Rogation Monday Reflection: Needing Hope in a time of Drought, or was that Doubt?

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“So now, Athenian men, more than on my own behalf must I defend myself, as some may think, but on your behalf, so that you may not make a mistake concerning the gift of god by condemning me. For if you kill me, you will not easily find another such person at all, even if to say in a ludicrous way, attached on the city by the god, like on a large and well-bred horse, by its size and laziness both needing arousing by some gadfly; in this way the god seems to have fastened me on the city, some such one who arousing and persuading and reproaching each one of you I do not stop the whole day settling down all over. Thus such another will not easily come to you, men, but if you believe me, you will spare me; but perhaps you might possibly be offended, like the sleeping who are awakened, striking me, believing Anytus, you might easily kill, then the rest of your lives you might continue sleeping, unless the god caring for you should send you another.” Socrates; at his trial, February 15, 399 BCE
Rogation Days- A History and Introduction from Wiki:
“Rogation days are, in the calendar of the Western Church, four days traditionally set apart for solemn processions to invoke God’s mercy.
The first Rogation was introduced as a Christian substitute for the Roman pagan celebration Robigalia, which was a special celebration to pray for crops. The second set of Rogation days, introduced about ad 470 by Bishop Mamertus of Vienne and eventually adopted elsewhere, are the three days (Rogation Monday, Rogation Tuesday and Rogation Wednesday) immediately before Ascension Thursday in the Christian liturgical calendar.
The word “Rogation” comes from the Latin verb rogare, meaning “to ask,” and was applied to this time of the liturgical year because the Gospel reading for the previous Sunday included the passage “Ask and ye shall receive” (Gospel of John 16:24). The Sunday itself was often called Rogation Sunday as a result, and marked the start of a three-week period (ending on Trinity Sunday), when Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy did not solemnize marriages.
The faithful typically observed the Rogation days by fasting in preparation to celebrate the Ascension, and farmers often had their crops blessed by a priest at this time, which always occurs during the spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Violet vestments are worn at the rogation litany and its associated Mass, regardless of what colour was worn at the ordinary liturgies of the day. A common feature of Rogation days in former times was the ceremony of “beating the bounds”, in which a procession of parishioners, led by the minister, churchwarden, and choirboys, would proceed around the boundary of their parish and pray for its protection in the forthcoming year.”
Rogation Monday Reflection: Needing Hope in a time of Drought, or was that Doubt?
It’s somewhat peculiar that amid this Easter season of the church we find ourselves on a global scale trying to figure out what it all means. Like the disciples in the days after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, we are surrounded by our own sets of famine, earthquakes, wars, financial instability, and food crisis all of which lead us to ask the questions, ‘can it really get any worse?’ or ‘Did God really mean to lead us here?’
Day in, and day out, the answer seems to be ‘YES it can!’ and ‘YES God did!’
But we are not the first who have needed hope in a time of drought. It seems as though for centuries on end, part of what it meant to be integrated into a community, and a community of faith, was to participate in days such as these Rogation days in order to remind ourselves, our communities, and the earth beneath our feet, that we are not alone. Indeed, that we are not even our own, but rather part of a cosmic relationship of mutuality and mercy.
In fact, as Luke’s narration of Christ’s teachings on loving your enemy seems to indicate, if we wish to follow in the way of Christ, we may even be challenged to question if we are owned more by those who would harm us, than even by ourselves. For it is by Jesus himself that we are reminded to “love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as also your Father is merciful” (Luke 6.36-36).
But what of our times, really? Where is mercy? Are we to look and around think that the signs tell us we have gone astray? Are we to wonder if like the people of Korah, challenging the leadership of Moses and Aaron, that we are about to be consumed by the earth because of our arrogance, because of our desire towards upward mobility? Are we daring to say that our wilderness no longer needs to be explored and that certainly slavery must be better?
It is doubtful to think that in 2008 anyone would prefer slavery to freedom. That anyone would negate the reality of our interdependence and need one for another. And yet, this is the cusp upon which we stand; namely that as stewards, co-creators, care-takers, enemies, and pilgrims, we must decided how it is that we will follow the way of goodness and mercy and justice for our age.
A mere three days before Christians worldwide celebrate the Ascension of Jesus, we are left to ask ourselves, is the ancient way of Christ still worth following? Is the way of Christ really going to bring streams in the desert or, ways in the wilderness. A mere three days before the remembering of Christ’s ascension to petition for the good our cosmos for ages on end, we remain with problems in hand, crisis aloof, scared for the survival of our way of life, and in desperate need of a new way home!
But maybe that is it. Maybe what we do not need is merely a new way, but a very simple and ancient one. Maybe what we need it is to gather together and march. In our doubts, in our desperation, in our faith and faithlessness, maybe what we need is to return to community and to march around our cities or villages or communities hand-in-hand, stride-in-stride, prayer-in-prayer declaring that this year things will be different.
Enemies on the one side, brothers on the other, we beat the bushes of our divisions and declare not merely to the systems which have made us slaves to our ideals, but to the leaders who continue to feed us the new dope of false hope, that we are not so concerned with ourselves as we are with those whose sheer existence is tied to ours. We declare that community matters, and that we are going to push pause on the narcissistic quest to make me happy, and try our hand at making others healthy.
2008 can be a year that is different. A year where a great comforter becomes known not because comfort is ultimately achieved in every nook and cranny of the cosmos, but because the wilderness was not avoided, slavery was not accepted, and violence was not the answer. 2008 can be different because we each chose to ‘do unto others, as you would have them do unto you’ (Luke 6.31).
Walk with me. In your hearts, in your communities, in your workplaces, and in your families, walk with me. And find others to walk with you. Let’s try to walk ourselves around this place, carrying those with us who cannot carry themselves, helping those who see no way of helping themselves, resisting those who think all should be like themselves, and hoping in the mercy of the One image at the heart of every self.
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before. Christ, the royal Master, leads against the foe; Forward into battle see His banners go!
Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, With the cross of Jesus going on before.
At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee; On then, Christian soldiers, on to victory! Hell’s foundations quiver at the shout of praise; Brothers lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.
Like a mighty army moves the church of God; Brothers, we are treading where the saints have trod. We are not divided, all one body we, One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
What the saints established that I hold for true. What the saints believèd, that I believe too. Long as earth endureth, men the faith will hold, Kingdoms, nations, empires, in destruction rolled.
Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane, But the church of Jesus constant will remain. Gates of hell can never gainst that church prevail; We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.
Onward then, ye people, join our happy throng, Blend with ours your voices in the triumph song. Glory, laud and honor unto Christ the King, This through countless ages men and angels sing.”

walk on…
joshua