Prayers From Above The Mountain
A Sermon on Rogation Sunday
(Mark 4:26-32; Deuteronomy 11:10-15; Romans 8:18-25; & Psalm 147)
I come from a large ranching family in the state of Hidalgo, which is in the central part of Mexico. Although I grew up in Monterrey, the highly industrial city in Northern Mexico, I spent many wondrous summers down there. I have such fond memories of my visits to my grandmother’s little hacienda.
The ranch is where I learned to love and respect God’s miraculous creation of nature. In the words found in Deuteronomy this morning, it was “a land of hill and valleys, watered by rain from the sky, a land that the Lord your God looks
after.” I remember waking up to help my grandmother feed all her birds, and then to go pick eggs from the chicken coop for our family’s breakfast. Then, I’d be off with my uncle in his truck, to pick up large cans of fresh milk from various families to deliver to the pasteurizing plant. When we got back around mid-morning, I was off to explore. I would literally spend most of my days with my cousins, playing will their animals or walking through fields of corn, maguey, and alfalfa as we played.
Overseeing this marvelous land from above the mountain, was the Episcopal Church of El Calvario, in Humini. It was a somewhat treacherous little rural road up to it, but it sure was worth the drive. It is a charming little mission style church, with some glorious views from the bell tower. Just ask Lisa, who went up there with me during one of our visits. The Romeros’ were one of the founding families, so it’s where my father and his siblings were all baptized. Hence, prayer, was an important part of their lives. Praying for their families, praying for their lands, praying for their animals, that’s what they prayed for.
That’s what Rogation Sunday is all about. Rogation is a supplication. It’s the action of asking or begging for something earnestly and humbly. Historically, the church embraces the season of growth, starting with the Rogationtide during Springtime and Thanksgiving during the Fall. We are taught that through this, every thing we do is to be held together by prayer and thanksgiving to God.
We think of prayer at this time of year, because soon we’ll remember the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to the right hand of the Father, where he sits to make intercessions for us. We think of our magnificently beautiful planet earth. We think of every blessed creature in God’s creation. We think of our ranchers, farmers, fishermen, and everyone involved in agricultural enterprises that cultivate our soils for the growth of crops and the raising of animals to provide us with food, cotton, wool, and other products for our daily well being.
The true joy of Thanksgiving is to have asked and received. It’s the essence of “ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete,” in John 16:24. It’s the comfort we find in Psalm 147, the Lord “prepares rain for the earth, makes grass grow on the hills. He gives to the animals their food.” It is what Jesus taught and commanded us to do. It is the first step in any Christian discipline in which we make the Lord’s Prayer our daily prayer, say grace before each meal, or say our prayers before we go to bed. It’s also why we “sing to the Lord with thanksgiving,” as we also read in Psalm 147.
It is the prayers of intercession, petition, or supplication that we think of at this time of year. Our prayers are offered to the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit. It is a conversation with our Creator, Savior and Redeemer. Through our daily prayers we become one with the Lord, who is one in three persons. Through our prayers, we recognize that He loves us and knows what we need before we ask. We accept that it’s not about our will, but His. We embrace God’s will, instead of trying to convince him about ours. Hence, we end our prayers with “thy will be done.”
So on this Rogation Sunday, let us enhance our life of prayer. Let us open our eyes to appreciate God’s gracious hand in the glorious lands he created, as well as the magnificent vegetation and wondrous fauna that inhabit our lands, waters, and skies. Let us rejoice in the respectful care of them. Let us be appreciative of the laborers that diligently and reverently work our lands and rear animals for our sake and well being, as well as our fishermen. Let us pray for growth, health, and prosperity. And as we pray, let us always be mindful of the needs of those in the fringes of society, as we care and reach out to them. And as we do, may we faithfully partake in the growth of the Kingdom of God.