Chalking the Door is a way to celebrate and physically mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing on our lives and home throughout the year. With time the chalk will fade but the meaning of the written symbols can sink into the depths of our hearts and be made manifest in our words and actions.
You may have seen it before and wondered about the combination of numbers, letters, and symbols that have been called “holy graffiti,” and looks like the start of an algebraic equation. The letters C, M, B come from the traditional names for the wise men: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, whose arrival at Mary and Joseph’s home is celebrated on the Epiphany. The letters are also an abbreviation for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat,” which means “May Christ bless this dwelling.” The first and last numbers refer to the current year, and the plus signs in between represent the cross.
Use what follows as a suggestion to begin this new year within your home. (printable pdf version).
Peace be to this house and to all who enter here.
A reading from Proverbs: “By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures.”
As we are always in the company of angels, archangels and the whole company of heaven let us pray: Gracious God, as a shining star once guided the magi to the birthplace of the infant Jesus, so enable those who dwell here to be your light in the world; through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Using chalk (hence, “Chalking the Door”) each person in the household is given a turn to inscribe the lintel of the home (the horizontal frame above the door) with the following inscription.
A reading from Isaiah: “The effect of righteousness is peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness, and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and quiet places.”
Join hands or extend hands outward and upward for the prayers. Let us pray: Sovereign God, we pray that you will bless this home and all who live here with your gracious presence, that your love may be our inspiration, your wisdom our guide, your truth our light, and your peace our benediction; through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Lord, remember your children and teach us to pray: Our Father who art in heaven…
People often make the sign of the cross in remembrance of their baptism.
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
May the Lord watch over our going out and our coming in, from this time forth and forevermore. Amen.
Kim Snodgrass is Assistant to the Bishop for Christian Formation.