Pastor's Column: How great are your works, O Lord

What might your Star Word be for 2022?

The Rev. Anne Hokenstad, American Lutheran Church
The Rev. Anne Hokenstad, American Lutheran Church

WORTHINGTON — As you are reading this article, I hope the impacts of the winter viruses are fewer. I pray that our kids and school staff can be present in their classrooms and sports fields enjoying the activities of learning and play.

A week ago, the Wednesday evening worshipers at American Lutheran Church in Worthington picked the congregation’s Star Word for 2022. Last year, we chose the word “wisdom” be a guiding prayer word for our life together as God’s church. We were lead well, leaning into faith practice of seeking to be wise as God called us to endeavors.

In 2022, American Lutheran Church will be guided by the Star Word “thoughtfulness.”

A Star Word is a way for those who follow the story of Jesus to connect with the story of the Wise Ones from the East coming to bring the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the two-year-old Christ Child in Bethlehem.

The Wise Ones followed a star as it rose over the lands until they reached the son of Joseph and Mary. The practice of choosing a star word follows the story of Epiphany. The Wise Ones followed a star to find Jesus and brought him gifts.


We, who are also seeking Jesus from the north, south, east and west, trust that God moves among us using many different signs (stars) to draw us closer to the gift of holy love.

My personal star word for 2022 is “strength.” As I think about this star word, I wonder “what kind of strength do I need for this year?” “How can I build strength?” “How might I discover my strengths by being vulnerable?”

The faith practice of choosing a star word is a strange and beautiful thing. I know of an elder in a congregation who wanted to choose a word that would help him make and complete realistic goals during the upcoming year. He chose “tenacity.” A young person struggles with anxiety and seeks to be more at peace. The youth chose “contentment” as a word that could be written and spoken when the tremors of anxiety interrupted life.

A friend of mine had the word “quiet” chosen for her last year. She wrote to me and said, “well, I wasn’t very quiet. … “I can hear her laughter and I know that she lived in the tension of quiet listening and thoughtful action. This year the word chosen for her is “questioning.” On her Facebook page, she invited her friends to join her in asking questions she could use to grow in faith and understanding regarding the world around her. My friend’s invitation to others to walk with her as she asks questions is an example of how God draws us together — and in the coming together, we find the gift of holy love and divine friendship.

What might your word for 2022 be? How might you find your way to seek out the holy love of God by being intentional about building faith practices into your life? Too, I wonder what the star word for “The Globe” might be as a voice in our community? And, what might the star word be for your community? I invite you to imagine how we all can be guided by the signs of God around us so that we might be light and wisdom for a weary world.

Anne Hokenstad is pastor at American Lutheran Church in Worthington.

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