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The Burial of a Bird or Memorial Service for a Bird

Opening Anthem

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the living creatures and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousands times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands, Saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.

And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, "Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever."

And the four beasts said, "Amen." And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever. (Rev. 5:11-14)

(In the prayers below, the Leader says the deceased bird�s name where the prayers say N., and changes the italicized pronouns as appropriate for the bird�s gender, if known. The particular kind of bird may be substituted as appropriate, i.e., parrot, eagle, finch, etc. )

Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Let us pray.
O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day this beloved
bird, N., who was our companion during this life. We thank you for giving him to us to be a source of wonder, inspiration, and joy.

In Your compassion, comfort us in our grief. Give us faith to commit this beloved bird to Your care, as you gave him to us to care for during his life, and give us hope that we may one day be reunited in heaven, for You live and reign for ever and ever. Amen.

The Liturgy of the Word

One or more of the following passages of scripture may be read. The Leader should choose appropriate passages before the service and if desired they may be read by anyone present.

Old Testament

Genesis 8:6-12

Deuteronomy 32:9-12a

Job 12:7-10

1 Kings 17:1-6

Psalm 84:1-6; or 104:1, 10-12, 17-18, 25, 28-32 or 147:1-3, 8-12

New Testament

1 Cor 15:35-44

Revelations 4:1a,6-11


Luke 3:21-22

Matthew 6:25-29

Matthew 10:27-30

Sharing of Memories

At this time the Leader may invite those present to share their memories of the life of the deceased bird, remembering especially the joyful or affectionate nature, intelligence, gracefulness and beauty of the departed bird and its other good traits. And those attending may also share more difficult memories of the bird�s faults, and humorous stories; for our beloved avian friends, unlike human beings, are morally innocent, but like us, they are imperfect. When all have finished what they desire to say, the Leader says:

Let us pray.

Gracious God, you gave to us the responsibility and blessing of the care of this bird during his earthly life. If in any way we failed in that responsibility, we ask for your pardon, and trust in Your mercy, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Creator of all, when the dove returned to Noah with an olive branch in her mouth, you gave us the rainbow as the sign of Your everlasting covenant with every living creature of all flesh: help us to trust in your covenant of faithfulness to N., our beloved bird. Amen.

The Apostles Creed (optional)

Leader: For our companion, N., let us pray to our Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Please respond after each petition, "Lord, hear us."

Lord, you consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; be close to us as we mourn for our avian friend.

Lord, hear us.

In the birds you have given us a sign of our own mortal nature�s being lifted into the heavens by your Spirit; comfort us in our sorrow.

Lord, hear us.

At your baptism, the Holy Spirit descended upon you in the form of a dove; give us faith to commit N. to your loving and tender care.

Lord, hear us.

Father of all, at creation your Spirit hovered over the chaos like a bird hovering over her nest, and you care for even the fall of the sparrow; receive our beloved bird into your heavenly dwellings.

Lord, hear us.

A period of silence may be kept.

Creator of the Universe, you love everything that you have made. We pray to you for N. and for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May their souls, and the souls of all the departed, by the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

The service closes with the Peace, and with the singing of one or more hymns or songs, such as "Amazing Grace," "How Great Thou Art," "His Eye is On the Sparrow" or, especially appropriate for children, "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Scripture Readings

Genesis 8:6-12 (RSV) At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark which he had made, and sent forth a raven; and it went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground; but the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put forth his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark; and the dove came back to him in the evening, and lo, in her mouth a freshly plucked olive leaf; so Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. Then he waited another seven days, and sent forth the dove; and she did not return to him any more.

Deuteronomy 32:9-12a For the Lord�s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness; he encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings,catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone did lead him.

Job 12:7-10 (RSV) Ask the beasts, and they will teach you, the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

1 Kings 17:1-6 Now Elijah the Tishbite..said to Ahab, "As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." And the word of the Lord came to him, "Depart from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is east of the Jordan. You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." So he went and did according to the word of the Lord: he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

PSALM 84:1-6

How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts!*

My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God. The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young;* by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.

Happy are they who dwell in your house!*

they will always be praising you.

Happy are the people whose strength is in you!*

whose hearts are set on the pilgrims� way.

Those who go through the desolate valley will find

it a place of springs,*

for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.

They will climb from height to height,*

and the God of Jacob will reveal himself in Zion.

or PSALM 104:1, 10-12, 17-18 (BCP)

Bless the Lord, O my soul;*

O Lord my God, how excellent is your greatness!

you are clothed with majesty and splendor.

You send the springs into the valleys*

they flow between the mountains.

All the beasts of the field drink their fill from them,*

and the wild asses quench their thirst.

Beside them the birds of the air make their nests*

and sing among the branches.

The trees of the Lord are full of sap,*

the cedars of Lebanon which he planted,

In which the birds build their nests,*

and in whose tops the stork makes his dwelling.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!*

in wisdom you have made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

All of them look to you*

to give them their food in due season.

You give it to them; they gather it;*

you open your hand, and they are filled with good things.

You hide your face, and they are terrified;*

you take away their breath,

and they die and return to their dust.

You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;*

and so you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;*

may the Lord rejoice in all his works.

or PSALM 147:1-3, 8-12 (BCP)


How good it is to sing praises to our God!*

how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!

The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem;*

he gathers the exiles of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted*

and binds up all their wounds.

He covers the heavens with clouds*

and prepares rain for the earth;

He makes grass the grow upon the mountains*

and green plants to serve mankind.

He provides food for flocks and herds*

and for the young ravens when they cry.

He is not impressed by the might of a horse;*

he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;

But the Lord has pleasure in those who fear him,

in those who await his gracious favor.

1 Cor 15:35-44 But someone will ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?" you foolish man! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And what you sow is not the body which is to be, but a bare kernel, perhaps of wheat or some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. For not all flesh is alike, but there is one kind for men, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.

There are celestial bodies and there are terrestrial bodies; but the glory of the celestial is one and the glory of the terrestrial is another.

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body.

Revelations 4:1a, 6-11 After this I looked, and lo, in heaven an open door! and before the throne there is as it were a sea of glass, like crystal. And round the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like a flying eagle. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all round and within, and day and night they never cease to sing, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!" And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives for ever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever; they cast their crowns before the throne, singing, "Worthy art thou, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for thou didst create all things, and by thy will they existed and were created."

Luke 3:21-22 Now when all the people were baptized, and when Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form, as a dove, and a voice came from heaven, "Thou art my beloved Son; with thee I am well pleased."

Matthew 6:25-29 Jesus said, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow  nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

Matthew 10:27-30 (RSV) Jesus said, "What I tell you in the dark, utter in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim upon the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father�s will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered."

This service is intended for use by families and friends of the deceased bird in communal prayer, in a private burial or memorial service. It has not been formally adopted by any denomination or church body, but the liturgist believes it to be in accord with Holy Scripture.

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