On Tuesday, April 11 at 12:10 The Holy Eucharist with Reaffirmation of Baptismal and Ordination Vows, and Blessing of Holy Oils was celebrated at Christ Church Cathedral with Bishop Skelton as presider and preacher. This liturgy often referred to as Chrism Mass was reestablished in the diocese of New Westminster by Bishop Skelton during the first year of her episcopacy on April 15, 2014.
The 2017 Chrism Mass was much like the three previous. There was a large cohort of diocesan clergy present, and every year more lay people attend to reaffirm the vows of Baptism.
Bishop Skelton focused on the Gospel, John 12:20-36 and connected the Scripture message to vocation, not just for those ordained but for everyone who ministers in God’s Church. The core of her message was a story about restorative justice and forgiveness where a woman meets the man who murdered her son and as their meeting ends they embrace and afterwards she says, “I just hugged the man that murdered my son. And I instantly knew that all that anger, that animosity, all that stuff that I held in my heart…I knew it was over…it was as if he had become my spiritual son.” Bishop Skelton went on to say that our Baptismal vows which “are at the heart of all our vows,” are promises that we make “to discard a life of self-protection” for in that life we are outside of it all but with God’s help we can “forge ahead into the messiness and unpredictability of real life.”
For 2017, the oils themselves; Chrism and Unction had a story to tell. Salal + Cedar Watershed Discipleship Community, the environmental justice ministry of the Diocese of New Westminster established in 2015 prepared the holy oils. In the words of Salal+Cedar, priest-in-charge the Reverend Laurel Dykstra,
“We worked with Métis herbalist Lori Snyder, to gather and prepare local medicinal plants. The oils will look and smell a little different than in other years because they come from Coast Salish Territory. The base for both is olive oil, which is not native to this region. We used Zatoun a fair trade Palestinian olive oil.”
The main herbal ingredient for the Oil of Chrism is Balsam and the main herbal ingredient for the Oil of Unction is Western Red Cedar.
As has become tradition, a light lunch was served, catered by Bette Geddes and Associates Catering. And this year lunch was followed by a 75 minute talk and conversation with the Reverend Canon Dr. Ed Bacon, visiting preacher and presenter during the 2017 Holy Week at the Cathedral. Canon Bacon’s topic was "The Ministry (or Vocation) of Oneness in Tribalistic (or Polarized) Times".