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Star Words: A gift to guide the year

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In the gospel of Matthew, we read the story of the Magi, the wise and wealthy astronomers who looked to the skies, saw an unusual star and decided to follow it. When they reached the point where the star was hovering, they found a baby and his young peasant parents gathered in the countryside. And they worshiped him. Not only that, these three powerful men bent their knees around the manger to offer Jesus expensive gifts – gold, frankincense and myrrh.

In the spirit of the gifts that the Magi gave to the newborn Jesus, we adopted a new-to-us tradition last year at Worship at Five known as “Star Words” – star-shaped pieces of paper with a single word printed on each. On Epiphany of the Lord Sunday (the first Sunday of the new year), each worshiper was invited to receive a star word (at random) as a gift from God for the year ahead. Recipients were encouraged to contemplate their word and reflect on how God might be guiding them throughout 2018.

I wrote 100 words on blue paper stars last year to pass out at Worship at Five, and was so hoping that I would receive something whimsical like wonder or create or laugh. That was wishful thinking – instead, I drew accountability. It was a good reminder that the gifts we receive from God are not always the gifts we desire. And yet, in reflecting throughout 2018 on accountability, I found myself growing in ways I did not expect. I was invited to reflect on the communities to which I am accountable, the relationships that hold me accountable, and the practices that make up accountability. It was a rich and grounding exercise.

Audrey White shared this about their experience with star words:

“My star word, leadership, reminded me to be trust God's call in my life and inspired me to think of what the Gospel teaches us about leaders. There are those who abuse their power while others use it to empower people on the margins of society. I hope I am continuously getting closer to the servant leadership toward which Christ's example inspires me.”

And Marty Loman noted:

“Justice was my word – easy to remember given “do justice” is also tattooed on my left wrist but it was amazing to me just how many opportunities presented themselves this year just by keeping this word in my conscious thought. It led me to explore my biblical understanding of justice through the Hebrew concepts of tzedakah and tikkun olam; gain an added appreciation for the stance our denomination has taken over its history by being exposed to the PCUSA’s compilation on social policy; and then live out the concept in my daily life whether it be speaking out against injustice or by helping to feed or clothe the needy.  This process was truly a gift.”

If you are seeking a star to follow, join us for our Worship at Five Epiphany Celebration on Sunday, January 6 at 5:00 p.m. in Founders Hall. Receive a star word as a gift from God and allow it to guide your 2019. We’ll also have special music from Sam Burchfield! Come, seek, worship.

Posted by Jessie Light-Wells with

Worship at Five Celebrate One Year!

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“Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes.
How do you measure,
Measure a year?

In daylights?
In sunsets?
In midnights?
In cups of coffee?
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife?”

- “Seasons of Love” from RENT the Musical

Worship@5 Birthday Party!

How do you measure a year of Worship at Five?

Last September, PHPC took a leap of faith and launched a new worship service in a different space, at a different time, with different music. A handful of people were elated, curious, and excited to try something new. Still others were (and perhaps still are) skeptical or uninterested. I myself was just a few weeks into my first pastoral call, still trying to figure out how to set up my email account, putting books on my bookshelves and learning my way around the building.

Whether it was my own imposter syndrome or the fact that there were exactly 21 days between my first day at PHPC and the launch of Worship at Five (eek!), in no way did I actually feel prepared to coordinate and pastor a brand new worship service… But the Holy Spirit moves in mysterious and grace-filled ways. The Spirit seemed to know what she was doing when the doors of Founder’s Hall opened that first Sunday evening and people of all ages found seats under the string lights. The Spirit danced and moved about the space in the weeks to come as more and more folks found their way to the nametag table and the Communion table. The Spirit continues to surprise and astound me, calling us to share meals together and move the chairs around, to sing from the heart and to listen to the voices of children.

So how do you measure a year of Worship at Five?

In potlucks?
In laughter?
In dancing?
In loaves of communion bread?
In tears cried, in vulnerability shared, in new relationships formed, in children’s sermons?

I think the only way we can measure this year is in love- in love shared and grown and made real. I give so much thanks for a church that is willing to try something new, that continues to listen to the Holy Spirit, that lives into a vision where every person has a place at the table.
And I give thanks that you’ve called me to be a part of it.

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