Rev'd Karen - May 2023
May is one of my favourite months of the year, notwithstanding it is my birth month and I am most definitely a Spring baby, and this is when we really begin to see a blossoming and a blooming all around us, and lighter and (hopefully!) warmer days ahead. It always brings an anticipation of balmy, hot summer months ahead (I am a bit of a dreamer!) but I am also ever hopeful that this summer will be like the summers of my childhood 😊 It is also extra special this year as we celebrate the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla. As I have been pondering the Coronation, there is one aspect of it that we may have in common with King Charles on his special day; no, we won’t be crowned King or Queen, but we do as Christian baptised people share in the rite of the Sacrament of Anointing. This ritual of anointing the King with oil is at the heart of the Coronation and is performed by the Archbishop of Canterbury. It has its roots in the Old Testament where the LORD tells the Prophet Samuel to anoint David with oil to set him apart to be King of Israel “ Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.” (1 Samuel 16:13) So the anointing that King Charles receives is part of this ancient tradition, it sets the King apart and blesses him for his service to God and the people.
Similarly, as Priests we too are anointed at our ordination, for the same reason of being set apart to serve God and others, to prepare us for our ministry, and this too has its roots in the Old Testament, “You shall put them on Aaron your brother and on his sons with him; and you shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve Me as priests.” (Exodus 28:41). But anointing is not just for Kings and Priests. At Baptism, as a Priest, I make the sign of the cross on the one to be baptised, often a baby or a child but could be an adult, using the Oil of Catechumens. This is a symbol that they now belong to Christ and are heirs to the Kingdom of God. The anointing is to strengthen the one being baptized for the Christian life and to turn away from evil, temptation and sin. At Confirmation, Oil of Chrism, signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit, representing the “aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2.15) is used by the Bishop to mark the sign of the cross on the candidate, to strengthen them for Christian service with the power of the Holy Spirit. There is one further anointing which all can receive and that’s anointing of the sick by the Priest. This too is one of the oils, that is blessed by the Bishop at the Chrism Service in the Cathedral on Maundy Thursday and is to help, comfort and strengthen the person who is sick. As you can see the rite of anointing, as well as being ancient, is still of significance and importance today and we too can partake in this through our Baptisms, Confirmation and when we are sick. To anoint someone, whether in baptism or for healing is one of the most beautiful and important aspects of my ministry as a Priest.
But in all of this we go back to Jesus who, at the start of his ministry, took the words of the prophet Isaiah and made them his own and was the scripture I chose for my licensing here in the United Benefice. “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lords’ favour.” (Isaiah 61:1-2) May God bless the King, Amen.