January 8, 2017 • Life for Leaders
The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
There’s a sweet tradition that exists among certain communities. When a person, or a family moves into a new dwelling — whether that dwelling is owned, rented, or borrowed — the occupants of the dwelling invite the community to come and bless the house. Often, a clergy person is invited to lead the event, but that isn’t always the case. Nor is it actually necessary.
The goal of any house blessing is simple: invite God’s presence to rest in your home, wherever that may be. There is no hocus pocus that takes place. Instead, much like the invocation at the beginning of corporate worship, the house blessing opens the door to the home, welcoming God to be in charge; acknowledging the truth that God is the one who provides our homes, our friends, our health, our faith.
I remember our very first house blessing. Our dear friend, a pastor, traveled from Alabama to Connecticut to serve as the “officiant” of our little celebration. It was the very first time my husband and I, along with our two young children, were living in house that we could call our own.
At that first house blessing, our friend spoke words of peace over each of us, and over our dwelling. We ate a meal together (of course we did!) and we prayed together. There have been other house blessings since that one. Each time, friends and family have gathered with us to share a meal and stand together in a circle, holding hands and inviting God to take up residence in the home he’s provided for us.
This year, I was reminded of the house blessing when I read about an Epiphany tradition called Chalking the Door. In this tradition, the doorframe at the entry of the home is marked with chalk, harkening back to the Passover. After the chalk is left on the door, the following prayer is offered:
Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
We don’t have to wait to move into a new house, or for the season of Epiphany, to invite Christ to make himself at home there. Any time is the right time for a House Blessing. However, if you’ve never surrendered your home to the presence of Christ, this Epiphany season affords us all the perfect opportunity.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
Is the idea of a House Blessing new to you? If you were to bless the home where you live, whom would you invite to join the celebration? What do you love most about the place where you live?
Thank you, Lord, for the place where I live. Thank you for the people who live with me, or near me. Let this place be a refuge from the storms of life — for me, and for each person who visits here. Watch over us, as we come and go, in all the days to come. Amen.