Following the Star
On Epiphany Sunday, we take a moment to reflect on the story of the wise men and their journey to the infant Christ...and how that resonates for us and in us as people who are on our own journey of seeking and searching today.
We also introduce StarWords, and are encouraged to take them on as a spiritual practice for the coming year.
Following the Star
January 5, 2014
Rev. Leanne Masters
Southern Heights Presbyterian Church
This morning, as we come to read and hear the words of the story of the wise men who came to Bethlehem to pay homage to the newborn king, it is tempting to get caught up in reflecting on what, precisely, happened there.
Who were these men? Where were they from? Why did they make that journey? When did they get there? What was “the star” that they saw?
Much energy, and much ink, has been expended attempting to answer these questions...If you were to pop into my office, you would see my copy of the Anchor Bible Dictionary open on my desk to the article on Astrology in the Ancient Near East, as I started to go down that rabbit trail, myself...
And I’m glad to chat with you about them all: the history, the context, the science, the traditions that have been built up around the wise men....
But this morning, as we reflect on the words of the story, and this is probably one of the very few times you will hear me say something like this, I want us to set all of that aside and think about it simply as a story, and how that story resonates in us today.
At the heart of it, this story is simply about people who were seeking something, who were drawn in that seeking to meet Christ, and what they encountered on the way...
This story resonates in us because we, here today, are all seeking something in our lives. For some of us, we can name and identify what it is we are seeking...peace, comfort, encouragement, wisdom, guidance, to name a few...for many of us, however, it is something that it is hard to put our finger on. We know that we are looking for something...but what that is? We have a feeling that we will know it when we find it, but in the mean time, we keep seeking, looking, searching.
Like the wise men, we bring with us our most precious gifts, those of our time, our talents, our skills, our treasures to share and to give...not out of pride or for our own benefit but humbly, that they might be serve others, to help others find what it is that they are seeking.
And like the wise men, we have sometime looked in the wrong places and to the wrong things, and been bitterly disappointed and left empty every time...but the gentle nudging of the Holy Spirit keeps urging us on through the light of a star shining in the darkness in the world. A light that illumines a path in front of us, showing us the way to go to find what it is that we are looking for.
We are here, in a church on a bitterly cold Sunday morning, because, in all of that seeking, we find that that light draws us to meet Christ...to find in him what it is that we are looking for. We have this inexplicable feeling that it is through an ever deeper, stronger, more intentional (maybe?) connection or relationship with him that we will find what it is that we are looking for. That it is in or through him that we will find that peace, that comfort, that encouragement, that hope, that joy, that wisdom, that guidance, that courage to face what it is that the world throws at us. That we will so fully experience and know what we are so desperately needing in our lives that we will finally, finally, start growing into who and how it is that we are supposed to be...in ourselves, with each other, and for the world.
This morning, as we take time to reflect on that journey of discovery, of seeking and searching that we are on, I would like to invite you to engage in a particular practice with me this year. A practice that may just allow each of us to enter into that deeper, stronger, or more intentional relationship with Christ.
I’m not sure where this practice originated, but a colleague of mine who serves a church out in Idaho introduced me to it...the practice of StarWords. 
This is how it goes...at the back of the sanctuary, near each of the exits, you will find baskets with brightly colored paper stars in them. As you leave this morning, I would like to invite you to pick up a star, at random. On these stars, you will find one of sixty different words: some nouns, some verbs, some adverbs and adjectives. Take this star home with you, and keep it with you throughout the year. Place it somewhere where you will see it daily, and see how you can intentionally incorporate that word into your spiritual or prayer life. Use it as a guide to your prayers in whatever way that you understand: as a method of prayer, or as a subject of prayer - for yourself, for others, for the world. See if you can incorporate it into your life in other ways, too, always keeping a prayerful aspect at the center of it.
Follow that star, the word on the star, and see how doing so may deepen your spirituality, strengthen your relationship with God and Christ.
Whether you join me on this particular journey, or not, I pray that you may find what it is that you are searching for, that you may be strengthened in your relationships with God and with Christ and with others, and that you may be blessed by and in your seeking.