Theme: ‘Rogation Sunday’:
Scripture gives us – “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you and pray to the Lord on its behalf for in its welfare you will find your welfare” JEREMIAH 29.7
Philosophy gives us – “our Eco engagement is focused around ‘what we will make of the future’ but Deep Time asks us to reflect on ‘what the future will make of us’”
The Christian observance of Rogation was taken over from Graeco-Roman religion, where an annual procession invoked divine favour to protect crops against mildew. The tradition then grew of using processional litanies, often around neighbouring community boundaries, for the blessing of the land. This procession concluded with a mass (Eucharist). The poet George Herbert interpreted the procession as a means of asking for God’s blessing on the land, of preserving boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbours with reconciling of differences and of charitable giving to the poor. The tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ has been preserved in some communities, while others maintain the traditional use of the Litany within worship. In more recent adaptations petition for the world of work, for accountable stewardship and prayer for local communities have come to be included.
In an urban and culturally diverse Chaplaincy context – the concept of place is more diffuse, less local. Prayer can be used for the city which is the new or current ‘home’ and the place which we now all share at least at this point, prayer for the country that has welcomed us. Prayer can be used to pray for places still ‘thought of’ as home, right across the globe. Neighbourliness in this context takes on a different meaning – perhaps of ecumenism, perhaps including those we seek to serve through our Refugee Programme. Fellowship is expanded to include new friendships however fleeting and transient and indeed fragile, as a call to reach beyond ourselves. Much can be learnt as we gather and learn what responsible stewardship means in different cultures and for different parts of the world, making both learning and prayer more real. Rogation can embrace any or all of these strands.
In a Pandemic context – the concept of place and of people needs to be reclaimed, not least because our ‘escape’ via holidays and travel, has been cancelled for over a year and so has ‘going TO’ school and work, and we have thus been forced to inhabit the places in which we live much more of the time.
SO, as we come to this service we are mindful of the very different pressures and challenges that face rural and urban communities in every nation – issues recently to do with irrigation but globally water as it becomes a rare commodity, issues with use of land and competing claims between growing food for a rising population and distributing it wisely and justly while paying fair prices to all those involved in the production process.
More recently Covid19 has caused economic havoc and cities are as endangered as rural communities with alarming poverty statistics. These and other related concerns form the basis of our prayer as we worship together in this service.
Be still and aware of God’s presence within and all around…..
Keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in his ways. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley…..a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which he has given you.
We come before you our God, remembering that you are the Creator and the source of all being. Out of your love the universe was born. From primordial darkness you put in place all that is needed for life and growth and saw that it was ‘good’…. You have put this world into our hands: may we recognize your Spirit within it, disturbing and challenging us to care for creation, for the weak and the deprived. Lord we remember that we are called by you to nourish the earth and its diversity of life, to share the gifts you have given, with one another and with the poor of the world. Amen.
Get out compasses and orient ourselves Church is at the Centre – where are you where is our church …. you may need to pause the clip to allow you to read and pray through the slides at your own pace.
As it is Muttertag here in Germany – we pray for mothers – new ones and not so new ones, grandmothers and godmothers and those who act as mothers in any number of contexts, we pray for those who miss their mothers and those who worry about their mothers, for those who have longed in vain to be mothers and those whose mothers gave them only painful memories, we pray for our planet that is often called Mother Earth and for her healing and our part in that process. Amen.
We began this celebration of Rogation by considering the concept of Place and as we draw to a close we are left to resolve for ourselves as individuals as well as a Church Community – are the ‘Places’ which we think of currently as home – a better place for having us, you and me, in them ?
God bless this part of the world we currently call home, its leaders, its industry and the countless other places of employment, its university and schools, its places of worship and the communities they care for, its places of Culture, its Hospitals and Clinics, its homes and its people, its challenges and its many strengths and opportunities to serve and care for all.
May God visit us with his mercy, surround us with his love, and make us perfect to do his will. Amen.