Time & Location
About the Event
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.
Traditionally we remember the names of the Magi as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar — although these names are not found in Scripture. During the chalking ceremony, the first letters of these three names — C, M, B — are inscribed on the door frame. Some suggest the C M B may also stand for "Christus Mansionem Benedicat," meaning "May Christ bless this dwelling."
These letters are inscribed between the numbers of the year of the ceremony. Thus, as people are given the opportunity to participate in the chalking of the door, they will inscribe one or more of the symbols: 20 C M B 19
The symbols are usually written on the upper horizontal piece of the door frame of the front entrance to a home or hospital room; but if younger children or people in wheelchairs participate, encourage them to place the symbols anywhere on the door frame they can comfortably reach.
The following prayer may be used by your family to mark the door of your own home at this holy season.
A New Year/Epiphany House Blessing
Lord Jesus, through your Incarnation and birth in true human form, you have made all the earth holy. We now ask your blessing upon this simple gift of your creation — chalk. We use it as a tool to teach our children, and they use it as a tool in their play and games. Now, with your blessing, may it become a tool for us to mark the doors of our home with the symbols of your wise servants who, so long ago, came to worship and adore you in your first home.
[At this time you may use chalk to draw 20 C M B 19 on the door or door step.]
May we, in this house, and all who come to visit, to work, and to play, remember these things throughout the coming year. May all who come and go here find peace, comfort, joy, hope, love, and salvation, for Christ has come to dwell in this house and in these hearts. May we be Christ's light in the world. Amen.