“Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” —Matthew 2:2
December, with its shorter days, offered me a number of opportunities to get outside at night with my children and look up at the sky. One night, my kids lay on their backs in the grass, arms behind their heads, eyes searching the night sky for the International Space Station. As we found a light moving across the sky, our eyes followed the space station across the horizon until it was out of sight. Cheers erupted from the kids as they stood up and jumped into the air.
“Now let’s look for stars!” my son yelled.
“Let’s make a wish!” my daughter responded, pointing toward the light above.
I watched while both kids lifted their faces and repeated, “I wish, I wish …”
Though their wishes revolved around unicorns and dinosaurs, listening to them helped me frame the year ahead.
Unlike in years past, I thought little of what goals, habits or resolutions I would embark on, given the many challenges we faced in 2020. Rather, I entered the new year in a posture of gratitude and blessing. I looked back at 2020 and reflected on the people who had surrounded us during the year. I gave thanks for family and friends and the ways we had managed to connect. I gave thanks for the church communities that provided so much inspiration and creativity when worship had to adapt to the pandemic.
Now we enter the season of Epiphany, a great time to talk to our children about the light they hope to share in this world. I keep encouraging my children to make wishes and dream dreams. I invite them to name these wishes and dreams with me, and we offer them to God together as a prayer. When they offer their wishes, I ask them how they can bring light to someone else. When they share their dreams, I wonder aloud how they can help someone else to follow their own.
The sky is full of stars guiding us into this new year. Just as the magi followed a star to greet the baby Jesus, we too can model for our children how to follow the light and pour it back into the world for others to see.
Write a blessing or prayer for each member of your family. Invite your kids to share their dreams for the year, and write these down too. Display these writings in your home and give thanks for all the ways God brings light and love into the world through you and your family.
We pray for the work of astronauts, rocket scientists and those learning about our universe.
We pray for children in foster care and families that open their homes.
We pray for elected officials and the work of our democracy.
We give thanks for skies, stars, clouds, the moon and other planets.
We give thanks for first responders.
We give thanks for freshly baked bread and sweet treats shared with friends.
Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer. Amen.