HAZEL RUN - Pastor Derrick Owen of the Hazel Run Lutheran Church on Sunday welcomed the congregation to what he called a "joyful and slightly unusual service."
Owen is the new pastor of Hazel Run Lutheran Church and is originally from Glasgow, Scotland - anyone who heard his thick Scottish burr would know right away.
What Owen meant by unusual was a Rogation service and a beating the bounds of the parish.
Photo by Steve Browne
Pastor Derrick Owen blesses the tractors during the Rogation service on Sunday at the Hazel Run Lutheran Church. Pastor Owen, originally from Glasgow, Scotland,
revived the ancient ceremony of prayers for a good harvest with a modern twist, the anointing of the tractors was done
with diesel oil.
"Rogation comes from the Latin 'rogare' meaning to ask," Owen explained.
A Rogation service is an ancient ritual once held every Rogation Sunday, the fifth Sunday after Easter.
"But since I'm not going to be here next week, I changed it to this week," Owen said.
Rogation Sunday was once a time to ask God's blessing on the crops and fields during planting time, and a time when the parishioners would "beat the bounds" of the parish, Owen explained.
"Beating the bounds meant the congregation would walk around the boundary of the parish saying prayers, and they'd actually beat the choir boys. I don't know why, except it's an English custom and they do that sort of thing. But we won't, so you're safe, Travis," Owen said to one of the children assisting with the service. "And we won't walk around the parish because it would be hundreds of miles around all the farms here and we're lazy."
He then lead the children of the congregation on a circuit around the inside of the church, with prayers at the cardinal points of the compass.
Owen placed four glass vases full of seed corn, black earth, water, and diesel oil before the pulpit and asked for a blessing on all the elements needed for a good harvest.
In his sermon Owen said that today education has replace the three 'R's: reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic,' with an environmentalist liturgy of renew, reuse, and recycle; and called for a Christian educational curriculum based on four 'R's: roots, ritual, relationships, and reality.
"I'm not saying we shouldn't look after our environment," Owen said, "I'm saying don't worship it. Worship the creator of nature."
Owen then led with parish outside to a row of parked tractors where they were blessed and anointed with oil - diesel oil in a modern adaptation of the ancient custom.
This was the first Rogation service Owen has ever held, though he said he's always wanted to.
Shannon Johnson farms near Hazel Run, as his family has since 1894, and he likes the idea.
"Two weeks ago he said he had this plan," Johnson said. "It's a good idea, we need to bless all of our equipment."
Ron and Donna Manthey farm a mile north and a mile east of Hazel Run.
"It was interesting," Ron Manthey said.
Donna Manthey agreed.
"I like it," Donna said. "In such a rural community this is nice. This is what we're about in a country church."