The feast of the Epiphany is January 6th (Monday) and marks the beginning of the season of Epiphany. Epiphany ends with Shrove Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and celebrates the arrival of the Magi from the East to worship the Christ child in Bethlehem. Subsequent Sunday Gospel in the Revised Common Lectionary readings recall events that manifest the divinity of Christ to the wider world, including his baptism and the miracle at the wedding in Cana. In the Eastern Churches, Epiphany is called Theophany, which means the shining-forth of God.
Just as God shines forth in our mission and ministry to the world, God shines forth in our personal lives in our homes in our daily lives. A tradition in Epiphany is to have homes blessed during the Epiphany season. Some invite the priest for a more formal blessing, but all Christians may say prayers to recognize the blessing of God in their homes.
Why bless our homes? Because they, too, are sacred spaces of prayer and worship as we go about the everyday tasks of our lives. Saying prayers and blessings for our homes invite us to recognize the privilege of having a home, of having a space to gather and to live within day in and day out. Prayers and blessings for our homes remind us that even the most mundane tasks like washing dishes are works of God (read Brother Lawrence for more on this). Our homes are places of welcome for guests, of celebration for life events, and hopefully of safety when we need to grieve and weep. Our homes are holy spaces.
So if you are inclined, I offer our blessing that we distribute the Sunday before the Epiphany at St. Michael's. Use it as is or with your own additions. Any chalk can be used - I bless chalk for parishioners to take home, but am also quite sure God is present in good old regular chalk that you have stashed around in the proverbial junk drawer or in your child's arts and crafts set. As usual, reprints are welcomed with appropriate attribution.
These prayers are generally prayed on Epiphany Eve (also known as Twelfth Night, January 5th) or on the day of Epiphany but can be done any time convenient for you during the season.
Epiphany Chalking and Prayers for Homes
Create a sacred space for prayer. Perhaps put on some sacred music, light some candles, and recognize the presence of God With Us with a few moments of silence. After some quiet time, use chalk to write over a door lintel (the main entrance or any/all of the doorways, as you like): 20+C+M+B+14 (2014 for the Year of Our Lord; C, M, B for the traditional names of the Magi – Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar – and for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for May Christ Bless this House.)
After you have chalked the lintel (or while you are writing), read from the Gospel of Matthew chapter 2, verses1-15.
Pray one or all of the following prayers:
Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it (say the names of those who live within). Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is Christ the Lord, forever and ever. Amen.
Lord our God, bless this household and all who live here (names of individuals). May we experience health of body and mind, goodness of heart, gentleness of spirit, and the faithfulness to your commandments. We give thanks to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen.
Blessed Epiphany to you all as Christ becomes manifest in our lives!