Epiphany is normally celebrated on January 6th although it can be celebrated on the Sunday between January 2nd and 8th as is done in the United States and many other countries. It may also combine the celebration of all three epiphanies (“showing forth”) of Christ: His epiphany to the Magi at His birth; His epiphany to St. John at His baptism in the Jordan and; His epiphany to the disciples, and the opening of His public ministry by the miracle of Cana. However, the primary significance of this feast is the closing of the Christmas season with the celebration of the visit of the Magi to the manger (Matthew 2:1-12). The Messiah is thus shown to have come to all people, not just the Jews.
The three kings represent the three major races: Melchior, an old white man with a long white beard, bearing the gift of gold for Christ’s royalty; Caspar, young and of darker hue, carrying incenses for Christ’s divinity; and Balthasar, a black man, offering myrrh for Christ’s suffering and death. The names of the wise men are not given in the Bible, but were supplied by later story tellers to enrich the meaning and celebration of the Epiphany.
Blessing of Homes: A tradition associated with the Epiphany is the blessing of homes. Using chalk, a parent can mark the inside of the main door of the house with the initials of the Magi and a code of the current year connected with crosses: 20+C+M+B+20. The initials refer to two things. First, they refer to the names of the three kings, Casper, Melchior, and Balthasar. It also refers to the Latin phrase, “Christus mansionem benedicat,” meaning, “May God bless this house.”
The point of this rite is to recognize the coming of Christ, to ask Him to fill your home with His grace, peace, and love, and to protect the people who live there from the attacks of the Ancient Enemy. In other words, as we celebrate the coming of the Lord into the world and His becoming known at Epiphany, in this blessing you are asking the Lord to come into your home and make Himself known to you.
The family can offer the following prayer:
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen
Blessings in this New Year,
Invitation To A Festival of Lessons & Carols
As a gift from your parish, you are invited to close out your Christmas season at a special evening service of readings, music, prayer, and reflections on Sunday, January 5th, at 7pm in the Church. There is no charge to attend; but free will offerings will be accepted. Hope to see you there. See the small fliers on tables in each vestibule.
– St. Valentine Worship Commission