What we're wondering about:
Rogation Sunday, Rogation Days!
What is Rogation Sunday? What are Rogation Days?
"Rogation" comes from the Latin verb "rogare" - to ask. These are days of asking.
The first Rogation Days were held in France, in the year 470, when natural disasters, bad weather, and wars threatened the peoples' safety and their crops (the main source of food!). The parish priest asked God for help, and the people participated with days of fasting, prayer, and worship.
Then, as now, lives depend upon good harvests and caring for God's creation; kind and loving communities; and a strong relationship with God - giver of all things.
On those first Rogation Days, everyone walked together in procession around the boundaries of their parish and fields. The priest and the people shared prayers, and heard the Great Litany, psalms, and sermons.
The asking, the procession, the checking on and blessing of boundaries, crops, and neighbors: it caught on! Especially in Britain - where, after centuries, Rogation Days became a kind of outdoor springtime festival. Rogation Days, these days, are much calmer - but still heartfelt.
Rogation Sunday is the Sunday before Rogation Days, which are the three days before Ascension Day (the 40th day of the 50-day Easter Season). In modern times, it's fine to celebrate Rogation Days at another time, if the weather makes gathering difficult, or if the regional growing season is different. And nowadays, often the entire celebration happens on Sunday - Rogation Sunday.
How nice to gather together outdoors (as current health guidelines allow), to stroll the church property; to pray and worship; bless seeds and gardens, and appreciate new growth. It is suggested that while walking boundaries, to take time to greet neighbors (always safely!), to catch up, to settle any disputes, and to see if we can be helpful in any way, too. And all the time, we talk with God - praising and asking.
What do we ask for?
We ask God to protect and bless us, and help the earth to give us its bounty. At one time, the Gospel appointed for Rogation Days was from John 16, where Jesus tells his disciples to ask, and you shall receive. Our prayers have expanded beyond good harvests to include industry and commerce, and stewardship of God's gifts.
What do we do?
"Beat the boundaries" - literally: walk around the church property, and point out landmarks so people will remember them. At each stop, time is taken for the Great Litany, more prayers, a sermon, and other ways of asking and praise.
(In rowdier days of old, the practice of marking and remembering the landmarks and boundaries was accomplished by thwacking people with sticks at each stop. We absolutely don't do that anymore! We treat one another as we would like to be. And instead of sticks, we may carry crosses and banners - that makes sense!)
Are there snacks?
Yes! Rammalation Biscuits and Ganging Beer. Really!
Apparently, "rammalation" comes from the word "perambulate" (to walk around). But nobody every wrote down a recipe or described these biscuits - cookies, in America. What would you recommend for a rammalation snack?
And Ganging Beer is whatever beer is current for the season. ("Ganging" is an ancient Anglo-Saxon word for "going".) No beer for under 21s, but soda or water is refreshing, too. Enjoy some Ganging Ginger Ale, perhaps!
(But, backing up in time, Rogation Days were once known as "Grass Days" - days of fasting - or at least, eating no meat. Treats came later.)
Will you uphold the tradition of Rogation Days?
For what will you ask? Will you enjoy God's creation, be kind to your neighbors, give thanks to God, and maybe even share some treats?