The ritual of blessing homes is connected to the Solemnity of the Epiphany that falls in Christmas season. Epiphany means ‘manifestation’, that moment when we suddenly understand something that previously was hidden. Three mysteries mark this holy day:
- today the star leads the Magi to the infant Christ;
- today water is changed into wine for the wedding feast;
- today Christ wills to be baptised by John in the river Jordan to bring us salvation.
Christmas is about the Son of God becoming one of us (the incarnation). Epiphany is about the Christ child’s divinity being manifest in the world. The tradition of blessing doorways is inspired by the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, who followed the star to a manger in Bethlehem where they saw the Messiah revealed to them in the person of a newborn child.
The Magi showed great hospitality when they came to honour the Messiah. We can bless our own doorway to remind us to welcome strangers and travellers as honoured and treasured guests.
Here is a simple prayer service to do so. Have a piece of chalk ready and a Bible.
Gather everyone in a convenient place and make the sign of the Cross.
Leader: The Magi followed a star to find God in a tiny child. Let us imitate them in seeking the Saviour manifest in our world.
Reading: Matthew 2:1-12
If you have a nativity set, move the Magi to the scene.
Blessing: Write over the doorway with chalk the first two digits of the year, followed by the initials of each of the Magi, and then the last digits of the year, eg 20 + C + M + B + 24. The initials correspond to the first letter of each word in the simple prayer, Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Christ bless this house. You may wish to say these words as you mark the doorway.
Leader: Lord Jesus, in your humble state you welcomed kings and shepherds alike. May all who pass through this doorway – poor or rich, suffering or rejoicing, stranger or friend – be welcomed as the King Himself. Grant peace to this house and to the house of our hearts that we may seek and find you in everyone we meet. You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
If you have holy water, you can bless the corners of the room with it or sprinkle each room in the house and the people gathered. You may sing a carol at this time.
Simone Brosig is pastoral leader of Community Life and Worship.