Chalking the Door Again

Epiphany House Blessing

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

One of my favourite epiphany practices which I have done for the last 5 years, is the chalking of the door. I first came across this practice when I was in Germany several years ago, a first puzzled by these strange patterns over the doors which spelled out a hidden code. Now I display the same hidden code over my own back door, and people often ask what it is all about.

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Either on Twelfth Night (January 5), the twelfth day of Christmastide and eve of the feast of the Epiphany, or on Epiphany Day (January 6) itself, many Christians in Europe chalk their doors with a pattern such as this, “20 † C † M † B † 24”. The numbers refer to the calendar year (20 and 24, for this year); the crosses stand for Christ; and the letters have a two-fold significance: C, M and B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar), as well as  an abbreviation of the Latin blessing Christus mansionem benedicat, which means, May Christ bless this house. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless our homes and stay with those who dwell in them throughout the entire year. This year I found this simple graphic that helps explain it. Of course we don’t really know the names of the Magi. We don’t even know if were three of them, or if they were all men, but it is still a fun way to bless our homes and welcome others into our midst.

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I love the way that people use their own creativity to chalk their doors. Some do it across the top. Some do it down the side and others, especially if they have small children, do it across the bottom. My favourite image of chalking the door was sent to me last year by a Godspace follower who had never chalked her door before because she always thought it had to be done across the top. But as you can see, when she learned otherwise she went to town and decorated the whole door.

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2011 chalking the door









Here is a simple but effective blessing to go along with your chalking of the door. Thank you Emily Huff who originally posted this 

A Blessing of the Home

(L=Leader,  C=Community)

L: The Lord is with you;

C: And also with you.

All: Peace be to this house and to all who live, work, and visit here.

L: Let’s take a moment to remember the friends and family who have passed through our door during the past year and give thanks to God for them.

C: (say the names of friends and family who have visited)

L: The three wise men came to Bethlehem in search of Jesus. They brought to him precious gifts: gold to honor the newborn king, incense to the true God in human form, and myrrh to anoint his body, which one day would die like our own.

L: Let us pray. O God, you once used a star to show to all the world that Jesus is your Son. May the light of that star that once guided wise men to honor his birth, now guide us to recognize him also, to know you by faith, and to see you in the epiphanies of the daily experiences of our lives.

L: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord — Jesus born of Mary — shall be revealed.

C: And all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

All: As the Wise Men once sought your brilliant light, O Lord, so may we seek to live and work in your splendor.

L: O God of Light, bless this (our) house and this (our) family. May this be a place of peace and health. May each member of this family cultivate the gifts and graces you have bestowed, dedicating our talents and works for the good of all.

L: Make this house a shelter in the storm and a haven of rest for all in need of your warmth and care. And when we go out from this place, may we never lose sight of that Epiphany star.

C: As we go about our work, our study, our play, keep us in its light and in your love.

A Blessing of the Chalk for Marking the Door

L: Lord Jesus, through your Incarnation and birth in true human form, you have made all the earth holy. We now ask your blessing upon this simple gift of your creation — chalk. We use it as a tool to teach our children, and they use it as a tool in their play and games. Now, with your blessing, may it become a tool for us to mark the doors of our home with the symbols of your wise servants who, so long ago, came to worship and adore you in your first home.

People in turn mark the doorway with one or more of the symbols:

20+C+ M+ B+24

L: May we, in this house, and all who come to visit, to work, and to play, remember these things throughout the coming year. May all who come and go here find peace, comfort, joy, hope, love, and salvation, for Christ has come to dwell in this house and in these hearts.

All: May we be Christ’s light in the world. Amen.

(Copyright © 1999. The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church. Used by permission

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