31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
January 7, 2024
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
“What’s the big deal about star gifts?” was the comment posted by a clergy person in a Facebook group I belong to. Whether you are new to star gifts this year or have been choosing a star gift for years, it’s a really good question – what’s the big deal about star gifts?
They aren’t anything fancy. They are literally just copy paper stars that are faithfully cut by Sandy every year, sometimes with the help of a friend or two. Each star has a word on it, and sometimes the words are surprising, if I wish to say it nicely. Sometimes, I just think – ‘how weird’. I did not create the first set of star words we used to use nor the current set, which has scripture passages with each word.
However because this current set of star gift words was created by a faithful and wonderful colleague – and because I never seem to have the time to make our own – I just go with them.
Which is why my star gift word last year was “salt”. I didn’t want salt. Salt is weird. However, last year, when I was placing the stars out, salt turned itself face up. My exact thought was – no one wants salt to be their star gift so I crumpled it up and stuck it in my pocket. 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 again and tossed it in the recycle bin, but it called to me. So “salt” became my star gift word.
And so began the year long journey of figuring out why God had called me to choose “salt”. A faithful sister in Christ pointed out to me that salt is a seasoning, and so for the better part of the year, I thought about ways God was calling me to spice up my life – to not drift through my days in a fog of busyness, to instead look for the joy to be found in the every day. That could have been a blessing for my whole year – to be aware of all the spice God was seasoning my life with.
But there was more. Last fall, I was studying the scripture passage that went with my star gift of “salt”. ……. And I had an aha moment. Salt is called to enhance other foods, to make other foods better, and that is exactly what my calling as your lead minister is. I am called to support you, to nurture you, to assist and inspire you as you listen to God, as you grow closer to God, as you pray for others and care for them, as you make our world a better place with Christ’s love.
So at first, I thought “salt” was weird. I thought it was a throw away word, and look, “salt” has opened my heart to God’s still speaking voice in two different ways.
And that is why star gifts are a big deal because they remind us that God is speaking to us every day. They remind us to stop, to be curious, to be open, to be listening, to be seeking God’s guidance and Christ’s Way as we walk this journey of life.
Star gifts can be just a piece of paper or star gifts can be a powerful tool to help you discern God’s spirit moving in your life and our world. So I encourage you during the Time of Discernment to take couple of deep breaths and tune into God’s Holy Spirit. Is God calling you to pick this color? To pick the star on this side? The one almost hidden under others.
I used to say that only those 12 and under could keep picking stars until they got one they understood, now I say “listen to God”. If you choose a star and instantly know, deep in your soul, that this is not your word for 2024, put it back and choose another. Trust God’s still speaking voice. Trust yourself to hear God’s still speaking voice.
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 grow closer to God, the star gift that will help you more faithfully walk the way of Jesus, the star gift that will help you shine with Christ’s love.
Then place your star gift where you will see it on a daily basis, in a place where you will pay attention to it. And revisit it from time to time. Ask God, “How are you leading me with this star?”
God is still speaking. God is always speaking – even in strange ways and through odd words like “salt”. Amen.