Star Sunday And My Star Story {Cheerfulness}

And with this sermon, I am officially caught up on posting my sermons I missed last year when my computer crashed!  If you missed it, our Star Sunday installation was INCREDIBLE and already has people talking about next year.

If you are not familiar with Star Sunday, here is my sermon from the first year we did it and then my star story from last year.

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Sarah Weaver
Rehoboth Congregational Church
Rehoboth, MA
January 6, 2019

Matthew 2:1-12

Star Sunday and My Star Story {Cheerfulness}

In the church year, the Feast of the Epiphany commemorates the arrival of the Magi to the Christ Child and the physical manifestation (or incarnation) of God through Jesus. On this day, churches celebrate the giving of gifts, a God that calls ordinary people to do extraordinary things and guidance that can come from a single star.

Two years ago, we tried something new on Epiphany. Borrowing the idea from a colleague’s church, we introduced Star Sunday, where we celebrated Epiphany by receiving paper stars that had words written on them.  The idea was that this word – this star word – would guide our year.

Now here’s the thing about star words – unlike resolutions or words of the year, we do not get to choose them ourselves. Sometimes they are ironic (like the first year when I drew the word “responsibility” two days after I announced I was pregnant with Harrison), sometimes they seem impossible (like this past year when, in the middle of a home renovation with a toddler, I asked Bruce how his star word, “serenity” was going).  Sometimes these words are exactly what we think we need.  And sometimes these words are exactly what God knows we need.

This year, my star word was, “cheerfulness.” And I have to be honest, I was not really sure what to do with that word at first.  In 2017, when my word was, “responsibility,” it felt like something I could live into; I could make choices and decisions that reflected my responsibilities and also my desire to be a more responsible person and pastor and wife and soon-to-be mother.

But cheerfulness?  How do you live into that?

It will come as a surprise to no one when I say that 2018 was kind of a challenging year, particularly for pastoral care at the church.  We lost a lot of wonderful people, people that I miss very much.  Beyond those losses, all around, people just kind of had a lot of stuff going on; an on a personal level, my family has had some of their own stuff going on, as well.

And yet, I do not look back at 2018 and think it was a bad year.  And I have in the past; I have looked back at certain years and, on New Year’s Eve, all but slammed the door in its face on my way out.

But not this year.  Every time I thought about this year, I thought that, while things might have been hard at times, there was still so much joy.  Yes, there were tears and stressful moments and exhausting days and nights, but there was also love and laughter and moments of grace that just made me forget everything else that was going on.

For most of the year, I attributed my more positive and upbeat attitude to Harrison and having a different perspective on things now that I am a mom.  But I was sitting in my office a few weeks ago talking to a friend of mine about 2018 and I glanced over at my bulletin board, where my star word was hanging.

“Cheerfulness.”

And it was in that moment that I realized that “cheerfulness” is not something that I lived into this year; it is something that lived into me.  In the midst of sadness, uncertainty and stress, God infused this cheerful spirit within me, allowing me to find happiness, experience the joy of laughter and uncover grace, over and over and over again.

This morning we will hear star stories from several people in the congregation; testimonies about how their star words – words that they did not choose for themselves – impacted them this year. And then we will all receive star words for the upcoming year.

The stars we receive today will remind us of the journey that the Magi took to meet Jesus for the very first time.  They, too, followed a star, not of their own choosing, but of God’s choosing.  They, too, were left with unanswered questions about how that star might guide them – and yet they were still obedient to God’s call.  They, too, wrote their own chapter in the narrative of this Christian story that is still being revealed to us, today.  They, too, lived into God’s promise of love, light and grace.

And this year, we will seek to do the same.

O star of wonder, star of night, Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding, Guide us to thy perfect light.

Thanks be to God!
Amen.

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