Jan. 6: The Epiphany of Our Lord Jesus Christ


O God, by the leading of a star you manifested your only Son to the peoples of the earth: Lead us, who know you now by faith, to your presence, where we may see your glory face to face; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Lessons and Psalm

Isaiah 60:1–9 
Psalm 72 
Ephesians 3:1–12 
Matthew 2:1–12

Detailed Readings: https://www.episcopalchurch.org/lectionary/epiphany/

Feast Day Summary

The name “Epiphany” is derived from a Greek word meaning “manifestation” or “appearing.” Anglican Prayer Books interpret the word as, “The Manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.” The last phrase, of course, is a reference to the story of the Magi from the East. 

A Christian observance on January 6 is found as early as the end of the second century in Egypt. The feast combined commemorations of three events that were considered manifestations of the Incarnate Lord: the visit of the Magi, led by the star of Bethlehem; the Baptism of Jesus in the waters of the Jordan River; and Jesus’ first recorded miracle, the changing of water into wine at the wedding of Cana. 

Epiphany is still the primary Feast of the Incarnation in Eastern churches, and the three-fold emphasis is still prominent. In the West, however, including Anglican churches, the story of the Magi has tended to overshadow the other two events. Modern lectionary reform, reflected in the 1979 Prayer Book, has recovered the primitive trilogy by setting the event of Christ’s Baptism as the theme of the First Sunday after the Epiphany in all three years, and by providing the story of the Miracle at Cana as the Gospel for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany in Year C. 

It is a practice in some communities to bless chalk on Epiphany so that people may use it to bless their homes. Traditionally, the chalking is done above the lintel and takes this form: 20+C+M+B+18, in which “18” is replaced by the current year. The letters are the abbreviation for the Latin phrase “Christus mansionem benedicat”—“Christ bless this house.” (A second meaning and mnemonic device is “Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar,” the traditional names for the Magi.) The + signs represent the cross, and 20-18 is the year. 

The following prayer is traditionally used for the blessing of chalk: 

Loving God, bless this chalk which you have created, that it may be helpful to your people; and grant through the invocation of your most Holy Name that we who use it in faith to write upon the door of our home the names of your holy ones Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, may receive health of body and protection of soul for all who dwell in or visit our home; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Source: Lesser Feasts and Fasts (2018)