Narrowing his eyes and looking at the top of the classroom door frame, Kevin, the church property manager, asked me: “Is that… graffiti up there?”
The youth and I had just finished Sunday school. I looked up to the top of the door and smiled. It was indeed graffiti, but blessing graffiti. One of the youth had chalked the door with a written blessing, along with a spoken prayer, following our talk about the Epiphany tradition of house-blessing.
In the church calendar, the feast of Epiphany is Jan. 6. This is the day of the magi or wise men, and is sometimes called "Three Kings Day." The magi traveled from their home in another country, following the star that led them to find the young Jesus at home with his mother, Mary.
Epiphany scripture in the Revised Common Lectionary, a cycle of three years of scripture readings, includes the “aha moments” of Jesus being recognized and revealed: to the foreign magi in Matthew's Gospel, chapter 2; to the disciple Nathanael in John's Gospel, chapter 1; to the first disciples, Simon and Andrew, in Mark's Gospel, chapter 1; and further in the same chapter, to the people in the synagogue and in the healing of many.
Light and revelation, amazement and discovery are in the stories of the Epiphany. Nathanael is invited to “come and see” Jesus. Jesus invites Simon and Andrew to “follow me.” The people in the Capernaum synagogue are astounded at Jesus’ teaching.
How has Jesus been revealed to you in the past week? In conversations with others? In people put in your pathway? In the midst of joys and sorrows? In your actions for another?
This season of light and revelation is also a traditional time for house blessings. The young person that had written the graffiti blessing above the classroom door that day used a piece of chalk to mark a traditional blessing formula. For this year, that formula would be: 20 + CMB + 18.
This is what it means:
The magi of old were known in legend as:
C - Caspar
M - Melchior
B - Balthasar
They followed the star of God’s son who came to dwell among us:
20 - two thousand
18 - and eighteen years ago
+ - Christ, bless this house
+ - and remain with us throughout the new year.
And there is a second meaning for the “C-M-B” inscription. Beside the tradition of the names of the magi, the three letters "C-M-B" also represent the abbreviated Latin words Christus mansionem benedicat, “May Christ bless the house.”
May Christ be revealed to you in a multitude of amazing ways, and may Christ bless your homes in 2018.