Epiphany Blessings

Today (January 6) is the feast day of Epiphany when it is tradition to remember the visit of the magi to the baby Jesus.  Even if our nativity sets typically include the three kings huddled around Jesus in the manger, the scriptures tell us this visit happened a bit later.  (You try following a star and not showing up a little late!)

I recently learned about a tradition that many Christians use on Epiphany called “chalking the door.”  On this day, many use chalk to mark their doors with the following symbols:

20 + C + M + B + 21

The numbers on the ends change each year to match the calendar year.  The plus signs represent the cross of Christ.  The letters C, M, B have a dual meaning.  First, they represent the apocryphal names of the magi that have developed as part of the tradition: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar.  Second, the three letters also represent the Latin phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which translates as “Christ, bless this dwelling.” 

I have heard a number of you mention that you have already taken down your Christmas decorations.  I suppose this has to happen eventually, but ours will probably stay up for a while longer.  In this long season of slowly growing light, I think we need as many reminders of the God who dwells among us as we can get.  So I invite you to chalk your doors* today and let the symbols be a regular reminder to you of the God who has come to dwell with us.  As you make the markings, you can read Matthew 2:1-12 to remember the story of the magi, and here is a prayer you can say to to consecrate the symbols:

God of long journeys, guiding stars, and surprising gifts, bless this home and all who enter here.  At the threshold of this new year, we pray that all who pass through this door would encounter Christ living among us.  Amen.

*As an alternate idea and a way to recognize the uniqueness of this season, it could also be meaningful to make the markings on whatever screen you use for video calls.  These screens have truly become a window to the world and one of the main places where we “meet” one another.  Instead of chalk, I used the top portion of the sticky note to put the markings on my computer screen.