Rogation Sunday 2018

Our Rogation Day Progress around Melsonby

On 6 May we celebrated Rogation Day with a special service. This is one of the church's agricultural celebrations that having gone out of use in our urbanised society, has recently enjoyed something of a comeback as we have realised the importance of recognising our place in nature and the environment. 

It comes originally from a Roman celebration when crops and good coming harvests were prayed for and in the English church also became an occasion when the bounds of the parish were walked both to reinforce where they were and also to help members of the parish recognise them. The custom of beating or bumping small boys at significant points along the boundary is no longer onserved, our safe-guarding officers will be pleased to know!

At Melsonby we did not walk the boundary which would have taken a long time, but we visited various significant places around the village where we followed a routine of a short bible reading, a responsive prayer, a hymn and a blessing with the sprinkling of holy water to represent the spread of God's love. The Stanwick processional cross, which is stored at Mealsonby, was carried by Ian Black . We began in church with an explanation of Rogation and the bessing of the holy water before moving out into the village.

The first stop was the village green where the quoits players were preparing for a game so we explained what we were doing so as not to disturb them and they asked for a blessing on an upcoming match. We said we couldn't guarantee a victory but Camilla gave a blessing on their activities and the good that it brought for relaxation. She gave them, as well as the green, a sprinkling of holy water and we moved on the next visit which was 'a home'. This was to a couple in St James' Close who were unable to join us but who had agreed to our visit.

They came to their door and we did our reading, prayer, hymn and blessing over their garden wall, for which they thanked us sincerely.

Our next stop was to be the allotments which are an important part of the social fabric of Melsonby. We were not visiting a particular allotment - no special prayers so someone could be accused of unfair divine help in the production of their vegetables come the Produce Show in August. A group of allotment holders were busy varnishing a new bench that had been recently installed to provide an opportunty to rest and contemplate the growing plants. As requested, the new bench was blessed though Camilla avoided sprinkling the stil wet varnish with water.

The next stop was an impromptu one at the playground which serves both children and adults. It had not been included in the official itinerary but as it shares an entrance with the allotments, the suggestion that it should receive its own blessing was agreed. The children would probably have happily stayed there longer but we had other calls to make.

The next point on the processional route was another important place in the life of many villages, the pub. The Black Bull is very much part of Melsonby's village life so though it was before opening time, we stopped there for the reading, prayers and hymn. The readings were done by different members of the group. Some had been asked in advance, others simply volunteered.

From the pub it was but a short walk a little further along the footpath to the school. Melsonby is served by the Methodist Primary School though the church locally has close contacts and good relations with it. At this point the reading was done by 9 year old Ben, the vicar's son and was a beutifully read poem.

Our next stop was on the other side of the road, a garden. It was the garden of John and Dinah Iceton, Dinah being one of Melsonby's Churchwardens.

It is beautifully kept and was full of flowers for our visit. John awaited us in the garden so as well as a processional photo of Dinah with fellow Churchwarden Ian Black carrying the cross, we took a photo of him and Dinah together in their garden.

From here we made our way back to our final al fresco stopping point which was the churchyard.

Here we remembered all those who over many centuries had gone before us and been laid to rest in this churchyard, or had come from Melsonby and been laid to rest elsewhere.

The final reading was Psalm 104 read by Ruth Abbey.

1 Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendour and majesty.

The Lord wraps himself in light as with a garment;
    he stretches out the heavens like a tent
    and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.
He makes the clouds his chariot
    and rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds his messengers,
    flames of fire his servants..........

From here we returned into the church building and after final prayers enjoyed coffee and biscuits and good company.

The weather was fantastic - both sunny and warm but not so hot and sticky as to be uncomfortable.

Although not many joined us, the response from Melsonby residents as we made our way around the village was friendly and positive. The children with us, including young Chad behaved beautifully and all enjoyed it too.

Rogation Day next year is on 26  May, so a similar event may well be at East Layton or Aldbrough.





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