Presider: Blessed be the God of Sarai revealed as Sarah, Jacob who grew to become Israel, and Simon known as Peter.
People: Blessed be the God who comes amongst us, reconciles us, and units us free.
Epiphany is after we rejoice the revelation of Christ to the world. From the visitation of the Magi to Jesus’ baptism to his first miracles, we expertise God’s baby as God reveals their divinity. We don’t usually consider self-revelation throughout this time – the self-work is available in Advent and Lent in preparation and repentance. Yet Epiphany is a time that welcomes opening ourselves to who God may reveal us to be.
Names Have Power
At General Convention 2018, The Episcopal Church formally accredited “A Service of Renaming” as a liturgy to be included in The Book of Occasional Services (p. 120). With the Epiphany, there’s a parallel between the revelation of Christ and the revelation of who we’re when known as by our title. Throughout the Bible, the devoted are given new names to suggest transformation or promise. In the backyard, it’s when Jesus calls her by title that Mary acknowledges him. Names have energy and that means.
A Service of Renaming
While anybody can expertise taking up a brand new title, this service is especially significant for transgender and gender non-conforming (GNC) people. Coming into the fullness of our identification usually contains selecting a brand new title. A Service of Renaming gives a celebratory affirmation of our new title inside a religion neighborhood that seeks to acknowledge and honor us on our journey towards the fullness of ourselves as made within the picture of God.
The Presider turns to the candidate, asking, How do you reply to God’s invitation?
The Candidate responds: I’m a brand new creation, grateful to embody Christ’s picture.
The Power of Celebrating Renaming in Our Faith Community
“God knows you in the fullest way possible, more than you do, more than others do. Each of us is an icon in Christ,” says Mother Sarka,* of the Universalist Orthodox Church. “Coming to know ourselves as God knows us can only be a part of seeking spiritual truth and we can’t seek truth of God without an unobstructed heart.” She emphasizes that this type of self-knowing requires self-love to ensure that our true selves to be revealed. Mother Sarka is like many others within the LGBTQ+ neighborhood who needed to depart a non-affirming religion custom. “But home is home, you know?” she says, which is how her church got here to be. Through her ministry, she carried out providers of renaming for others earlier than she skilled it herself. At her consecration as bishop, she was given her flip. Of lastly receiving the blessing of a brand new title, she says, “To be able to have this done in my own tradition is a gift that many don’t get to experience.”
Enrique and Hannah are among the many transgender and GNC people whose church buildings joined them in celebrating their names and affirming their identities by way of A Service of Renaming. With supportive clergy, they obtained to design the providers in ways in which replicate who they’re. Enrique says, “The rite was incredibly meaningful for me, and a line of scripture from the Gospel reading has stuck with me since: “’Rejoice, for your names are written in heaven.’ It reminds me that our names and identities are sacred, and that we’re participating in the act of creation with God.” For Hannah, essential themes spoke to her: “The history of renaming in the Bible, and how it often comes with a new journey, a new way of doing life.” She says, “The process of building liturgy was important, to go through something as part of the service, to mark the change.”
Our Wholeness Can Be Celebrated Liturgically
Recognizing the fullness of who we’re is expressed in our liturgy. As individuals who comply with Jesus and rejoice the very human and very divine life he lived, embodiment is a key aspect of our religion. This Epiphany, as we expertise Jesus’ divinity revealed by way of the Magi, by way of his baptism, by way of his first miracles, might we dare to consider that our wholeness, too, will be revealed to us by way of celebrations within the church. And after we affirm and acknowledge the picture of God in all who come by way of our doorways, that revelation turns into ever extra highly effective.
The Presider concludes:
Holy One of blessing, you created us in your picture and pronounced us good. We provide you with thanks for the present of life itself. We thanks for our particular person names, which join us to the One who spoke all creation into being. We rejoice in our shared calling to the ministry of reconciliation. Amales.
*Her Beatitude, Metropolitan (Vladychitsa) + Olga Archbishop of the Great Lakes and All America, First Hierarch of the Universalist Orthodox Church
Many because of those that shared their experiences with title change and its celebration inside their religion neighborhood.