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FROM THE PULPIT: We have new opportunities to learn from others

One of the congregations I serve instituted a practice many other congregations around the country have as well. It is called Epiphany Stars.

Beginning the Sunday closest to Epiphany (Jan. 6) we provide star cutouts with a word written on each. Those who choose to take a star do so, without peeking first, and are asked to reflect on the word on their star for the coming year, pondering what significance this word might have in their lives, and how God might be speaking to them through that simple message.

Those words are to give a message of encouragement like “trust” or “steadfast” or “generosity.” It is sometimes interesting to watch people’s reactions at the word they receive. Sometimes people will say “Huh??”

So, one of the questions people are encouraged to reflect on is, “Why did God have me select this word?” I will admit to being one of those persons who said, “Huh??”

My word for this year has been “hopefulness.” And I was baffled as to why that word was given to me by God. I felt as though I was/am a person who is always looking forward to the best in most circumstances.

The year is a little more than halfway over. I haven’t yet had any bright flashing illuminations. But things do come to mind. Perhaps this word isn’t for me to be more hopeful, but for me to help instill more hope in others.

And this seems like a pretty good message. With so much that continues to try to undermine our sense of unity, of calm, of peace, we do indeed need to grab hold more firmly to the kind of hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ.

We don’t have all the answers to what is going on around us. We all have opinions about current matters. We agree with some. We firmly disagree with others. But just because we disagree, it does not mean we have new enemies (or old for that matter).

It does mean that we have new opportunities to learn from those with whom we disagree, to discover where we may have similar portions of thought, and to understand where the other is coming from.

Personally, I do not see such opportunities as a potential to change someone’s mind on a matter. That is not my place. But I can share my position, hear theirs, accept what I can, reject the rest, and remain civil.

With this hope in mind (of learning, growing, reconciling, reuniting), let us all face the remaining months of this year with great expectations for what the Lord is going to unfold for all of us.

Mark Broadhead

The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.

This article originally appeared on Crestview News Bulletin: FROM THE PULPIT: We have new opportunities to learn from others