Every year in Lent the Bishop for the ELCA (Lutheran) in Indiana offers a special worship service for all the local pastors. I always try and get the day off so I can attend. I love seeing old friends, worshipping together and getting a chance to talk with my Bishop. In this service oil is blessed for our use in ministry (thus the word “chrism”) and we renew our vows. I always appreciate this as a reminder of who I am in Christ and who Christ is in me! I like standing with colleagues, before our God, and saying yes to my ordination vows taken so long ago.
In the service his sermon was about Jesus in the desperate dark times of our lives. And if you watch the national news, it sure seems like we are in those times today. Uplifting to hear that God is with us no matter where we are or what we are going through. God comes to do a new thing in our lives (Isaiah 43) and that new thing is Jesus! Even though this is a story over 2000 years old, Jesus is still the new thing God is doing in our lives. We are healed, forgiven, and strengthened for the journey ahead. In our renewal of vows, there are 2-3 statements read that we agree to by saying “I will, and I ask God to help and guide me.”
We are fast approaching Easter! This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday in the church, a day set aside to remember Jesus and His entry into Jerusalem for the last week of His life. Seems like a good time for all of us to renew our “vows” as we continue our journey toward Easter. The Great Commandment is Jesus asking very simply for us to love God, love our neighbor and love ourselves! Hard to do sometimes, but let’s today renew our vows to love God more than anything else. This is a God who loved us first, who is with us always, loving back is the least we can do.
We can renew our vows to love our neighbor! Who around us, not just in our homes, but in our wider circle of life needs our love and support? And let us also renew our vows to love ourselves. Isn’t that fascinating? Tucked away at the end of the verse is a pledge/vow to love ourselves! That means you forgive yourself, that means you wrap yourself up in the present moment and don’t worry about tomorrow. We love ourselves so much we don’t care what others think of us or what they say or do!
We just stand before our God and say “I will and I ask God to help and guide me!”
Pr. Doug Givan, MDiv
Board Certified Staff Chaplain
St. Vincent Health, Clay/Indpls