Good morning everyone, welcome to our service of worship.
The three days before Ascension Day this Thursday are known as Rogation Days. Rogation simply means “to ask”, and this is a particular time of year to pray for farmers and crops, and for your local parish community. Often this Sunday is kept as Rogation Sunday which is what we shall do today. Rogation is about our relationship with the earth and it seemed appropriate to keep this day in the face of the impact of Covid 19 and how it has caused us to re-examine our relationship with God’s creation.
I want to thank June Dodkin from Tinwell for reading and Sara Mann for preparing a lovely video for the intercessions today. Now clergy have permission to enter the churches, I have included two short videos towards the end of the service made inside the churches praying for the ministry in Ketton and Tinwell.
Hymn: Praise to the Lord the Almighty, the King of Creation
In the name of the Father,
and of the Son,
and of the Holy Spirit.
Alleluia. Christ is risen.
He is risen indeed. Alleluia!
At the beginning of this service some words from the book of Job Chapter 12
“…ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.” Job 12. 7-10
Invitation to Confession
Let us ask God to have mercy on our tired land,
and to prosper the work of our soiled hands.
Let us ask God to forgive our delusion of self-sufficiency
so that we may praise him for his provision and goodness.
Lord, you give us this good earth,
yet we take your generous gifts for granted.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, you give us this good earth,
but we squander its rich resources.
Christ, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, you give us this good earth,
but we fail to share your bounty with all of your children.
Lord, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
May the God of love and power
forgive you and free you from your sins,
heal and strengthen you by his Spirit,
and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord.
Glory to God from the Creation Mass by Marty Haugen
God our Father,
you never cease the work you have begun
and prosper with your blessing all human labour:
make us wise and faithful stewards of your gifts,
that we may serve the common good,
maintain the fabric of our world
and seek that justice where all may share
the good things you pour upon us;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
The Liturgy of the Word
Reading: Philippians 4:4-7 read by June Dodkin
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.[d] 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
This is the word of the Lord
Thanks be to God.
Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus
Hear the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to Matthew.
Glory to you O Lord.
Gospel Reading: Matthew 6:1-15
6‘Beware of practising your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2‘So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward3But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
5‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
7 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 ‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
This is the gospel of the Lord.
Praise to you, O Christ.
As I write this the sky above the pine trees that edge the back garden is an incredible deep blue. A true sky blue. One of the strange benefits of this time of lockdown has been the way we have been able to enjoy the natural world and watch the landscape come to life during this lovely spring. We arrived at the end of a wet February to bare trees and an empty garden and one of the pleasures has been watching what grows and discovering what is planted, being aware day by day of the blossom coming out, then falling, then all coming into leaf. Edmonds Drive has changed from being fringed with a sea of daffodils and a mass of those strange blue flowers which I can’t name to swathes of cow parsley and the golden leaves of the trees…
Some of this wonder has come about because of the reduction of noise and pollution from road traffic and the sky unpolluted by vapour trails. I’m sure you have seen the pictures of the Himalayas now visible 100 miles away from Delhi for the first time in 30 years. Wildlife has become visible and ventured into normally human territory. There was another image in the media of the lions in an African safari park enjoying lying on the road in the sunshine. Humanity has seen the wonder of the world again as humanity has been forced by the virus to make less impact upon it and people have had time to look and notice. The story has been repeated on the news and social media again and again.
Today we are keeping Rogation Sunday – a time to notice our surroundings and the natural world and to give thanks to God for all his goodness to us and traditionally the day to beat the bounds. As described in this quote:
The description “beating the bounds” comes from the practice of lightly bumping the heads of younger parishioners on the ground, throwing them into bushes or a pond, or caning them with willow switches, all in order to help them remember the location of each boundary marker! (“Yes I was caned just there… that’s where the parish ends….”)
It’s a good job we’re not doing that any more. We can’t walk the boundaries today but I was sent maps of the boundaries of Tinwell and Ketton when I was appointed to the post and using those we will pray for these parishes after their long interregnum and especially now as we still wait to worship together in the churches.
There are two things I want to reflect upon in particular on this Rogation Sunday. The first is relationship. One of the key purposes of the first book in the Bible, the book of Genesis is to teach us about relationship. Genesis is not written as science – it is written to enable us to understand the connections between God and the earth and its creatures; God and humanity; humanity and the earth; and humanity, that is humankind, people, one with another.
We know the stories – The foundational story of God as the creator of the earth and of all living things, environments, plants, and the animals, fish, birds and insects that populate this world. God as the creator of humankind – ‘in the image of God, he created them, male and female he created them’. The responsibility that God gave humanity for the earth.
And then there are the other stories which tell of how those relationships broke down, the story of Adam and Eve and their choice to disobey God and go their own way, the story of Cain and Abel and the blood of a brother spilled on the ground. The story of the Tower of Babel and the separateness formed between peoples.
This is the understanding which lies at the root of our faith. The way the earth could be – and God intended it to be – when God, and creation and people were in harmony with one another. Yet also set against this is the way it is when God is ignored or not acknowledged, when humanity exploits both the earth and its creatures and when humanity does not take care of its own.
The impact of the coronavirus has highlighted both the wonder of God’s creation and also the inadequacy and failure of human beings to live in good relationship with it and to respect the earth and the creatures upon it. It has also highlighted the differences between peoples. The poorest, those who have the most insecure or lower-paid jobs, the most overcrowded are the most vulnerable to the virus.
This moment has posed a question for us as humankind. Can we learn from what has happened and re-evaluate the way we live, reflect again upon our relationship with the earth, with one another as peoples together and even consider again that creation may have a creator – or will the desire for our own wishes and freedoms prevail – whatever the consequences.
God of course is not a passive onlooker of his creation. The big picture which the Bible paints is of God who will not only redeem his people but also the earth and all that is made. The promise is of a restored creation alongside of a forgiven and saved people. A time when all that has been broken will be made whole. Which brings me to the second thing I want to reflect upon today which is prayer.
Rogation comes from the Latin verb rogare meaning to ask. Rogation days are about prayer, asking, bringing all that concerns, all that worries, all that is broken and needs to be healed to God in prayer. That is our calling. Whatever else we do to support those who care during this crisis or to campaign for climate change or to live sympathetically to the planet – we are called to pray. Prayer is an integral aspect of the way that God brings about his purposes. Prayer is part of the picture. This was the quote yesterday in my daily reading from Celtic Daily Prayer…
Creation in all its fascinating variety, each creature in its uniqueness, and human souls at prayer: woven in a complex pattern of interdependence…
Let only your will be done in me, as in all your creatures. Charles de Foucauld..
Prayer changes things: that is the understanding we need to reach. Prayer makes a difference – both to us and in the way God’s grace is given to the world. Our prayers matter. The readings that we heard were about the way of prayer and the significance of prayer. Prayer puts us in our right place with God – in the right relationship with God. That connection between God and people we are called to hold – on behalf of all humanity.
And the point made in both those readings – is make your prayer and then leave it to God. From Philippians – ‘do not worry about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.’ And from Jesus’ words in Matthew ‘do not heap up empty phrases’ and Jesus says simply – ‘Pray in this way.’.. .. leading into the prayer we know as Lord’s Prayer. In which we pray – your kingdom come; your will be done.
And then we can be at peace. ‘And the peace of God which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.’ Let us take on prayer and also take on God’s gift of peace in these difficult times.
Let us pray
God the Father, Lord of creation,
God the Son, through whom all things were made,
God the Holy Spirit, who renews the face of the earth,
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, creating and saving God,
have mercy upon us.
Remember, Lord, your mercy and loving-kindness towards us.
Bless this good earth, and make it fruitful.
Bless our labour, and give us all things needful for our daily lives.
Bless the homes of these parishes and all who live within them.
Bless our common life and our care for our neighbour.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,
was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
Prayers of Intercession – Sara Mann
Prayers will be offered for the church and the world, our communities,
those who are suffering and the communion of saints.
Hymn: Great is thy faithfulness
By prayer and supplication with thanksgiving,
let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God,
which passes all understanding,
will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.
Let us offer one another a sign of peace.The Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray with confidence as our saviour has taught us
Our Father, which art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done,
in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
God our creator,
you give seed for us to sow and bread for us to eat:
as you have blessed the fruit of our labour in this eucharist,
so we ask you to give all your children their daily bread,
that the world may praise you for your goodness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Videos filmed inside our two churches on Saturday as part of this Rogation Sunday service. [Filmed by Alex Woodfield.]
May God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is the source of all goodness and growth,
pour his blessing upon all things created,
and upon you his children,
that you may use his gifts to his glory and the welfare of all peoples;
and the blessing of God almighty,
the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
be among you and remain with you always.
Hymn: You shall go out with joy
Tend the earth, care for God’s good creation,
and bring forth the fruits of righteousness.
Go in the peace of Christ. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Thanks be to God. Alleluia, Alleluia.
Bach Prelude and Fugue in G major BWV 541