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Chalking the Door

On Epiphany, consider participating in an ancient tradition known as “Chalking the Door.” This practice consists of marking a blessing in chalk in a specific pattern of letters and numbers, to invite God’s blessing on a home, church, or other entryway, and on all who enter its doors during the year. All you need is chalk and a doorway. The markings are usually made above the front door or main entrance, in this pattern: 20 + C + M + B + 21 The numbers change each year to reflect the new calendar year. The letters C, M, and B are given two meanings: the initials of the traditional names of the three magi, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, and the initials of the Latin phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means, “Christ bless this dwelling.” The + signs are for the Cross of Christ. Before, during, or after the chalking of the door, the following prayer might be offered:

O God of Stars and Journeys, we ask your blessing on this threshold. May all whose journeys lead them through these doors be blessed with health, generosity of spirit, a joyful heart, and deep peace. O God of Welcome, may all who enter this doorway rejoice to find Christ living among us, and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is the incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.

Seeing the symbols over our door during the year remind us, even as life goes back to a regular routine after Christmas, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. They are also reminders of the welcome the magi gave to Jesus. Who might we welcome into our hearts this coming year? With time the chalk will fade. As it does, we let the meaning of the written symbols sink into the depths of our hearts and manifest in our words and actions.


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