This Sunday is the 6th Sunday of the Easter season, also known as Rogation Sunday. "Rogation" comes from the Latin verb rogare which simply means “to ask.” Since the 5th century, Rogation Sunday has been a traditional time to ask God’s blessing over the land, people, and labors within the geographic bounds of the church. It's small, earthy, and local. This article offers a helpful (and beautiful!) overview if you want to learn more.
But what are the geographic bounds of Incarnation? It's an interesting question for a church without a building, a church that has moved multiple times and is preparing to do so again in a few weeks (read about our June move to Drew). Incarnation is rooted along Columbia Pike in South Arlington, but unlike a 5th century parish, our members live far beyond a walkable boundary.
Our church's changing geographic location, dispersed people, and often non-traditional worship facilities (living room, park, parking lot, school) bear witness to the reality of the incarnation: that Jesus is present in the midst of his people and in the common stuff of our everyday lives, wherever we find ourselves. With that in mind, we'll celebrate Rogation Sunday by inviting God's blessing over all the land, people, and labors that come together to make our common life at Incarnation.
On Sunday, please bring something to church that represents the place you live and labor. This could be something from your office, kitchen, school, garden, commute, or anywhere that you want to ask God's blessing for the geographic boundaries of your own life. During the church service, we'll do a mini rogation procession and pray some very old rogation prayers and invite God's presence in what is small, earthy, and local. And perhaps this week, beyond Sunday, you might like to go for a walk around your neighborhood or workplace and ask God to give you a fresh awareness of his presence in your place.
This past Monday marked one year since we said farewell to our beloved founding rector, the indomitable Liz Gray. As I've approached this anniversary, I've reflected often on the many gifts that Liz gave our community in its planting. One of those is our church's ethos of high participation, which has marked our worship since our very first Sunday together crowded in Liz's living room. Everyone at Incarnation has a gift to bring to the community, and we make space for discovering and welcoming those gifts even when it gets a little messy. Our worship is truly "the work of the people" (the meaning of the word liturgy), and that's one of Liz's enduring legacies.
Whether you knew Liz or not, I invite you to join me in thanking God for her ministry and praying for her blessing this week. Even from London, Liz and Simon and the fruit of their labors will always be solidly within Incarnation's bounds.
A year ago, our now-former bishop called me to pray for my spiritual authority as the new rector of this church. He asked me to send him a brief reflection on becoming Incarnation's rector. If you attended my institution service last summer, then you might recall him reading these words back to me. I thought I'd share them again as we mark one year together as rector and congregation:
"When I think about my call as rector, I've often thought of field and harvest imagery. I always imagined Liz out ahead, clearing the field, charging into the brush and hacking away at things in her bold, pioneering, Liz way. We've spent a lot of the past three years preparing the soil and planting seeds together. And now I look forward to the long, slow, patient task of laboring in this field for years to come, tending those new shoots (especially the really fragile ones — people new to the faith, or newly returning to church, or those who are wounded), and praying expectantly for a rich harvest together. I'm excited about seeing our roots deepen and branches broaden in the coming years as we grow together in our formation as disciples. I'm excited to see what new life the Spirit will breathe among us, what surprising things might grow in this well-prepared field."
It is a humbling privilege to be your rector and to work alongside you all in Incarnation's field. May God bless our common life and labor in this place, wherever our bounds may fall.
In other news...
This Saturday, join us at 10:30am for yard work at the hospitality house in Alexandria where our outreach partner, Vera, welcomes Afghan refugees. RSVP to Russell: firstname.lastname@example.org
Help us prayer walk our summer neighborhood on Saturday, May 20 @ 9am. Meet at the Drew parking lot at 3500 S 23rd St to prayer walk for about an hour, then grab coffee/brunch in Shirlington afterward.
Katie wrote a thoughtful reflection for our diocesan newsletter about her time at GAFCON in Kigali. If you have questions about this gathering or other happenings in the broader Anglican world, please reach out to me or Katie!