Chalking the door

January 6th is the Feast of the Epiphany.  It's the last of the twelve days of Christmas.  Epiphany means appearance: we celebrate the appearance of the Son of God among us as one of us.   Epiphany is also the day that the Church observes the arrival of the magi, who came to worship the baby Jesus in Matthew 2.  Their appearance surprised everyone; these pagan astrologers bowed down to the Jewish Messiah when the religious Jews did not.  In some parts of the world, Epiphany is a more important day than December 25 -  those who have a better understanding of how the Christian faith is to be for all people, not just the Jews.   That is very good news!  

There is an ancient Catholic tradition of a special blessing for the home on Epiphany.  One of the old customary ways this is done is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance.  This year, 2016, would be written as 20 + C + M + B + 16. The beginning and end numbers represent the year, with the letters in between symbolising the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, meaning: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs in between represent the cross.

This isn't a tradition I would normally want to pick up, but when I read about it recently I thought it would be good for my heart this year.  Seeing the chalk on my door every day will be a reminder of God's sovereignty over our home.  We are inviting Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, imperfections and all.  His blessing on our home is more important than square footage and counter space.  These markings are me preaching to myself: Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere. 

The prayer of blessing goes like this: 

The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fifteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. 
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen

The chalk will fade (and I will probably erase it before Ellis starts to think that he can write on any surface) but the gift of His presence never will. 

 Christus mansionem benedicat.  May Christ bless this house.

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