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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 it can still be a temple of the Holy Spirit.

A Mini Sanctuary

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.”

The 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 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.

Defended from the evil one

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). After "chalking" the door, we go from room to room— kitchen, bedroom, study, etc.— speaking over it God’s blessing and protection and applying anointing oil.

When I conduct the rite I also like to provide copies for everyone present so that all can participate. The whole thing only takes 15-20 minutes.

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. And for those of you with whom I've not yet had the chance to do a home visit, consider it a two-for-one. :) 

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 Rite of Home Blessing)

The Lord be with you this Epiphany!

Sunday's sermon

What does Clark Griswold and his Jelly of the Month Club have to do with the Christian life? 

Listen to Sunday's sermon

News & Notes

  • Our Heart for Arcadia grows. A task force is forming to help us set ministry priorities and develop a plan for the next 3-5 years; let me know if you're interested in taking part. Meanwhile, we're opening our doors to host Nature Explorers International and their winter homeschool session. I'm wondering if anyone would like to take this opportunity to prepare some coffee and treats for our neighbors as they gather? If so, drop me a line and I'll give you more details. 
  • The Arcadia community is mourning the sudden passing of Albert Webster, husband of Kristina Stierholz. I never had the chance to meet Albert personally, but the Stierholz clan is a fixture in Arcadia, and his son Eric served on staff at Camp this past summer. Our prayers are with the family. Read the obituary here
  • These Inklings took a break over the Christmas holiday, so I have some catching up to do on our goings on. The 12th Night party was a ton of fun, with nearly 40 folks packed into the parsonage for some wassailing. And some 15-20 of us enjoyed unseasonably mild temps as we did some caroling before Christmas—and were treated to a special surprise in the process. Check out some pictures to see what it was

From the Church Year

Tomorrow, January 10th, the Church Year commemorates Basil the Great of Caesarea, Gregory of Nazianzus, and Gregory of Nissa, Pastors and Confessors. From the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

"Basil and the two Gregorys, collectively known as the Cappadocian Fathers, were leaders of Christian orthodoxy in Asia Minor (modern Turkey) in the later fourth century. Basil and Gregory of Nyssa were brothers; Gregory of Nazianzus was their friend. All three were influential in shaping the theology ratified by the Council of Constantinople of 381, which is expressed in the Nicene Creed. Their defense of the doctrines of the Holy Spirit and Holy Trinity, together with their contributions to the liturgy of the Eastern Church, make them among the most influential Christian teachers and theologians of their time."

"Since with all my soul I behold the face of my Beloved, therefore all the beauty of His form is seen in me."

- Gregory of Nyssa

Looking ahead to Sunday

The Baptism of our Lord
  • Readings
    • Old Testament lesson—Isaiah 42.1-9
    • Epistle lesson—Romans 6.1-11
    • Gospel—Matthew 3.13-17
  • Hymn of the Day—"God's Own Child" (LSB 594)

+ Grace & Peace +

Pastor Tinetti

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