Monday, 11 May 2020

Rogation Sunday at The Campfire Church

Yesterday was Rogation Sunday, and in our gathering at The Campfire Church on Facebook, Grace led our worship.

She included this beautiful opening prayer (from a Methodist source, she said):
O God, 
who hast placed us as thy children 
in a world thou hast created for us: 
Give us thankful hearts as we work and as we pray.
We praise thee for the day of light and life,

 for the night which brings rest and sleep, 
and for the ordered course of nature, 
seedtime and harvest, 
which thou hast given us.
We bless thee that thou hast given us the joy of children, 

the wisdom of old men.
We thank thee for all holy and humble men of heart, 

for the love of God and man 
which shines forth in commonplace lives, 
and above all for the vision of thyself, 
in loneliness and in fellowship, 
in Sacrament and in prayer;
for these and all other benefits 

we praise and glorify the name, 
now and for evermore. 

Our reading (read to us by Tony) was from John 14.1-14.

You probably know Grace, if you often read and comment here, as Buzzfloyd. This was her sermon (I'll add the text under the video).

"Maybe, like me, you find it a little strange to jump from the Easter story that we’ve been following, back to words of Jesus from before he went to Jerusalem. But this is a reminder that the Resurrection is not the end of the story – there was more that Jesus intended to do.
In this reading, Jesus is firmly identifying himself with God’s purpose and authority. When he says, “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life,” he is referencing and taking to himself the name of God as given to Moses – “I am that I am.” Understanding Jesus as the Son of God, acting as God, is important as we approach the endgame of Eastertide.
On Thursday it will be Ascension Day, when we think about the Gospel accounts of the risen Jesus disappearing from view into the heavens. This completes the arc of Jesus’ journey through the three worlds of ancient Jewish belief – the world of God (Heaven), the world of humans, and the world of the dead – thus stitching them together with the divine thread of his presence in each of them, and opening up a new and living way that reconnects God with His creation.
In the story Tony read to us, Jesus also talks about what the disciples will do next, and how they will continue his work, enabled to act as agents of God through their faith in Christ. Pen talked the other day about how the gospel-writer, John, was steering his faith community to look at the progression of Christ into the body of the believers. Once the man Jesus is gone, the work of the disciples as Christ on earth really begins. That is the focus of this week, and it’s something we can think about in our own lives too.
The days before Ascension are traditionally known as Rogationtide – a time of beseeching God for his care over the newly planted crops. Without God’s blessing at the time of planting, what hope was there for the harvest? So this is a time of looking ahead at the path we are starting to walk now, and asking God’s blessing on our journey forward.
Right now is a bit of a strange time to think about new beginnings, as most of us are stuck indoors and unable to do many of the things we normally do. But perhaps we are like seeds planted in the ground, germinating. Perhaps this is the time when something new, something radical will begin. We thought a few weeks ago about the idea of the Kairos moment – action at the right time – and whether this moment in history might not be one in which it is possible to effect profound and necessary change.
Perhaps this time has made you ask questions of your own life: how or whether you will get through this; what you might do when the pandemic is over; what changes you might be deciding to make, now or in the future. We ask God’s blessing on whatever we are sowing at this time, that it may grow to fruition; and that our choices may themselves bless us and those we are connected with.
Rogationtide, in this country, was also the time for the beating of the bounds. The people of each parish would meet, usually at a so-called Gospel Tree, an old tree which was often an oak, marking the edge of the parish boundary. They were then led by the clergy around the edges of the parish and each farmer’s land, reaffirming where the limits of private land and common land lay. This protected both landowners by confirming their right to farm on their plot, and the common folk from those who would exceed their own space. So this is also a time for thinking about what falls into our remit and is our job to do, and what is out of our hands.
When thinking about changes that need to be made, it can be overwhelming to look at the bigger picture of our broken earth, the harm that man continues to do to man, the monolith of Mammon that absorbs our politics and our societies. So I think it’s important to remember to beat the bounds. Let me take care of my garden and you take care of yours. We are all connected, of course – if I spray pesticides on my garden, it will surely devastate the wildlife of yours – but in the end we can each only do so much.
Knowing that we can only do so much reminds us, then, that our future is in God’s hands. There is nothing in this world that we can truly rely on apart from him. But Jesus assures of God’s provision for us – “Do not be worried or upset; I am going to prepare a place for you.” 
So today, on Rogation Sunday, let this be our prayer:
O God, our Father and our Mother,
Walk the bounds with us. 
Mark out for us what we are tasked with, 
and do not give us more than we can handle.
Bless our beginnings, our changes, our fresh takes. 
Protect and care for us.
Bless our home ground, 
our Gospel Trees, 
our projects that have grown strong and sturdy 
over the passage of time. 
Give us faith.
Help us to follow you in the way of life, 
and to see your kingdom come here and now. 
And when the time comes, 
bring us joyfully home to rest with you. 
In Jesus’ name, 


Anonymous said...

In the Church of England, Rogation Sunday is this coming Sunday 17th May. It's always the Sunday before Ascension, which is on 21st May this year. I'm hoping to make my daily walk on Sunday a beating the bounds of our Parish (just me and my husband though, nothing formal).

Pen Wilcock said...

Thank you!

Bean said...

I am enjoying Campfire Church with you guys, it is a great way to begin my Sunday.



Pen Wilcock said...

Hooray — thank you, Bean! We are so enjoying having you travel along with us.xx