The Rogation Days: Sinners in the hands of a benevolent God

May 12, 2012

Those who follow a liturgical calendar, as do Anglicans, enjoy the advantage of regularly encountering the great themes of the bible, the doctrines by which we live. The lectionaries (I follow, with a few personal modifications, the 1945 version of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer) provide a robust sample of scripture in the Sunday readings and the assigned passages for Morning and Evening Prayer.

You may be thinking that “Rogation” has something to do with male pattern baldness, but The word comes from the Latin verb rogare, meaning “to ask,” This practice almost certainly had its beginning with pagan practices connected with putting in a new crop. The Rogation Days are the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Thursday (another one of my favorite Christian feasts). On these days, Christians fasted and the church held processions around parish jurisdictions while they sang and recited the Great Litany. It is a time of solemn supplication. Sounds pretty dreary, huh?

This ought to be a very popular observance since it is quite eco-friendly. We respect the creation and the creator. We depend on a good growing season and seek God’s assistance. On, that part is probably not very popular. a good many Americans actually think they are in charge of their own lives and that the little goals and aspirations of mere mortal beings are worth a heap of naturally occurring bovine generated fertilizer. It is contrary to human nature, and Americans are generally unaccustomed and mildly hostile, to the notion of seeking divine guidance, protection, and assistance. As we prepare to consider Jesus’ bodily ascent, this is a time to reflect on our complete dependence on the Almighty.

The lectionary for Sunday’s Holy Communion leads us to John 16:23;  “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you” (ESV). The Lord is talking to his followers at the Last Supper and much of what he had to say was hard to hear, especially since they had such high expectations of the coming restoration of the kingdom. Just like we sometimes feel discouraged, they needed a lift. Now, despite the sufferings of this life, they have a direct line to the Father.

God cares about us. He is involved in our lives, whether you notice that presence, or not. God not only loves us, but he is always interested in his good creation. If you happen to have a full stomach and four walls, it not because of your superior intelligence or excellent life strategy.All we have comes from the Almighty, so the Rogation Days are a kind of preparation for Thanksgiving. Somebody, by now, is certainly observing that, if run is in charge of this world, he is doing a pretty sloppy job. That is a respectable question and deserves some thought. Maybe next week. In the meantime, listen to Sunday’s Epistle reading and consider God’s interest in our natural existence.

    “I will make with them a covenant of peace and banish wild beasts from the land, so that they may dwell securely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. And I will make them and the places all around my hill a blessing, and I will send down the showers in their season; they shall be showers of blessing. And the trees of the field shall yield their fruit, and the earth shall yield its increase, and they shall be secure in their land. And they shall know that I am the LORD, when I break the bars of their yoke, and deliver them from the hand of those who enslaved them. They shall no more be a prey to the nations, nor shall the beasts of the land devour them. They shall dwell securely, and none shall make them afraid. And I will provide for them renowned plantations so that they shall no more be consumed with hunger in the land, and no longer suffer the reproach of the nations. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God with them, and that they, the house of Israel, are my people, declares the Lord GOD. And you are my sheep, human sheep of my pasture, and I am your God, declares the Lord GOD.”
(Ezekiel 34:25-31)

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