Do you observe Epiphany?
Coming from a liturgical church foundation in childhood, I miss some of the ways the church year marks time...today is Epiphany, a day that we can learn more about and how to use it to be more aware of Jesus in our lives...it is the time when Christ is revealed to the world!
Epiphany is the day that liturgical churches observe the visit of the wise men to baby Jesus...their simple desire to worship the King is the precursor to serious outbursts in the hearts of those who should have been lovers of God, but weren't. Epiphany celebrates the fact that Jesus came for all people as the Holy Family accepted the worship of Gentiles/foreigners. Foreigners bowing before the new king shows that God offers the Messiah to the whole world, not to just one race or nation.
Read Matthew 2:1-12 to get the full story!
(Another interesting fact - the 12 Days of Christmas is really the 12 days from Christmas Day to Epiphany...the song itself was a code which persecuted Christians used to continue to worship and adore their King and can be used to remember to pray for the persecuted church in today's time.)
In modern times, some people observe a tradition passed on since the second century. It is called "Chalking the Door". Over the main entrance into the home, a designated member of the family writes the first two numbers of the new year, then C + M + B, and finally the last two numbers of the new year. For this year, if you want to adopt this simple practice, you would write:
20 C + M + B 16
Finally, all gathered pray a prayer of blessing over each person living in the home and entering in during the year...
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 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.
The letters are also a call—because C, M, and B are 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. The initials over the door remind us 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.
Here is what other have said about their "chalking the door" tradition:
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.
Around the world there are different ways to observe the tradition. Many wear crowns, carry stars, and sing and pray as they move through their neighborhoods, chalking the doors. In Germany celebrants sing Segen bringen, segen sein (Bring the blessing to be a blessing).
How can you make this tradition your own? Consider the wise men and their journey...take different aspects of their story and personalize it:
1. Stars are used to navigate at night. Is there a place of darkness, of not knowing, in your life that needs the light of Jesus to shine into it? Is there already a direction that you have been pointed in, but the journey must be all by faith?
2. Take the journey, even amidst the unknowns. The star speaks to a need to trust that the end will be good and full of His presence!
3. Be open to joy and wonder, even (especially?) in the dark times. The wise men were full of joy when they saw the star (Matthew 2:10). What treasures of joy and wonder might the Lord be trying to give you when you are journeying in the darkness?
4. Give out of your gifts that you carry with you! The wise men's gifts represented that they understood who Jesus was. Each gift reflected different aspects of Jesus' ministry and personhood...the gold represented His deity, the myrrh represented His anointing as the Messiah, and frankincense represented His priestly intercession for all mankind. How can you give out of your gifts and reflect Jesus to those you come across?
What other insights for your life can you gain from the visit of the Magi?
Resources for Further Insight
Abbey of the Arts Newsletter