Guiding Stars: An Epiphany Activity at Home

Reposted from by Traci Smith on December 16th, 2015

Guiding stars epiphany

“May we each be guided by our chosen star and find wonderful things this year. Amen!”



Practicing Faith at Home
Pastor Traci Smith believes that, “Faith is learned when it is woven seamlessly into the fabric of everyday life.” In her book, Seamless Faith, she equips faithful households in the weaving of everyday and faith by offering simple practices. What follows is her Epiphany activity, as printed in Seamless Faith, Chalice Press 2014.

A Guiding Star for the Year to Come
Epiphany, January 6
, is the official end of the 12 days of Christmas. Many Christians celebrate this day by remembering the journey of the Magi. The Magi found their way to Jesus by following a bright heavenly body, usually represented by a star. This activity allows each member of the family to pick out a star that will guide him or her throughout the coming year.

Designed for Ages 10+

• 25 paper stars labeled with the star words listed below:
Grace – Mercy – Love – Faithfulness – Peace – Patience – Kindness – Joy – Rest – Adventure – Attention – Imagination – Faith – Compassion – Friendship – Song – Art – Generosity – Time – Humility – Persistence – Dedication – Inspiration – Comfort – Wholeness

• Box or basket large enough to hold the stars

Time Investment: 15 minutes, plus 30 minutes to prepare stars

How To
1. This tradition is meant to be held on January 6, Epiphany. Ahead of time, one person in the family makes the 25 stars with the words on them and places them face down in the basket. When the family has gathered together, read Matthew 2:10-12 out loud. It says, “When the wise men saw the star, they were filled with joy. They came to the house where the child was and saw him with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. They opened their gifts and gave him treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

2. Say, “This story is a story about how the Magi (or wise men) came to Jesus and brought him gifts. They determined  which way to go by following a star. Today we are going to pick out our own star to guide us in the year to come. We will each reach into the basket and pull out a star that will be our guide for the year.”

3. [Note: This step is skipped the first year] Say, “Before we pick out our star for this year, let’s reflect on the star that was our guiding light last year. What was your guiding star last year? What did you think about it? How did you see it as your guiding light during the year?”

4. Say, “As we leave, we will each pick out a star to guide us for the coming year. We will pick one out of the basket, and not share what we have received with each other until next year. May we each be guided by our chosen star and find wonderful things this year. Amen!”

5. Everyone leaves by saying, “Happy Epiphany!”

• This activity requires a fairly advanced level of abstract thought. What does it mean to be guided by hope, for example? For this reason, the age is listed as 10+. For younger children, try one of the variations below.

• Teens in particular may feel a special connection to this activity because of its “secret” component. If you have teens in your home, give this one a try!

• In contrast to most of the activities in this book that are created together as a family, I advise that one person be in charge of making the stars in advance of this activity. This allows the words to be a surprise to those who pick them out. As the stars become less numerous through the years, new ones can be added.

• Make and decorate stars and hang them up in your house to remember and commemorate this day.

• With younger children, instead of having individual stars, choose just one star as a family and let that star guide the whole family for the year to come.

• Take turns preparing the stars and coming up with words that will be used year after year.


Traci Smith lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband, Elias Cabarcas, and sons Clayton and Samuel. She loves the intersection between pastoring and parenting, and is passionate about helping families develop simple faith practices that will enrich their life together. You can find Traci on her blog, Facebook page, and Etsy. Her book, Seamless Faith, was published by Chalice Press in 2014. 

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New Member Resource

Are you looking for some help with assimilating and informing your new members or inquirers?  The PC(USA) has a new resource to help.

Lead your congregation into informed church membership with the Being Reformed workbook New Members: Call to Discipleship. Noted theologian Donald McKim offers his unique perspective on different aspects of the ministry of church members. The workbook may be used in different ways: as a self-guided study, as a group study, or as a ready reference for personal reflection. Suggested lesson plans are offered for group study.

Advent in Narnia – book interview with author, Heidi Haverkamp

The post Interview with author Heidi Haverkamp appeared first on Key Resources.

I personally am enjoying Heidi Haverkamp’s delightful reflections on the themes of hope and expectation in this book. My church is also utilizing the other wonderful resources in the book for a weekly Advent study and a Night in Narnia for Families.

This is an interview with the author I found and reposted.

Bio:  Heidi Haverkamp is Vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Her gifts for ministry include teaching, preaching, and spiritual guidance and counseling. Her writing has appeared in several magazines and websites, including The Christian Century, Upper Room Disciplines, and Episcopal Café. She is a Benedictine oblate of Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin, and a member of The Young Clergy Women Project. Visit her blog at

The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp is here today to talk about her new book

Brad:  First off, congratulations on the publication of your new book Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. What was the motivation to write an Advent themed book, and one with Narnia as a lens?

Heidi:  Thanks, Brad! It’s been a lot of fun. An Advent program based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had been on my ministry ideas list since the Disney movie came out in 2005. The first half of the novel – with its snow, light in the darkness, pine trees, Father Christmas, shared meals, and on and on – is such a perfect match for Advent. It was a visual connection I made, more than anything else. Finally, a few years ago, I went looking around online for a book or curriculum and couldn’t believe it when I didn’t find one. So, I wrote my own materials and used them with my congregation in Advent 2013. We had so much fun that I wanted to see if there was a way I could offer something to other congregations or individuals.

Do you remember your first experience with either the books or any of the film adaptations?

I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was in elementary school – I’m not quite sure how I found it. It was sitting around our house, as I recall. I didn’t read any other Narnia Chronicles (and I confess, I haven’t read all of them!) until I was an adult.

Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve structured the book?

I wrote it so that anyone could use it, whether they were familiar with the novel or storyline, or not. The book has 28 personal reflections written for individual use, and a four-part group discussion program in the back. There’s also an outline of ideas for a “Narnia Night” for families (or even some fun-loving adult Narnia fans!). But I’ve heard of a few adult group planning simply to read the reflections during the week and discuss what they’ve read when they gather, rather than using the discussion guide. Whatever works for you!

If I recall, the White Witch gives one of the often quoted passages that “it is always winter, but never Christmas.” Does this theme play into your reflections?

Absolutely. Although that is actually something Mr. Tumnus says rather than the Witch, who I imagine would probably rather not mention that anything like Christmas even existed. That quote was actually my first idea for a title, but ended up feeling too cumbersome. Thankfully in our own world, even if the busyness and stress of the season can make it seem to go on forever, Advent does give way to Christmas. And one day, our longer Advent of waiting for Christ to return, will also end!

Any parting thoughts for our readers?

I commend the Narnia Chronicles to them, either to read for the first time or to reread as an adult, if they haven’t ever done so. Especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is lovely, too. There are awkward moments in Lewis – his characters are sometimes flat and his plot development can be clumsy – but the theology of grace running underneath is quite wonderful to discover as an adult, attuned to many subtleties that children might not notice.

Finally, I would love to recommend one more book to your readers: Rowan Williams’ The Lion’s World. He’s written an absolutely stunning theology and cultural study of the novels, which is both deeply moving and written in a conversational style. It also includes a series of newly commissioned illustrations – simple and whimsical!

Thank you for sharing your time today.

Brad is Senior at Virginia Theological Seminary and Candidate for Holy Order in the Diocese of Chicago.