The Parish of St Peter & St Mary New Fishbourne
The Revd Canon Moira Wickens
|What a wonderful occasion it was|
|Having just returned from a wonderful service at Chichester Cathedral, (the Chrism Eucharist), during which Bishop Martin Blessed the three oils that are used in churches across the diocese, I thought this would be a good opportunity to share with you once more why the church uses oil, and what each one is for.
In the Old Testament the anointing of a person with oil had a particular religious significance as it set them apart for God, either as a priest or as a king.
All Christians are set apart, they are holy to God, not for their own sakes, but to serve God Himself and others.
Historically, the oils were blessed because they were needed for initiation rites during the Easter celebrations, and for centuries ministers have joined with their bishop in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection, receiving for their parishes the oils which are used in the church’s sacramental ministry.
The first oil that is blessed is the Oil of the Sick, for use in the church’s ministry of healing and wholeness. Following the example of the apostles Mark 6.13, and the teaching of James, 5. v14-15 : (Are any among you sick? They should call the elders of the Church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord). Oil soothes and heals and this oil is a sign of the Anointed one, the saving power of Christ. Those who are anointed with this oil receive the healing, saving power of Christ Himself. And yet this oil although available to all is little understood. It is used not just for the physically sick, but can be used for all those who are weary or need Christ’s courage and direction in their lives. It can be used at special healing services, or for individuals in their need at home or in hospital.
The second oil blessed is the oil of Baptism, this oil awaits the hundreds throughout the diocese who will be baptised into the life of Christ this coming year, making new Christians, how exciting is that. Baptism is offered to all, no matter the age of a person. There are many today who for various reasons were not baptised as a young child yet who feel there is something missing in their life. Some think they are too old to ask about baptism, but at Easter each year we are reminded that no one is beyond God’s love, no one is too old.
The final oil blessed is the oil of Chrism, this oil has perfume added to it and is used at confirmation, ordination of priests and bishops, and for the consecration of church buildings and Altars. This oil sets people apart in a particular way within the life of the Church, sealing them with the Holy Spirit and therefore enabling them to serve the people of God, and to be a visible sign of God’s love for all.
At the end of the service I collected some of the oils and have brought them back for use in our parishes. They are the Holy oils of the church, and available to all. If you wish to find out more, please do not hesitate to call me for a chat.
This service in the Cathedral takes place just once a year, during the week before Easter. As well as clergy collecting the oils for their own parishes, it is also a wonderful opportunity for them to meet up with old friends, make new ones and to be encouraged that there are so many across the diocese working for God, and building His church.
With love and prayers,