This coming Sunday, we celebrate the start of Epiphany, a season of light and gifts. Epiphany is the traditional day we celebrate the coming of 3 Magi bringing gifts to the Christ child.
Epiphany begins and ends with special rituals for families to invite blessings and hope into their homes. On Epiphany Day, families are invited to chalk their doors with a pattern:
“20 † C † M † B † 18”
The numbers refer to the year (2018); the crosses stand for Christ; and the letters have a two-fold significance: C, M, and B are the initials for the traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar), — also an abbreviation for Christus mansionem benedicat, or May Christ bless this house.
We will bless chalk used to write the Epiphanytide pattern on Epiphany Day, this Sunday. Any family who wants to can take a piece of chalk home to “chalk their door.”
This Christian custom of chalking the door has a biblical precedent as the Israelites in the Old Testament marked their doors in order to be saved from death; likewise, the Epiphanytide practice represents the hospitality of the Holy Family to the Magi (and all Gentiles); it thus serves as a house blessing to invite the presence of God in one’s home.
Epiphanytide ends on Candlemas Sunday February 4th, when the congregation is invited to bring candles from home to be blessed, and the children can make Christingles with Rev. Rebecca at coffee hour.
Throughout Epiphany, a “Soup and Study” of Michael Eric Dyson’s book, Tears we cannot stop: A sermon to white America is being offered.
May this season of light and gifts and blessing bring you joy in the New Year!