So yesterday Karl had his naming service within the wider evening service at church - something I indicated last week I had some “issues” about which I knew were at best irrational and at worst wrong. With this in mind and the wider feelings about the transition I have - which I have also spoke about previously - I have to admit it was something I had very mixed feelings about.
In the end it was an evening which was peaceful and blissfully unemotional (something that I was surprised and relieved about in equal measure). With only minor amendments the liturgy used was the liturgical naming rite which Karl had taken from Nadia Boltz Weber’s site, which in turn had been taken from Episcopal priest Michele Morgan. He didn’t have the shrine element, rather it was a simple set of prayers with the responses relating to the name Karl will be known by.*
The liturgy part (which came mid way through a communion service) was preceded by a reading of Psalm 139 and Galatians 3 v 23 – 29 and Karl giving his testimony. The testimony, as I’d indicated previously, was simple and straightforward.
Theologically I am not sure about the use of biblical figures whose names were changed because the change of name came from a different way and they were given the new name from God. However, it was good because it emphasised that naming and renaming is an ongoing part of life and history. It also underlined that as life moves on in whatever form new opportunities to use our individual gifts emerge and we are taken on into new opportunities and challenges.
What struck me most about it all was the last bit of where the responses were given and everybody said “Your name shall be…”. For me this was useful in giving a definite identifiable point at which a line was drawn. In some ways the deed-poll change and the being asked to use Karl had done that but this was a definite acknowledgement which underlined that the past was over we were into a new chapter. It took the whole thing into a different realm for me, moving it beyond being something almost entirely medical (as it had been in my thinking).
More than all that it was great and indeed a privilege to see Karl being able to offer ”the real him” to God and to see him being able to do what he needed to in an environment which was normal but also supportive.
*From an academic/ theoretical perspective it has been interesting to note is how the sharing and disseminating of the liturgy, including via social media, is leading to a standard wording (open to slight contextual amendment) for transgender naming rites being established. When it comes to a point when such rites being officially authorised and incorporated into any future worship books, (as I think they may be at some point in the future), I would imagine that these wordings will provide the base. Thus we are seeing a contemporary example of how liturgy is developed through the informal sharing of practice leading to an orthodoxy in the wording used.