I can't remember how I came across the practice customary in some places in Christendom of blessing chalk at Epiphany so that the faithful can mark the doorframes of their homes and invoke the blessing of the Saviour on the house for the coming year. However it came about, I imported it into Swanvale Halt within a couple of years of arriving and everyone looks forward to it now, as you do to something which is a bit crackers but has some actual spiritual weight to it.
I should really have had a mass on the day of the Epiphany itself, which would have been Saturday this year, even if it was for just a handful of souls in the morning. But I decided to transfer it to the Sunday, forgetting that that was also the Baptism of Christ - cue a collision of theological elements. Oh well. The Epiphany theme was more to the fore at the Family Service today than the others, meaning I could rope in some younger members of the congregation to help me bless the chalk. Ben held the basket of chalk while Abi and Ewan stood either side with little wooden candlesticks. Ben had chosen to face the congregation so I had to kneel in front of him, but that was all right. Afterwards we took the chalk to the table at the back of church from where people could pick bits to take home. The children won't have known what on earth to make of it, but that doesn't matter. Liturgy is a game, really, just a serious rather than a frivolous one.
The cypher for marking this year is 20+C+M+B+18. There are differing opinions over what the letters stand for; either the traditional names of the Three Magi, Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, or 'Christus Mansionem Benedicat', Christ bless this house. Not that many Swanvale Halt souls inhabit anything that could really be described as a mansio.
A couple of years ago an elderly pair of congregation members marked their house in the approved manner as did Marion our curate who lives opposite. Not far away lived someone from the Roman Catholic congregation who'd done the same. My parishioners soon had a visit from the police, who were worried that there was a criminal gang in the area casing their properties as potential targets and leaving coded messages in chalk.