Chrism Eucharist: A time of renewal, blessing and reflection

26th March 2024

Bishop Michael welcomed everyone gathered at Wells Cathedral for the Chrism Service which affirms the ministry of all God's people: bishops, clergy, deacons, readers, and all those in lay ministries across the diocese; and the whole people of God. 

During the service, Bishop Michael blessed the oils that are used throughout ministry across the parishes. There is the Oil of the Sick, the Oil of the Catechumens, used for those preparing for and committing to Baptism, and the Oil of Chrism, an oil of anointing of the Holy Spirit. This is a particularly special oil, from which the service takes its name, and everyone gathered was invited to receive an anointing with it as a sign of God’s abundant grace.


In his sermon for the Chrism Service Bishop Michael spoke about the Church’s historic links to chattel slavery, he said, “As we gather here for the Chrism Eucharist I’d like to pull out for us just one particular story that’s going on in our churches at the current time and that many of you will have been grappling with. It’s the story of how, as the Church of England, we should respond to the links that we have had in the past with the practice of chattel slavery.” 

Bishop Michael told those gathered that he wanted to reflect on the way the Church's story is connected with slavery because he'd learnt recently of the ‘Slave Bible’ which is part of an exhibition at Lambeth Palace Library. Published on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves, it excludes 90% of the Old Testament and 50% of the New. In it any reference to freedom and escape have been removed, passages encouraging loyalty and submission to masters are emhasised. Bishop Michael asked those at the service to “Imagine if the Slave Bible was our Bible. We’d never have heard the first reading we listened to today.”

He reminded everyone that "...our deepest identity as followers of Jesus comes when we offer ourselves not in power or domination but in service and vulnerability..... these are our stories. Thanks be to God that we have them, and that they make us the people we are and the Church we are created to be. They’re a very different story to that told by the world around us – whose themes are of power and domination, of violence and division, of inequity and prejudice. 

“All the things that made it OK for us to invest in slavery back then. All the things we need to fess up to and turn away from now. 

“Because when we do that we can live and tell the greatest parts of our story of Jesus that we’ll be remembering during the next few days. The story of Jesus’s last supper, his betrayal, arrest and trial. Of the cross and Jesus’s bursting from the tomb. The death defying, love exhibiting, life creating, world transforming story of Jesus who came to set us free from all that separates us from God and each other and who came to bring reconciliation to all that is. That’s our story. Let’s live it. And let’s tell it.”

You can download Bishop Michael’s sermon in full from the bottom of this page.


Bishop Michael's Chrism Service sermon

Powered by Church Edit