A Blessing for the Epiphany Season

Several years back, the city of Hyattsville hosted an exhibit of 74 outdoor sculptures, collectively titled “Birds-I-View”.  Larger than life versions of the songbirds of the Eastern United States filled our parks and public spaces.  The headline sculpture was The Bluebird of Happiness.  When I arrived here and heard that The Bluebird of Happiness was to be found in my local park, I went out seeking it, camera in hand.  I sought in vain.  So I mentioned my quest to a wonderful group of neighbors online, the Old Hyattsville facebook network, and almost immediately someone responded.  The Bluebird of Happiness had flown the coop and migrated north to Baltimore.  She/he can now be seen roosting right in front of the American Visionary Art Museum!

We are still blest, though.  The neighborly feeling which comes through whenever I engage with people in town is just as strong now as in the experience my online colleagues recall from their growing-up years.  Our caring for long time neighbors and for our new neighbors who arrive from literally all over the globe is just a sign of who we are. 

At Epiphany it is the tradition that we bless our homes by chalking over the door or on the gate this formula:  20 + C + M + B +19.   The C and M and B are the initials of the three Magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar.  They confer for the year 2019 the gifts of wealth, health and happiness upon the door that is blessed and upon all who enter there.  A later interpretation adds the Latin Christus Mansionem Bendicat, Christ bless this House.  On January 6 we blessed St. Matthew’s parish hall with that blessing.  I hope by extension we bless all of Hyattsville, bringing not only health and wealth but also looking for the Bluebird of Happiness to nest among us anew as winter turns to spring.

We are St. Matthew's

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals, yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I Peter 2: 4-5

Isn’t this an amazing text? “Living stones”, what an image! What the author is saying here is that we are called to be living stones, solid and vital people, full of spirit.

We are familiar with the idea that the church is a living organism, a community built upon the strength and the reliability of Christ, our cornerstone. But what if we stress another aspect? What if we stress that the church is also a place? Our church has an address. It is a very specific “space.” This is brought out every time the church celebrates an important anniversary. Then we hear our members speak quite movingly about how this church has been a special place, a sacred space for them, filled with memories of prayer, faith, and commitment.