31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
January 5, 2020
About fifteen years ago, I was at the home of a childhood friend, and on her wall, she had framed these paper stars, each with a word on it. I was immediately intrigued. What were these? What did they mean that my friend had framed ordinary copy paper and hung it on the wall?
That was my introduction to Star Gifts, a spiritual practice that helps us open ourselves to God’s Holy Spirit and be intentional about listening for God’s calling in our lives, that we might transform the world with Christ’s love.
The pastor of my friend’s church, the Rev. Katherine Fagerburg, at the time of South Church in New Britain and known to some of you through her work with Family Promise, Katherine was kind and generous enough to share her star gift pdf file as well as sermons from past years.
Since then, I have shared Star Gifts on with countless other pastors and churches, including Cotuit Federated United Church of Christ on the Cape, where Paul Rohner’s parents are members. Their pastor, Angie, is a good colleague who I have known for many years. Such a good colleague that when she updated her church’s star gifts, she was generous enough to share them back with us.
And isn’t that what Jesus calls us to do? Isn’t that how Jesus calls us to live? To take what gifts God has given us and to share them with others. To take the gifts others have given us and share them back, share them on, bringing Christ’s hope, light, peace, joy, and love to the world.
This is the Christian Church’s calling all year long and especially in Epiphany, the season when the church is called to make manifest the love of Jesus Christ.
Every year, we anticipate what star we are going to get. We wonder what stars other people got. Star gifts are fun and star gifts are deeply meaningful when we use them as tools to discern God’s calling for our lives and then go out and live that calling, share those gifts.
Star gifts are a gift – a gift from God. You are a gift from God, bringing a future of hope to our community of Bristol and the world.
During worship this morning, you are invited to choose a star gift for 2020. Choose your star because it is your favorite color; Close your eyes and pick one at random. However you choose, trust that God’s spirit is leading you. Trust that God’s spirit is calling you to pick the right star gift to lead you in 2020, the right star gift to help you share your innumerable gifts with the world.
Do not assume you know immediately why you got this particular star gift. Do-not-presume you know why you got this particular star gift. Even as we head into the 12th year of doing star gifts as a community, someone always says to me “Why did I get ‘giving’? I’m already a giving person.” Or “Wow! I’m surprised you got faith. I wouldn’t have guessed you needed more faith.” It is not because I lack faith that I got it as my 2013 and 2018 star gift.
Do not assume why you got this star gift. Star gifts are a tool for discerning God’s calling, and discernment takes openness; discernment takes time. Understanding why this star gift might take the entire year to discern.
So place your star gift somewhere you will see it every day. On the wall in your bedroom, the side of the refrigerator. Car visor mirror. Wall of your cubicle at work. Bulletin board in the kitchen. All good places.
Pocket. Bottom of purse. Tucked in a drawer. Not good places. Put your star gift somewhere you will see and ask “Where are You leading me, God, with this star? What are You saying to me?”
And then, when you have discerned where God is calling you with your star, or even when you have an inkling, you need to share your star gift on. We are called to put our faith into action and transform our world with Christ’s love.
Before we pick stars for 2020, I invite you into a time of sharing. If you had the opportunity to choose a star gift for 2019, I invite you to share how God was leading you with your star gift, how God nurtured your calling and your gifts to embody Christ’s light in the world.
You are welcome to speak from your pew, either standing or seated. Someone will bring you a microphone, and I ask you share your name, your star gift word, and some words about how it led you.
Time of Sharing about Our 2019 Star Gifts
During the singing of “We Three Kings”, everyone is invited to come forward and pick a star gift for 2020.
Feel free to pick your favorite color. Pick a star that is easy for you to reach. Pick a star that is under other stars. 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. What is new about star gifts this year is that each has a scripture passage on it. 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 in the Chapel, which is on the second floor, through the atrium.