So, You Have a “Star Word.” Now What?

This past Sunday, January 2nd, we celebrated Epiphany Sunday. It was a day to remember the coming of the Magi. It was a day to remember that Christ is manifested to all the nations. It was a day to kick off Epiphany Season, the Season of Light. And, as part of that celebration, we were invited to chose, randomly, “Star Words” for the year — words to potentially help our devotional lives, giving us a way to see how God is speaking to us this year. And, this was not just for those who attended worship in person but was also open to those who attend worship online and who would like a word as well. (If you need one, just reach out to Pastor Jim and he can get you one.)

A little background, from our friends at “Sanctified Art”:

The use of star words, also called “star gifts,” is a prayer practice connected to Epiphany and the new year that has been growing in popularity in Protestant churches for nearly a decade now. The idea is that a list of intention words, or guiding words, are written or printed on paper stars. These paper stars are then arranged, most commonly face down, on the Communion Table or in a large basket. At some point during your Epiphany service, individuals are invited to draw a word from the basket or off the Table, and to use that word as a guiding word throughout the year. Typically, participants are encouraged to trust the word they have drawn, and not to replace the word. However, there is not a strong need to be the “star police” if an individual wants to trade. Individuals are often encouraged to place their star word somewhere they will see it regularly throughout the year to allow consistent reflection on how God has moved through, around, or in connection to that word.

There’s nothing “magic” about “Star Words.” They are a way to enter into a devotional practice all based around a single word.

So, how could use use your “Star Word”? Here are some ideas:

  • First, assess whether the word given to you is one you’re comfortable with. If it’s one that you don’t really understand or one that already makes you feel overwhelmed, it may be right to trade; to “take a holy mulligan” as was said in worship.
  • Maybe it’s a word with great scriptural weight (like “light” or “peace” or “faith” or “healing”) and you can do a little Scripture research on it. And, even if it’s not a word that you can find in the Bible very much, you can see how it relates to the Biblical story. While “integrity” or “awareness” might not be words found often in the Bible you can see how some of our Biblical characters were people of integrity and how they showed awareness of others or of God.
  • Why not do a little word study? Find quotes that use your word from history. Look up the definition. Find synonyms and antonyms. See what the root words might be. Maybe do a little word cloud of related words to help you think about the meaning.
  • Print out your word and put it on the bathroom mirror so you see it every morning and night.
  • Say it out loud several times. How does it make you feel?
  • Ask yourself what it might mean that God gave you that word for the year? What might you need to pay attention to if you take the word seriously? If your word is “understanding” it’s possible that you can seek to understand the people around you in your life. It could mean that you need to seek understanding of Scripture or God? Maybe you need to better understand yourself. Maybe, just maybe, you are feeling misunderstood yourself and are seeking understanding from others. It could be all of these. There’s lot of ways you can go with this. It may take some time to see how it relates to your life.
  • Maybe there’s a book or a podcast or a movie that addresses this word in your life and it’s a great opportunity to explore something deeper. If your word is “prayer” there are a wealth of resources for you. But, you can find resources if your word is “organization,” or “justice,” or “service” as well.
  • Share your word with others and engage them in discussion. What do you think this word means for me? If I told you I was going to try to focus on “fellowship” or “discipline” or “rest” for the year, what do you think I should think about? You can even meet regularly with people throughout the year, checking in to see how they are “following the star” with their Star Words.

Again, this isn’t magic. It’s a way to have a little fun at the turn of the year and take on a devotional practice right as many around us are taking on resolutions. it’s possible to forget about your word and not to anything with it. But it’s also possible to explore it a little deeper and see where God leads.