CLERGY CORNER: Three in One

Posted on 30 May 2019 by LeslieM

We celebrate three feast days during this one week: Rogation Day last Sunday, Memorial Day last Monday, and Ascension Day on Thursday. They are all important days in the life of the church and in the life of our nation, and all three are connected by gifts we receive from our Father in heaven — the gift of joy and sustenance on Rogation Day, the gift of the willingness of our heroic brethren to sacrifice their all for the country our Father in heaven gave to us, and the gift of hope for eternal life given us by the Lord when he ascended back to our Father in heaven.  

We have celebrated Memorial Day and Ascension Day many times and most of us have a clear understanding of their significance, but what about Rogation Day? Historically, Rogation Days were times when our ancestors sought God’s mercy and blessing, particularly in connection with farming and agriculture. Agriculture is certainly critical to our 21st Century well-being but with family farms rapidly being replaced by industrial agriculture our prayers on Rogation Day, which acknowledge the mystical wonders of God’s creation, may not have the same significance as they had in the past. 

Angela Morgan, the American poet, reminds us of the mystical wonders of God’s creation in her lovely poem, God the Artist. She begins and ends with the verse, “God, when you thought of a pine tree, how did you think of a star?”  The verses in between are expressions of amazement for bird songs and speckled wings, chiseled raindrops and satin leafs, moonlit nights and honeysuckle vines, and the mystery of how God knew that Madeira grapes could be distilled into an ecstatic wine. She invites us to step out into God’s creation and be mystified anew at His gifts to us of joy and sustenance.    

We human beings often have a tendency of thinking that our greatest teachers are found in churches and universities, in concert halls and poetry readings, or in the company of a dizzying variety of counselors and annalists while forgetting the teaching power of God’s creation. The Book of Jobpoints this out to us with these words: “Ask the animals and they will teach you . . . or the birds in the sky and they will tell you . . .  or speak to earth and it will instruct you.”  Wendell Berry, the American novelist and farmer, adds his delightfully modern voice to this classical wisdom: “When you are new at sheep-raising and your ewe has a lamb, your impulse is to stay there and help it, to nurse and see to it all. After a while, you know that the best thing you can do is walk out of the barn.” We sometimes forget the teaching power of creation — God is in charge and when we try to take over what we sometimes do ends up being little more than interference with God’s plans for us.

And a final thought on this three in one week is to remind us of the healing power God has gifted to us in His creation. No place in the Bible speaks better of this than the 23rd Psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures, He leadeth me beside the still waters, He restoreth my soul.”  And a 21st Century voice also speaks of this: “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all this is as it should be.”  These words, of course, are those of a 15-year-old girl who was exterminated in 1945 — Anne Frank.

What do we learn this week from God’s creation? We learn of its mystical wonders, its power to teach, and its power to heal. And, best of all, these gifts are there for each of us just outside our front door.

Rev. M. Tracy Smith, SSA, Rector is the pastor at the Saint Peter’s Anglican Church, 1416 SE 2 Terr., Deerfield Beach, FL 33441. For more information, call 954-695-0336. Wednesday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m., Sunday: Holy Communion at 10 a.m.

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