12 When they were few in number—
insignificant, just immigrants—
13 wandering from nation to nation,
from one kingdom to the next,
14 God didn’t let anyone oppress them.
God punished kings for their sake:
15 “Don’t touch my anointed ones;
don’t harm my prophets!”
Years ago, during one of the big steps in the ordination process, I was in a chapel space with a group of other ordinands as we awaited interviews on various topics like theology or preaching. To say that people were anxious was an understatement. I remember a particularly spiritual moment between interviews where our chaplain had us all gather in a circle. He had a vile of oil and turned to one of the people beside him, smeared the oil on his neighbor’s forehead in the shape of a cross, reminded him that he was loved and called by God, and passed the vile to him. We then went around the whole circle, anointing one another with not only with oil, but with comradery in a call to ministry that has brought us to both academic study and practical practice. Remembering that we were called by God and supported by our colleagues was the perfect way to enter the exams.
Anointing is a beautiful thing that I’ve had the pleasure to partake in a few times. There’s something about being able to feel the oil that you can’t see and to smell the fragrance knowing that the smell can symbolize healing or strength or purification. Sometimes it’s just a little oil on the forehead or other times is pouring or dunking. Historically, this is not just a practice found amongst Christians or those of the Jewish tradition, but it can be found in all types of faiths across the globe. It connects us.
On Ash Wednesday, we mixed oil with the ash. Even in the yearly practice of remembering one’s being a part of God’s created cycle of life; it can also act as a sort of anointing – a reminder that we each are individually loved and cared for by God. Maybe that’s the message we all need this lent season.
By Rachel Callender
For Pondering & Prayer
Have you ever participated in or witnessed an anointing? What was that experience like? What ways can you experiencing “anointing” this lent season?
Prayer: Holy God, you have anointed us with your Spirit and called us each by name to live fuller lives in Christ. May it be so. Amen.