Making Your Home a Mini Sanctuary
The stable was not much of a home for the newborn Jesus.
You would think that when God becomes man His new digs might at least have many mansions. Alas, rather than a ritzy estate, he “lies in such mean estate.”
But of course this should not surprise us. For what makes a dwelling fit for God is not the construction materials; it is his Word. Therefore, even with that trough for a cradle, the stable is sanctified—set apart, made holy—by the presence of the Word Incarnate, our Lord Jesus.
Likewise for you and me.
You may have a home that’s closer to being a candidate for Fixer Upper than for Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, but no matter: it can still be a temple of the Holy Spirit. And indeed Satan and his demons can curl up into the lap of luxury just as easily as into the poor house.
What matters is God’s presence: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4.4-5).
Your home is meant to be a “mini sanctuary.”
There’s a custom in the Church that affirms this, with Christian folk sanctifying their homes by means of God’s Word and prayer. It’s a rite known as a “Home Blessing.”
A Home Blessing is especially appropriate for those who have recently moved into a new home or those who have had some calamity (fire, break-in, etc.), but truly anyone can benefit. And the natural season of the Church Year to do this is Epiphany .
As the Lutheran Service Book notes, “[The blessing of the home] usually is done during the season of the Epiphany due to the connection of the visitation of the Magi to the home of the infant Christ.”
Just as the Magi recognized that the stable had become a palace by virtue of the presence of the Word, so God’s people make their home what the Rabbis called a miqdash me’at (cf. Ezekiel 11.16)—a “mini sanctuary”—by invoking God’s holy presence.
The Home Blessing is simple.
It focuses on readings from Holy Scripture and prayer, as well as a little bit of singing (for those so inclined). We go from room to room— kitchen, bedroom, study, etc.— speaking over it God’s blessing and protection. When I conduct the rite I also like to provide copies for everyone present so that all can participate.
I would be delighted to perform a Home Blessing for you during the season of Epiphany. Please call the church or send me an e-mail to arrange a time.
Whether or not I am able to make it your abode during this fair season, though, my prayer is the same:
Drive from our homes the snares of the evil one and send your holy angel to guard, protect, visit, and defend all who dwell therein. (from the Home Blessing)
The Lord be with you this Epiphany!