Invite Christ into your home as the new year begins!
The Church year revolves around two great events: The Incarnation, the coming of the Son of God into human flesh and dwelling among us; and the Resurrection, celebrating Jesus's overcoming of death and the grave after being crucified.
Following the pattern of all life, the first event celebrated in the Church calendar is, obviously, the Incarnation. Our remembrance of the Incarnation includes the liturgical seasons of Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany and the days after that feast until Ash Wednesday, which begins the season of Lent and turning our attention toward the cross and Resurrection.
Each year on January 6 (the 12th Day of Christmas as the song goes), liturgical Christians in the West celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany, which ends the Season of Christmas and inaugurates the Season after Epiphany which lasts up until Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. One of the stories of the Epiphany is the visitation of the Wise Men, or Magi, to the infant Jesus in Bethlehem. This is the first recognition by those outside of Israel that Jesus is a Holy Child.
Image: The Three Wise Men, on the Nativity facade of La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, photo by Leslie Scoopmire
One of the traditions that has grown up is "The Chalking of the Doors." This is a house blessing, inviting God into our lives for the coming year and asking that our home be a blessed space where Jesus is welcomed. We also engage in this ritual on the doors leading into the parish.
Taking a piece of chalk, we stand at the door of our house or parish church and say prayers. We then write the following formula on the doors:
It may look like a weird code, but here's the symbolism:
The numbers on the ends represent the year, in this case 2024 for the next time we celebrate Epiphany.
The crosses between each pair of symbols is of course a reminder of Christ.
The letters inside stand for two different things. First, they are the initials of the legendary names of the "Three Wise Men," which has come down from European tradition as Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar. But this is also an acronym for this Latin phrase: "Christus mansionem benedicat," meaning, "May Christ bless this house."
Here is an example from 2013:
You can pray this liturgy and ask God's blessing on your home yourself-- no need for a clergy person. To help you, we have included here both an abbreviated version of this liturgy, and a longer one.
May these materials make us ever mindful of intentionally inviting Christ into our hearts, our homes, and our lives, especially at the start of a New Year.
These liturgies are adapted from materials in the Book of Occasional Services, 2003 and 2018.
Click here to download the regular version:
Click here to download the abbreviated version of this liturgy: