I recently came across an interesting Epiphany tradition that a number of churches have been using. It is called Star Words. Each year, on Epiphany Sunday, each worshiper randomly selects a star shaped piece of paper upon which a word has been written. This becomes the person’s “Star Word” for the year. Worshipers are encouraged to resist the temptation to dig around for a “better” word or to swap their word with someone else, receiving their star word as a serendipitous gift from God. Churches that have been practicing this tradition for a number of years are finding that their congregations look forward to receiving their new star word each year. This past Sunday I introduced our congregation to this new tradition. And after everyone had received their Star Word I told them:
You may find it is a word that fits you perfectly. If so, celebrate that, and see how you can be more intentional about sharing your gift with the world.
You may find it is a word that offers you the encouragement or challenge you need. If so, receive that gift and let it shape you in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
You may find yourself resisting the word or even wanting to reject the word. If that is the case, I encourage you to sit with it for a while, explore the source of your resistance, and be open to what this word may have to teach you.
Live with your word, reflect upon it, journal about it, talk about it with others, share your thoughts with me. Discover how this Star Word may shine its light on you and on your path throughout this coming year.
I’ve already had a number of interesting conversations with folks since Sunday. Many of them didn’t like their word initially, including me, but have been open to exploring how it might be a gift to them and to their lives.
If you weren’t in worship on Sunday and would like to receive your own Star Word, please contact me and I will make sure you get one.
This new tradition reminded me of a poem by Ann Weems, called Star-Giving. Let these words be my prayer for you.
Star-Giving by Ann Weems
from Kneeling in Bethlehem
What I’d really like to give you for Christmas
is a star. . . .
Brilliance in a package,
something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans
or in the pocket of your being.
Something to take out in times of darkness,
something that would never snuff out or tarnish,
something you could hold in your hand,
something for wonderment,
something for pondering,
something that would remind you of
what Christmas has always meant:
God’s Advent Light into the darkness of this world.
But stars are only God’s for giving,
and I must be content to give you words and wishes and
packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
as radiant as the Star
that announced the Christ Child’s coming,
and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood
beneath its light.
And I can pass on to you the love
that has been given to me,
ignited countless times by others
who have knelt in Bethlehem’s light.
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.