One of the joys of being at church in the valley is the sheer variety in the congregation, though we're not an ethnically diverse parish. However, about 2 months ago a mixed race family, Nigerian dad and English mum and their delightful toddler began to worship with us. The whole family is great...Mum grew up here but they've only recently returned, as their second child was due imminently.
Well, he arrived last week and on Thursday mum phoned to ask if I would go on the 7th day to bless and name their new son. In Nigerian custom, nobody but the parents know the child's name until he is prayed for at this service...A sealed envelope arrived at the vicarage on Sunday afternoon, and I spent some of Monday devising a mini liturgy (Human Rites has some lovely material to adapt for the occasion) and practising the Nigerian names.
The tradition is that the baby is named, then his names and all that they represent is included in prayers for his future...
Little H had a slightly rocky start to life, so one of his five names is Oluwatayo, which means "Praise God"...His family are so thrilled that he has arrived safely in the world...Another name means "Our second crown". Isn't that fabulous - honouring both boys as the younger brother is named and welcomed?
H is a truly beautiful baby, and it was lovely to be part of his welcome - not least because we knew that as we partied gently here in Gloucestershire, across the miles in Nigeria other family members were killing the fatted kid and celebrating with music, dancing and feasting all day long. We saw the DVD from his brother's party -a real community event. I wish we had an equivalent.