How Anointing Oil is Used

In Baptism, a person is incorporated into the Body of Christ; and that means being incorporated into a way of life as well as into a state of being.

We anoint as a sign that we, and the newly-baptized, are followers of the anointed one, the Christ; we are called to the work of the anointed one, the Christ; we are called (to use Old Testament connotations) to share the royal prophetic priesthood of Christ. We are called to continue the ministry of Christ; and the anointing recognizes that Christian ministry.

God is always the primary actor in Baptism; but in our response we (among other things) declare that we are chosen by God for Him, that we receive His Spirit (sometimes even say “anointed with His Spirit”), and we are set apart, consecrated, for God’s service.

Second use of oil in Christian practice comes from medicinal properties of olive oil:

“Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.” (James 5:14-16).

Because Baptism is so rich and full of meaning, other rituals introduced were introduced to bring out these meanings: e.g. Baptism Candle; sometimes laying on of hands, and anointing with oil also. Anointing at Baptism has been practiced in most of Christian Church for most of Christian history.

Anointing with oil has a great richness. But it does more than simply add to the drama of our worship. The oil of healing tells us of the healing redemptive love of God in Christ; the oil of chrism tells us of the love administered through the royal prophetic priesthood of Christ.

The community that anoints commits itself to share in that love and in that priesthood, by its life and by its ministry, and in which, having been set apart by God and having received the Holy Spirit, the fuel and the light that lead to God are seen to be burning brightly.

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