A time for Renewal of Vows Paul Lau
A time for Renewal of Vows
Maundy Thursday has come and gone for another year, I hope it did not take away our memory of why we having it in the first place – to remind us that Jesus taught us to serve others humbly as a servant always does in the old day (today’s servants can strike, work to rule, take the employer to court etc).
Each year, during a service in that evening, we will invite twelve members from the congregation for their feet to be washed by the clergy. I wonder how they feel when their feet are being washed. Will they contemplate why Jesus did it? Will they understand the teaching and the meaning behind this ritual?
Jesus used his body and blood to make a new covenant with us. When we receive the bread and wine at Holy Communion it symbolises that we are making our own personal covenant with Him. But we do not response like the Israelites did in the Old Testament days. They shouted with one voice: ‘All the words which the Lord has spoken, we will do.’
On Maundy Thursday morning, the Bishop of London will invite all the clergy and lay readers to St. Paul the Cathedral for a special service to renew our vows. This is the time for us to reflect what vows we had made to God. How many vows we have achieved, how many we didn’t do so well etc. We will repent and renew our vows. The most important things, I believe, is to give us a chance to renew ourselves through His love and forgiveness.
When I was in Hong Kong in January this year, I attended a service in a non Anglican church on Chinese New Year’s Day. Their pastor-in-charge invited the entire congregation to stand up to renew their vows with the Lord. The vows are for example; to spend time to serve the church and have regular giving to support the work of their church.
I think not only clergy need to re-examine and renew their vows; members of the congregation also need to have a time for reflection in front of our Lord regularly, and to seek renewal of their personal vows through His love and forgiveness. This can help to build up a much closer relationship with Him and to play an active part in the propagation of Good News and the work of the church.
Pentecost is not far away, it can be a good time to renew our vows and ask the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with gifts to serve His church and don’t forget to ‘take stock’ and ask for renewal same time next year.