Showing Them God: Star Words

Scripture can be found here and here...

I want to give you a gift.

I’ve been inspired, since we’ve just heard a story about three Wise Ones, traveling a very long distance, to bring gifts to a child whom they consider to be a king! And the gifts they brought! Costly gifts! Gold… a gift fit for a king. Frankincense… a gift fit for a god! And Myrrh… an aromatic resin used for everything from skin ailments (like diaper rash) to pain relief (you might, for example, place it in wine, and offer it to someone as they were dying). Myrrh… a gift fit for a human being.

I’ve been inspired by the other gifts we’ve read about this morning… the gifts given by Jesus in our other reading.

To the man who had an unclean spirit: freedom.

To the woman who had a fever: relief.

To the man with the skin disease they called leprosy: healing.

To those who were sick, or possessed with demons… more of the same. Healing. Relief. Freedom.

These gifts, along with the Good News Jesus was teaching, caused the people to say about Jesus, This one has authority. (Just as the Wise Ones suspected.) And imagine all the authorities these people submitted to every day… The authority of the boss. The authority of the heavy taxes and fines imposed by Rome… The authority of Rome, with its legions of soldiers, watching their every move. The authority of demons, and spirits, and illnesses, and the agony living in their own skin. Thank God. Thank God for this authority, this man with new authority. What a gift.

Gifts abound, in these readings.

And all these gifts stem from a new way of seeing God, a new way of understanding, God.  First, the star showed the Wise Ones where to find God—a baby, a child. Then, Jesus showed the people a new way to experience God—in healing, in relief, in newfound hope.

What incredible gifts!

I want to give you each a gift. I want to give you each a star.

I wish I could claim to have come up with this idea myself. I did not. The Kellams know about stars, and have shared them here. The RevGals know about stars, and write about them all over the internet.[i]

I am not talking about luminous spheres of plasma held together by their own gravity, eternally flaming, beautifully twinkling, enormous balls of gas out in space, by the way.

I’m taking about paper stars, each with a different word—no two alike! Because no two of us are alike.  These stars, and the words on them, are my gift to you.


The star in the East led the Wise Ones to Jesus.

Jesus’ healing led the hurting people to God.

I’m giving you each a star, in hopes it will lead you to God.

I want you to take a star, in hopes it will lead you to Jesus.

Here’s how it will work: You will take a star, and it will have a word on it. (No peeking beforehand!) The word might please you. The word might annoy you. The word might surprise you. The word might burrow into you, like love, or maybe a tick.

I ask you to take the star, and the word, and let it work on you. Pray with it. Play with it. Try it on. Try it out. Especially—oh, especially, if it seems wrong. Like, the wrong word for you, the wrong word for this year, the wrong word, period. Try it anyway. Joust with it. Jog with it. Journal with it, your star word.

I am trusting God, and I guess I am asking you to trust me. I ask you to let your star word in, and little by little, see how it leads you to God. I ask you to pray with your star word, and see whether it leads you to Jesus. I ask you to consider the star word a gift, even if it feels like a burden. I ask you to see whether you can let yourself be surprised this year… yes, for this whole New Year.

The Wise Ones found Jesus by being willing to notice an entirely new thing, that rising star in the East.

The leper and the feverish woman and the man with the unclean spirit—not to mention all the other sick and demon-possessed folks—were able to find God’s healing by trusting a relative newcomer with the most vulnerable aspects of their reality. By being willing to say, “Well, this isn’t working. Maybe it’s time to try something new.” 

Something new showed them God, every last one of them.

I have a gift for you. And it is my fervent hope that, through my little gift, God will have a far greater gift for you—one I have no idea about, but that’s ok, because that’s all up to God.

I’m giving you each a star, in hopes it will lead you to God.

I want you to take a star, in hopes it will lead you to Jesus.

But perhaps most important, I want you to have a star, to remind you that you are already shining with the love of God, right now, just as you are.

I have a gift for you: a little star, and a little word. And I’m praying that star will lead you right where you need to go. Thanks be to God. Amen.


[i] The words on our stars are courtesy of Rev. Marcella Auld Glass of Southminster Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho. Read about her experience with Star Words at her blog, Glass Overflowing.