“Epiphany is the celebration of God’s manifestation or self-revelation to the world in Jesus Christ. In particular, we celebrate the revelation of God’s promise and purpose to the nations of the world, as the magi came from the East to worship to the Christ child, and God’s covenant of grace is extended to all who believe the good news of Christ Jesus. The symbolism of light is important: not only because of the star that guided the magi, but as it relates to the bright dawning of God’s self-revelation in Christ”

An excerpt from the Companion to the Book of Common Worship (Geneva Press, 2003, 94-95)

Have you heard of the practice of passing out “Star Words” on the Sunday closest to Epiphany?  On the day that we remember the star that led the magi to Jesus, pieces of paper cut into star shapes with a printed word are passed out to all. These words hopefully will give people a different way to approach their prayer life. Is God, perhaps, speaking to them through the particular word they got when they grabbed their star?

This practice of passing out star words has grown in popularity recently, but it isn’t limited to congregations.  Close to Epiphany, you will see social media posts inviting people to request a star word. These star words can either be received with joy or hesitation.  Sometimes they are discarded or forgotten.  Sometimes the words don’t appear bright like a star and we have to look for them showing up in our daily lives.  The hope of this practice is that we are reminded of God’s presence breaking through to shine as light in the darkness.

Here are a two great articles on the practice of Star Word Giving.

Presbyterian Outlook Article

Reformed Worship (includes a list of words!)

Star Giving by Ann Weems

What I’d really like to give you for Christmas is a star…

Brilliance in a package,
something you could keep in the pocket of your jeans
or in the pocket of your being.
Something to take out in times of darkness,
something that would never snuff out or tarnish,
something you could hold in your hand,
something for wonderment,
something for pondering,
something that would remind you of
what Christmas has always meant:
God’s Advent Light into the darkness of this world.
But stars are only God’s for giving,
and I must be content to give you words and wishes
and packages without stars.
But I can wish you life
as radiant as the Star
that announces the Christ Child’s coming,
and as filled with awe as the shepherds who stood beneath its light.
And I can pass on to you the love
that has been given to me,
ignited countless times by others
who have knelt in Bethlehem’s light.
Perhaps, if you ask, God will give you a star.

Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem, The Westminster Press, 1980.

If you’d like a star to guide your prayer life in 2020, email Pressley Cox, APCE Advocate Moderator.

Pressley Cox

Pressley Cox is pastor of Eastminster Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, SC and Moderator of the APCE Advocate ministry.