This coming Sunday at Hickory Neck, we will be adding a procession and blessing before our service begins in honor of Rogation Days. Traditionally, Rogation Days are the three days before Ascension Day during which the litany is said as an act of intercession. In England, Rogation Days were associated with the blessing of the fields at planting, and in the United States they have been associated with rural life, agriculture and fishing, commerce and industry, and the stewardship of creation.[i] For Hickory Neck, we are using this year’s Rogation Days to give thanks for rainwater collection barrels built for our Community Garden by a Boy Scout in our parish. We will also bless the Garden, praying for a fruitful harvest for our parishioners and neighbors who use the gardens this year.
What I love about this upcoming event is that it represents a confluence of everything about which the church should be. Our Community Garden has long been an example of using our property as a way to bless and welcome others. At the garden, I see strangers become friends, people planting and tending in sacred silence, and the fruits of labor shared with one another. Meanwhile, it has been a joy to watch our parishioner take leadership of an Eagle Scout project that benefits the church, the community, and his troop. Watching our parishioner bring his faith community and his service community together has been a tremendous witness to each of us about how to make connections between the various parts of our lives. And marking Rogation Days with liturgy is the church’s way of making the everyday parts of our lives sacred. We take the labor of our hands, the fellowship of friends and strangers, the bounty of creation, and we name it all as holy.
Often when people think about church, they think about the building and the people who regularly attend worship services on Sundays. But the church is much more about what the faith community does outside of the walls of the building, and how the community uses the blessing of its property to bless others. This Sunday, we celebrate the ways in which we are living into the fullness of our identity, while also challenging ourselves to ever be outwardly-minded in our ministry. I hope you will join us, but mostly, I hope you will invite a friend as we celebrate the ways in which the blessing of our community flows out into the world!
[i] Donald S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, eds., An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church: A User-Friendly Reference for Episcopalians, “Rogation Days,” as found at https://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/glossary/rogation-days on May 1, 2018.