31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
January 8, 2023
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
Thanks to our star cutters extraordinaire – Sandy and Brenda – I had the star gifts early enough that I could lay them out last Tuesday.
The original star gift words were shared with me, and I have shared them with lots of pastors and churches over the years, including a sister UCC church, which added scripture passages to each word and added more words.
Occasionally, I come across a star gift word I think is a little unorthodox, not one I would have ever included. Like “salt”. Last Tuesday, as I laid out the star gift words, a star with “salt” on it landed face up. I looked at it and thought – no one wants to get “salt” as their star gift so I stuck it in my hoodie pocket with the intention of throwing it out when I finished with the stars.
God and that star had other plans. When I went to leave the Sanctuary, I found that “salt” had jumped out of my pocket and landed on the floor. So I crumbled it up and tossed it in the recycle bin on my way out, but it called to me. So here is “salt”.
And there is the essence of star gifts. God is speaking to us every day. Sometimes, God is telling us that God is here right beside us, loving us and holding us tight. Sometimes, God is saying trust me, walk this way, take this step into the light. Other times, God is saying hold on, be faithful, choose Christ’s way instead of fear and anxiety. God is speaking to us every day. We just need to take the time to listen, be open, be aware of the many, many signs God is sending us. Star gifts are one of those signs.
When we place our star gift where we will see it on a daily basis, a place where we will pay attention to it, your star gift can be a way God reassures you, speaks to you, guides you. For your star gift to be as meaningful as it can be, for it to nurture your relationship with the God of love we know through Jesus Christ, you need to make time. You need to be open to God and often ask God, “How are you leading me with this star?” If you do take the time, if you are open and listening, you will hear God’s still speaking voice – not just through your star gift, you will see God’s signs all around you, guiding you forward in faith.
And that begins today.
Today, during the time of discernment and listening, I invite those in the Sanctuary to really listen to God and come forward and pick the star they feel spirit led to pick. In the past, I have said only those 12 and under can keep picking stars until they get one they understand. This year, I had a new thought. If you take a deep breath of the Holy Spirit and choose a star and instantly know, deep in your soul, that this is not your word for 2023, put it back and choose another. Listen to God’s spirit inside you. Trust God’s spirit inside you.
At the same time, do not assume you should know immediately why you got this particular star gift. Listening to God takes time, days, weeks, months, years. You may choose the right star for you and still take the entire year to discover what God is saying to you. Trust that God is leading you to choose the star gift that will help you connect more deeply with God, the star gift that will help you shine, like “salt”.
Before we choose stars for 2023, I invite those who chose stars last year to share a few words about how God spoke to them and guided them with their star gift. You can come up in front of the communion table to speak or we can bring a microphone to you. I remind you that we are livestreaming this service and that it will also be on Youtube.