Monday, May 18, 2020

Rogation Sunday celebration honors Eastern Shore's COVID-19 victims

Submitted by Betsy Seyboldt - Holy Trinity, Onancock
The Very Rev. Rick Willis at the dedication of a tree  
in memory of those on the Eastern Shore  
who died in the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a sign of our continuing commitment to Creation Care at Holy Trinity, Onancock, we celebrated a contemporary Rogation Sunday on May 17. We walked in procession around the parish boundaries with eight parishioners and the Very Rev. Rick Willis, and then dedicated the planting of a Japanese maple in memory of those on the Eastern Shore who have died in the COVID-19 pandemic. Videos of the service (Sixth Sunday of Easter, parts 1 and 2) can be found on Holy Trinity's YouTube channel.  
Rogation Days are an ancient custom observed since the 5th century. The word Rogation comes from the Latin verb rogare , meaning "to ask" and applied to the rogation days means to ask God's blessing of the harvest, earth and sea, reminding ourselves that we are the stewards of Creation. The Sixth Sunday of Easter is Rogation Sunday with the so-called minor rogations are held on Monday to Wednesday preceding Ascension Thursday, this week on May 21. An ancient custom was beating the bounds: a procession walked out the boundary lines of the village and marked the bounds with stakes. Sticks of willow and birch were used to strike the stakes; hence the name, beating the bounds. Subsequently the custom became incorporated into the Rogation Day celebration and was observed by walking the boundaries of the parish and acknowledging our tangible stewardship of God's creation.
Our dedication of the COVID-19 Memorial Tree is our way of saying each person matters, that life is precious and those who die are worth remembering. The parishioners of Holy Trinity want the friends and families affected by the virus to know that there is a place on the Shore where your loved one can be remembered; there is a safe, quiet spot where you can come and sit and pray and reflect on the good memories of your loved one.