"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy."
Not Star Wars....Star Words!
For the past few years, my church has used "star words" to help people gain some additional insight about their experiences and God in the coming year. Star words are perhaps the most simple of crafts, consisting of a star-shaped piece of yellow paper with a single handwritten word on it. Anyone can create a star word, which is probably why my church asks me to make these!
The star words are used during our worship service on Epiphany Sunday. Epiphany Sunday is the Sunday that recognizes the Kings who followed the Star of Bethlehem to find the baby Jesus. The star words' purpose is to provide a perspective from which we can experience our lives and experience God. In a figurative way, the star words shed a certain kind of light on our lives for the upcoming year. The words that are printed on the stars are ones that lend themselves to providing a framework to think about life events and using that framework to understand God. Some examples of star words that we have used are patience, hope, comfort, wisdom, listen, justice, create, discernment, trust, love, giving, mercy, and prayer. Since each person chooses a word at random, it provides the opportunity to get a guiding word for the year that may be fresh and unexpected, that opens one's heart and mind in a new way.
Sometimes, people intentionally choose a "word of the year" for themselves. (This might make more sense for you if your church doesn't have an activity similar to star words.) Choosing your own word can be a very worshipful process. In her blog, "Sacred Intercession Prayer Journal," Julie Rudnick provides some guidance for choosing a word for the year. When choosing a word, she writes, "It's a WORD that will carry a particular meaning and direction for your faith journey. ... It should be a WORD that will help you GROW and DEEPEN your relationship with God. It can be a WORD that will encourage you, stretch you and ultimately draw you into action. And ultimately it will be a WORD that will direct your attention, stimulate your faith journey and communicate your prayers. " (All caps in the original)
Whether you choose your word for 2018 at random or by intention, I think it's important to also realize we are not the sum of our experiences. Instead, we are the sum of the meaning that we give to our experiences. And when we look at those experiences through the lens of a star word, it has the potential to give us greater understanding of our own lives and our God.
The star word that I drew out of the basket for 2018 was "vision." Seriously! I think it was no coincidence that I drew this word when I was on the verge of launching a ministry by the name of "God's Eye!" Indeed, I intend to use this word every day to help me grow in my relationship with God, so that His vision can become mine.
May your 2018 be well lit.