The season of Epiphany is a little more gelatinous than our more rigidly programmed seasons in the church. We are coming off Advent, a time for quiet and waiting that culminates in the joyous celebration of the birth of Christ, but we have not yet reached the 40 days of Lent that invite us into deep introspection and spiritual reflection. Epiphany doesn’t feel like “waiting,” or “celebration.” It doesn’t come with a calendar, a count down, or a feast to mark its end. In this way it is counter to what feels like a routine church season, as Epiphany begins with the burning of the greens and a tremendous bonfire to bring light into darkness.
Full disclosure: we prepared an Epiphany “activity” that, in the celebration of light, baptisms, and return to regularly scheduled Sundays, we forgot to pass out. Thank goodness for the Weekly Word at such a time!
The custom of “Epiphany Chalk,” or chalking the inside of a door in a prescribed manner, is used in homes, offices, and buildings during the Epiphany season to bless the dwelling and those who cross its threshold. Essentially, you sandwich a few crosses and letters in between the first 2 digits and the last 2 digits of the new year. Like so much of what we do and practice in our Episcopal traditions, everything in the blessing is symbolic and included for a reason.
The chalking you would put above your door frame this year should read: 20 + C + M + B + 23. The “C” symbolizes the first wiseman, Caspar, and also stands for the first word in the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat, or “May Christ bless the house.” The “M” symbolizes the wiseman called Melchior and the second word in the Latin phrase, and the “B” symbolizes the wiseman called Balthazar and the final word in the phrase. The crosses double for the symbol of Christ’s cross as well as the star these wisemen followed.
It is never too late to bless your home and threshold for Epiphany! If you’d like to use blessed chalk to do this in your home or space, please ask for some on your next Sunday at All Saints’ or stop by the church office. Until then, let me share a blessing for you to say over the thresholds of your mind, body, soul, and space. Full disclosure again: I did not compose this blessing. It is written on the guide given to you with your blessed Epiphany chalk.
“O God, make the door of this home wide enough to receive all who need human love and companionship and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, and strife. Make its threshold be smooth enough that it is not a stumbling block to children or straying feet, and rugged enough to turn back the tempter’s power. Make the door a gateway to your eternal Kingdom. All this we ask in the name of Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.”
I offer up in prayer blessings for all of your homes and hearts, and celebrate that we will write 2023 in the history of All Saints’ and the Lord’s kingdom together, my brothers and sisters in Christ.