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Rogation Sunday is, in the old English or Anglian tradition,  always the Sunday before Ascension Day. Ascension Day is always on a Thursday because it is 40 days after Resurrection Sunday. Actually, Rogation lasts three days.

The tradition is for the service to be a blessing of the agriculture. People would walk around the boundaries of their farms or villages and thank God for His provisions. Back in the day when a majority lived an agrarian lifestyle, it made perfect sense to praise God from whom all blessings flow and ask Him to continue to bless their livelihood.

 

Compton parish 2011

Compton parish 2011

In many churches throughout the world, this old tradition is practiced. 

The service  literally serves to connect the earthly to the Heavenly, the way Eden once was. Traditionally the service for that Sunday is held outdoors.

 

Why is it celebrated the Sunday before Our Lord ascended into Heaven?

“We frequently think of seedtime, planting, and prayers for an abundant harvest as the main emphasis for rogation, but the word “rogation” actually takes its meaning from the Latin word “rogare” which means “to beseech.

This comes from 5th century France: after horrible natural disasters, the Bishop required the people to make a solemn three-day observance in order to atone for their sin; the observance consisted of three main parts: 1. The people were to petition God for forgiveness of their sins. 2. The people were to petition God for protection from further calamities. 3. The people were to petition God for bountiful crops.

Over the years, rogation lost its penitential air and became festive. Present traditions include “blessing of the fields” with processions through local fields, a singing of the litany, and offering prayers for God’s protection and favor. The rogation service is to include a celebration of Holy Communion.

The spiritual lessons of rogation have also developed. God and humanity cooperate in the creative processes of agriculture. Tilling and care of the soil are tasks and privileges given by God. The life-giving power of the sown seed depends on God’s goodness. These relationships result in a bountiful harvest.” http://www.ruralministry.com/Resources/Rogation.htm

 

I believe God can bring new meaning and purpose to what He calls us to do. So, I affirm that the spirituality of Rogation Days can be argued.  It is connected to Jesus preparing His disciples to go into the fields as harvesters of souls.

 In the beginning, God gave Adam the responsibility of caring for Eden.

 

The Lord God took the man kand put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

 

 The crucified and resurrected Jesus, as the New Adam, has restored the relationship God once had with mankind.  Before He ascended, Jesus gave the earth to His followers and put them in charge of it’s care… and that included the people as well.

 

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”  Luke 10:2 (Matthew 9:37)

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority iin heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:18-19, ESV)

 Jesus told Peter to feed and care for his sheep. We can take that to mean spiritually of course, but I believe that we are also called to care for the physical needs of others, and we need the fruit and grains of the earth in order to do that. 

 Rogation reminds us that our Lord was human. He ate the yields of the earth. He wandered the fields, mountains, villages, wilderness and seashores.  Though we are not of this world and this is not our home, it is leased to our care. To take care of the earth and it’s people is a commandment from our Lord. 

Maybe that is why we “plant new churches” and cultivate the “fruit of the Spirit”.

 

Rogation prayers:

For favorable weather, temperate rains and fruitful seasons, and that there may be food and drink for all your creatures,
let us pray to our God. 
God hear our prayer.

For your blessing upon the lands and waters,
and all who work upon them to bring forth food
and all things needful for your people,
let us pray to our God. 
God hear our prayer.

For all who care for the earth, the water and the air,
that the riches of your creation may abound from age to age,
let us pray to our God. 
God hear our prayer.

We ask your blessing as we walk into the future
that we may be united in your love with all creation
and that we ourselves be fertile soil,  producing abundant growth rich in the fruits of the Spirit.
In the Name of God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit.  Amen.

 

                                               

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