The Book of Common Prayer goes “green” – Rogation Days

May 4, 2013

Now, that certainly is an odd sounding thing. What in the world are Rogation Days? The history on this is rather old, but isn’t most history old? The general theme has to do with protection from calamities and famine. The observances have been so diminished in the Roman church as to be almost extinct and the same is true of those parts of Anglicanism that use the revised calendars of the prayer books instituted in the 1970s. One supposes that, in the view of liturgical “reformers,” mankind had advanced to such a state of perfection that divine intervention would hardly be necessary any more.

Hard-headed prayer book Anglicans follow the older observances and will read the prayers and scriptures assigned for Rogation Sunday and the days leading up to Ascension Thursday (Don’t get me going on that. That most essential day will be discussed next week. Stay tuned). The theme of these days of solemn prayer is actually quite modern. We petition Almighty God to provide for good weather so that we have an abundant harvest. In view of the general attitude that America is so wealthy and vast that we could never be touched by a shortage of life’s essentials, it is a very humbling prayer.

To put it another way, we are completely dependent on God. It is by his mercy that the rains fall and the sun shines and that our physical needs are met. This is completely counter-cultural and opposed to the materialist ideal of producing and consuming. The church calendar reminds the observant worshiper of the important doctrines and places them before us in an understandable fashion. The Rogation Days are next Sunday through Wednesday.

The Sunday Gospel is John 16:23, reminding us that whatever we ask in Jesus name will be heard by the Father. James 1:22 is the Epistle and it reminds us about the generous nature of true religion. The 1945 lectionary of the 1928 edition of the American BCP has all of the Daily Office readings. These prepare us to observe the Lord’s glorious ascension to the heavenly realm where he is seated on David’s throne and intercedes on behalf our needs.

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