Epiphany 2016

Today is Epiphany! Below is a simple House Blessing. It’s reprinted with permission from Sundays and Seasons, an ELCA resource. We included the sermon from Epiphany in the first audio–which is a little different because the Sunday School children helped distribute chalk and directions for chalking the house, and a prayer in the second audio, different from the final prayer below, but also appropriate.

Blessing for a Home at Epiphany

Matthew writes that when the magi saw the shining star stop overhead, they were filled with joy. “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother” (Matt. 2:10-11). In the home, Christ is met in family and friends, in visitors and strangers. In the home, faith is shared, nurtured, and put into action. In the home, Christ is welcome.

Twelfth Night (January 5), Epiphany of Our Lord (January 6), or another day during the time after Epiphany offers an occasion for gathering with friends and family members for a blessing for the home. Someone may lead the greeting and blessing, while another person may read the scripture passage. Following an eastern European tradition, a visual blessing may be inscribed with white chalk above the main door; for example, 20 + CMB + 16. The numbers change with each new year. The three letters stand for either the ancient Latin blessing Christe mansionem benedicat, which means “Christ, bless this house,” or the legendary names of the magi (Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar).

Greeting
May peace be to this house and to all who enter here.
By wisdom a house is built
and through understanding it is established;
through knowledge its rooms are filled
with rare and beautiful treasures. (Proverbs 24:3-4)

Reading
As we prepare to ask God’s blessing on this household, let us listen to the words of scripture.
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being through him,
and without him not one thing came into being,
and the life was the light of all people.
The Word became flesh and lived among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
From his fullness we have all received,
grace upon grace. (John 1:1-4, 14, 16)

Inscription
This inscription may be made with chalk above the entrance:
20 + C M B + 16
Write the appropriate character (left) while speaking the text (right).
The magi of old, known as
C Caspar,
M Melchior, and
B Balthasar,
followed the star of God’s Son who came to dwell among us
20 two thousand
16 and sixteen years ago.
☩ Christ, bless this house,
☩ and remain with us throughout the new year.

Prayer of Blessing
O God, you revealed your Son to all people
by the shining light of a star.
We pray that you bless this home and all who live here
with your gracious presence.
May your love be our inspiration,
your wisdom our guide,
your truth our light,
and your peace our benediction;
through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

Then everyone may walk from room to room, blessing the house with incense or by sprinkling with water, perhaps using a branch from the Christmas tree. An acclamation may be sung during the procession.

Adapted from Come, Lord Jesus: Devotions for the Home (Augsburg Fortress, 1996). See also “Blessing for a Home” in Evangelical Lutheran Worship Pastoral Care, pp. 337–353.

Copyright © 2016 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #SAS024835.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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