Epiphany Chalk Blessing
A Reflection by the Rev. Kate Wesch
Blessings to you this Feast of Epiphany! This year, I invite you to consider adopting a new custom during the season of Epiphany. This little-known tradition in the United States that spans centuries is known as the Chalking of the Doorway. It is exactly what it sounds like, you literally take a piece of chalk and write on the doorframe to your home. The family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations and interactions, our work and play, our joys and sorrows.
A traditional way of doing this is to use chalk to write above the home’s entrance: “20 + C + M + B + 17”. The letters C, M, B have two meanings. They are the initials of the traditional names of the three magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. They also abbreviate the Latin words Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross and 2017 is the year.
There are a couple of things about this tradition which I like very much. First, it is a visible reminder that we are dedicating our life at home to God and to others, at least until that chalk fades. Also, it underscores the reality that our homes are the places in which the greatest strides in our spiritual growth will occur. It is at home that we observe daily prayer, spiritual reading, and undertake work as an oblation to God.
“Chalking the door” is a way to celebrate and literally mark the occasion of the Epiphany and God’s blessing of our lives and home. With time the chalk will fade. As it does we let the meaning of the symbols written sink into the depths of our heart and be manifest in our words and actions the Latin words, Christus mansionem benedictat, “May Christ bless the house.”
This weekend, we will have blessed chalk available for this purpose at the back of the church. I do hope you will pick some up to Chalk your Doorway at home. And when you do, when you gather as a family or on your own to bless your home for the coming year, use the following prayers to invite God into your home.
Instructions for Blessing the Home
Read aloud Matthew 2:1-12
Using the blessed chalk mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:
20 + C + M + B + 17 while saying:
The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and fifteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.
Then offer the following prayer:
May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen.
God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this through Christ our Saviour. Amen.
Blessings to you this Epiphany,
The Celebration of the 110th Anniversary of the Founding of Epiphany Parish
Please join us on Friday, January 6th, at 7.30 pm for a Festival Eucharist as we celebrate together the Feast of the Epiphany. This year we also mark the 110th anniversary of Epiphany Parish!
Monthly Women’s Mini-Retreat
Saturday, January 7, 2017
9-11 am in Fireside Room
Join us for scripture and discussion this Saturday morning to be in community during this Epiphany Season. Gather with the women of Epiphany to celebrate the New Year.
Enjoy a light continental breakfast
Discuss the scriptures for the day
Connect with other women in the parish
Pray, laugh, talk, come-as-you-spiritually-are!
Prayers for you and your families as we move into Epiphany.
We remember our blessings and give thanks! We pray for all those on your hearts.
Invite a friend!
~Karen Forbes & Ann Lockhart
How Does Epiphany Use Endowment Gifts?
By now I hope you have seen our series of letters about Epiphany’s Legacy Society. As Epiphany’s Treasurer, I have helped manage the endowment and bequests made for the last ten years, and in this article I will briefly explain how this works.
Epiphany’s endowment is important to the church’s future. Interest from the endowment provides a stable component of our operating budget, currently more than 11%. It also provides a source of temporary funding of major projects. For example, the 100-Year Campaign borrowed $1 million (essentially a bridge loan) from the endowment that is being repaid, with 5% interest, as the remaining pledge payments are received. The borrowing will be totally paid off by the time we receive the last payment, fully restoring the endowment. Finally, the endowment is a reserve for potential catastrophes, such as the fire in the church in the 1960s or a potential future earthquake.
The Epiphany Vestry has adopted specific policies relating to the endowment — spending policies, investment policies, and gift acceptance policies. These policies are meant to ensure that the value of the endowment is maintained over time while still providing a source of funds to help meet the missions of Epiphany. While these policies include many details, I will summarize them here. (If you want a complete copy if the policies, contact me at email@example.com.)
The spending policy states that “the annual amount available from the endowment to meet current needs is calculated as 5% of a three-year rolling average market value of the endowment portfolio.” This should provide a relatively stable supplement to the operating budget while also maintaining the long-term value of the endowment. This policy is reviewed annually by the Vestry as part of the budget process.
The investment policy states that “the general investment strategy should be to achieve growth of the portfolio without undue risk.” A diversified portfolio is maintained, which currently is invested partly in the Diocese Investment Fund and partly in stock and bond index funds at Vanguard. An investment subcommittee of the Finance Committee oversees the investments.
Gift acceptance policies are to ensure that any gifts, whether current gifts or bequests, are to be used to further Epiphany’s missions. Gifts may be designated or undesignated.
Designated gifts are any gifts directed in writing toward a specific fund, program, or purpose. All such gifts of $20,000 or more must be approved by the Vestry to ensure that they are consistent with Epiphany’s mission. In general, no gifts under $250,000 can be used to establish a new directed endowment fund. However, smaller gifts can be added to existing endowment funds. Therefore, all gifts designated for endowment are placed totally in some endowment fund.
Undesignated gifts are gifts upon which the donor places no restrictions. (For purposes of this policy, this excludes all pledge fulfillments, plate offerings, or other contributions made in the routine support of the parish.) For bequests, the policy reads: “At least 80% of all undesignated gifts exceeding $5,000 received upon death, such as but not limited to wills, bequests, and memorials, will be placed in the Epiphany general endowment fund. The remaining 20% may be placed in the endowment fund, capital reserve fund, operating fund, or other designated fund as decided by the Vestry. For other undesignated gifts over $5,000, “no more than the lesser of 50% of the gift or $20,000 should be used for current operations. The remainder may be placed in the endowment, capital reserve, or other special-purpose fund.” Undesignated gifts under $5,000 are considered the same as plate offerings.
Epiphany is a careful steward of all gifts to the church, especially endowment gifts. Endowment gifts are intended to create a perpetual benefit to the church, and policies are in place to ensure that they do so.
Save the Jan 14 date (anytime between 4:00-7:00pm) for Madrona’s Winter Playfair and Potluck at Epiphany’s Great Hall. Featuring fun for all ages in a wide range of activities: Twister, Legos (bring to use if you have them), puzzles, decorations for Valentine’s Day, face painting, Pokeman Play and Trade, poetry slam, learn to knit, exchange books and magazines, and much more. Email me with additional suggestions. Barbara Parker, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday Lectionary Corner
First Sunday after the Epiphany
The Baptism of our Lord