CHANGE. This is my 2020 “Star Word.” I received it in early February. Some churches (ELCA and other denominations) around the world have these available each year on the Sunday closest to the Feast of Epiphany – the celebration of Christ’s revelation to the world. The star shape emulates the star Magi followed to Bethlehem.
At Redeemer Lutheran, “Star Words” are placed upside down on a table. We each choose a star and then turn it over to ‘reveal’ our word. Pastor Ken invites us to ponder our word throughout the year, to look for ways in which God is revealing Godself to us, to incorporate it into our devotional life. Some people carry their word with them in a billfold or purse; others tape it to a window or mirror. I keep mine in my car – on the dashboard.
Upon seeing my ‘word’, my first thought was this: the only constant is change (from 6th century Greek Philosopher, Heraclitis). Don’t we know it! Little did I know that day – where we worship would drastically change, among many other life practices and experiences.
We change our socks, our diet, our address and maybe even our name. Psychologists advise we cannot change another; we can only change ourselves. When we change how we think about something, we affect how we feel about it.
So how’s that going for you? Some of us may be moving in and out of paralyzing fear in these pandemic times; others of us may welcome increased time at home tending familial relationships and gardens. Some of us were already living isolated lives; others are navigating learning and working in new ways. How do you think and feel about the changes in your life related to COVID-19? How about the structural changes many are calling for related to increased racial justice? Are you thinking in new ways? Where is God in all of this?
We are part of a reforming church – a community open to the ongoing breath and guidance of God’s Holy Spirit. Women have been ordained in the Lutheran tradition for 50 years; women of color for 40 years; people who identify as LGTBQIA+ for ten years.
You may know this joke: How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: A committee will be appointed to study the issue and report back next month.
I kind of like this answer. With every major decision Lutherans face, we study scripture, the Lutheran Confessions, we pray, we listen for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and we speak with one another.
How do we move through change? So far in 2020, I sense God calling for radical change: in how we tend creation, in how we treat humanity, in how we care for one another in a pandemic. We have scripture – a living Word to us every day; we have God’s presence; we have one another.
In the midst of so much we don’t understand and many things out of our control, draw near to us. Form our thoughts; soften our hearts; strengthen our resolve to be your voice, hands, and feet. Grant courage and hope to fearful hearts; grant imagination and radical resistance in our endeavors toward justice. Be our constant presence in times of great change. For what else to the people of God now pray…
We pray in Jesus’ name.