for Mary and Joseph, the church said, in explanation of the manger service. According to the old carol, it was the donkey that carried a very pregnant Mary all the way to Bethlehem. It was the cow who gave the baby her manger, full of hay, for his bed; the sheep who gave wool to keep him warm; the doves who sang him to sleep. The world wasn’t that different then from the way it is now. On the afternoon of Christmas Eve, as the day gives way to night, this will be a time to gather and give thanks for the hospitality of the friendly beasts, the first to welcome the unknown baby to the world, and for the friendly beasts who warm our homes and our hearts today. In our uncertain world, they teach us everything we need to know about steadfast hope, unflagging patience and unconditional love.

Children from the Setauket Presbyterian Children’s Choir will sing “The Friendly Beasts,” in costume. Children of all ages, as well as animals of (almost) all sizes, are invited to come with their adult humans to the Setauket Presbyterian Church, 5 Caroline Ave. on the Village Green in Setauket, Thursday, Dec. 24, at 4:30 p.m.