Starting the new term and new year together, and as we brought to an end the Christmas season with the solemnity of Epiphany earlier in the week, I’d like to share with you two symbolic actions you can participate in. One of the great ancient traditions around the world which we sometimes don’t make the most of here in the UK is that of chalk blessings on our homes and in school. Using the names of the three wise men which have become tradition over centuries – Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, we reflect on not only the gifts they brought to the infant child, but the gifts we can offer to one another in the coming year. Below is a short service you can use to begin the year and to ask Christ’s blessing upon your home and family.
The second symbolic action I’d like to invite you to undertake is linked to this weekend’s feast – the Baptism of The Lord. As we chronologically move forward to the next phase of Jesus’ life and the sacramental journey we would undertake as Christians, I invite you to renew your own baptismal promises. These promises can remind us of God’s loving grace shared with us at our own baptism and continues to be upon us today. We are each a child of God, blessed and loved.
Epiphany Blessing of homes
We mark above the door in chalk with the date (20 + C + M + B + 21 adding the initials of the names given to the three wise people who brought gifts to Jesus in his first home:
C for Caspar
M for Melchior
B for Balthasar
The three initials, C-M-B, also stand for the three words of a Latin prayer – Christus Mansionem Benedicat = May Christ bless this house – If you cannot use chalk on the doorframe you could use crayon or stick up a sign such as the one below and use some holy water you may have. Many of our local parishes have holy water and/or chalk in Church too which they are happy to distribute.
Blessed are you, Lord God of all creation:
by the guidance of a star you led the magi to your child
and by the light of faith you bring us to know Christ as Lord,
the Messiah you have sent.
Bless us as we use this chalk to mark our doors in your honour.
and sprinkle water in our homes,
as a sign of the Lord Jesus’ baptism in the River Jordan.
May the homes where these things are used in faith
be dwelling places of goodness, humility, self-control,
mutual respect for one another,
hospitality toward strangers,
and loving obedience to your word.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.
Renewal of Baptismal Promises
These are the baptismal promises used for Catholic baptisms which only vary by a few words with other Christian denominations, I’m sure you can use them in your own way if you belong to an alternative Christian Church.
Do you reject Satan?
And all his works?
And all his empty promises?
Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?
Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
God, the all-powerful Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has given us a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and forgiven all our sins. May he also keep us faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.
Mr M Robinson