Forward Today: Rogation and creation

Dear friends in Christ: Before today’s message, please join us in prayer for those affected by yesterday’s shooting in Uvalde, TX. May God’s love enfold all those who were shot and all those who grieve. May all who turn to violence be brought to repentance. May we all be stirred to pray and work for peace with justice. ~Scott Gunn

Almighty God, Father of mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

We welcome back Margaret Ellsworth, Forward Movement’s Marketing Coordinator, as our guest author this week.

Today is the last Rogation Day of this Easter season. The celebration of Rogation Days is an old custom usually associated with farming and fishing – time set aside to ask for God’s blessing as the planting season begins. On Rogation Days in medieval Europe, the priest and people would walk in procession around their community, praying for the fields and the upcoming harvest.

Of course, these days we have Google Maps to show us where our town boundaries lie (which don’t always line up with our church communities anymore) and most of us are not farmers. I know I’m not. Even the hard-to-kill herbs and flowers I plant in my suburban garden are often wilted before summer even begins.

But that doesn’t mean this observance has nothing to say to me today.

The Episcopal Book of Occasional Services contains prayers for a contemporary Rogation procession. This liturgy assumes a procession might pass by gardens and parks, government buildings and hospitals, places to work and places to eat. The prayers may be less farm-focused but they still highlight the original themes: to give thanks for God’s gifts and to ask God’s blessing on the work of the community.

What would it look like, I wonder, to pray for God’s providence here in my city – not just for the fields and the water and the air, but for the neighborhood playground and the drive-thru diner? What would it look like to pray for God to “hallow our labor” at my place of work, my writing desk? At the bus stop? At the compost bin?

We’ve been talking a lot about creation care here in this Easter season. The way we talk about creation can be sweeping and general – and honestly a bit intimidating. What can I do, as just one individual, to steward God’s creation well?

As this blog so often reminds us, though, prayer is itself an action. Asking (Latin: rogatio) for God’s blessing and provision is an action in and of itself: it makes us mindful of our community and its needs, and guides us into trust in God’s abundant love.

Care for creation is not just general – it can be specific too. As you walk through your community today, whether in formal procession or just as you go about your own daily work, I hope you notice the people, plants, and animals with whom you share this community. I hope you can bring those community members in prayer before the One who satisfies the needs of every living creature.

More from our ministry:

Pray through scripture with The Creation Care Bible Challenge

New from ChurchNext: Christians and Climate Change with Bill McKibben

From Grow Christians: Down in the gullies, you make springs to rise