Epiphany (January 6 or the closest Sunday) is a customary time to bless homes and families. This blessing often includes a “chalking” of the front door with the year and the letters, CMB. These refer to the legendary names of the magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, or to the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat (“May Christ bless this house”).
Another tradition is to take the first Christmas card received that season that bears the image of the magi and tape it above the inside lintel of the front door. Both traditions remind us to seek and welcome Christ every time we pass through the doors.
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The family and their friends, holding lit candles, gather outside the open front door of the home, and all sing a suitable song, such as, “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Then, a leader invites all to make the Sign of the Cross and introduces the ritual.
Leader: As the magi followed the light of the star, we too follow the light of Christ to be a place of welcome, a people of generosity, and a dwelling place for God. Let us ask God to open our hearts so that, as the doors of this home are opened to neighbor and traveler, this family may be a source of welcome for all in need and a place where Christ is found.
Chalking the Door
Leader: Let us consecrate this door and the home it protects to Christ who is the sheepgate. Let this door be the threshold that leads both ways to the blessings of God.
The oldest and the youngest persons of the household may take turns inscribing the following on the outside lintel of the front door: 20 +C +M +B 19
As they do this, a reader proclaims John 1:13-14: 13who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.
Placing of the Epiphany Card over the Door
Another family member places an Epiphany card over the front door inside the house as another reader proclaims Matthew 2:9-11: 9After their audience with the king they set out. And behold, the star that they had seen at its rising preceded them, until it came and stopped over the place where the child was. 10They were overjoyed at seeing the star, 11and on entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
Procession into the Home
All sing an appropriate song such as “We Three Kings” as they follow the family into the main gathering space of the home. Participants place their lit candles in appropriate places throughout the room.
Leader: Let us pray that this home shines radiantly with the love of God.
Reader: Our response is: “Make us your dwelling place, Lord.”
With Mary, and Joseph:
With Anne and Joachim:
With Elizabeth and Zechariah:
With Anna and Simeon:
With the shepherds and the kings:
With all the angels and saints:
With all holy men and women:
For the sick and the hungry:
For the homeless and the lonely:
For friend and stranger:
For neighbor and traveler:
In our hopes and dreams:
In our faults and failings:
In times of joy and peace:
In times of sadness and grief:
When anger and fear confuse us:
When pride and pain confound us:
When the plans we make must change:
When you call us home by a different way:
In all things, great and small:
Leader: Christ taught us to call upon the Father, and so we pray: Our Father…
Prayer of Blessing
Leader: Blessed are you, God of all creation, for you give us shelter from the cold and the light of your Word to brighten the night. We come bearing no gifts for everything is a gift from you. All we can offer is our love for one another and our faith in your Son. In your mercy, transform these humble gifts into a sign of your presence, and bless this house and all who come to it. May this home and this family be a light for all who are lost and afraid, a place of peace and hospitality for those in need, and a sign that you are indeed God with us. When our long journey has ended, lead us all by the star of your mercy that we may come home to you to the dwelling place you have prepared for us in heaven. Grant this through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
All sing an appropriate song, such as “Joy to the World.”