Epiphany Chalking of the Door

At Interrupting the Silence, Episcopal priest Michael K. Marsh provided a rite for blessing a home at Epiphany with the traditional markings of the initials of the Magi and the year. This year it would be 20 + C + M + B + 20. After my wife and I closed on our current house it was the first thing we did, even though it was in August. It was a helpful action at an emotional time.

We’ve kept up the tradition every January 6. The text we use, like Marsh’s, is adapted from the Book of Occasional Services. (Our version was based on the 2003 edition we had in hand. The current 2018 edition is now available online and has a different rite on page 167.) Our changes are minor, but specific. For example, our front door faces due east. Therefore we mention that the magi also came from the East.

We printed it, illustrated it, and framed it. It hangs inside our front door all year. Among other things, that makes is easy to explain to dinner guests what the chalk markings over the door are all about. It also makes it easy to find each January.

I like the text Marsh uses for the priestly blessing of the chalk. Thus far, however, we’ve just used unblessed chalk even though we have several priests who are friends and see them every Sunday at church.

Whether or not you get your chalk blessed, you might want to take up this custom.

Revised December 29, 2020.

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