INTRODUCTION TO STARGIFT JOURNEYS:
Each year, we celebrate Epiphany Stargift Sunday. We remember the magi, who followed a star and journeyed to the child Jesus. We learn that the magi are models of discipleship for us because their journey with God was marked by vulnerability and faith. Their journey began with nothing but openness and willingness and, at each stage of their journey, they repeated that openness and willingness. And, each time, God guided them. He guided them out of the darkness of the night. He guided them out of the darkness of not knowing the way. He guided them out of the darkness of Herod’s trap to find and kill the baby Jesus. Each time, they were rewarded with light: the light of a star; the light of knowing the way; and the Light of the World, baby Jesus, the one for whom they had been searching.
Through the story of the magi’s journey, we learn that darkness can take many forms. It can be literal darkness, as in the darkness of the night. It can be intellectual darkness, as in not knowing the way. It can be political darkness, as in Herod’s plot to kill the baby Jesus. For some of us, darkness takes the form of mental or physical illness. For others, darkness takes the form of unemployment or poverty. There are many forms of darkness. But what the story of the magi’s journey shows us is that God is present even in the darkness. And, if we are open to God in our darknesses, if we’re attentive to God’s signs and willing to respond to them, then God brings light out of the darkness. Remember, Jesus, the Light of the World, was born during the night.
In the same way that darkness takes many forms, guiding stars take many forms. Guiding stars are anything or anyone through which God speaks to us. They are anything or anyone through which the light of God shines into the darkness of our lives. Each of us will receive such a guiding star today. We will receive a Stargift. We will select a star on which is printed a word. Each word represents a quality, a talent, a skill, or an aptitude. We are then invited to let the star we selecte take us on a journey with God throughout the year. We are invited to trust God to guide us through our star. We are invited to meditate on our star and be open to the journey God takes us on through it.
Before we receive a star for 2016, we will hear two Stargift journeys that were takin in 2015. It is always a privilege and an honor when someone shares his or her journey with us. Today we receive such a privilege and honor, and we thank Dawn and me for our willingness to share with you.
BEFORE STARGIFTS ARE PASSED OUT:
Now we will all receive an Epiphany Stargift for this new year. During the singing of the Closing Hymn, baskets with stars in them will be passed around. Please select a star without looking to see what is written on it. Let it be a surprise. Again, we are invited to let the star we receive take us on a journey with God. We are invited to put our Stargifts someplace where we will see them daily – on our refrigerators, our bulletin boards, our bathroom mirrors, our computer terminals – wherever we decide to put them. We are invited to be like the magi: to be willing to respond to God, to be willing to ask for help if we don’t know the way, to be willing to celebrate when we’ve reached a destination, and to be willing to have our direction changed, just as the magi returned home from a different direction than they had planned. We are invited to let our experience with our Stargift be a reminder of the new life that comes through the light of Jesus Christ.
Sermon preached by the Rev. Amy Johnson, Canton Community Baptist Church, Canton, CT, Sunday, January 10, 2016, Epiphany Stargift Sunday