One of the most moving services in the life of the Diocese occurs on Maundy Thursday at 11am when the clergy gather together in the Cathedral - our ‘mother church’ - to renew their ordination vows, joined by the Readers who renew their commitment to their office. My hope is always that members of congregations from across the Diocese will join with us as a way of supporting their clergy and Readers and as an expression of thanks for all that they do throughout the year. You would be very welcome.
I was asked on one occasion why the bishops call the clergy together in such a busy week when they have so much else to do. But of course, that’s exactly the point! We meet at the beginning of the most important days in the Church’s year and, as together we prepare to journey again with Jesus to the cross and the grave and on into resurrection life, we re-commit ourselves to following the one who shows us the true meaning of what it means to be forgiven and loved unconditionally.
The name ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin ‘mandatum’ meaning ‘commandment’. On Maundy Thursday we remember how Jesus gave his disciples the command to love one another just as he loved them. It is for this reason that this day is chosen for clergy and lay ministers to renew their vows; to renew their commitment to preach and proclaim God’s love and to live out that love in costly service.
The same service includes the blessing of holy oils. These are: Chrism Oil, which is used at ordination and confirmation services; Catechumens Oil, used at baptisms and Oil of Healing, which is used when ministering to the sick and dying. The clergy will take the blessed oils back to their parishes for use throughout the year. As someone who received anointing with the Oil of Healing when facing a life-threatening illness, I can witness to the immensely powerful experience of receiving the prayer of the whole church throughout history and across the world through that simple act of being anointed.
As we look forward to welcoming Bishop Libby and beginning a new chapter in the life of our Diocese, my hope and prayer is that this Easter we will all rededicate ourselves once more to loving and serving both God and neighbour.
An alleluia-filled Easter to you all!
The Rt Revd Jan McFarlane
Bishop of Repton and Acting Bishop of Derby