WINK | Epiphany Star Words

What Are Star Words?

The use of star words, also called “star gifts,” is a prayer practice connected to Epiphany and the new year that has been growing in popularity in Protestant churches for nearly a decade now. The idea is that a list of intention words, or guiding words, are written or printed on paper stars. These paper stars are then arranged, most commonly face down, on the Communion Table or in a large basket. Typically, participants are encouraged to trust the word they have drawn, and not to replace the word. Individuals are often encouraged to place their star word somewhere they will see it regularly throughout the year to allow consistent reflection on how God has moved through, around, or in connection to that word.

There Are Several Theological Statements Being Made in this Tradition:

  1. The Magi followed a star, which ultimately led them to Jesus. Therefore, we too use all the resources we have available to us—including creative prayer practices and intention words for the new year—to move closer to Jesus.

  2. We trust that God uses multiple ways to guide us and speak to us. Star words are one such lens that might provide us a way to look for God in our midst, both actively and in hindsight.
  3. We trust that it is often easy to miss God in our daily midst. Having an intention word to consider both in present days, as well as to reflect on at the end of the year, allows for us to see God in ways we may not have seen God before. This is the greatest gift.
  4. We know that the most common prayer practice for many involves speaking to God as opposed to silence or contemplation. We believe that star words invite a new prayer rhythm of reflection and review that can be a powerful new way to connect with God.
  5. Traditionally, by not looking or sorting through the star words at their selection, we practice the spiritual task of receiving. It is not we who are in control in this moment. Instead, we trust that God is present, and we let go of our desire to cultivate or control.

In preparation for our Epiphany celebration on January 3 at WINK, we invite you to select a star word to carry with you in the new year. While traditionally, words are given at random, this year you will select your own word from a list of 150 words. Don’t just search for a word you like or that might be easy. Consider centering yourself in prayer first and seeking God’s leading in selecting a word. Perhaps try selecting a word at random. Consider the journey of the Magi; they were led by the star which appeared to them. Select a star word and bring it with you to worship on the 3rd. Guided by the stars, together, we will journey closer towards Jesus.


Download the Star Words