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"20+C+M+B+14"

Updated on January 7, 2014

January 6 is The Twelfth Day or The Feast of Epiphany. While this celebration is more popular among Eastern Orthodox Churches, it is becoming increasingly popular among Protestants.

Epiphany is the feast that celebrate the "manifestation" of God's love to all people in the person of Jesus Christ. It also commemorates the arrival of the Magi to the Christ-child. While Matthew and Luke's birth narratives are distinctly different and offer their own unique perspective to the birth of Jesus, the writers wanted to stress who Jesus was. One of the ways they did this was through their portrayal of Jesus' birth and by focusing on certain characters who were a part of their story. Matthew's Gospel, wanting to stress Jesus as both the "kingly" and "priestly" Messiah, makes a point to bring to the stage the Magi.

The Magi were astrologers, likely from the area of modern-day Iraq or Iran. They spent most of their time star-gazing. They were professional scholars, schooled in the science of astrology, not to mention very educated in religion and philosophy. They were mystics and were wealthy, respected and wise men. They were on speaking terms with the king. These "highly esteemed" men arrived to the child and presented gifts fitted for a king, priest and prophet.

We are told in Matthew's Gospel that, "On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him" (Matthew 2:11 NIV).

Because of this verse, Epiphany has traditionally been a time when many Christians will bless their home by writing a special Epiphany formula above the doors of their home. I look forward to doing this each year with my children. They get a kick out of it because we get to write on the wall. Usually, they don't want to limit their writing to just this blessing or formula. They attempt to draw on the wall and I have to quickly take the chalk away from them.

The Epiphany blessing is a great blessing upon your house, those who dwell within and those who enter through its threshold. The formula "20+C+M+B+14" has meaning that sheds light on the nature and purpose of the blessing. 20 and 14 represent the year, the + represents the cross and the letters C M B represent the Latin words Christus Mansionem Benedicat (Christ bless this house). These three letters also represent the traditional names of Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.

Someone once said that "a house is a home when it is filled with love, laughter and lessons." After going through a divorce, my brother Jason invited me to move in with him. I have made a home here. He has gone out of his way to make me feel as though this is my home as well. I have a place for my children to come and stay with him. I am working to make this a home of love, laughter and lessons. I pray that your home will be filled with love, laughter and lessons.

"O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship; narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride and strife. Make its threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children or to straying feet, but rugged and strong enough to turn back the temper’s power. God, make the door of this house the gateway to your kingdom."

- Adapted from Chalice Worship, page 223, 224

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