Plague Rag: Easter VI Rogation; 17 May, 2020

The big news, to start off with, is that there is no big news. We are as yet unable to celebrate the mass again even with limited numbers. The Archbishop has told us that we cannot have the mass until he gets further clearance from the Department of Health. The church may be open for ten people at a time but that is the extent of the relaxing of restrictions that the Archbishop thinks is proper.

As we gradually move into reopening our society, there have been more reflections about our time in solitude and, interestingly for me, its impact on the Church. I have had a huge range of comments about how the solitude has impacted different people. Ignoring economic issues for the moment, which are devastating for many, some have loved the solitude, especially for those of a more introvert nature. Others have struggled with depression from lack of contact, especially from family. Others have found it has caused them to question some of their habits, such as impulse shopping, and others have enjoyed the time to cook properly and slowly. There isn’t one response, but for all of us it has made us question the different ways we have done things.

What is missing for us in Adelaide is the impact of death from the pandemic. We have been blessed with a remarkably low death rate. Our population has been spared the ravages seen in some parts of the world. At the start of the shutdown I was talking to some members of our parish who were impacted by the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919. Some lost family members that caused struggle and grief for generations. I’ve included today a photo of my great aunt Isobel, sitting in this photo in her nurse’s uniform. She was a young Irish girl of only 18, who became a nurse in London and died from contracting the flu, away from family. Her parents had already died, leaving only her older sister, my grandmother, and her brother. She was one of the countless number who died in that pandemic and are now barely remembered. But my grandmother always remembered. This was the only photo she ever had of her – Isobel is seated in the chair.

I read an interesting article this week talking about weird Christians from the New York Times. Here is the link for those interested. This is part of the article:

The coronavirus has led many people to seek solace from and engage more seriously with religion. But these particular expressions of faith, with their anachronistic language and sense of historical pageantry, are part of a wider trend, one that predates the pandemic, and yet which this crisis makes all the clearer.

More and more young Christians, disillusioned by the political binaries, economic uncertainties and spiritual emptiness that have come to define modern America, are finding solace in a decidedly anti-modern vision of faith. As the coronavirus and the subsequent lockdowns throw the failures of the current social order into stark relief, old forms of religiosity offer a glimpse of the transcendent beyond the present.

Many of us call ourselves “Weird Christians,” albeit partly in jest. What we have in common is that we see a return to old-school forms of worship as a way of escaping from the crisis of modernity and the liberal-capitalist faith in individualism.

Weird Christians reject as overly accommodationist those churches, primarily mainline Protestant denominations like Episcopalianism and Lutheranism, that have watered down the stranger and more supernatural elements of the faith (like miracles, say, or the literal resurrection of Jesus Christ). But they reject, too, the fusion of ethnonationalism, unfettered capitalism and Republican Party politics that has come to define the modern white evangelical movement. (Ed. Note – Episcopalians are US Anglicans).

They are finding that ancient theology can better answer contemporary problems than any of the modern secular world’s solutions.

In so doing, these Weird Christians are breaking with the rest of their generation.

It’s a good read, and perhaps when we return, it would be a good discussion for one of our study groups on the last Sunday of the month. We had just started these studies before the shutdown, and I’m keen to get back to them with a range of one-off subjects and also reflections on topics, like this one here. But I do like the term weird Christian. It’s very St George’s, we have always been the odd ball parish in Adelaide Diocese.

News from PNG is that the Archbishop Allan Migi has retired, and our good friend Bishop Nathan Ingen of Aipo Rongo is now acting Archbishop until the election of a replacement. We have been supporting him in his diocese for many years, and he has visited us once, many years ago. We pray daily for his diocese here at St George’s. This week we also had the death of Elsie Manley. I knew Elsie from my Wangaratta days, and she was the last secretary of the famous Bishop Strong of PNG: our own Mabel Trenordan, who appears in the first photo, was also his secretary in the 1950s. Bishop Strong was the famous and controversial bishop in PNG during the WWII, and a great missionary bishop there.

in the garden the kurrajong stump has now been removed. The stumper turned up with a little dog, Matilda, which enjoyed the work. I always like animals here, we have had a long history of them.

This Sunday is Rogation Sunday. Rogation comes from the Latin, rogare, to ask. This is the day when traditionally we ask for the blessing of crops. Originally, the Christian observance of Rogation was taken over from Graeco-Roman religion, where an annual procession invoked divine favour to protect crops against mildew. The tradition grew of using processional litanies, often around the parish boundaries, for the blessing of the land. These processions concluded with a mass. The poet George Herbert interpreted the procession as a means of asking for God’s blessing on the land, of preserving boundaries, of encouraging fellowship between neighbours with the reconciling of differences, and of charitable giving to the poor. The tradition of ‘beating the bounds’ has been preserved in some communities, while others maintain the traditional use of the Litany within worship. Beating the bounds can be a very colourful exercise, and anciently parish boundaries were important in England for legal purposes, so the community’s knowledge of where the boundaries were was important. It was said they used to beat the boys at certain spots to make sure they remembered. We don’t beat the bounds here in this parish (but perhaps next year we could do an afternoon stroll around the boundaries as an exercise – anyone interested?) but we do have a blessing in the gardens, as we pray particularly for farmers planting crops at this time in Australia. We will have this blessing after the prayers at noon on Sunday.

Seeing we are having Rogation Sunday this Sunday I conclude with the great old harvest hymn, We plough the Fields and Scatter. It was originally a German hymn written by the Lutheran pastor Matthias Claudius, who died in 1815. It was translated into English by Jane Campbell in 1861. Here is a version with the words complete with horses ploughing. Enjoy.

We plough the fields and scatter

The good seed on the land,

But it is fed and watered

By God’s almighty hand:

He sends the snow in winter,

The warmth to swell the grain,

The breezes and the sunshine,

And soft, refreshing rain.

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

O thank the Lord,

For all his love.

He only is the maker

Of all things near and far;

He paints the wayside flower,

He lights the evening star;

The winds and waves obey him,

By him the birds are fed;

Much more to us, his children,

He gives our daily bread.

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

O thank the Lord,

For all his love.

We thank thee then, O Father,

For all things bright and good,

The seed time and the harvest,

Our life, our health, our food.

Accept the gifts we offer

For all thy love imparts,

And what thou most desirest,

Our humble, thankful hearts.

All good gifts around us

Are sent from heaven above;

Then thank the Lord,

O thank the Lord,

For all his love.

God bless

Fr Scott 

Online Resources

Firstly, some quick links: 

Moving forward (eventually!): Father Scott speaks above about our planned studies.  In addition, we’re revamping how we make our reading material at the back of the church available and other ways and means of keeping us all engaged in our spiritual development.  In particular, could you please provide feedback to Father Scott or Tim Hender if you would find short videos like Fr Steve’s helpful, in addition to meeting formally? There are several options we can look at regarding this type of thing.

Our third and, for the moment, last aid agency – Anglican Aid Abroad (or the Missionaries of St Andrew).  AAA can be found at and is remarkable for its complete reliance on volunteer staff, mostly from parishes like ours in Brisbane diocese, ensuring that every dollar donated reaches the recipients.  They work through a surprisingly large number of Anglican religious communities – groups similar to those we discussed last week, but located in places like Zambia and the Solomon Islands.  This means that we rely on trust to ensure that the funds are properly spent, as we do with our donations to Fr Nathan in Aipo Rongo.  AAA has recently completed a much needed upgrade of its communications – if you’ve drifted away because they went a little quiet, please revisit – and their latest newsletter is always at the back of the Church.


Contemporary Christian Art – I am researching sites with engaging contemporary art, as promised a few weeks back!  In the meantime, I’ve often found this work by DaeWha Kang at St Andrew’s Holborn in London – part of a thorough renovation to a Christopher Wren church – quite intriguing.

If you’re having any difficulty accessing these resources, please contact Tim Hender at

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St George the Martyr Anglican Church Goodwood, Adelaide, South Australia

An Anglican church in the Catholic tradition - the leading shrine church in Adelaide!

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