Wondering Wednesday – anointing and renewal of vows


I anoint you in the name of God who gives you life. Receive Christ’s forgiveness, his healing and his love.

May our loving God grant you the riches of his grace, his wholeness and his peace.

Tonight I will say these words (from Common Worship) as I anoint people with the last of my oil from last year’s chrism eucharist, the service where clergy renew their vows and oils are blessed.  In Birmingham it happens each Maundy Thursday.  I love the simplicity of this prayer and all that it conveys.  It is a symbolic action, and like other symbolic actions I engage in provides me with a marker post, a point in time to remember an encounter with God, an opportunity to reflect on what it means to be loved by God.  I carry oil in my car in case I have an unexpected pastoral encounter where anointing someone seems appropriate – seems less dangerous than keeping it in my handbag where an oily patch would join an inky patch!

These are the promises I will renew:

The bishop addresses the priests (and deacons)
My brothers and sisters, at his Last Supper, our Lord Jesus Christ gave his disciples a new commandment, that they should love one another, and he prayed that they might be one. He gave them an everlasting sign of his own love, in the sacrament of bread and wine. He consecrated himself to his Father’s service, to be the high priest of the New
Covenant. I invite you now to dedicate yourselves afresh to his service, as stewards of the mysteries of God and ministers of his grace. At your ordination you accepted the yoke of Christ for love of the Lord and his Church. Are you resolved to unite yourself more closely to Christ and to become more like him, joyfully sacrificing your own pleasures and ambitions to bring his peace and love to your brothers and sisters?
Priests By the help of God, I will.

Bishop With the example of the Lord who washed his disciples’ feet, will you be faithful in serving the needs of others and diligent in caring for those in need and trouble, in strengthening the faithful and in searching out the indifferent and the lost?

Priests By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you fashion your life according to the pattern of Christ, that you may be a true pastor, by word and example, to the people among whom you serve?
Priests By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you work in partnership with all whom the Lord has given you, and encourage all the baptized to grow as the royal priesthood of the new covenant?
Priests By the help of God, I will.

Bishop Will you be a faithful minister of the mysteries of God by leading the worship of his people with devotion and care and by teaching the Christian faith with conviction and joy?
Priests By the help of God, I will.

I would probably like to change the response to By the help of God and God’s people I will as that is a more accurate reflection of ministry to me – I minister as part of a body and cannot do it without them.

Biblical background (from Church of England)

When Peter acknowledged Jesus as ‘the Christ’ (Mark 8.29), he was recognizing him as the ‘Anointed One’ of God:Christos in Greek,Messiah in Hebrew.The title that had once belonged to the anointed kings of Israel is now conferred on Jesus, who was anointed by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at his baptism in the river Jordan (cf Acts 10.38). As Jesus received baptism at John’s hands, his true identity was revealed:
Manifest at Jordan’s stream,
prophet, priest and king supreme. (Christopher Wordsworth)
Our own baptism is the sacramental sign of our union with Christ, and of God’s gift to us of his Holy Spirit, to make us God’s children by adoption and grace, and to equip
us forthe share that all Christians have in Christ’s own ministry.The New Testament speaks of this gift of the Holy Spirit as an anointing (1 John 2.20-27; 2 Corinthians
1.21-22). From an early date, it became customary to trace the sign of the cross in oil on the heads of candidates for baptism, and to anoint them again after baptism with
the perfumed oil of chrism – a sign of incorporation into the prophetic, priestly and royal life of Jesus Christ. At the same time, the Letter of James urges its recipients to
anoint the sick with oil (James 5.15), as a sign of the healing and forgiveness that are also given through the Holy Spirit (cf Mark 6.13).These are the biblical roots of the
ancient custom of using oils in the life of the Church, and of the three particular oils – of catechumens,of the sick, and of chrism – that are prepared in the Chrism this Eucharist.


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