A New Year Blessing

Visiting friends in Switzerland in January some years ago we came across many houses with a strange inscription marked in chalk above the front door, a couple of numbers and some letters all interspersed with ‘+’ signs. It was the first time we had come across a tradition, quite common across Europe, of blessing homes at Epiphany. It’s a tradition that’s worth reviving especially as yet again this year we find ourselves in uncertain times.

The name ‘Epiphany’ comes from Greek, meaning ‘appearance’, and refers to an appearance of God – which is what the Magi came seeking in Bethlehem. This is a good time to mark in prayer, our desire for God to appear in our lives and in our homes. We can remember that God asked of his people:

Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (NRSV)

Chalking the door is a tangible way to make a prayer for God’s presence with us, and to renew our commitment to following Christ. The inscription you make will be:


The numbers represent the year the marking is made, and the four crosses the four seasons. The letters CMB are an abbreviation of “Christus mansionem benedicat” which is Latin for “Christ bless this house” – but which also fit with traditional names of the Magi (Caspar, Melchior & Balthazar)

It’s really easy to do, and it’s something that everyone in your home can take part in.

1) Find some chalk – any colour you like (or multiple colours!). In some churches chalk is specially blessed on the day before Epiphany, but the important thing is the blessing you are asking for.

2) Gather your household. Get everyone together, if you live alone you might invite a friend or a neighbour. The inscription is usually made above the front or main door to the house, so that’s the place to gather.

3) Pray. Using a prayer along these lines (a ‘leader’ says the words in light text, everyone joins in the words in bold)

The Magi, led by a star, came to Bethlehem searching for Jesus. They brought him precious gifts: gold to honour the King, incense to declare his divinity and myrrh to anoint his body which would suffer and die for us.

We seek the light of Christ in our own lives, in our daily experience and in the people we meet. May we search faithfully for Jesus, and bring the precious gifts we have in our hearts – love, mercy and justice – to honour him.

Loving God,
bless this home with the joy of your presence.
Bless those who pass through this door with your love.

Bless those who call this place home,
may this be a place of peace and health
and may they rejoice in the gifts you have given them
offering them to the service of the lives they touch
and to your everlasting glory.

May those who enter here grow in grace
and in the knowledge and love of you
and of your Son, Jesus Christ.

4) Write the inscription, above the door (if you can reach safely) or on the side of it.


Make sure you change the last number to the current year if necessary!

May God make an appearance in your life this year.

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