This Epiphany I marked my house with chalk and prayed a blessing over our home for the first time.
As I marked the wall of the house I prayed the following:
The three Wise Men,
B and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human
20 two thousand
16 and sixteen years ago.
++ May Christ bless our home
++ and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.
God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Christ, God’s incarnation, is present in the love and care we manifest to each other in our ordinary daily lives together.
The letters C, M and B also stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for “May Christ Bless this House.”
Traditions are good for us, they give structure to our lives and to the passing of time, it’s never too late to start a new tradition so I decided to do this this year. Praying for God’s blessing over a home for the coming year is linked to the remembrance of the journey of the magi back home after visiting the Christ child. Matthew’s gospel tells us that the magi travelled home by a different route after being warned in a dream not to go back to Herod. One imagining of the story (and it has of course been embellished over the years with the creation of the ‘3 kings’ from the description of magi from the East) is that on their return home, the magi blessed the homes they stayed in. I don’t think this is too much a stretch of the imagination – they surely told the tale of their journey and their visit to Jerusalem, to Herod the king and finally their discovery of the child when the star appeared again to the hosts they stayed with.
You can’t encounter Christ without it changing you, without it changing the way you see the world. It happened to the magi: pray that it will happen to you too.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year message encouraged us to think about whether we will be people of hostility or hospitality. The culture into which Jesus was born had a very strong sense of hospitality (and still has today in the Middle East) – it runs throughout scripture – remember Abraham entertaining angels? This sense of openness to the stranger is not very evident in Western culture and yet it is at the core of the Gospel and it is the message of the visit of the magi to the Christ child – that the stranger is welcomed and included in the Kingdom of God. So the act of blessing the house and marking it with chalk goes along with a pledge for the home to be always open to the stranger.
I hope that might be the case for our home and that you might want to pray and pledge the same.
Happy Epiphany and may God bless your home and all who visit it in 2016!