31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
January 8, 2017
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” (Isaiah 60:1)
I doubt the wise men from the East were familiar with these words from the prophet Isaiah however arise they did when they saw that star in the Western sky. Out of curiosity? Out of the desire for a change? Out of faithfulness? Whatever their reason, they followed that star and found the Christ child.
We, too, have come to worship this morning out of curiosity, out of the desire for a change, and out of faithfulness. We, too, have come following a star and have found the Christ child, although our paper stars are a little more humble than the one the magi followed.
Today is Star Gift Sunday. For the last eleven years, God has blessed me with the star gifts of “confidence”, “friendship”, “unity”, “dignity”, “innocence”, “confidence” again, “delight” – which was the year Jack was born, “faith”, “consideration”, “rejoicing”, and last year, “discipleship”.
I say that God has blessed me with these star gifts, although not all Star Gifts immediately felt like blessings.
For those who have picked stars in the past, you know what I am talking about – that feeling of “uh, oh, what is God saying to me with this one?!” Anyone who has ever picked “endurance” as a star gift knows exactly what I am talking about. With some star gifts, we worry God is saying we lack this quality or that this is a quality we will need more of in the new year.
I haven’t been thrilled at first with all of my star gifts, but our stars are our stars – at least for one year. We trust God to lead us to the right star for us, and God trusts us to prayerfully ask all year long, “Where are You leading me, O God, with this star? What are You trying to reveal to me?”
My star gift lives on my bedroom mirror so I can look at it daily. My husband’s is on the side of the fridge so he sees it when he comes home from work. Our son’s is taped to the bookcase in his room. You can place yours on your car visor, your work cubicle, your kitchen bulletin board, wherever you are likely to see it often and ask the question, “Where are you leading me, God? Is this star gift a quality I need this year? Is this star a quality you are asking me to share with others?
Star gifts and God have a way of surprising us, which is why it is important to place your star gift someplace you will see it daily and to pray about it and ask God to lead you, to speak to you, and make God’s will known in your life.
If you take seriously the spiritual practice of star gifts, you will discover why this star was meant to be yours this year.
I always look forward to Star Gift Sunday. I look forward to picking my star and seeing what stars you all pick, however I especially look forward to hearing your stories of how God and your star gift led you this past year.
Before we pick our star gifts for 2017, those of us who picked stars in 2016 are invited to share what our star gift word was and what it meant to us. Julia and Danielle will bring you a microphone, and I ask you share your name, your star gift word, and some brief thoughts about how it led you.
My star gift for 2016 was discipleship and I came to discover it as my invitation from God to reclaim myself as Christ’s disciple.
Last April, I had the opportunity to attend a conference for pastors called CREDO. The word CREDO means “I believe”, but it can also mean “what I give my heart to”. Throughout the week, I had the opportunity to be in worship instead of lead it, to be prayed over instead of the one praying, and the new experience of “mindfully” eating a meal, slowly and in total silence.
For a week, I wasn’t someone’s pastor, someone’s wife, someone’s mother, I was simply Kristen, Christ’s disciple, getting to give my heart to all of the spiritual practices that ground my faith and ground my life, getting to give my heart to Jesus.
The star gift of discipleship was a good reminder that I am and will always be, on a journey, learning to follow Jesus Christ and be his disciple.
I invite you now to share about your star gift.
Time of Sharing about Our 2016 Star Gifts
During the singing of “We Three Kings”, everyone is invited to come forward and pick a star gift for 2017.
If you are not sure how God is leading you, pick your favorite color. Pick a star that is easy for you to reach. Pick a star that is under other stars. How you choose your star might feel random or arbitrary. Trust that God is guiding you to choose the right star for you this year.
If you are 12 or younger and pick a star with a word you do not understand, then you can put it back and pick another star. While tempting, there are no do-overs for teenagers and adults if you do not like your star. Also, feel free to choose a star gift for someone who is not here or tell them star gifts will be available throughout the month of January