|Photos by Liz Brownsell - thanks, Liz!|
Despite the hectic time preparing, the experience of blessing our little son was quite beautiful. For those unfamiliar with Latter-day Saint ordinances, the blessing and naming of a baby is the first ordinance received in this life.
What is an ordinance, you ask? Good question. I would explain it as a rite of passage done under proper priesthood power that operates as the temporal touchpoint for spiritual change to occur. The spiritual change does not always happen at the time of the ordinance (such as when an individual is confirmed a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and given the Holy Ghost). But the ordinance is necessary for the spiritual change to occur.
Ordinances can be further categorized as saving, or those necessary to return to God's presence, and and non-saving. The naming and blessing of a baby is non-saving.
But it is beautiful. The name given in the blessing is the name that is recorded on the records of the Church, much like the records of christening in other churches. (The difference is that christening as a baby is considered "saving," or essential, and our baptism takes place at a much later date after the child is able to choose right and wrong - usually around eight or much older for converts.)
After the naming portion of the ordinance, the priesthood holder acting as voice to the ordinance - if he is worthy, the father serves in this capacity, as Lance did for our son - then gives the baby a blessing. Usually, this will promise blessings conditioned on faithfulness. Lance thoughtfully conditioned our son's blessings on his choosing them, such as being baptized, receiving the priesthood, and serving a mission. Lance also said that Gideon would be a joy to his family. He certainly is already.
Besides the actual blessing, the part of the experience I appreciated most was having friends and loved ones there and having the ward, or congregation, welcome their newest member so warmly. It is hard to have a child in a big city far from family. But having Gideon's baby blessing here felt like the first step towards developing a family-like network who can love on our little boy here in England as he grows up.