Today's mystery picture....but where is it?
The last time I was in Wotton under Edge was on a Southern Branch Bellringers Outing. As the organiser was a friend of the incumbent we were given refreshments on the vicarage lawn on a beautiful summer day. Twenty five years later and my fellow traveller and I roll into town in search of refreshments. We chanced upon The Edge Coffee Shop. The food was excellent, even if the staff were a bit uncertain of what was actually available from the specials board!
We explored the town, successfully resisting temptation in the gift shops, though I was really taken with a metal wall hanging of birds in a tree. Fortunately, given the price tag, I had left my purse at home. I like looking at things of beauty and recognising that I don't need them. I am also aware that what looks great on display might not look quite so awesome on our anaglypta adorned walls!
We followed a sign in the direction of the church, but then we reached a junction with no signs. We crossed the road in slightly different places, which meant we entered the church grounds by different paths and managed to lose each other in a church yard… and spent the next 5 minutes following each other round in circles. At one point I saw my fellow explorer disappear through an archway, but I couldn't shout as there was a bloke midway between us who was on his mobile…
After several missed calls, we soon made contact by texting…
"I am in the church, where r u?"
"I went to find you…"
"I am here….I will come and find you…"
The church is well cared for and seems to offer a good variety of events, catering for all ages. We admired the displays giving several options for reordering the church and discussed their comparative merits.
A member of the local church appeared and we chatted about the proposals. Then as we turned to leave I noticed some chalked numbers on the wooden doors. 20+C+M+B+14
"Was this something to do with the reordering?" I enquired.
"No, it's part of a service, possibly during Lent, when chalks are blessed and you can take them home and write on your own door as a blessing."
"A bit like the passover I mused…" and wondered how well this would work on the modern upvc doors that many people have in our town.
"You can write it on the wall next to the door" suggested our guide, helpfully.
We studied the code, but were unable to crack it! Did it relate to the Trinity? Our guide helped us to work out that the numbers at either end related to the year, but we were stumped as to the meaning of the middle 3 initials.
Was the M for Mary and the C for Christ? Where did God fit in to all this???"
I did not think I had encountered this custom before, so I vowed to google it upon my return as I was intrigued. One blog I discovered suggested that the church door is marked at an Epiphany service, and the initials relate to the names given to the Wise Men, Caspar, Mechior and Balthasar, but it can also be interpreted as the Latin phrase 'Christus Mansionem Benedictat', which translates as 'May Christ bless this home'. Blessed chalk are then given to the congregation to take home and write on their own doors.
I wonder how widespread this practise is? Is this tradition growing or shrinking?
Even though our house is no 'mansion' maybe we will start a new tradition and write our own prayers asking for God's blessing on our home at Epiphany in 2015. Then again why wait?
Come Holy Spirit and bless our home. Fill it with happiness and contentment. May it be a place of welcome and a safe place for our family. Amen.
Now where is the chalk....?