Materials for Worship for the Epiphany


Ven Peter Potter writes: In some parts of Switzerland and other countries you will see this inscription above the lintel of people’s front doors.

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The letters stand for Christus Mansionem Benedicat or “May Christ bless this house”. They are also the initials of the names traditionally given to the Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. The crosses could be taken as standing for the three crosses on Calvary or they could be an indication that blessings are usually given in the name of the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The star reminds us of the star that led the Wise Men to the place where the infant Jesus was to be found. As such, therefore, it is a pictorial prayer that Christ may be found in our homes too. It expresses our belief in the incarnation, that Jesus took our human nature and dwelt among us, or made his home among us as St John says in the Prologue to the Gospel that bears his name. Like the white candle on our Advent wreaths that we light on Christmas Day the star also reminds us that we have the light of Christ to guide us.

Jesus shared the life of an earthly family and, in blessing our homes, we are witnessing to our living faith that sustains us in our daily lives. We ask God’s protection on our homes and pray that Christ will increase the faith of all who live in them, strengthen their hope and keep them in love for one another throughout the year.

The inscription is renewed some time between New Year and Epiphany to show the date of the year just beginning, the latest in the progression of years numbered since Jesus’ birth.

Writing the inscription above the door is done by the family themselves and is accompanied by a little ceremony. The family gathers together at the front door (in the porch or outside, depending on the weather!). Then someone lights a candle and another family member reads a passage from the Christmas story (preferably Matthew 2:9-12). You might like to sing a carol and this is followed by some prayers.

Another tradition as it is Epiphany, is to light an incense stick or incense scented candle as a sign of the sweetness of God’s presence with us and also of our prayers rising to heaven.

After the prayers of blessing, the letters are written above the main door, usually in chalk. If that is not practical, you could write them on a board and display where they can be seen daily as family members and visitors go in and out. The candle is kept and can be lit at times when we feel a special need of God’s protection or guidance – as we did during the lockdown in 2020, for instance.

Here are some prayers of blessing for you to use.

Lord God,
may your bright splendour shine upon us and enlighten us;
may we be ever closer to you
and ever better perceive the work of your Son,
the Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord, bless our family, our home
and all who come in and go out from here.
Lord, hear us.

Protect us from all dangers to body and soul.
Defend us from hate, envy and enmity.
Give your peace to us all.
Grant to the departed life eternal.
Lord, hear us.

May the Lord keep us
in work and play,
in rest and busyness,
day by day.
In the name of Christ. Amen.

You may also wish to read the Gospel for the Feast of the Epiphany, Matthew 2.1-12