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  • Christopher Williams

Pastoral Letter for the Coronation

My dear Friends, "Be thy head anointed. Be thy heart anointed. Be thy hands anointed."

These will be the words which the Archbishop of Canterbury will use tomorrow at King Charles’ Coronation. Like any anointing, it is a setting apart, a dedication of a life, the commissioning of a calling.

The oil which will be used was consecrated earlier in the year by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos lll and the Anglican Archbishop of Jerusalem, The Most Reverend Hosam Naoum. It consists of oil that was harvested from olive groves on the Mount of Olives at the Monastery of Mary Magdelene and the Monastery of the Ascension. Added to the oil made from olives are oils of sesame, rose, jasmine, cinnamon, neroli, benzoin, amber and orange blossom and it will have no ingredients made from animal products. When Bishops consecrate the oil of Chrism for use in churches during the year, they use these or similar words: "We beseech Thee O Lord, to be pleased to sanctify with your blessing this oil in its richness and pour into it the strength of Thy Holy Spirit with the powerful working of your Christ, from whose Holy Name it has received the name of Chrism. With it Thou hast anointed Thy priests, prophets, kings and martyrs. May you confirm the Chrism Thou hast created as a sacred sign of perfect salvation and life .....May those anointed with royal, priestly and prophetic dignity be clothed with the garment of an incorruptible gift in keeping with the Sacrament Thou hast established. May this oil be the Chrism of salvation for those born again of water and the Holy Spirit and may it make them partakers of eternal life and sharers of Thy Heavenly glory. This we ask through Jesus Christ Thy Son, Our Lord. AMEN." As has become the tradition, Charles will not be seen during the moments of his anointing, partly because it is seen to be a private and intimate moment, but primarily because it is considered to be the most sacred and thus not for the eyes of mere Subjects. And of course, all those who are Baptised, at least within the Orthodox and Roman Churches and the Anglican tradition of which St Mary’s is part, are signed with the oil of Chrism immediately after water has been poured over their head three times whilst the names of the Father, Son and Holy Spirt are invoked. The newly Baptised are marked with the oil of Chrism on the forehead, marking them as Christ’s, with its twofold meaning: belonging to Christ and also commissioning them to evoke the presence of Christ in their lives. At tomorrow’s Coronation Charles will be marked with oil on his head, that God may influence his thinking; on his heart, that he may be given the emotional stamina and resources to serve his people with kindness, mercy and compassion; on his hands that he may reach out to others, sign Acts of Parliament and so many other things besides, fortified by the power of the Holy Spirt. For like any of us, surely he dare not begin his work believing in his own strength alone, without seeking the influence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He like any of us, needs the assurance of the God in whom he believe and trusts, that he will enjoy the help and guidance of the Spirit for the responsibilities which now fall to him as King. He has not been appointed to a job, he is to be anointed for a task, and that task is primarily to serve. Monarchist or not, all of us who have been anointed, not as Kings or Queens but as members of the Body of Christ, can reflect over this coming weekend on the fact that God has assured us of the strength and inspiration of His Holy Spirit. Not for the task of being Head of State perhaps, but in the opportunities, responsibilities, challenges and relationships of our lives, to help build His Kingdom, which the kingdoms of this world surely need to experience. And the only way they can do that is through the lives of such people as you and me. So, may God bless us in that endeavour as He commissions us anew working for His Kingdom and as we continue to praise Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. With blessings and best wishes


Keep us O Lord, in your presence and protect us Inspire us by your example of being a Servant King Nurture us with the desire to care for your people and your planet Give us the strength we need to make a creative difference in our lives



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