Yesterday was Star Sunday at the Rehoboth Congregational Church. We did this for the first time last year and I think it really started to gain traction this year. My sermon is part sermon and part star story. After I preached, I invited three members of the congregation to stand up and share their star stories. It was wonderful! I hope next year more people are interested in sharing, as well.
Have a great week, everyone!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
January 7, 2018
My Thoughts On Responsibility & Illuminating Our 2018 Star Words
After hearing my colleagues talk about them for several years, I introduced star words at RCC for the first time last year. Truth be told, more than anything else, I was just excited to get a star word of my very own. I have never been great at resolutions and I thought perhaps this would focus me throughout the year in a way that resolutions always have failed to.
So Star Sunday arrived and I eagerly preached my sermon and then sent around the basket of star words. Having had cut out the stars earlier that week, I knew the different words people were receiving.
The list goes on. I could not wait to see what I would pick.
The basket came around to me, I reached in, grabbed my star and …
… responsibility. My star word was, responsibility.
First of all, the irony of the whole scenario was not lost on me. I had literally announced my pregnancy two days earlier, so my initial thought was that perhaps God had a way funnier sense of humor than I ever realized because I certainly would be taking on a huge responsibility in 2017.
Beyond that, though, I kind of thought the word was, no offense to anyone who gets it this year, kind of lame. Being responsible, in and of itself, is not particularly fun most days; why would I want to spend an entire year thinking about it?
But given the fact that I had just preached a sermon saying we could not choose our own star words, I went with it. And what I learned throughout the year is that there are far more layers to this word than I initially thought.
12 months ago, I thought I would stand up on Star Sunday in 2018 and tell you all of the responsible things I did in 2017. I thought I would tell you that I revolutionized the way I organized my house and office (which I tried to do); I thought I would tell you that I finally figured out a good system for dealing with my taxes (which I mostly did); and I thought I would tell you that I finally made a long-overdue dentist appointment (which I did not).
However, I feel like my revelations on responsibility came from a much deeper place than the adulting I was just trying to avoid.
A few weeks into the year, my sister came across a company that makes bracelets and necklaces with custom words on them. She offered to buy me one and asked me what word I wanted engraved on it.
“Responsibility,” I told her.
“That’s weird. Don’t you think it will confuse people?” she asked me.
She had a point.
But in wearing this bracelet almost every day, I was asking God to open my eyes to understand responsibility in a new and deeper way.
First of all, when I put this bracelet back on after a three-month hiatus from wearing it while I was on maternity leave, it kind of took my breath away. Of course, you all knew this was going to happen, but the second Harrison was born, this word overwhelmingly took on a new meaning. Being a mom is, by far, the most responsibility I have ever had. Decisions – even the seemingly small ones – always seem daunting. I cannot count the number of times Bruce and I have looked at one another with the most perplexed looks on our faces until one of us asks the question, “Uhhh, what now?”
To which the other usually replies, “Not a clue.”
But even more than that, I strongly believe God has opened my eyes to my responsibilities as a Christian; as an individual Christian living in this world, as an ordained leader in the church and as the pastor of this church.
As a Christian, I believe it is my responsibility to proclaim a Gospel that changes lives and is inclusive to all. I believe I need to be unapologetically authentic in my faith and show others that it is possible, through our faith, to create the type of peace that this world so desperately needs. I have realized this year that negative stereotypes about Christians only exist if we allow them to; it is our responsibility to illuminate Christianity through a positive lens.
As a church, I believe it is our responsibility to cultivate an environment where love always wins, light always shines and grace always prevails. We need to open our doors and show hospitality to all people and create opportunities for worship, service and learning that are meaningful, relevant and accessible to all. We need to focus on our outreach and evangelism efforts and welcome others into our community. We need to be honest, transparent and humble as we tend to the business of our organization, particularly as we implement our new structure this year.
And the reason I mention all of these things is not to pawn my star word off on you; but to point out that I feel like, as a church, we did a lot of these things last year.
Or, at least, we tried to.
And it was only the beginning.
I love the passage we heard from the prophet Isaiah:
Arise! Shine! For your light has come!
The prophet spoke these words as a vision of Jerusalem’s coming exaltation. The nation had just come out of exile; light was dawning and Jerusalem was being drawn into that light. Today, as we read these words, we remember that God’s light is dawning here and we, too, are being drawn into that light.
So let God illuminate your star word this year. If you get a word that you are immediately excited about, shine God’s light onto that word with fervor and enthusiasm. If you get a word that you think is totally and completely lame, shine God’s light onto that word with trust and hope.
Today, we will receive new star words. Like the wise men followed the star to see the Christ child in Bethlehem, we, too, will follow our star words this year. Perhaps we, too, we travel a journey that will change our lives. Perhaps we, too, will see the world in a new light. Perhaps we, too, will find Christ in our midst.
So, arise! Shine! God’s light is here, lighting your star words for the year ahead.
Thanks be to God!