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Epiphany Chalk House Blessing

On Epiphany (or New Year) you can bless your house. You can make this as simple or as intricate as you like; include (liturgical) greeting (eg. “The Lord be with you…”), song or carol, holy water (sprinkling door, each room), reading (eg. Epiphany Gospel, start of John’s Gospel), more prayers, Lord’s Prayer, incense, assigning parts to different members of the household, collect for Epiphany. Many homes are the dwelling for one person – the blessing of a home is equally appropriate.

Take (blessed) chalk (of any colour) and mark on the lintel of your front door 20 + C + M + B + 17 saying:

The three Wise Men,
C Caspar,
M Melchior,
B and Balthasar followed the star of God’s Son who became human
20 two thousand
17 and seventeen years ago.
++ May Christ bless our home
++ and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Christ, God’s incarnation, is present in the love and care we manifest to each other in our ordinary daily lives together.

Other possible prayers:

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 your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.

God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.

It is in the home that the first experience of love occurs; it is there that love is nurtured and grows to maturity. The Christian home is also the ground for much of people’s spiritual growth.

The ministry of Jesus occurs in many different homes. Therefore to hallow the home as an environment for nurture and renewal, is a deeply felt need by many Christian households.

The blessing of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others.

From A New Zealand Prayer Book page 762

C M B above the door, also stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for “May Christ Bless this House.”

The chalk may be blessed and distributed after communion at the Epiphany or other appropriate Eucharist. Water may also be blessed and distributed at this point. Some also distribute blessed incense, where some households keep five pieces for a family Easter Candle later.

Let us pray.

Silent prayer

Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name all those who with it write the names of your saints, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in the homes where this chalk is used, we make this prayer through Jesus the Christ. Amen.

A part of church history is the custom of blessing homes at the New Year. A family would hold a short service of prayer to ask God’s blessing on their dwellings and on all who live, work with and visit them. In this way, we invite Jesus to be a “guest” in our home, a listener to each conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of thanksgiving.

“Chalking the door” or the door step may be used as a way to celebrate and literally “mark” the occasion. In the Old Testament the Israelites were told to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb on the night of the Passover to ensure that the angel of death would pass them by. Deuteronomy 6: 9 says that we shall “write [the words of God] on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, … and you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”

Chalk is made of the substance of the earth and is used by teachers to instruct and by children to play. As the image of the chalk fades, we will remember the sign we have made and transfer it to our hearts and our habits.
From the worshipwell.org

As I researched for this post, I read of “First Footing”, of Rosca de reyes, of priests wandering the streets with an assistant, going from house to house to bless them (some with incense and holy water),…

Please add variant prayers, practices, ideas in the comments.

In the Southern Hemisphere, and certainly in Aotearoa-New Zealand, this is our go-slow time… So – sometimes your comments may take longer than usual to get through moderation…

Source of images: here, here, and here

Proclamation of the date of Easter on Epiphany
(my intention is to update that for 2017 in my next post – which I intend to put up early next week).

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7 Responses to Epiphany Chalk House Blessing

  1. Thank you. I am Irish and this is unknown in Ireland. But I know that it’s a common practice in homes in Germany – perhaps also in other parts of Western Europe. German church charities make available a strip of card with the chalked blessing prewritten that people can place above their doors on the lintels. I love the idea. Please God it may spread.

  2. Our local priest did this on every house in our village in Germany…I knew it was a blessing but had no idea what it meant. The letters above were the ones he used. I always felt grateful that we were not singled out as Protestants, but treated the same as everyone else in the village, who was Catholic. In Germany, you have to say what religion you beling to to the local council (gemeinde) and a percentage of your rates, goes towards rhe upkeep of the local churches and the local cemetery so there is no hiding your denomination.

  3. For those who labor away from home, I wonder if something like this would be appropriate for the workplace (even if it’s a simple note at one’s cubicle.)

  4. This is all new to us. What day is this done and does the Priest have to do it?

    This is a Beautiful thing to do and would love to have our home blessed.

    Thank you

    • Thanks, Patricia.

      The traditional day is Epiphany – January 6. Sometimes (often) Epiphany is moved to a Sunday (You could still do it January 6).
      I don’t see that it matters if you haven’t done it yet – it’s still early in the year – you could still do it, and aim to do it next year as close to January 6 as you are home (Southern Hemisphere people are often away from home January 6).

      This house blessing and marking with chalk is specifically done by anyone – not just a priest (see photo). If you want your priest to do it – great. You can do it. That’s why my text is addressed to you.

      The chalk might be blessed by a priest at your church service as described. Otherwise just use chalk you have.

      Blessings.

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