Yesterday, today, and tomorrow are the Rogation Days – days devoted to prayer for the year’s crops. We’ve mentioned ‘Rogationtide’ briefly recently. Now that they’re here, let’s narrow in on the liturgical feature of these days that is the most natural to into our daily rounds of prayer: the Collects of the Day. (We can, and probably ought to, use these as the Collect of the Day in Morning and Evening Prayer on these three days.)
Almighty God, Lord of heaven and earth: We humbly pray that your gracious providence may give and preserve to our use the harvests of the land and of the seas, and may prosper all who labor to gather them, that we, who are constantly receiving good things from your hand, may always give you thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
This Collect reflects the more historical form of the Rogation Days. It is not the same as the Collect in the 1928 Prayer Book, but takes a rather more expansive view in its petition, now praying for the harvest of land and sea, God’s gift and preservation of both, the prospering of those who labor in those harvests, and for our own sense of thankfulness.
But nowadays the majority of our population aren’t farmers or fishermen, so we’ve got a second Collect for other forms of employment:
Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ in his earthly life shared our toil and hallowed our labor: Be present with your people where they work; make those who carry on the industries and commerce of this land responsive to your will; and give us all a right satisfaction in what we do, and a just return for our labor; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This Collect is a good expression of a biblical theology of work. We recognize Jesus’ sharing in our labor (implying his decades as a carpenter with St. Joseph), the need to be responsive to God’s will in the workplace (that is, being a faithful worker, judging by several parables of Jesus), a healthy satisfaction in our labor (understanding we were made for work), and a just return (the biblical injunctions concerning paying workers properly). On their own, any of these four elements of the prayer could be twisted – the first to insubstantial piety, the second to undirected zeal, the third to idolatry, and the fourth to un-tethered social justice championship. But collected together they form a healthier balance of biblical teaching concerning work and labor and employment.
So make sure you make use of these prayers today and tomorrow! Perhaps one in the morning and one in the evening? Or both each time? If you’re a teacher/preacher, that second Collect can also make excellent Bible Study material, especially if you bring up the Scripture readings it’s paired with: Ecclesiasticus 38:27-32, Psalm 107:1-9, 1 Corinthians 3:10-14, and Matthew 6:19-24.