Follow That Star(Word)!

By Rev. Chris Jorgensen

January 9, 2022

Video of entire service: https://www.facebook.com/hanscomparkchurch/videos/319099030108135

Scripture: Matthew 2:1-12

photo of garland with lights and paper stars

What a story this is! These wise men, these stargazers, these astrologers (probably not actually kings per se – that’s an insertion from a Hebrew Bible text)…But imagine these Persian astrologers…they are looking at the sky one night, and they see an unusual star. 

Now we can only presume the magi had lives of some sort. Scholars believe they were probably members of some kind of a priestly class. They would have had some level of status in their community. Maybe they had families. They must have had housing of some kind…things to take care of. Surely these magi had lives when they saw Jesus’ star. And yet, they saw it, and they dropped everything to go and follow it.

So they head off on foot, and maybe with camels or something, but there is definitely no bullet train, and they walk 400-or-so miles to Judea. Like I said, they would have been part of a priestly class with some power in their community, so it makes sense that their first stop would be to see King Herod. If anyone knows what’s up, the king should, right? So they go into his court and find out that Bethlehem is where the Messiah is to be born. They schlep over to Bethlehem, give Jesus some strange gifts (gold and some spices) and they are about to go back and tell Herod where Jesus is. 

BUT! they are warned in a dream not to return to Herod, and so they go back home by another route. Now we know that Herod wants to kill this new King of the Jews. He is threatened by anyone with the title “king.” But the magi SAVE the Baby Jesus from being killed by this fearful, power-hungry King Herod. Instead of obeying the earthly King, with his power and money and influence, the magi obey God and by doing so, play an incredibly important part in Jesus’ story. 

It’s a great story.

Throughout the story, the magi, these wise ones, they follow the sign that God has sent for them. For most of the story, they follow the star, but then later God comes to them in a dream. These magi, these astrologers, they are forever looking at the sky and listening to their dreams to figure out what God is trying to tell them.

Now, I know that it is hard to hear the voice of God. It is difficult, especially in our busy, over-scheduled, anxious lives to discern when God is trying to get our attention or lead us in a certain direction.

So these “Star Words” that we received today are simply a tool to help us pay attention. Whatever word you received, it’s a centering device, a way to get you to stop and ponder and wonder where God might be in you receiving this word, how God might be at work in the world through whatever that word is OR what it means specifically in your life situation. 

We are going to take a few moments today to ponder the word that you just received. Would just a few of you tell me the word you received? Folks online, if you used the “Star Word” generator, post your word in the comments. I just want us to get a sense of the variety of words.

Okay, now I want you to look at YOUR word: the one on the star you are holding or the one that was generated for you. Take a deep breath in and say the word silently to yourself. Maybe do that three times. Three deep breaths. Turn the word over in your minds.

[Take three breaths.]

Now I want you to think about the PRESENT MOMENT. Think about this: right now, in your life, are there any events or situations or people or places that connect with this word for you? Is there anything going on in your life RIGHT NOW that seems relevant to this word? I’m going to give you a minute to ponder that silently.

[Ponder one minute.]

Now I want you to imagine the FUTURE. Imagine 2022 unfolding before you as winter turns to spring to summer and to fall…where and when do you think your word might be relevant? How might God be calling you to grow in and with that word…or maybe it’s the opposite…maybe you’ve done too much with that word and need to move in a different direction ? (like the magi did when their dream sent them away from King Herod).

What do you think this word will mean for you in 2022?

[Ponder one minute.]

Now…all that is left is to let 2022 unfold. Like I told the kids earlier, I will tell you. Put your star on your mirror at home or anyplace you will see it every day. Ask questions about that word during the day. Hold it before you as you go through the year. See what connects and unfolds with whatever word you received.

As you do, I invite you to take note! If you do have a moment where you feel like God is speaking to you through your “Star Word,” please feel free to tell me or tell your friends here at church. I’d be happy to collect your stories and perhaps share your stories with your permission throughout the year.

Listen. These “Star Words” are not magic, but I do think God calls to us. God shows us the way to Godself when we pay exquisite attention to something new, something intriguing, something wondrous…not unlike the magi when they set out on their journey so long ago.

Thanks be to God.

Amen.

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