Chalking the Door for Epiphany

We had a wonderful time with the children yesterday in worship.  Because so many of our families expressed an interest in and appreciation for the message that was shared, I thought it would be good to share it in this context too.

The Imler home, in Sheraden, is chalked and ready for a new year!

The Imler home, in Sheraden, is chalked and ready for a new year!

January 6 is the day we celebrate Epiphany in the church.  We remember the Magi who came to visit, worship, and bless the Christ child, and we celebrate the fact that the Good News of Jesus was not restricted to an “insider’s circle”, but rather sent into the world as these Three Kings went “home by a different way”.  Their encounter with the Christ had changed them.

In worship in January 4, I invited the people of Crafton Heights to participate in an old European tradition known as “chalking the doors”.  The idea is that we take chalk – a natural, simple, and fragile element – and use it to write a prayer on the doorway to our homes.  In doing so, we create a tangible reminder of our call to make these dwellings a place of blessing to all who enter through the doors, and we ask God’s spirit to protect us from that which would harm us in our comings and goings.

The children helped me to tell the story of the Magi’s visit to the Holy Family, and then we moved to a door in the church where I led them through a brief exercise involving the chalking and a prayer.  You can read more about the tradition of chalking the door by clicking here.

Jackson helps mark his family's home.

Jackson helps mark his family’s home.

At the end of the children’s message, I gave each participant a baggie containing a piece of chalk as well as a half-page liturgy to use at home.  I am delighted and encouraged that so many of our folks chose to mark their homes (and their children!) in this way.  The text of the liturgy I shared is below.  Please note that I make no claims of originality here – I simply did some research, stole some good ideas, and tried to share them in a way that would make sense to our people.  I think it did.  There’s still time for your family to mark your home this season!

The church celebrates the day of Epiphany on January 6 each year. Epiphany is the day that we remember the wise men. Although their names are not found in the Bible, traditionally we remember them as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. In an ancient European “chalking ceremony”, the first letters of these three names — C, M, B — are inscribed on the door frame as a blessing is offered for the home. Some suggest the C M B may also stand for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” meaning “May Christ bless this dwelling.” If you would like to chalk the doorway of your home, you can do so by writing 20 C M B 15.

Chalking the Door:
 A service of home blessing

Standing on your doorstep

The wise ones followed God’s star to Bethlehem, seeking the savior.

Let us follow the star.

They found Jesus in Bethlehem and knew they had found the one they were seeking.

Let us recognize Jesus.

They fell down and worshipped him, offering him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Let us offer all that we have to the Lord.

 

The door is marked 20+C+M+B+15 while you say:

Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s son who became human two thousand and fourteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and each person who lives in it or who visits us.

You may go inside to say this prayer or stay outside.

Holy God, watch over our going out and our coming in and fill us with the light of Christ, that we may grow in love, in wisdom, and in faith.

O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and companionship; narrow enough to keep out all envy, pride, and anger. Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling clock to children, nor to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back evil’s power.

O God, may the door of this house be the gateway to You. I ask these things in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

One of the best things about this exercises is that it gives fathers and mothers a chance to help their children act out faith in a tangible way.

One of the best things about this exercises is that it gives fathers and mothers a chance to help their children act out faith in a tangible way.

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