27, Hazle Close
Tel 01531 634035
Email [email protected]
May 16th 2020
From the Vicarage – Rogation Sunday (Easter 6) 2020
O what JOY on Wednesday.!, after 50 days of ‘Lockdown’ to have a slight easing of our restrictions, stretching the boundaries of our daily exercise time, from an hour to unlimited, and its geography for a walk/run/cycle from your own door, to any distance you choose to travel to. Thus, some of the population of Wellington Heath may have spotted ‘the Vicar’ that afternoon on a stroll around the Village. Wonderfully, I met 9 villagers on my way round the lanes to enjoy ‘socially distanced’ chats with, and came home a couple of hours later feeling it had been my ‘best’ afternoon for many weeks! Since then for my ‘day off’, I ventured even further afield, to meet a friend, (as now permitted), for a ‘socially distanced’ walk and conversation. Fantastically I was able to see the beautiful colours as I travelled through the much-changed landscape of the wider Herefordshire countryside, smell the freshness of the wonderful new greenery, spot a pair of woodpeckers in flight, hear the cry of a peacock, surprise a Muntjack deer at close proximity, and also observe that sheep had been shorn since I had last seen them as new mothers with their lambs! Beyond the edge of my life as I have known it in recent weeks, lay many new experiences beyond our Parish boundaries!
Many months ago, whilst looking at service patterns for the Cider Churches’ in the year ahead, I remember discussing how we might mark today as ‘Rogation Sunday’ in our parishes, on this sixth Sunday after Easter. At the time, there were already several great events due to take place this month in our parishes – Blossomtime Festival / VE Day 75 celebrations / Open Gardens, to name but a few, and so we decided not to add in another event into this year(!). Rogation Sunday heralds the beginning of a three-day Christian festival on the weekdays leading up to the celebration of Ascension Day each year – the day that marks Jesus leaving the earth forty days after his resurrection, and which falls on Thursday this week – May 21st 2020 Traditionally Rogationtide was a season in the Church’s calendar when parishioners went in procession with their Priest to ‘Beat the Bounds’ by worshipping and praying in every corner of the parish for God’s blessing upon the land and its crops in the year ahead. (For non-Latin scholars such as I, rogation comes from the Latin verb ‘rogare’ which means ‘to ask’). As the procession of worship moved around the outer boundaries of a parish, in addition to looking outwards and beyond themselves for God’s blessing, it provided the means and opportunity to formally check the ancient boundary stones and markers, so to preserve Parish boundaries in times of conflict or hostility. For those with more neighbourly relationships, it was a time to be sociable and hospitable, to meet, greet and foster those relationships, at the boundaries.
In today’s Gospel reading from St John Chapter 14 verses 14-21, Jesus continues to speak to his disciples after the Last Supper as the time of his arrest and trial draws near. He speaks of the time when he will no longer be physically present with them, as he stands on the boundaries of his own life and death, knowing that he will transcend them. Jesus speaks words of encouragement - words of life, seeking to build them up for all that lies ahead for them in the new life to which they are being called beyond the boundaries of all they have previously known Lives in which they will continue to learn and live and love in the world as Jesus has done. Jesus promises that they will not be alone in that calling, for there is the indwelling of God’s word within, and the ‘Advocate’, a helper, the one who will stand alongside them in their new ministry. So today, as individuals, as community, and as a Church living with this ‘new reality’ of our changed daily circumstances, may we be encouraged by Jesus words of life, continuing to call us to the boundaries of all that we have previously known - to live and love in the knowledge and the promises of the greater love of God, that knows no bounds.
Daily Hope - a free phone line of hymns, reflections and prayers - 0800 804 8044