Jan 03, 2023 | By the Rev. Julia Singleton

It’s that time of year again to choose a new Star Word. What is a Star Word?  It’s a tradition gaining in popularity where people choose life-guiding words on Epiphany Day (Jan. 6) or on Epiphany Sunday.

This is a word chosen at random to help guide you on your spiritual journey throughout the year. Last year my church chose a word for the first time. This past Sunday I gave people the opportunity to share with the congregation what their 2022 word meant to them.  

It was such a beautiful service, filled with stories of how one little word could have a big impact on people’s lives. We shared how we leaned into the word, let it challenge us, prayed to God about it, read to learn more about the word, and overall, let it be our guiding star for the year. 

I’ve heard stories from others outside my church as well. I love hearing about how their words were so fitting. One person received the Star Word “clarity,” and by the end of the year they answered a call to ministry. One received “freedom” in a year when they were contemplating retirement. One received “acceptance” while going through major life changes.

Some felt initial disappointment with the word they’d been given. One member received “love” but felt it was kind of generic. Yet, oh how that word challenged them throughout the year.

I felt the same reaction when I received the Star Word “kindness” for 2022. But then a friend challenged me to turn the word on myself and dig into self-compassion.  Showing myself kindness and compassion has always been a struggle. So, I did the hard work this year of learning to love and accept myself more fully, to be gentler and kinder to myself. I still have work to do, but I’m so thankful for my 2022 word that helped to guide me on this journey.

My choice for a 2023 Star Word is “generosity.” But immediately I felt pangs of guilt. I love being generous; but 2022 was a year of financial strain for us, and I wasn’t able to give as much financially as I usually do. So, I thought to myself, maybe this year I can learn how to be more generous in other ways.

I look forward to seeing where my new Star Word will take me in 2023.

Consider choosing a word for yourself. You can find Star Word generators online; or you can ask a friend to pray on a word for you. Whatever you decide, I hope 2023 leads you to more abundance, more hope, more joy, more peace, more love– and a closer relationship to God, to others, and even to yourself.

Have a blessed New Year’s journey.

The Rev. Julia Singleton serves as lead pastor of Fox Chase UMC in Philadelphia. When she isn’t serving the church, she is probably spending time with her family, reading, dancing or doing laundry. (“How is there always so much laundry?”) Julia is a member of EPA’s Communications Resource Team.

Read “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. A list of intention words, or guiding words, are written or printed on paper stars.  Also, read a children’s message about “star-like people God still sends us to find Jesus” in ResourceUMC’s essay, “Epiphany of The Lord (January 6) Connectional Ministries” Read more