Each year in our home, we celebrate Epiphany. It is such a special celebration and a wonderful extension of Christmas. While the anticipation of Christmas is wonderful, the commercialism can take away from it's meaning. We are buying gifts as soon as the pumpkins are gone and decorations are to be taken down on December 26, never to be thought of again until next Christmas.
In our home, the decorations remain through the 12 Days of Christmas (which are actually the 12 days after Christmas) through Epiphany. On Epiphany, we have an Epiphany party, a birthday party for Jesus! We celebrate with a King's Cake and each of our children receive 3 gifts, just as the Magi presented 3 gifts to the baby Jesus. We read the story of His birth and the revelation of Christ to the world! It's a special evening filled with great meaning and sentiment and gives us another opportunity to focus on the birth of our Lord and Savior away from some of the commercialism found at Christmastime.
We conclude the evening with a House Blessing, asking for God's blessing on our home and all of those who will come and go through it's doors in the coming year.
After Epiphany, we take down our tree and place it outside. We use a live tree each year and so at the conclusion of Christmas, we remove the Christmas decorations and replace them with homemade, edible decorations for the birds and squirrels for the winter. We hang pinecones spread with peanut butter and rolled in birdseed as well as slices of bread and strings of popcorn.
Our House Blessing
As we mark our home, usually at the front or main entrance, with sacred signs and symbols, we ask God's blessing upon those who live within and visit our home throughout the coming year. In Exodus, the Israelites marked their doors with blood so that the Lord would pass over their homes; but in this service, we mark our doors with chalk as a sign that we have invited God's presence and blessing into our homes.
We use chalk to mark our home with its blessing. Chalk is a substance made of common elements of the earth, which can serve to remind us of our humble existence as beings made of the dust of the earth. In addition, it is often used by children in their games and play, reminding us of the child-like innocence with which we should approach our faith. It is also an added bonus that it will not damage the surface. The chalk will fade over time, giving the opportunity to rededicate ourselves and our home the following year and once again to seek God's blessing on our home and on those who come and go through its doors.
To mark our home, we use the letters CMB sandwiched between the numbers of the current year with the symbol of a cross between each. The C M B stands for "Christus Mansionem Benedicat," meaning "May Christ bless this dwelling." in Latin. It is also nice that these letters stand for the names of the Magi as Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, though these names are not to be found in Scripture.
Our marking looks something like this: 20 + C + M + B + 10 and are typically written on the top door frame of the entrance of our home, but if young children are participating, anywhere on the door frame will be fine.
Pray: Lord Jesus, through your birth and revelation, You brought light and hope into a world filled with darkness and sin. Thank you for the gift of your birth and the gift of Salvation in your death on the cross. As the wise men sought you so long ago, we seek you now to follow your path for our lives and our home. We ask your blessing upon this simple gift of your creation, this humble piece of chalk. We use it as a tool to teach our children, and they use it as a tool in their play and games, and 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.
O God of Light, bless our house and our family. May this be a place of peace and health. May each member of this family cultivate the gifts and graces you have bestowed, dedicating our talents and works for the good of all. Make this house a shelter in the storm and a haven of rest for all in need of your warmth and care. And when we go out from this place, may we never lose sight of that Epiphany star. As we go about our work, our study, our play, keep us in its light and in your love.
Mark the doorpost with the symbols.
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, health, happiness, prosperity 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.