– Sixth Sunday of Easter- Rogation Sunday
(Fifth Sunday after Eater)
21st May 2017
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From the Rector – New Life and Growth
During Lent, Christians around the world prepared themselves for Easter by works of love and self-sacrifice. In the Bridge Benefice we have been working on how we can be more inviting and welcoming, how we can develop our faith and spirituality, how we can better serve our community, and how our church community can grow, meeting the spiritual needs of more and more people.
On Palm Sunday (9th April), we came together to begin the solemn celebration of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem and his sacrifice on the Cross for all of us. We did this in union with the Church throughout the world – a powerful thought in these times separation and conflict. Christ entered Jerusalem to complete his work, to suffer, to die, and to rise again.
The Dawn Service of Light!
We started the celebration of the the world-changing events of the Resurrection by getting up extra-early on Easter morning (16 April) and lighting a bonfire, the Easter Light, just before first light at 5.50 am. Our service began at 6.15 am, just before dawn (6.20), so that the sunrise could be part of our worship. Shafts of Light flooded Corhampton Church as the sun rose higher and as the service proceeded.
Sited by the Meon, the elements of the baptismal liturgy come to the fore and by beginning in the graveyard we remembered Jesus’ victory over death.
For forty days after Easter we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and his defeat of the power of sin and death, remembering that he appeared to his disciples many times and told them about the kingdom of God.
The Rogation Days (from the Latin Rogare – to ask) are the three weekdays before Ascension Day. However, in practice, many churches have observed Rogation on the preceding Sunday (EasterV in the Prayer Book, the Sixth Sunday of Easter in Common Worship).
The Prayer Book Gospel includes the words of Jesus, ‘Whatsoever ye shall ask for in my Name, he will give it you’ – words associated with the heavenly intercession of the ascended Christ.
Originally, 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 grew of using processional litanies, often around the parish boundaries, for the blessing of the land. These processions concluded with a mass.
The Rogation procession was suppressed at the Reformation, but it was restored in 1559. 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 the 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 times, the scope of Rogation has been widened to include petition for the world of work and for accountable stewardship, and prayer for local communities, whether rural or urban.
On Ascension Day (25 May), we recall how he left this earth and returned to his Father and trusting in his reign over all creation, we submit to his kingly yet loving rule.
And just 10 days later at Pentecost (Whit Sunday), just like the followers of his own time, we await the coming of the promised Holy Spirit, God’s gift to his people, through whom we make Christ known to the world. It was from the powerful events of the first Pentecost that the Church grew.
So it is, back to where I started! In April and May we see our gardens, the crops and the new-born farm animals all growing, so we seek to see ourselves growing in spiritual depth and theological understanding, to enable us to grow in service to our local communities and then to grow in numbers. Join us in celebrating our plans for new growth at our Pentecost Family Eucharist on 4 June 2017.