Marking Epiphany

Reflections and house blessing

Matthew’s Gospel portrays the Holy Family as living in Bethlehem in a house rather than travellers staying over for a few days –  in a stable or otherwise

Why are homes important? Think how we use the terms such as ‘coming home’ or ‘home-coming’, ‘make yourself at home’, ‘being at home with yourself’, ‘homely’ etc.

What makes a home a home? Is a home a particular house or can it be something more intangible?

In both Old and New Testaments God promises to dwell – to make his home – with his people.

Ex 29: 45 ‘I will dwell among the sons of Israel and will be their God.’

John 1: 14 ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’

Rev 21:3 ‘And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them…’

To what extent are our homes places where God dwells?

Home Blessing: “A part of church history is the custom of blessing homes at the New Year. A family would hold a short service of prayer to ask God’s blessing on their dwellings and on all who live, work with and visit them. In this way, we invite Jesus to be a “guest” in our home, a listener to each conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of thanksgiving.

    “Chalking the door” or the door step may be used as a way to celebrate and literally “mark” the occasion. In the Old Testament the Israelites were told to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb on the night of the Passover to ensure that the angel of death would pass them by.  Deuteronomy says ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart … and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.’ (Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 9)

    Chalk is made of the substance of the earth and is used by teachers to instruct and by children to play. As the image of the chalk fades, we will remember the sign we have made and transfer it to our hearts and our habits.’

    From the (now former) web page.

A traditional way of doing this is to write above the home’s entryway, 20 + C + M + B + 22 The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.” 


Reader: “Peace be to this house and: to all who dwell here, in the name of the Lord.

All: Blessed be God forever.

Reader: 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 come to be through him, and without him nothing came to be….. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-3.14) 

Using chalk, write outside above or next to the front door:-

 20 + C + M + B + 22

All: Lord God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness and the keeping of your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May this home be glowing with warmth 

in the chill of winter

And a cooling shade 

in the heat of the summer sun,

May it be a place 

where one awakes with eagerness,

And a haven from stress, 

when the work of the day is done.

May God, our Mother, 

safely cradle this house in her strong arms,

And breathe the comfort of her love 

through every room.

May God, our Father, fire the minds 

of those who dwell here with hopeful dreams

And give them the strength 

to make those dreams come true.

May God, our Companion, 

fill this home with laughter

And weave a satisfying peace 

in times of solitude.

May the cupboards be forever full,

And the table spread with welcome cheer.

May friends come often through the door,

But yet the need for privacy 

be respected here.

May the wild beauty of God,

May the indwelling peace of God

May the surprising mystery of God

Inhabit this home.


(Prayer by Jean Gaskin, published in Human Rites: Worship Resources for an Age of Change compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, London: Mowbray, 1995, p.91)

Author: Judith Russenberger

Environmentalist and theologian, with husband and three grown up children plus one cat, living in London SW14. I enjoy running and drinking coffee - ideally with a friend or a book.

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