Trinity starts Epiphany door-chalking tradition

NEWBERRY—Trinity United Methodist Church has initiated a new tradition this year for Epiphany: chalking the doors.

Have you ever seen a strange set of numbers and letters similar to an equation inscribed in chalk over a doorway at a church or at the home of a friend? Did you know what it meant? Maybe you were too embarrassed to ask.

If you don’t know what the chalk is all about, you’re not alone. Epiphany (also known as Twelfth Night or Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of “chalking the doors.”

The formula for the ritual adapted for 2022 is simple: Take chalk of any color, have your pastor bless it, write 20 + C + M + B + 22 above the entrance of your home and say a prayer of blessings.

The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi—Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar—who came to visit Jesus in the manger. They also are an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat,” or “May Christ bless the house.”

The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “22” at the end represent the year.

Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless the homes that are marked.

It is a practice in which one dedicates his or her year to God, asking for his blessing on the home and on all who live, work or visit them there. This practice is most commonly performed on the traditional Feast of the Epiphany—the Twelfth Day of Christmas, which is Jan. 6.

The chalking can be done at any church, home or dwelling. The blessing can be performed simply by just writing the inscription over a door and offering a short prayer.

The chalking of the doors of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others. Seeing the symbols over our doors can help to remind us, while going in and out on a daily basis, that our homes and all those who live there belong to Christ.

Lay Servant Harriet Stevenson came up with the idea to initiate this tradition at Trinity UMC, and pastor Doug Benton thought it was a great idea.

Stevenson said the chalking should serve as a reminder of the wonderful welcoming the Magi gave to Jesus and encourage us to strive to be as welcoming to all who come to our homes to visit us.

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