Christen, verb: to dedicate something (such as a ship) by a ceremony that often involves breaking a bottle of champagne.
On Tuesday, I was invited by the good people at Ozinga (red-and-white striped cement mixers, purveyors of quality building materials) to help christen two new boats that will ply the waterways between Chicago and Peoria, IL. It was great fun to research the superstitions surrounding the history of ship christenings: appeasing the gods with sacrificial libations, laying out green branches for good luck in hope of safe return. It was a privilege to speak to a merry group of Ozinga friends and family (including captains and mariners) about how we set sail with trust in the One who made the rivers, lakes, and oceans. We can safely cling to power of the One who calmed the angry seas with a single word: Peace. And, like Jesus who served 5,000 people beside the Sea of Galilee, we serve customers and clients in building a more just, sustainable world.
Lest this all sound too serious, the most fun was had in breaking bottles, sharing a toast and an outdoor lunch together! Christening a ship was a first time experience for me. I love that life presents new experiences no matter how old we get.
This christening on the Illinois River got me thinking about the upcoming school year, which was kicked off the following day at my house. I began wondering if it might help to christen new seasons in our lives. Chinese culture does this at the turn of the calendar. The Year of the Rat, the Year of the Monkey, or the Year of the Dog, which we’re currently in...
Christen, verb: to name. The newspaper christened her the reigning Queen of Tennis.
I was compelled to christen the upcoming academic year as the Year of the Senior at my house. We have two kids, one is a senior in high school, the other beginning the final year of college. It’s a year of lots of last things and year of promising new beginnings. In doing this informal christening and talking it over with my family, I’m hoping our awareness, intentions and prayers achieve a greater focus and strength. It shall be the Year of the Senior!
How about at your house? Would it do you and yours any good to christen the upcoming academic year at the outset by discerning what the main theme could be? Words have power, and if you are a grown-up reading this blog, perhaps this suggestion could create some togetherness and direction under your roof.
Not that this christening business should be too serious! On the first full day of school, Andy Pasek (ECRC’s Youth Ministry Maestro) invited me along to help pass out 600+ donuts to the high school students at Timothy Christian. I had no idea so much dough and sugar could be vaporized so quickly. What a great way to start the school year.
Christen, verb: to name at baptism. They christened the baby Anne.
Finally, it’s awesome to remember the tradition of receiving both a family name and then a later “Christian” name via the church at baptism. The real power of this ancient tradition lies not in this world, but in realms beyond which we currently perceive with our senses. Revelation 2:18 reads, “To the one who is victorious… I will give a white stone with a new name written on it.” A day is coming when we are renamed by Christ himself (the REAL definition of “to christen”) with a name that perfectly fits who were created and destined to be. Along with this renaming on the other side will come food, feasting and friendship that puts all the donuts and sailing ships on this side to shame. Haste the day, I say.
Christen, verb: to be renamed by Christ
Peace to you in this season of new beginnings,