Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Star Words and Approachability

In 2015, after several years of meaning to do this, I copied my friend Marci Glass and did Star words with the congregation I serve, Lutheran Church of Hope. Marci has written about this practice on her blog in several posts. I recommend scrolling down and reading this first posts and then you can pick and choose (or read them all). 

I used the PDF of words she had created and shared generously with other RevGalBlogPals via our (closed) Facebook page. LCOH's diligent administrative assistant and I cut out 300+ stars last year. We also made a separate set of stars for kids from the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control). While I'm not saying that adults shouldn't also choose from that list, it was easier to have a more condensed and more easily interpreted set of words for our younger members. An adult can wrestle with approachability. A six-year-old, not so much. 

This year, on 1/8/17, we will choose words again. Because I don't like to feel wasteful, we are not choosing from a complete set. We are choosing from the 260+ words that are left over, which also means that there are no repeats from last year. 

You can read from my January 2017 newsletter article below on my own thoughts about my 2016 word. 


Last year on Epiphany, we drew out Star Words as a congregation. Reaching into a bowl of more than 300 possibilities, we pulled out words like “fun”, “encouraging”, “solemn”, “inviting”, “tactful”, and many others. Some people may not have thought about their word again since that Sunday. Others have worked it into their lives or paid attention to where it showed up. A congregation member recently encouraged people to tell the story of their word.

I got the word “approachable”. This word gave me pause in many ways. I try to be as accessible as possible, but I frequently hear that people don’t find me approachable. Strangers feel okay asking me questions or seeking my help, so then I am surprised when I find out that church people do not. One congregation member told me that I am very approachable if a person needs help, but it is harder to approach me as a person who wants to help me.

In my time in Poland, I spent 11 days looking for people who were approachable to help me with directions, transportation, and translation. Standing on a sidewalk in the middle of a place where you know no one and no one knows you can be very scary. I think about this experience a lot when I think of refugees or immigrants who may have very little knowledge of where they are or how things work. How approachable do I seem when I am out and about?

On January 8, we will draw new stars, new words, for 2017. Does this mean I can quit thinking about approachability? We had enough stars last year to go again from the same pile. So the words that were taken are gone. We all get a fresh start. How should we approach this exercise?

When I drew stars for people who wanted them, but were not at church, I prayed for them before reaching into the bowl. Is there a way to be open to this experience and to a year of the Spirit’s work in clear and mysterious ways? Even if you’ve long tossed out your star, think back on your word and on your year. What did you learn? What would you like to learn? How approachable are you to the Holy Spirit’s work and power?

If you are interested in a word of your own, please comment below or email me at lcohpastor@alaska.net. Next week, I will pray for people by name before I draw a word specifically for them. The words are all face down in an opaque bowl. I can't see anything about any star when I reach in and draw. 

No comments: