On Saturday, December 27, Isla was Christened in a Serbian Orthodox ceremony. Although Sasha and I attend a baptist church (Bayou City Fellowship) on the weekends, Sasha grew up in the Orthodox religion, so we decided to Christen Isla in an Orthodox ceremony. We originally intended to do the ceremony and reception in Galveston at the Serbian church, but due to a double booking, we held the ceremony at the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral and went to Canopy (one of my favorite restaurants) for the reception. I think it all worked out, as the Greek church is very beautiful (and much closer).
The ceremony is very long (I’ve outlined what happens below), and Isla held up for the first 30 minutes, but started wailing when she was dunked into the water (I would have too!). It was pretty traumatic for me, I cannot lie. I was very glad when the ceremony wrapped up after 45 minutes, although the symbolism of all the components is very meaningful.
We headed to Canopy for two hours of food and drinks, which I really enjoyed. We had cups, napkins and party favors from For Your Party, and honeycomb balls all over the tables from Devra Party Corp. Our Invitation was from Minted, and captured the bright colorful vibe I was going for. For the Christening, Isla wore the same robe that me, my dad and my grandfather wore, then changed into a more fun and comfortable J. Crew dress afterwards for the party. All of the floral arrangements were done by me and my sister-in-law, but they weren’t exactly what I was going for, but apparently this arrangement cannot be made in the winter!
Christie of KiKiMac is amazing and stepped in at the 11th hour (literally) to take photographs when our photographer had something come up. She did an incredible job, especially given that it was dark and pouring outside and taking photos in a church is very difficult! I am so blessed to have such a talented friend.
Orthodox Christening Ceremony
The first act of the Christening begins in the entrance of the church, which is to show that Isla is not yet a member of the Church. The purpose of the Christening is to bring her into the Church. To enter into the temple of God is to be with Christ, to become a member of His body.
Father Serge then called upon the Godparent, Slavko, to renounce the devil and all his works for Isla. The renouncing of Satan was done facing the west because the west is where the sun disappears and was regarded by the ancient Greeks as the place of the gates of Hades.
Then Father Serge faced the east whence the light of the sun rises and asked Slavko to accept for Isla Him who is the Light of the World. He asked, “Do you unite yourself to Christ?” The renunciation of Satan and the union with Christ expresses with faith that Isla has been transferred from one master to another, from Satan to Christ.
Father Serge then made the sign of the cross on Isla’s body. This was repeated often during the service. Essentially, the cross is the sign of victory which puts the devil to flight.
Turning to the baptismal font, Father Serge read several prayers and blessed the baptismal water. The blessed water represents all of creation restored to its original condition—filled with the presence of God. The immersion into the water signifies burial with Christ to a new life. The triple immersion represents the Trinitarian dimension of the Christian life, the life of the Holy Trinity (Isla did not like this part one bit… which means I didn’t either).
“Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.” John 3:5
After receiving the Christening, Isla was clothed in white expressing the purity of the soul that has been washed from sin. It also recalls the shining robe in which Christ appeared at the Transfiguration. There is now a likeness between the one baptized and the transfigured Lord.
The Procession then takes place in a circle that has a beginning with no end, following Father Serge around the baptismal font and the table upon which lay the Gospel and Cross, the center of Unity. This shows faithfulness to the Gospel of Christ and the willingness to accept the Cross, the center of Christian life, a life of future spiritual happiness.
Before the conclusion of the service, Father Serge took Isla to the altar. She was offered to God and the church, as he proclaims, “The servant of God is Churched in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
All Photos by Christie Sullivan of KiKiMac
Ceremony at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
Ceremony by Father Serge Veselinovich
Reception at Canopy (they were wonderful to work with!)
Invitation from Minted
Frame from IKEA
Honeycomb Balls from Devra Party Corp.