Many Revgals celebrate Epiphany with some version of Star Words. It was written about in 2009 here. The list of words I inherited pre-dates that article. To the person who came up with the idea–thank you. It has taken on life and been adapted in all sorts of contexts.
The premise is this: the magi followed the star to find baby Jesus, bringing their gifts. We are also seeking Jesus, trusting God can/does use many signs (or stars) to guide us closer to the Divine presence.
People are invited to take a star in worship. On each of the stars is a word. I invite people to trust the word that selects them, but we do not police the star choosing, so if people need to trade out a word, they are free to do so. When we first started doing this, people weren’t sure they wanted to trust the words they drew.
Now it has become an important part of our congregation’s liturgical year.
For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.
~ t s eliot
If you’d rather take the list and write them on pre-cut stars, some people have done that. Some people have combined Star Words with Baptism of the Lord and written them on “water drops” that are either cut out of paper or using those floral arranging “marbles”.
A few years after we started the practice at the congregation I serve, we started writing about our words and the way they worked on us throughout the year. Some churches have had people share their stories in worship, or in newsletters. Some of ours ended up on my blog. You can see the list of Star Word posts here.
Social media allows you to extend the reach for the practice. People who haven’t attended worship in years, or who are estranged from organized religion, will ask me to draw a star from them. It’s a very adaptable ritual.
Please share how you’ve used Star Words in your context. I know they’ve been passed out in hospitals, retirement homes, prisons, and during a “free prayer” session at a coffee shop. Feel free to upload photos and share links to blog posts.
Here is a prayer I’ve used in communion on Epiphany before. Thanks to Michelle Thomas Bush for sharing the prayer with me.
God, we acknowledge that we are not always ready to receive your best gifts for us. You have given us an epiphany word in order that our searching will bring us to you.
It is often our habit to turn aside, stumble over, or even reject experiences and encounters that we later understand to have been precious gifts.
Help us to be open to the gift that you offer us now through our star words. We acknowledge that we do not fully understand what this word might mean for our faith, but we receive it from you with gratitude and pray that your Spirit will enable us to live into our word with intention and faithfulness.
Marci Auld Glass is the pastor of Southminster Presbyterian Church in Boise, Idaho. She blogs at Glass Overflowing.