Christmas has come and gone, and the new year has begun. We are entering what is fast becoming one of my favorite seasons of the year: The Season of Receiving! If you’re like me, receiving gifts and compliments is not easy. I was raised with the adage that it is better to give than receive. Then came along those Magi, following a star in the night sky, carrying those incredible gifts to the baby Jesus, and it changed for me.
It all began a whole bunch of years ago when a member of my clergy support group brought in a basket of paper stars to share. “Take one,” she said. “It’s a Star Gift. Let it guide your days in the coming year like that star guided the Wise Men to the manger.” That day began a journey I take every year from January to December and has shaped my spiritual life.
A Star Gift is simply a star‐shaped piece of brightly colored paper with a word printed on it. Every person who comes to church on Epiphany Sunday receives a star gift and is asked to reflect on that word for the coming year. That is what I offered on Jan. 6th at the conclusion of our Epiphany worship celebration. I extended the invitation to pick a star at random from my star basket and to ponder what significance this word might have in your lives. How might God be speaking to you through that one word?
Many of you accepted the invitation and selected a star. Now what? I encourage you to hang it where you can regularly see it: bathroom mirror, computer screen, refrigerator door. Some people keep it in their wallet or Bible or other more private place.
I have mine on a memo board by my front door, so I see it every time I leave my apartment. Where you put the word is up to you. Let your word speak to you. You may start by looking the word up in the dictionary so you are clear on its meaning. For example, we hear the word grace all the time, but what exactly does it mean? Find where it occurs in the Bible. A word that seemed unclear at the beginning may gain new meaning as the year goes on.
The Magi who traveled great distances to offer their gifts to the baby Jesus were responding to the gift first given to them. They received God’s gift, then offered their gifts to God. As we celebrate the arrival of the Magi and remember their offerings, this paper star is a reminder of God’s guiding presence in our lives. What message does God offer to us this year? (By the way, my word this year is COURAGE.)
If you didn’t get a Star Gift, the basket will be in church so you can select one.