God is Speaking

God is Speaking

God is Speaking

by Cullen Hornaday, Director of Spiritual Formation

Words are powerful. They have the power to bless or to wound, to inspire or to discourage, to create or to destroy.

In Genesis, God speaks the world into being in six days, “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” John’s Gospel begins with “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Jesus is called the “Word of God, the most beautiful, powerful and mysterious word ever spoken.” Paul speaks of his followers as “a letter of Christ…written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.”

In the 3rd and 4th centuries after Jesus, there were wise and holy men and women who retreated to the desert where they could be fully present to God and their own inner struggles. Spiritual seekers would visit them hoping for guidance for their lives. The custom was to ask for a word from these holy ones (called the Desert Mothers and Fathers) to give direction for a meaningful life, something to ponder for weeks, months, even years.

The Benedictine exercise of Lectio Divina developed from this early practice. With it, we approach a short passage of scripture asking to be given a word, something to nourish us and challenge us, a word we can wrestle with and grow into. The word which chooses us has the potential to transform us.

With that background in mind, let me introduce Star Words.

During worship on January 8, everyone at St. Paul received a Star Word (a little yellow star with a word on it). The idea of these Star Words is that it is a gift to us from God, something we receive without judgment, and then reflect on in the coming year. We trust that—somehow—God can use this particular word (regardless of whether we like it or would have chosen it for ourselves) to bless us.

If you were not in church that Sunday, you can pick up your Star Word at the Information Center. Also, if you have family members or friends who don’t attend St. Paul and you think they would like to have a word for the year, feel free to take a Star Word for them.

You might realize that your Star Word could be…

…Something you need more (or less!) of in your life

…A spiritual practice to focus your energies on

…A quality within you or in a relationship with someone else, or an attribute of God that could use your attention or consideration

…Something that will bring you closer to God and bless you and those around you

…Something you need to wrestle with in the coming year to gain understanding and insight

Some ideas of how to get started with your Star Word:

  • Pray! Ask God to show you how in the world this word speaks to your life right now. And if you think you already know, ask God to take you deeper in your understanding.
  • Look the word up in the dictionary, in the Bible, on Google.
  • Share your word with others and see what insights they have to offer.
  • Post it on your mirror, the refrigerator, the computer, wherever you can see it and keep the word in mind.
  • Keep a running list of reflections on the word in a journal.
  • Most importantly, entrust yourself—and the word—to God! And see where it might take you…
  • God gave the Wise Men a star for guidance. How is your Star Word from God guiding you?

Let us know what your reflections are this year! Throughout 2017 we will share Star Words stories in The Tower and on social media. To contribute your story, drop it off in one of the gold boxes around the church or email Amy Lee Carpenter, Director of Communications, at amylee@stpaulchurchky.org.