Snohomish, Washington, January 12, 2013
The Everett High School freshman wasn't doing a late New Year's Polar Plunge. He did it so he could get the small cross and a blessing from Father David Sommer of St. Thomas Orthodox Church.
"It's a celebration and a tradition," Ben said.
The receiving of the cross is part of the Feast of Theophany celebrations held by the Orthodox Christian Church around the world. The day celebrates the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan River. It is believed that God's voice was heard and the Holy Spirit was seen in the form of a dove.
"It was the first time in history that the Holy Trinity revealed itself," Sommer said.
This is the sixth year the Snohomish church has celebrated at the lake with hymns and a prayer.
Days before, the church held special services and read the Old Testament announcing the coming of Jesus.
About 40 parishioners attended the Sunday ceremony where Sommer blessed the waters. After Jesus, baptism became a way to enter the Christian church. After baptism, "we become adopted sons of God," Sommer said.
The congregation gathered at a private house near the lake. The home was blessed by Sommer, who would also bless every home of his 65 parishioners. They also held a feast.
Homeowners Jenese and Kit Zell believed the blessing can bring them understanding, hope and enlightenment in 2013.
"It's a blessing for all the good and bad times," Jenese Zell said.