Last week, in Jerusalem, the Patriarch with the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem consecrated the Chrism oil that will be used in the Coronation of King Charles III.
This Chrism, like the Chrism that will be consecrated in Gloucester and in cathedrals across the world on Maundy Thursday, is made of olive oil scented with sesame, rose, jasmine and cinnamon. It has a distinct and a beautiful aroma and a deep purpose, for it symbolises the calling of God – a calling which has deep resonance for the crowning of our new King but which has a further connecting in which we are all invited to share.
The Chrism which we shall consecrate on Maundy Thursday will be used across the Diocese, at the ordination of priests as a sign of their calling to this specific ministry and, most significantly, at services of confirmation throughout the year when those just about to be confirmed are anointed with the sign of the cross on their forehead with the bishop saying their name then adding ‘God has called you by name and made you His own’. The calling to follow God, to be shaped like the cross in the image of the servant King, to be radiant with the oil of gladness that offers new resurrection life for us, is something in which we are all invited to share.
That’s why I am excited at the opportunities we are being given in our communities through our parishes, chaplaincies and fresh expressions to be part of helping the whole nation truly celebrate the Coronation, not as passive observers of an event taking place a long way off, but rather as engaged participants. In being invited to share this historic event, which is at its heart an act of generous, hospitable, inclusive but distinctively Christian worship, we are being asked, as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ, to commit ourselves with our new King to the service of our nation, of the peoples of the world and the Common Good.
There are plenty of resources to help us plan our own local events, be that in worship before or after the Coronation itself, in community gathering or in the ‘Big Help Out’, which begins on the bank holiday, Monday 8 May.
As always, we won’t do everything, but I hope that alongside being gathered around our televisions on the Saturday to watch the service from Westminster Abbey, each of us and each of our communities might look to find at least one way in which we will play our part in making this a memorable moment in our national life. And, in renewing our common life – be that through worship with the wider community, hospitality, or acts of service – we may share this moment not as strangers and aliens but as fellow citizens with all God’s holy people. (Ephesians 2 v 19)