This past Sunday I experienced an unusual and extraordinary blessing--my church renamed me.
As part of my transition, I wanted a way to mark and appreciate the gift of my birth name, and then formally accept the gift of my new name, all while surrounded by the family of my birth and the family I've chosen. Not many trans folks have a church that supports them and celebrates with them during transition, and I realize how blessed I am. And while I'm incredibly thankful, I'm also sad that these kinds of blessings aren't common practice for welcoming and inclusive churches. Christians, let's add to our repertoire a bit! Let's celebrate the changes in the lives of trans folks just like we celebrate new births, marriages, confirmations, graduations, retirement, and all other transitional moments!
Renaming Ceremony and Remembrance of Baptism for Austen Hartke
April 10th, 2016
Holy One of Blessing, in baptism you bring us to new life in Jesus Christ and you name us Beloved. We give you thanks for the constant renewal of that life and love in us. We gather together today to affirm and celebrate the new name of one of your children. Be with us, strengthen us, and uphold us all in the gifts and promises of our baptism.
Hymn: #798 in ELW “Will You Come and Follow Me”
Presider: Hear now the promises and commands of God, given through Isaiah—
Thus says the Lord:
Maintain justice, and do what is right,
for soon my salvation will come,
and my deliverance be revealed.
Happy is the mortal who does this,
the one who holds it fast,
who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it,
and refrains from doing any evil.
Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from his people”;
and do not let the eunuch say,
“I am just a dry tree.”
For thus says the Lord:
To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give, in my house and within my walls,
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.
[Presider and participants gather at the front]
Presider: Today we remember the name given to this child of God at birth—the name Alison. Alison’s parents gave their child the gift of a name, the gift of life, and the gift of love. We honor their gifts, and we give thanks that while names change, and children grow and transform, love endures.
Today we gather to acknowledge a new name—a name which signifies all that Alison has always been, is now, and is still becoming.
Presider: By what name shall you now be known?
Austen: My name is Austen.
Presider: Is there anything you would like to tell us about your new name?
Austen: [Explains meaning of chosen name.]
Presider: Let us welcome Austen into the community of faith.
Community: Welcome, Austen!
Presider: Austen, bear this name in the Name of Christ. Share it in the name of Mercy. Offer it in the name of Justice.
Let us pray. Loving God, we pray for your servant Austen, with thanks for the journey and awakening that have brought him to this moment, for his place amongst your people, and for his gifts and calling to serve you.
[Presider dips into baptismal font and makes the sign of the cross on Austen’s forehead]
Presider: Holy one, remember Austen’s baptism. Stir up in him again the gift of your Holy Spirit: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.
Presider: O God, in renaming your servants Abraham, Sarah, Jacob, Peter, and Paul, you gave them new lives and new tasks, new love and new hope. We now hold before you our sibling Austen Hartke. Bless him with a new measure of grace as he takes this new name. Write him again in your heart and on your palm. And grant that we also may take on the name of our brother Christ, whose true name is Love, and in whom, with you and the Spirit we pray.
Hymn: #793 in ELW “Be Thou My Vision”