“Lead me in your truth, and teach me.” Psalm 25:5
In January 2018, Trinity Lutheran began our annual Epiphany practice known as “star words”. Here is how it works: Hundreds of stars, each with a different word, are cut out and placed word-side-down in a basket or on a table. After Holy Communion, each person randomly selects a star, no peeking allowed. We don’t choose our word; our word chooses us. We ponder these words during the year, asking God what He’d like us to learn from these words. As the Magi followed the star to find Jesus, we follow our star word to find Jesus in unexpected ways during the year.
2018 – I turned over my star midway down the aisle and burst out laughing – one of those cartoon laughs where, if there had been water in my mouth, it would have spewed out 10 feet. The word that had chosen me was SILENCE – which, for those of you who know me, is really funny. There has never been an awkward pause in a conversation that I haven’t wanted to fill! So, 2018 became a time for me to hold back, allowing others’ discomfort with silence to push them to speak up. And we are all the better for this.
2019 – (admittedly with trepidation, after my 2018 experience with silence) The word that chose me was MINDFUL. And I spent a year working to be more attuned to what was around me, enjoying the forced pauses in my life (traffic signals, television commercials) and purposefully inserting pauses when life seemed harried. When my brain wanted to consume itself with what might be coming, my word challenged me to “be here now” – fully in the moment.
2020 – The word that chose me was INSPIRATION. I have tried to be alert to that which inspires me to be a better version of myself. When I feel grumpy about wearing a face mask, I view with wonder the health care workers who wear masks for 14 hour shifts and whose risk of exposure to the virus is much higher than mine. When I struggle with the technology of online worship and Zoom, I am in awe of people in their 80s and 90s who, many times each week, doggedly work to connect because being with God and His people is THAT important to them. When I grieve favorite activities that I cannot do this year, I find inspiration in those whose physical challenges prevent them from leaving home unassisted, but whose loving, sweet spirits continue to shine through. And when my chest knots up with stress, I am reminded of that other definition of “inspiration” which is “the act of breathing in”, perhaps God’s way of telling me to take a deep, cleansing breath.
One discipline of Advent is to engage in “wonder” – to marvel at, to admire, to be astonished at something that is mysterious or miraculous, to be inspired. My plan is to squeeze the very most out these last three weeks of my star word “inspiration” before I get my 2021 star on January 6th. I’m willing to share my star word with you. May each of us watch for things to admire, to marvel at, to surprise us, to gaze upon with wonder – and let these serve as our inspiration during the last days of 2020.
Lord, help me pause long enough to view with wonder all those little reminders that you are at work in my world. Inspire me as I complete my journey to Epiphany. Amen.