Isa. 61 VV1-4; Psalm 144; Eph. 6 vv10-17
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be now and always acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen
Our Vigil this evening is slightly different from the normal as our Postulant, Father Terry Wilke, Chaplain at Bishops, is unable to be with us. (Those who are to be admitted as Associates are here, and we welcome them.) I spent time with Terry yesterday, taking him through the service and what it means and he is fully aware of our process today and is with us in spirit and in prayer. He is, in fact, conducting a service marking the start of the Independent Schools Rugby Festival and will be blessing the rugby boots worn by the players-strange are the ways of mission!
So, tonight, whilst we do meet to support Terry and those who are to become Associates, in preparation for their admission/Investiture tomorrow-as is meet and right; for us as members we have an opportunity to reflect for ourselves what our calling to the Order really means. Later in this service I shall be asking you all to undertake an Act of Re-dedication.
It strikes me that those words from Isaiah encapsulate precisely that to which we are called as Christians and as members of the Order. Let’s look at them again. (Read again).
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we have the assurance in V1, that we are not asked to act alone or in our own strength: ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me.”
What a wonderful assurance-confirmed of course on the Day of Pentecost when God sent His Holy Spirit to the disciples in those heady days following the Resurrection. So, today, we know we act in God’s name.
Secondly comes the purpose for the sending of the Spirit: Vv 1 (part2)-4. In a sort of Biblical shorthand, those few verses highlight our vocation in the Order for what else do we purpose to do, BUT bind up the broken-hearted and free people from their captivity, whatever form that may take.
Our forefathers in the Order did so literally in caring for lepers, as Jesus did in his ultimate act of healing -the raising of Lazarus. As I said last year, with the near extinction of leprosy, we have chosen to serve those marginalised in society, -what we term ‘social lepers.’
We are called to give the oil of joy for mourning, beauty for their ashes, garments of praise in place of their heaviness. …….. Why? ………
One, to fulfil our own personal calling to serve and two, in order to empower those whom we serve, so that they may serve and build up others in their turn, to the Glory of God. (V3 P2-V4).
How can we do this?
We go back to the first part of V1: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me’.
Link that to the Armour of God described in the New Testament lesson from Ephesians, and all things become possible.
In carrying out the call of God – in the power of His Spirit and with Jesus leading the way – we will be using our anointing and by our actions, we will be preaching the “good tidings.”
So, in today’s service, there is a preparation for Terry as he takes the next step in his vocational journey with Jesus; there is preparation for those who are about to test whether the Order is your calling through your role as Associates; and there is the reminder to those of us already in the Order of why we are here and a chance to re-affirm the commitments we made at our own investitures.
In the name of God, who is Father, Son and Holy Ghost.