By Gisele McKnight
The Maundy Thursday service, for the Blessing of Oils and Renewal of the Vows of Ministry at Christ Church Cathedral, drew a crowd of lay ministers, deacons and priests on April 13.
Dean Geoffrey Hall welcomed everyone to the annual service, and Bishop David Edwards presided and preached. Many groups and parishes were represented.
The bishop’s sermon focused on the role of those in ministry.
“I have been reflecting on ministry in the diocese because various people have come to me or to Archdeacon Laskey to talk about ministry, particularly ordained ministry,” he said.
“Because of that, during this period of Lent and the readings this morning, they help us consider what it is to be a minister of the gospel.”
He cited the passage from Isaiah 61: “For I, the Lord, love justice.”
“One function we have as ministers is to proclaim the justice of the Lord. Justice is mentioned well over 2,000 times in the scriptures. It’s probably one of the most mentioned ideas,” he said.
He told the group that they must always seek to do the best for those considered outsiders — the stranger, the outcast, the poor.
“We need to recognize that the stranger, the outcast, the poor can be from any walk of life,” he said, adding that the poor can also mean the poor in spirit.
He noted that from a recent BBC program, he learned that 25 per cent of children said they were lonely, and he felt the same numbers would probably apply here.
“I find here a lot of children express this idea of loneliness,” he said.
He noted the parish support for refugees throughout the diocese and the purchase of Safe Harbour House in Saint John as two examples of gains made, both in seeking justice for outsiders and combating loneliness.
In the second reading of the day, in James 5, the topic was healing.
“One thing I’ve been reflecting on is the church’s role in healing — of course, physical healing, but also bringing healing and wholeness to people and situations… What Jesus said to the 12 as part of the mandate was to heal the sick.”
The final reading of the day was from Luke 4, where Jesus went to the synagogue and read from the scroll (Isaiah 61):
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
“It’s a reminder to Christians and all those who minister in the name of God,” said the bishop. “Let us remember, our purpose is to be spirit-led, leading in justice, forgiveness, healing and restoration.”
There were four parts to the renewal of vows. First the bishop led the lay ministers as they stood to reaffirm their commitment. Deacons followed, and then priests. Finally, diocesan stewardship officer Michael Briggs led Bishop David in his own renewal of vows.
Then the bishop blessed the oils that various clergy had brought for the service, saying, “Send your Holy Spirit on this oil, that those who in faith and repentance receive this holy unction may be made whole, [and that those who are sealed with this chrism may share in the royal priesthood of Jesus Christ].”
After the service, everyone was invited to gather at Cathedral Memorial Hall to share lunch.