Sunday is Epiphany. At some point that day, our family will gather on our front porch. We will pray a blessing over our house.
Lord God of Heaven and Earth, You revealed Your only-begotten Son to every nation by the light of a star. Bless this house and all who live here. May it be a shelter of peace and health and a place of warmth and caring for all who enter this door. Fill us with the light of Christ, that we might clearly see You in our work and play and follow wherever You may lead. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Then I will take a piece of the kids’ sidewalk chalk and write on the lintel of our front door C+M+B 13. Last year’s inscription is still visible, and beneath it, if you look closely, you can see the letters and numbers from the years before that—11, 10, 09, all the way back to 07, our first Epiphany in this house.
You see, every year on Epiphany (January 6), we commemorate the Magi’s coming to Bethlehem by enacting this small ritual of blessing our home, of marking it as a place set apart, of etching into our front door our intention to follow Jesus, wherever he may lead.
The letters C, M, and B are the first letters of each word in the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat—Christ, bless this home. We write them on our door each year because that is what we want—the blessing of Christ, the peace and joy and love of the God-Man— to fill our home, to fill our hearts, to be the very air we breathe as we go about our daily work.
But those letters aren’t just a petition. They’re also a call—because C, M, and B are also the initials of the Wise Men whose names, according to tradition, were Caspar, Melchior, and Baltasar. These men left all they knew and held dear to follow a star—because they believed that what they’d find would surpass all they were leaving behind. We want to be like the Magi—so we write their initials on our door to remind us, each time we come into our house, of our desire, our intention to follow the Light.
When I see those letters (and I confess, I often pass beneath them, oblivious of their presence, their call), but when I remember to pay attention and I actually see them, I say a prayer: “Help me, Jesus, to see you. Help me to hear you. Help me to follow you.”
Most often in my life, with four young children running about underfoot, following where Jesus leads doesn’t look glamourous or difficult. Mostly it means biting my tongue when I want to scream in frustration over yet another mess.
It means collecting my reluctant children onto the sofa for Morning Prayer even when I’d rather not deal with the whining. It means making yet another meal and shepherding everyone to the table one more time to light the candle, sing, pray, and share our consolations from the day—when all I want is to lie down and sleep for a good 24 hours.
It means believing in the face of often contrary evidence that God is indeed at work in our home, our kids’ hearts, my husband’s and my hearts, as we follow Jesus in the humble, every day ways that He leads us.
In this daily following, we become the magi, answering the call of the star in our small way—and so, by the grace of God, we become the answer to our prayer that Christ would bless our home and all who enter. That’s a lot of growth from three small letters and a number. But what else do we expect from the Lord who fed four thousands with five loaves and two fish?