"Epiphany" comes from the Greek word Epiphania, which means "to show, make known, or reveal." Indeed, making known our faith in the world is a vital aspect of the Christian life. What we do in church on Sunday is meant to inspire and enkindle what we do in the world between Sundays. One place we spend much of our life is in our homes. There is an ancient custom practiced at the outset of Epiphany to bless chalk and mark/bless our homes.
Rooted in the Old Testament, marking the doorway to one’s home is an ancient custom. We are reminded by Holy Scripture that God has at times commanded his people to mark their doors. The Israelites marked their doors with the lamb’s blood on the night of the passover (Exodus 12:7). A similar command was given with the Shema: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart … and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9
What follows below is a way to practice this custom in your homes. The first is a prayer that can be used to bless chalk that is then given out to people to use in their homes. The second is a liturgy to be used in your homes.
Blessing the Chalk
V. Our help is the name of the Lord: R. The maker of heaven and earth. V. The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in: R. From this time forth for evermore. V. The Lord be with you. R. And also with you.
Let us pray. Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant that through the invocation of your most Holy Name all who use it in faith to write upon the doors of their homes the names of your saints, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit their home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Instructions for Blessing the Home
Leader: Peace be to this house, and to all who enter here. People: Amen.
One or more of the following prayers maybe said:
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 meet, 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 through Christ our Savior. Amen.
Using the blessed chalk write 20 + C + M + B + 18 on the lintel of your front door (front porch step or other convenient location) while saying:
The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and seventeen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.
Then offer the following prayer:
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.
The above has been adapted from the following resources:
Marsh, Michael K. (2017, January 2). Epiphany House Blessing with Chalk [Web log post]. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from https://interruptingthesilence.com
BuildFaith Editors. (January 1, 2011). Chalking the Door [Web log post]. Retreived December 29, 2017, from https://www.buildfaith.org