Our Chrism Service, this coming Maundy Thursday, will again be different. Led from the Cathedral this year most of us will join from homes. Yet as always it will be poignant. In this service the clergy and lay leaders of our Diocese will reaffirm the promises made for the ministries committed to them. Joined by as many of the people of the Diocese as possible, we will then affirm that the ministries we exercise are not ours alone, but shared in our common call to follow Christ, share the love of God and work for coming of the Kingdom.
We do this, that we may be prepared in the following three days to lead the Church in journeying with Christ through betrayal and arrest, to the darkness of the cross and the glimmering light of resurrection. Then on Easter morning we will be ready to join with all Christians across the world in affirming another commitment, that made by us all at our baptism, to turn from sin and to live as disciples of Jesus Christ
In all of this,our calling, as the Church, as ministers of the gospel, and the baptised people of God, is to be for the people of the world. The gift that Christ offers, in which we are called to share, is nothing other than abundant life, life as it was created to be lived.
We cannot though escape the reality that the world and the Church are both anxious. Many families face an uncertain future with insecure employment and economic uncertainty. The social divisions in our society and our world are growing more pronounced. In the Church, having navigated our way into online worship and ministry we now face the challenge, as we come out of lockdown and look to the opening of our church buildings, of creating new patterns of worship and life. We too face challenges to the way we are organised and funded. Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we may well pray that this cup might pass us by.
It’s not surprising we are anxious, yet as we tell the story of Holy Week and Easter, as we live the story of this week, we discover again that arrest leads to liberation, darkness to light, death to life and anxiety… not to certainty (as living with Jesus is always an adventure full of surprises), but to confidence and hope.
This is why it matters that however we do it, we keep this week, bringing to it our world and our lives, our needs and those of our communities and our world. We must be honest about who we are, honest about our fears and our anxieties, that we may be changed, and being changed by God, may be bearers of hope to God’s people and world.
You can find details of the Chrism Service on Maundy Thursday at 11 am here. Bishop Rachel and I hope very much you will be able to join with us and those across the Diocese as we encourage each other and begin our observance of these days.