At our church, we celebrate Epiphany with a gift of stars. Baskets filled to the brim with gold cardboard stars are passed along the pews, every star with a word or phrase written on it's face. With eager anticipation, each person reaches in, plucks a star, and turns it over to read their word for the year. "Devotion," "Acceptance","Sharing," "Discipline," "Family,"...an excited buzz filters from the front of the church to the back pews as the baskets of stars make their way through the congregation. Exclamations of wonder or mirth are occasionally heard, for all too often these messages are eerily appropriate to their recipient.
Whatever the word, it represents a new meaning, a new way of looking at the world or your relationships, a reminder to have faith. It might spark an interest in something new, or rekindle your feelings for someone or something you've lost. It's a beacon for the new year, a guidepost by which to steer the course of your life.
Each year on Star Sunday, the church is filled to capacity. This morning, there was nowhere to park, and we were forced to sneak in the parking lot of the Catholic church on the corner. We crowd into the sanctuary like kids gathering 'round the Christmas tree, as excited to discover the message on our star as if God himself (and not the ladies of the Priscilla Circle) had written it. Some of us even wait to make our New Year's Resolutions until we see what God the Star has to say.
When the basket comes to me, I'm always a bit tempted to riffle around among the stars, hoping to get an extra good one. Even though the stars are face down, and it's impossible to see the word until you've chosen and let the basket go by, I always have this childish idea that the best ones -the one with the most meaning for me - won't be the one on top.
That if I dig deep enough, I'll get the one with the word that I really want.
But the whole idea depends on letting go and letting God speak to you through the star. You have to relinquish all expectations, relinquish personal desires, and trust that God will lead you to the word you need. You must, from the moment your hot little hand reaches into the basket, relinquish control. Let go of expectations, let go of tight fisted demands about the future, let go of fears.
Yesterday, my hairdresser, a gentle, soft spoken Muslim woman about my age, told me this story about her 21 year old daughter.
"I tried to get pregnant for eight years," she told me. "I would have done anything in the world to have a baby. I took all kinds of hormones, which now they say can give you cancer, I gave myself shots every day for months. Nothing. Finally I said to God, okay, for some reason you don't want me to be a mother. I give up."
She smiled. "So guess what? I was pregnant the next month."
Relinquish control. Let go and let God.
When the Star basket came by this morning, I decided to simply reach in and take the top-most star...whatever will be, will be, I thought. No more trying to find the one I think will fit me best.
When I turned it over, the word written on it was MUSIC.
(See what I mean about eerily appropriate?)
So now I'm following a musical star, waiting to see how music manifests itself in my life once again, and what fresh surprises and connections will come of it.
I'll keep you posted.