One of the traditions I have come to look forward to and appreciate throughout the liturgical year is the blessing of chalk and subsequent “chalking” of doors on Epiphany Eve or for some, on the first Sunday in Epiphanytide. We enjoyed this observance and celebration at our cathedral on Sunday evening. And on Sunday, Canon Anna and I, in a shared visitation, will observe and celebrate this tradition with the Faithful of St. John’s, Stockton.
The following is what is written in the St. John’s Order of Service for Sunday:
“Epiphany (also known as Twelfth Night, Theophany, or Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of “chalking the doors.” The formula for the ritual – adapted for 2020 – is simple: take chalk of any color and write the following above the entrance of your home:
20 + C + M + B + 20.
The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi – Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar – who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “20” at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless those homes so marked and that He stay with those who dwell therein throughout the entire year.
The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be somewhat less well-known in the United States. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work, or visit them there.”
It is the latter part of the excerpt from St. John’s bulletin, I wish to highlight. Epiphanytide provides us the opportunity to consider, as it was for the Wise Ones, what we will bring to God as our gift. And let’s face it, the options for our gifting to God are expensive as it all belongs to God anyway.
In the days before, I encourage us all to consider how we can increase our gift of Creation Care as our gift to God, to God’s Mother Earth, to ourselves and hopefully, if we can get it together, to those who will follow. So please people of EDSJ, please make or renew your covenant in this Epiphanytide to be far more intentional regarding your concern and care for the world in which we live. And may it be the cleanest, greenest year of our lives.