Bountiful Gardens Here and Hereafter
By Fr. Mark Perkins
In my first post, I noted that the particular Anglican petition for a fruitful growing season arises naturally in spring, but there is more to it than this. During The Rogation Days we read a lesson from Ezekiel in place of the Epistle. It speaks of “showers of blessing” and “the tree of the field [yielding] her fruit, and the earth [yielding] her increase” — but it is not about the bounty of this upcoming summer.
“I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land… Thus shall they know that I the Lord their God am with them, and that they, even the house of Israel, are my people, saith the Lord God. And ye my flock, the flock of my pasture, are men, and I am your God, saith the Lord God.”
As we watch our gardens continue to grow — as the vines continue climbing the trellis and blossoms emerge promising cucumbers to come — we look forward to that eschatological harvest when the Lord shall restore all things. That day is yet to come, and yet it is here already, for “now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:20-23).
Easter has come. Our Lord is risen indeed!
Soon he ascends to the Father — and sends to us the Comforter, who binds the Church together, so that we become not a collection of individual souls seeking Jesus but rather the Very Body of Christ, mystically bound together as one organism, knit together with the same unity that binds Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Rogation Sunday teaches us that, although we await that final day of restoration, we who are baptized into Christ may already “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace in time of need” (Heb. 4:16):
“Ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”
As we bring our petitions to God, we know that these very prayers are the means by which God helps us to align our will with his and to accept all things at his hand. The Rogation Days reassure us that, even as we “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16), we may also — indeed should also — ask God to “pour forth thy blessing upon this land, and to give us a fruitful season.”
Fr. Mark Perkins is Assistant Curate at All Saints Charlottesville, Assistant Editor of Earth & Altar, and a full-time history teacher.