On May 25th, St. Mark’s/St. Luke’s observed Rogation Sunday with a 21st Century twist. Rogare is Latin for “to ask”, and rural congregations used to depart the church building to ask God to bless newly growing things “in the neighborhood” of the geographic parish. We’ve been heeding Missional author Alan Roxburgh and his plea to “move back into your neighborhood” to see what God is up to there. So, at the sermon time groups of two or three set off with the instructions, “Find God in the neighborhood.” Those who were able, moved out in different directions, while folks who were limited in their movements found other ways to participate, like circling around the outside of the church building. After about 10 minutes, everyone regrouped to compare notes. Here are some representative comments:
“I saw a house with a cross on the outside of it.”
“You see things walking around that you don’t see driving by.”
“The church really is in a neighborhood! (instead of being with the other churches in town around the town park).”
“Some houses and grounds are pristine, while others are run-down and cluttered –it reflects ‘all sorts and conditions of men’.”
“I saw a part of a person I was walking with that I had never seen before” – (an example of seeing the face of Christ anew in each person within the parish.)
A study group started reading Roxburgh’s Missional: Joining God in the Neighborhood in Lent. Members decided to continue in Eastertide, and are now poised to tackle a companion workbook, Moving Back into the Neighborhood. It offers practical strategies for churches wishing to re-enter their neighborhood and join with what God is doing there. The Priest-in-Partnership preached about this idea on Easter Day, and May 25th’s neighborhood walk was an early step in that direction.