Early in January 2014, the rector of St. Mary's, Kerrisdale, the Reverend Jeremy Clark-King "chalked" the main entrance doors of the 103 year old church in the beautiful southwest Vancouver neighbourhood.
Chalking the Door is the focal point of a short liturgy where sacred signs and/or symbols are written above the door to the main entrance of a home as an intentional way of asking for God's blessing for those who live, work or visit in the place beyond the doors throughout the coming year. The scriptural reference comes from Exodus. The Israelites would mark their doorposts with lamb's blood as a way of showing God that those in the home were faithful believers. This was also done for protection from death. The more modern liturgy of Chalking the Door is a sign that God's presence and blessings have been invited into the home.
In Great Britain, the service commonly takes place on Twelfth-Night, January 6th, Epiphany, commemorating the visit by the Magi to the Christ Child with their gifts of gold, incense, and myrrh. On Twelfth-Night in some European homes, families gather to celebrate this feast with friends, food, singing, and gifts. It is at these Twelfth-Night celebrations that "Chalking the Door" is most often observed.
Chalk is used in this service because it is a substance made of common elements of the earth. Chalk is also an easily removable material and the markings created fade from view over time, those who participated in its original placement will remember it and the purpose for which it was intended. In doing so, they may rededicate themselves to that purpose. After a year passes and a new Epiphany arrives, the process is repeated.
Images: Top and homepage, the chalk on the doorframe at St. Mary's, Kerrisdale. Below, The St. Mary's Bell Tower. PHOTOS: Jane Dittrich