Over three nights and three Chrism services this Holy Week, our family has come together as we renew our baptism vows, bless the oil for use in ordination and anointing, and share the bread and the cup together.
At the final service at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul, Bishop Eleanor preached about the two symbols of Chrism – the oil and the water. Both things are chemically incompatible, she said, they cannot mix. Equally so, the call to lay down one’s life in order to save it can seem irreconcilable. Yet that is exactly what Jesus calls us to, and what He Himself did: in dying, He defeated death and rose to life. In surrendering our lives, we receive life in abundance.
The two symbols of Chrism are like two forces that react against one another, but Bishop Eleanor suggested that when three forces are brought together, there is community. As in the Holy Trinity, there is a third force at work in our Chrism celebration: the bread and wine of the Eucharist.
God has washed away our old selves in the water of our baptism, He has sealed us with His great love with the oil of anointing, and He has invited us to share at His banquet table – to remember Him, as we eat of His body and drink of His blood.
Two forces, oil and water, seemingly opposite, are brought together in unity through the power of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us – and with that, oil and water are combined, and we can fall upon God in grace.
Bishop Ellie finished: “If there are any scars that still smart, any parts of trust that have fallen away, I pray that we can open them to God anew – to be reconciled, so we can reconcile the world to Him.”
Photos from the service at Wellington Cathedral of St Paul can be found on the diocesan Facebook page – click here.