You should never forget that one of God’s great gifts was a star.
The star was a light in the darkness, leading its followers on a journey toward the savoir of the world, Jesus Christ. The star was a guide for those foreign star gazers who were not raised in the ways of God. The star led those foreigners to Jesus and set them on a different course than they had intended. It was a star that God provided to guide and eventually change the lives of a few wise astrologers.
One of God’s great gifts was the guidance brought by a star.
Years ago, a pastor got the bright idea to make Epiphany the day when the star might still guide the congregation like it did those wise men years ago. The pastor cut out little paper stars and then wrote singular words…words relating to faith…on each star in the hope that each star and the word might help to guide the lives of each person in the congregation.
One woman on that first Epiphany with the paper stars walked forward and grabbed a star out of the basket. As she flipped the star over, revealing the word of guidance meant for her, she saw the word, “Waiting.”
Her heart sank. For a number of years, she and her husband had tried to have a child, with no success. The last thing that she wanted to do was to wait any longer. But here it was; the star that God led her to choose was telling her that she needed to wait.
So she did.
Throughout the year she let the star guide her thoughts. She posted the star next to her front door so that she could not forget God’s message to her. Whenever she got anxious about having a child, she would eventually see the star and the word “waiting” would stick in her mind. With the help of the star, she would calm her mind in anticipation of the day when she would have to wait no more.
The next year, as Epiphany rolled around, she anxiously waited to see what word would be revealed to her. As she pulled out her new star she again saw the word “Waiting.” With 72 possibilities of words in that basket, how was it that she got “waiting” again?
She looked around and others had gotten stars with words such as “Joy” and “Peace” and “Forgiveness” and “Expectation.”
How she would have loved to have gotten "Expectation!"
It was the husband of a woman deployed overseas through the Air Force who had gotten "Expectation." She was happy at the smile that the word brought to that lonely husband’s face, but she was secretly jealous because, unlike him, she again had to wait.
That year she did not listen to the word on the star all that much. She and her husband refused to wait, spending lots of money, hours filled with appointments and shots, and lots of anxious days and nights trying to get pregnant through the wonders of medical technology.
Again, the word on the star seemed to win the fight. She was force to wait as each attempt to get pregnant failed. She was done waiting. Her natural clock was starting to approach the end and God could not possibly make her wait any longer!
But, “Waiting” was impossibly what she pulled out of the basket the very next year. At this point she had started to give up. She posted the star by her door once again, but she did not so much go about her daily life waiting, rather she appeared more defeated than anything.
The word “waiting” has the notion that there is something for which you are expecting that will be fulfilled eventually, but “waiting” did not describe her defeated state. She was not sure what God was up to, but she was not getting her hopes up. She was not waiting any longer. The star was there on her door, but she ignored it for the year.
Years and years later, a young woman asked the old lady about the stars that were posted on the wall of her nursing home room. Most of the stars had the word “Waiting” listed. The old woman told the young woman about the pastor and the stars and about the desire to be pregnant and how that had never happened. As the young woman searched, looking at the stars, she saw two that were different from the others. One read “Sorrow.”
“That was the year that my sister - your mom - died," the old woman said to the young one.
"You don’t remember because you were just a baby, but the car accident was a shock to us all. It was a tragedy that sort of pulled me out of my own selfish sorrow over not having a baby. There were worse things in life than not having a baby…things like losing a sister...a best friend.”
The young woman looked up at the door and saw that there was a star by the door, apart from the ones on the wall. It read, “Joy.”
“Is that the one from this year?” the young woman asked.
“No. That pastor died long ago. That was the last star that I ever picked up. It was the star that I got the very next year after I got the one with ‘Sorrow.’ It is the star that went along with the year that Jesus gave you, as a little baby, to live with me. The authorities never could figure out who your father was, so they gave you to me.
At first I was scared. I thought that it would be impossible to raise the daughter of my dead sister, but it wasn’t. You were nothing but a joy.
You have been nothing but joy in my life. You were the reason I was waiting. The stars weren’t wrong. God was not wrong. They guided me to the right place. It just wasn’t the place that I was expecting. Like how the star guided the wise men to Jesus, these stars all led me to you. You are my joy; so I put it on the door because I never want to forget.”
And so, God still guides you today. When those wise ones from ancient times journeyed to Jerusalem searching for the child king, they were redirected to Bethlehem. And, when the star led them to Bethlehem, they were redirected once again by God, away from the dangers of King Herod. They ended up going home by a different route.
The star of God will do that, you know. It will not always lead you to where you expect, but it will always lead you to Jesus. And, when it leads you to Jesus, it will have led you to where you needed to be.
Go ahead. Scroll down. Glance down at the list of Star Gifts. Choose the first one that your eye falls upon. It will be your word for the year. By a star may Jesus lead you.
*It should be noted that this sermon idea was not original to me, but was based upon other sermons that I have heard in the past that used the idea and tradition of giving "star gifts."