Today is the Feast of the Epiphany; the commemoration of the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles by the visitant of the Magi to the Baby Jesus at His home. This day has often been a time for the blessing of one's home. As the magi came bearing gifts to honor this child it becomes an appropriate time for us to invite this Child into our home to bless us and our homes.
It is in the home that the first experience of love occurs; and it is there that love is nurtured and grows to maturity. The Christian home is also the ground of much of people's spiritual growth. Therefore it is fitting that Christians might wish to bless their homes. This simple act encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to all those who enter their homes.
This is the end of the Christmas Season and the time to remove Christmas trees and other similar decorations. We will be removing the Christmas greenery here at St. John's this morning following Coffee Hour. Next Sunday will be the Baptism of our Lord. A beginning of Christ's adult presence in the Gospels.
This custom of blessing homes at New Years has been observed throughout the history of the Church. To do this as 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.
In the past people would "chalk the door" or the door step as a way to celebrate and "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 say that you 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"
Thus on Epiphany that folks might chose to mark the lintils of their homes with a simple blessing in chalk. Chalk is made of the earth. It is used by teacher 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 hears and our habits.
What would be chalked on the lintel of the door this year would be 20+C+M=B+19 while all would say together, "The three Wise Men, C Casper, M Melchoir, and B Balthasar followed the start of God's incarnate Son who was born of Mary 2019 (two thousand and nineteen years ago).
++May Christ bless our home
++and remind with us through the new year. Amen
(e C M B above the door might even more appropriately stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for "May Christ Bless this House")
Some suggested prayers for blessing your home are below:
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God and God abides in them. Christ, God's Incarnate Word is present in the love and care we manifest to each other in our ordinary daily lives together. 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 met, 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 Savior. Amen.
Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this though Christ our Savior. Amen.
There is also a Liturgy for the blessing of a home, if you would like to have your home blessed, please contact Mother Joan.
And May God bless each of you and the places wherein you dwell, blessing on all those who enter in.
Happy New Year to you all