A few Sunday nights ago, a group of youth, along with their group leaders and Jim and me, set out to bless the homes of some of our church members. When we arrived at their homes en masse, we would explain what we were doing, write on their door with chalk (with permission, of course), and leave them with the following letter of explanation and a piece of chalk:
On a recent trip to Germany, a local family noticed a series of letters and numbers written in chalk above the doors to many houses, churches and restaurants. When we inquired into their significance, we were touched by the tradition and the significance of their meaning and wanted to share it with others. And so, an idea was born. Could this be a tradition which could be spread throughout the community of B*****, a community rich in German background?
The letters and numbers: 20 C + M + B ...
Their meaning and significance:
*the 20 stands for the present century
*the C + M + B stands for the three wise men---Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. It also stands for the Latin "Christus Mansionem Benedicat" which means "Christ, bless this house". Often a small t would be written above the M to represent Christians.
*the "..." is where one would write in the present year.
The tradition: Around the time of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the wise men to the baby Jesus, friends and family would visit door-to-door, praying over the home and writing above a door in chalk. Each year, this tradition would be repeated and the present year would be changed above the door. This might be written on the outside or the inside of one door in the home.
Our visit: So, this night you have been visited by the youth and friends of H******* Ministries to bestow a blessing on your home for this new year.
The blessing: "Christ, bless this home and all who dwell within."
The chalk: For you, so that you may bless the homes of others.
There were some in our group who were a little skeptical about the endeavor before we left on our adventure. By the end, we were all touched by the response we received. You see, we went with the intent to just do something kind and caring. What we found we did was to provide comfort to those experiencing unknown pain. When the tears came and their pain was shared, we were humbled by the omniscience of God who went before us, guided our journey, and brought peace to those in need through the simple actions of a group of teenagers and the bumbling adults who led them.
I hope this is a new tradition we continue annually.
I altered the letter a bit and shared the same tradition with some of my friends at work. Again, the response was humbling. You see, when one takes a risk to share the compassion of their faith, they risk rejection. In many cases, it is with good reason as someone, in the name of faith, has done more damage to the cause with their zeal and arrogance. But that wasn't my experience at work. I found the act of caring and extending love was only greeted with gratitude and a desire to pass along to others what was bestowed upon them.
What was beginning to be a month of dread and gray and gloom was transformed when I stopped focusing on my own self-pity party into a celebration of all that was, and is, good.
So, to any and all of you who may chance upon this post---"Christ bless your home and all who dwell within."
Here's to 2010.