A part of church history is the custom of blessing homes at the New Year or in the Epiphany Season. Christians 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 can 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 doorstep is a way to celebrate and literally “mark” the occasion.
In the Old Testament, the Israelites were told to mark their doors on the night of the Passover. 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.
The following form may be used by your family to mark the door or doorstep of your own home during this holy season or simply to pray this prayer for your home. You may assign parts to read and respond as you wish; keep in mind that the leader can be an adult or a child. This blessing can also be used by a single person or a family, omitting the words in the brackets and changing the personal pronouns in the italics.
An Epiphany House Blessing
Leader: The Lord be with you.
Response: And also with you.
Leader: Arise, shine, for your light has come and the Glory of the Lord shall
Response: And all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.
A Reading (optional): Matthew 2:1-12
Leader: Let us pray.
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live 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 forever. Amen.
At this time, you may use chalk to draw the symbols and date on the door or doorstep:
20 + C + M + B + 24
May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout this year.
[Medieval Christians believed that the three kings names were Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The 3 letters are the first initial of each king and the 2 numbers represent the year. The “C, M, B” also stands for the Latin blessing ‘Christus mansionem benedicat’ which means “Christ bless this house”.]
May God the Father, who by Baptism adopts us as his children, grant us grace.
May God the Son, who sanctified a home at Nazareth, fill us with love.
May God the Holy Spirit, who has made the Church one family, keep us in peace.