Rogation is an ancient church festival to seek blessing for a community and its sustenance. The word rogation comes from the Latin verb rogare, meaning "to ask", which reflects the beseeching of God for protection from calamities. As the Book of Common Prayer puts it: “Rogation Days are the three days preceding Ascension Day, especially devoted to asking for God’s blessing on agriculture and industry.”
Since mediaeval times there has been a tradition of “beating the bounds” of the parish, praying for God‘s blessing upon the crops and thus the well-being of that particular settlement. It is still observed by some parishes today – with a procession, prayers and a sharing of hope in God‘s goodness to nourish every endeavour which enables people to flourish.
The Sixth Sunday of Easter (the fifth Sunday after Easter Sunday) is traditionally known as “Rogation Sunday” in the Church of England’s calendar of festivals. This is because the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of the following week are known as the “Rogation Days,” days for fasting and prayer. The Thursday of that week is the feast of the Ascension, which comes on a Thursday, the 40th day after Easter (when Easter Sunday is counted as the 1st day).
Rogation invites people to ask for blessing – for a particular place; for all its inhabitants; for every endeavour to promote the common good. It is totally inclusive – joining everyone in seeking sustenance and a commitment to play their part in its provision.
Ascension Day and the Real Absence of Christ
Ascension Day is forty days after Easter. After Jesus’ rises again, he spends forty days with the disciples, and then “while he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.” (Luke 24).
Imagine the roller coaster ride the disciples went through, from their disappointment at the death of Jesus, to their elation at his resurrection – only to see him ascend and leave.
Ascension Day helps us live in that moment. Jesus really did leave. In a very important and powerful sense, he is absent.
We know that he promised to send another Comforter, the Holy Spirit. We know that he is really present in the sacraments, which we call his Real Presence. We know that the Church is Body of Christ. We know that “when two or three are gathered together in my name, I will be in the midst of them.” And we know that he said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” We are not alone, and he is manifesting his presence to us through the Holy Spirit, through baptism and Eucharist, and through each other.
But…he is absent as well. He has not yet returned, and though the new time has dawned, it is not yet fully manifest.
We have a hard time with this tension. We tend to ignore the absence of Christ and act as if things are already made new. But there is a problem with that. We still have a sense of longing. Like the martyrs under the altar in the Revelation, our souls are crying out “How long, O Lord?” It is normal, and natural that we would feel a sense of incompleteness and longing. It shouldn’t surprise us, but it does.
One reason it surprises us is that we tend to be triumphalist. We talk and act as if heaven has already merged with earth, and Christ has already returned. We expect things to be perfect, if only we pray enough or try hard enough. And yet they won’t be perfected until later. We have to wait. We have to be at peace, even as we seek to be a presence of love to this broken world as wounded healers.
This sense of longing will be with us until we are fully re-united with Christ. But in the midst of this longing, he speaks peace to us. “My peace I leave with you…not as the world gives.”
Jesus knew that we would miss him. He knew that we would live in the tension of the already but not yet. He knew that we would sense his absence, even though we experience his comfort now.
So he gives us the gift of peace within that tension. We can settle into the tension of the now, knowing that we are not alone, even as we wait. Our task is to be at peace with the world as it is, while seeking to bring the transforming love of Christ into it.
The Ascension of Christ is a perfect blend of sadness with joy. The sadness is there, and we can’t deny it. We want to be with Christ, and we want him to be with us. The joy is there too, because he has not left us alone.
Christians can live in this tension with peace. Peace, because he is Lord. Peace, because he gave us the Comforter. Peace, because he will return to us. Peace, because we are his Body on earth, and can take his grace and presence wherever we go. We can bring this peace that passes all understanding to a world that badly needs it.
The challenge of Ascension day is to rest in the tension of the absence of Jesus, and at the very same time receive his presence right now. This paradox or mystery of faith may not always be comfortable, or be easy to describe, but it is real. The disciples understood this in some way, even with all their confusion. After Jesus ascended, they “worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.” They knew that his ascension was not an end, but a beginning. It was a call to worship, and a call to serve, and eventually they would see that it is a call to take his presence among them to the ends of the earth.
from the Anglican Compass
May 22, 2022
Canon Mark Evans
Tracy Adams and Joyce Bruce
May 22 Will Adams
May 23 Doug and Jo Williams
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June 5 Sheila Sahni
Questions to ponder about Trinity Mt Vernon:
Who are we?
Where are we?
Where are we going?
What do we need to do?
Stay tuned, more to follow
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Hear, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest
May 22, 2022
O God, who has prepared for those who love thee such good things as pass man's understanding: Pour into our hearts such love toward thee, that we, loving thee in all things and above all things, may obtain thy promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Lesson: Acts 16:9-15
9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedo′nia was standing beseeching him and saying, “Come over to Macedo′nia and help us.” 10 And when he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedo′nia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
11 Setting sail therefore from Tro′as, we made a direct voyage to Sam′othrace, and the following day to Ne-ap′olis, 12 and from there to Philippi, which is the leading city of the district of Macedo′nia, and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days; 13 and on the sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyati′ra, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to give heed to what was said by Paul. 15 And when she was baptized, with her household, she besought us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
1 May God be merciful to us and bless us, *
show us the light of his countenance and come to us.
2 Let your ways be known upon earth, *
your saving health among all nations.
3 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
4 Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, *
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide all the nations upon earth.
5 Let the peoples praise you, O God; *
let all the peoples praise you.
6 The earth has brought forth her increase; *
may God, our own God, give us his blessing.
7 May God give us his blessing, *
and may all the ends of the earth stand in awe of him.
Lesson: Revelation 21:10, 22 - 22:5
10 And in the Spirit he carried me away to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. 23 And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light shall the nations walk; and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates shall never be shut by day—and there shall be no night there; 26 they shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. 27 But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
22 Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 There shall no more be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants shall worship him; 4 they shall see his face, and his name shall be on their foreheads. 5 And night shall be no more; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they shall reign for ever and ever.
Gospel John 14:23-29
23 Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.
25 “These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.