A Simple yet Spiritually Significant way to Celebrate Epiphany

For Christians around the world, Christmas isn’t really supposed to end until January 6th and the Feast of Epiphany.

On Epiphany we remember the story told in the Gospel of Matthew (2:1-12) of the journey of the Magi to worship and bring gifts to the Christ Child. It’s an important event in the life of Jesus which points to his divine identity and his mission of bringing all people everywhere into a life-giving relationship with God, and it’s worth celebrating.

One very simple and yet meaningful way that we’ve been celebrating Epiphany at St. Paul’s in recent years has been with the age-old tradition of “chalking” our doors and praying for God’s blessing on our homes.

From as early as the middle ages, Christians have made a point of asking God to bless their homes on or near the celebration of Epiphany. With the beginning of a new year and the memory of the Magi’s visit to the humble dwelling of the Holy Family in Bethlehem fresh in our minds, Epiphany is a very good time to ask for God’s special blessing on our homes, and on all who dwell in and visit them.

The traditional way of marking your door with this blessing is to write with chalk over or near your door the first two digits of the new year (20) then a cross (+) followed by the letters ‘C + M + B’ each separated by a cross. These letters stand for the Latin words ‘Christus Mansionem Benedicat’ which means “May Christ Bless this Home”. This is followed by another cross (+) and then the last two digits of the new year. This year it will look like this 20+C+M+B+23.

This is not a magic spell. These are not magical runes. This is just a simple reminder, as we go in and out of our homes, that we should seek God and the blessings of God’s kingdom above all else, and that, trusting in Jesus, we are already marked by the blessing of God’s eternal grace and love.

You may want to offer the following prayer before marking your door with chalk.

Almighty God, you led the Magi to the humble dwelling of the Holy Family in Bethlehem to bless their home with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We ask you to bless our home with the riches of your grace, with the righteousness of your Son Jesus, and with the presence of your Holy Spirit.  May this chalk be a reminder of your blessings to us, and may our lives be marked by the peace and love of our eternal home with you in your everlasting kingdom, where you reign with Jesus your Son and with the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever.