Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Service at Home for Epiphanytide

Below is a service asking God's blessing on a home. This service does not require a person in Holy Orders to be present. It recalls the visit of the Magi to the Holy Family, and is meant to show the holiness of both Epiphany and a Christian's home. 

Candles, chalk, and holy water are used in this service (holy water is always available in the chapel at St. Timothy's; you may ask your parish priest for holy water if you do not have ready access in your own parish). In addition to a leader, a lector should be chosen to read the lesson.

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Epiphanytide Prayers for God’s Blessing on a Home
(Also known as "Chalking the Doors")

[The electric lights are dimmed in the room where the opening section of the service is to be celebrated. Candles are lit and arranged on a table, around which participants stand. Holy water may be placed in a bowl or other container for use at the service’s conclusion.]

All: + In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!

Leader: Peace be to this house!

All: And to all who enter it in this year of God's favor and grace!

Leader: The Magi came from the East to worship the Lord Jesus.

All: And falling at his feet and beholding the radiance of his glory, the glory he had with the Father before the world began, they gave him precious gifts of mystic meaning.

Leader: They presented him with gold because he is the world's only true King, the one merciful Lord worthy of our gifts, our service and our vows! They blessed him with incense that sweet-smelling smoke might evermore rise up from our altars to the Throne of his majesty, worshipping and blessing and magnifying him, the one, true God! They offered him myrrh because it would soon anoint his immaculate body, preparing it for his burial.

A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew: (2:1-12)

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, "In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.'" Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.

All: Our Father....

Leader: Gracious God, you revealed your Son to the nations by the brilliant Star of Bethlehem! O Uncreated Light, Morning-Star of Epiphany and the world's New Dawn, lead us, warm our hearts, fortify our wills, enkindle our devotion to you, enlighten and illumine our inward vision! Lead us, guide us all the days of our earthly pilgrimage until we are received into your glory. We implore your great mercy through Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.

[With chalk, the leader makes this inscription on the lintel of the main entrance: 20+C+M+B+13. The letters stand for the traditional names of the Magi: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. The numbers are for the year of our Lord. If holy water is to be used, it is brought forth for use at this time. If holy water is not to be used, the bracketed portion of the following prayer is omitted.]

Leader: Eternal God, we ask that you send your blessing to be upon this home. [Let the sprinkling of this holy water recall for us the gift of baptism, our consecration to Christ's service. May it drive far from this house and all who enter it all snares and assaults of the enemy. Wherever this water is sprinkled may safety be guarded and hospitality be made manifest.] Grant that faith, charity, and good health triumph over evil in this house. May your Word always be cherished and obeyed here. We give praise and thanksgiving to you, and to your Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

[Holy water, in the sign of the cross, may be applied to the door. All may then bless themselves with holy water; holy water may be applied to the doorway of each room in the house; those present may sing appropriate Epiphanytide hymns as they move from room to room.]

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