Women’s Christmas Retreat 2018 – A Gift for You

January 5, 2018 by Jan Richardson

Image: Wise Women Also Came © Jan Richardson

Friends, thank you so much for traveling through Advent and Christmas with me here at The Advent Door! I am grateful for the blessing of your company in this past season. With Epiphany close at hand, I’ll be returning soon to my blog at The Painted Prayerbook and would love for you to join me there.

I especially want to let you know about a gift I have for you! You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need some time for respite and reflection, alone or with others. This year’s retreat has been released and is available now! The retreat is titled “The Path We Make by Dreaming” and includes readings, art, questions, and blessings. You can download it as a PDF. (And it’s not for women only!)

There is no cost for the retreat. It’s my Women’s Christmas gift to you, with such gratitude for your presence on my path. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2018: The Path We Make by Dreaming

I would love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

I pray that in this new year, you will find wondrous dreams to live into. I am so grateful for you and am sending many blessings your way.

P.S. Our festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions to the Jan Richardson Images site continues through Epiphany Day! An annual subscription enables you to download any images for use in worship during the year. Advent rate: $125 (regularly $165). Click here to subscribe.

[To use the Wise Women Also Came image or order it as a print, please visit this page at Jan Richardson Images.]

Christmas Eve & Christmas Day: The Light Shines

December 19, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Image: And the Darkness Did Not Overcome It © Jan Richardson

Lectionary readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
The lectionary offers a constellation of readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which you can find here. At The Advent Door, our focus across the years has been on the readings from Isaiah 9, Luke, and John, and these are listed below.

Isaiah 9.2-7; Luke 2.1-14 (15-20); John 1.1-14

***

John pares away the Christmas story to its essence:
The Word. Light. Life. Dwelling among us. In the flesh.
Glory and grace and truth.

—from Christmas Day: How the Light Comes
The Advent Door, December 2011

Advent has taken us on an extraordinary journey through the stories and images this season offers us. Apocalypse and anticipation, wilderness and way-makers, rejoicing and ruin-raising, angels and annunciations and more: these days have been thick with wonders.

By the time Christmas Eve and Christmas Day arrive, it all comes down to this: God has come to us, has taken flesh in this world, has arrived as the light for which we have longed.

No matter how shadowed our road may have become, no matter how perilous or lonely or long, that is cause for celebration.

It has been—well, shall we say illuminating?—to me to retrace the path of that light as I’ve gathered together the reflections I have offered here for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day over the past decade. Particularly as I have followed the line of that luminous path through and beyond Gary’s death, I have had cause to remember how persistent, how stubborn, how full of grace that light is. How it accompanies us even when we cannot see it. How it begins in the beating of our heart, in the marrow of our bones, long before we can perceive it.

I have gathered up these Christmas Eve and Christmas Day reflections here for you. I offer them with blessings, with gratitude, and with prayers that Christ our Light will meet us in these days. O my friends, Merry Christmas!

Isaiah 9.2-7

Christmas Eve: Light Has Shined
Christmas Eve: Longing for Light

Luke 2.1-14 (15-20)

Christmas Eve: A Circle of Quiet
Where the Foreign Meets the Familiar
Door 24: The Secret Room

John 1.1-14

Christmas Day: What Fire Comes to Sing in You
Christmas Day: Where the Light Begins
Christmas Day: Shines in the Darkness
Christmas Day: How the Light Comes
Christmas Day: An Illuminated Joy
Christmas Day: Witness of That Light
Tangled Up in You
Door 25: The Book of Beginnings

BLESSING FOR THE LONGEST NIGHT: A few years ago, I created a blessing for the Winter Solstice. I’ve loved hearing from folks who use it in their Longest Night/Blue Christmas services or share it with friends. To visit this blessing, click this image or the title below:


Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night

Using Jan’s artwork
To use the image “And the Darkness Did Not Overcome It,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. During Advent, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for use in worship for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click here to subscribe.

Using Jan’s words
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Advent 4: The Hope That Lives

December 18, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Image: Magnificat © Jan Richardson

Lectionary readings for Advent 4, Year B:
Luke 1.26-38; Luke 1.46b-55 or Psalm 89.1-4; 19-26
2 Samuel 7.1-11, 16; Romans 16.25-27

What must it have been like to walk a way she could hardly perceive,
while carrying within herself—in her heart and womb and bones—
a light unlike any the world had ever seen?

—from Advent 4: Gabriel and Mary
The Advent Door, December 2014

Revisiting the passages from Luke that appear in the readings for Advent 4, I have been struck all over again by how much the Christmas story hinges on hope. In this week’s readings, we see that hope in spades.

The hope that propels an angel to visit a young woman and offer her an outlandish invitation.

The hope that enables Mary to respond to the angel with an audacious yes.

The hope that inspires her to sing of the restoration of the world as if it has already happened.

The hope that comes to us as legacy, as gift, as blessing, as invitation.

As I have gathered up these reflections from the past decade at The Advent Door, I have been inspired and challenged once again by the hope that weaves through this week’s readings and throughout the Christmas story. The hope that lives in Gabriel, in Mary, and in every person we meet in the scriptures of this season: this hope is not about wishful thinking for a good result in a future time far removed from our present circumstances. Instead, hope is what comes to meet us here and now, in even the most painful present. Hope makes it possible for us to see the presence of God when it seems most difficult, to say yes to God when it seems most impossible, to sing when it seems most absurd, to dream of—and work for—a world restored when it seems most hopeless.

As we move through this final week of Advent, may this hope come to meet us, to live in us, to shine through us. Blessings to you!

Luke 1.26-38

Advent 4: Gabriel and Mary
Advent 4: An Awful and Wondrous Yes
Home for the Holidays
Door 20: Getting the Message

Luke 1.46b-55

Advent 3: The Art of Blessing
Door 11: In Which We Get to Sing
Door 14: Remembering Forward

P.S. Don’t miss Gary’s wondrous song “Gabriel and Mary,” which you’ll find in the reflection at Advent 4: Gabriel and Mary.

BLESSING FOR THE LONGEST NIGHT: A few years ago, I created a blessing for the Winter Solstice. I’ve loved hearing from folks who use it in their Longest Night/Blue Christmas services. To visit this blessing, click this image or the title below:


Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night

Using Jan’s artwork
To use the image “Magnificat,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. During Advent, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for use in worship for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click here to subscribe.

Using Jan’s words
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Advent 3: Bearing the Light

December 11, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Image: Testify to the Light  © Jan Richardson

Lectionary readings for Advent 3, Year B:
Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-11Psalm 126 or Luke 1.46b-55;
1 Thessalonians 5.16-24John 1.6-8, 19-28

It matters that we hold the light for one another.
It matters that we bear witness to the Light that holds us all,
that we testify to this Light that shines its infinite love and mercy on us
across oceans, across borders, across time.

—from Advent 3: Testify to the Light
The Advent Door, December 2014

I love how John describes it in his gospel, writing of John the Baptist: He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. Looking back across the past four years since Gary’s death, and thinking of those who have borne the light for me, I can tell you it is no small thing to bear witness to the light when everything seems dark.

I love, too, that in this week’s lectionary readings, this passage from John’s Gospel appears in the company of passages that do their own testifying to the power of God to work in what seem like powerless places. Isaiah sings of this power that enables him to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. The psalmist bears witness to this power that brings restoration and that promises us, Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves. 1 Thessalonians testifies to the God who calls us to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, even (and perhaps especially) when the circumstances hardly seem to warrant it. And in the alternate reading from Luke 1—well, one can hardly find a more eloquent testimony than the words Mary sings about the God who lifts up the lowly and fills the hungry with good things.

The links below, gathered up from the past decade at The Advent Door, offer a collection of reflections on the light that finds its way into the unlikeliest places—the light that brings healing and release, the light that visits us with joy when we cannot imagine it, the light that meets each hunger, the light that causes us to testify to its presence in the deepest shadows. In this Advent week, may we bear this light for one another, and may Christ our Light go with us and illumine our way. Blessings!

John 1.6-8, 19-28

Advent 3: Testify to the Light
Advent 3: The Prayer Book of John the Baptist
Where I’m From

Isaiah 61.1-4, 8-11

Raising the Ruins

Psalm 126

Advent 3: Home with Rejoicing

Luke 1.46b-55

For those who are using the text from Luke 1 this week: you can find reflections on this passage by doing a search on this site for “Magnificat.” (The search bar is in the upper right corner.) I’ll share links for reflections on this passage in my post for Advent 4, when the text appears among the primary lectionary readings.

Using Jan’s artwork
To use the image “Testify to the Light,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. During Advent, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for use in worship for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click here to subscribe.

Using Jan’s words
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Advent 2: Dreaming the Road

December 4, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Image: A Road Runs Through It © Jan Richardson

Lectionary readings for Advent 2, Year B:
Isaiah 40.1-11, Psalm 85.1-2, 8-13,
2 Peter 3.8-15a, Mark 1.1-8

Advent is a season that calls me to remember
that even as I move across what seems like uncharted territory,
there is a way that lies beneath the way that I am going.

—from Advent 2: Blessing the Way
The Advent Door, December 2011

The season of Advent is marked by roads. Prepare the way of the Lord, we read in this week’s texts from Isaiah and Mark. Righteousness will go before him, and will make a path for his steps, the psalmist proclaims in Psalm 85. In 2 Peter, we find counsel for how to wait while Christ makes his way to us: Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace.

In this present time, the landscape we live in can seem utterly trackless. We may find it difficult to envision by what path Christ could enter this world, and daunting to imagine what road would finally lead to the healing and redemption of creation. Yet this is what Advent invites us to do: to lift our heads, to raise our eyes, to look toward the horizon and dream of the way by which Christ will come to us.

It is an astonishingly hopeful invitation.

In calling our eyes toward the horizon, Advent does not draw us away from the present or lull us into an avoidance of the world at hand. Advent invites us instead to stand in the thick of this life and open our heart to the road that Christ wants to make, not only for us but also in us and through us. Because when Christ comes, the horizon he appears on is not so distant, after all. The place where he shows up is always in our very midst.

The links below, gathered up from the past decade at The Advent Door, offer a collection of reflections on the road that Advent asks us to anticipate and to participate in creating. In this Advent week, I pray Christ will give us the courage to envision, to hope for, to dream, and to make ready the road by which he comes to us. Blessings to you!

Mark 1.1-8

Advent 2: Blessing the Way
A Way in the Wilderness

Related Reflections on the Gospel

Advent 2: A Blessing for Preparing
Advent 2: A Road Runs Through It
Advent 2: The Mystery of Approach
Door 9: Making Way

Isaiah 40.1-11

The Pilgrim’s Coat

Psalm 85.1-2, 8-13

Righteousness Seeking Peace for Friendship, Possible Relationship

2 Peter 3.8-15a

Advent 2: While You Are Waiting

Using Jan’s artwork
To use the image “A Road Runs Through It,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. During Advent, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for use in worship for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click here to subscribe.

Using Jan’s words
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

She Sings of the Light by Which He First Arrived

December 2, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Gary, Illuminated

Four years ago today, on the second day of Advent, this remarkable man died. Grief time does not work like normal time, and I will say that Gary’s death feels both more ancient and more recent than that. I am tremendously grateful for the graces that have accompanied me in this quartet of years, and for the wondrous grace that came into my life in the form of Garrison Doles.

This is a photo from a shoot we did at the marvelous Historic State Theatre in Eustis, Florida. At the time, we were a little vexed by some of the lighting challenges. Looking back at the photos from this side of his death, I am struck by the play of the light around Gary, and how it seemed to know what it was doing, in ways we couldn’t have realized at the time.

This photo inspired this new poem. It’s for the one whose light continues to be such a grace. And it’s for you, with gratitude.

On the Anniversary of His Death, She Sings of the Light
by Which He First Arrived

Let it be said you arrived
like an annunciation that night,
a tangle of light and song,
ghost of wing promising
equal parts shelter
and flight.

No angel, you, but you knew
about the weak points between worlds,
those membranes that give way
to the strange meetings
it takes a strong heart
to hold.

You lived betwixt.

So, sure, I can see you kin
to that herald who came hailing
the girl who had been minding
her own self until the moment
he alighted, a luminous tumble
of flesh and wing and word, saying
blessed are you and
do not fear and
you will bear.

Imagine the blazing of
that moment, the brilliance
not even visible, perhaps, but
seared into her bones
by the collision of speech and fire
that would send her from there
quickened and
marked.

You entered like that.

More subtle, perhaps,
but with unmistakable heat
and a cadence not entirely
of this earth.

And blessed am I
who bear it now:
scar of what burned between us,
testimony to that fearsome,
gladsome light that struck
like a match to the heart,
radiating into a map
beneath my skin,
the lines of it singing
as they show the way
from here.

—Jan Richardson

Solace Is Your Job Now

November 29, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Image: The Luminous Dark © Jan Richardson

The words came to me sometime after Gary died:

Solace is your job now.

In the morass of early grief, the words brought a measure of relief. I knew that engaging the search for solace as my job—as my vocation and call at this place in my path—was something I could do, something that would help me move beyond the helplessness that grief can induce.

I knew the only way to find solace was to go into the grief: to be present to it, to listen to it, to allow it become a space where God would speak a new word into my life.

Spending time writing and being in the studio are two of the primary ways I have entered into the grief and begun to find the life that is waiting there. In ways I could not have anticipated at the time of Gary’s death, my journey with grief has reshaped my creative work. It’s resulted in projects such as my book The Cure for Sorrow, which was released last fall, and a new book coming out next year titled Sparrow: A Book of Life and Death and Life.

Although my work these days is less tied to the liturgical seasons, I continue to find places of deep resonance between my emerging work and the rhythms of the sacred year. I am especially mindful of this as we prepare to enter into this new Advent season.

Gary died at the beginning of Advent, so this season holds some particular sorrows. Yet I have learned that Advent is a season custom-made for experiencing how Christ meets us in the places that are most shadowed, most hopeless, most uncertain, most fearful. The trappings that have become associated with this season can make it difficult for us to see this. Yet beyond and beneath those trappings is the wondrous truth that lies at the heart of Advent and Christmas: that the Word became flesh and comes to us still as life, as light, as fierce love that does not abandon us in the darkest times.

The gifts of this season are beautifully and powerfully personal, but they are never just for us alone. The Word comes to us and takes flesh in us for the life of the world. After Gary’s death, when those words came to tell me Solace is your job now, I knew this was not an invitation to seek solace only for my own self. Solace is not solitary: when it comes, it is for sharing.

That’s what I want to do as we approach Advent: to share some solace with you, to offer some gifts that I hope will lend grace to your path through the coming season. A new printing of Night Visions, a reflection on the search for solace in Advent and Christmas, and more: in the brief sections below, you can find these gifts that come from my heart, for yours.

As Advent begins, I am holding you in prayer and carrying deep gratitude for your company on this path. In the coming season, may Christ our Light meet you with the gifts you most need, and may these gifts take flesh in you for the life of the world. A blessed Advent to you!


NIGHT VISIONS, ANEW: We have a shiny new printing of Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas ready for you! I love hearing from folks who return to this book each year, and from those who have received it as a gift from a friend. Find the book here.


A GIFT OF SOLACE: After Gary’s death, I wrote a reflection about carrying sorrow in the Advent season. Born of my search for a resource that goes beyond “managing your grief during the holidays,” the article draws deeply from the treasures Advent offers in its stories and images. If you are traveling through this season in grief, or know someone who is, this is for you. You can find it here as a downloadable PDF: This Luminous Darkness: Searching for Solace in Advent and Christmas.


THROUGH THE DOOR: My Advent e-book Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas invites us into a realm that shimmers with mystery and imagination. Like an Advent calendar, each day opens a new door that leads us deeper into this sacred season. The book includes 26 original images in color and is available in a Kindle version here. If you don’t have a Kindle e-reader, you can download a Kindle app to your computer, iPad, iPhone, etc.


IMAGES ONLINE: Jan Richardson Images makes my artwork available for use in worship, education, and related settings. During Advent, we’re offering a festive discount on subscriptions and renewals. Our special Advent rate is $125 (regularly $165). Single images are always available as well. The site offers many images for Advent, Christmas, and beyond. To subscribe, click here. You can also order any of the images as an art print!


CONNECTING: I have an author page on Facebook and would love to connect with you there! Give the page a like and it will bring my writing and art your way. You can find the page here: Jan Richardson.

Again, blessings to you as Advent draws near.

Advent 1: A Decade at The Advent Door

November 26, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Image: Crossing the Threshold © Jan Richardson

Lectionary readings for Advent 1, Year B:
Isaiah 64.1-9Psalm 80.1-7, 17-191 Corinthians 1.3-9, Mark 13.24-37

This is a season of deep memory, a time when we are called
to hear again the ancient stories of the God
who has journeyed with us from the beginning
and who, in the fullness of time, took on flesh
and came to walk in this world with us.

—from Door 1: Crossing the Threshold
The Advent Door, December 1, 2007

Blessings to you as we begin Advent—again! This marks ten years since we first opened The Advent Door. It has been such a gift to travel toward Christmas with you from year to year.

The first time I opened The Advent Door, in 2007, I wrote a reflection and created a piece of art every day from December 1-25. That season, during which I was living in a small studio apartment, I wore a path between my desk and my drafting table as I spent most of each day writing and making art. It felt like I was making and living inside my own Advent calendar. It was a marvelous, nearly overwhelming experience of immersion in the sacred stories and images that this season gives to us.

I was already well acquainted with the season, having engaged Advent with words and images in books such as Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas. There was something about Advent 2007, though, that sent Advent deep into my bones, forever imprinting me with its message of how God comes to us in the deepest darkness, calling us to live with a hope that not only propels us into the future but, even more than this, deeply permeates the present, no matter what the present looks like for us.

I would need that message more than I ever anticipated when, on the second day of Advent in 2013, my husband died. In the searing loss, I can testify that the message of Advent still holds: with hope, with grace, with love, God takes flesh and meets us when we have become most hopeless, most broken, most lost.

With reflections and artwork spanning the past decade, The Advent Door has become something of a library for this season. As we move through Advent this year, I’ll gather up an armload of gifts from the library for you. Each week I’ll share links to previous reflections for the lectionary readings for the coming Sunday, along with reflections from other years that relate to that week’s readings. This won’t be an exhaustive list, and I invite you to wander around The Advent Door on your own as well, to see what you might find.

As it does every year, the gospel reading for the first Sunday of Advent gives us a version of the “little apocalypse,” in which we hear Jesus’ words about what will happen at the end of time. Though the images can be intense, ensuring that Advent always begins with a bang, the heart of Jesus’ message for this first Advent week is that the healing of creation is at hand. In a time when so much of the world we have known is coming to an end, the gospel reading for this Sunday comes to tell us that somehow, the presence of Christ is in each ending, and that he is at work, drawing near to us as he brings about the redemption of the world.

Stay awake, we hear Jesus say as we cross the threshold into Advent once again. In this season that is both ancient and new, may we stay awake, opening our eyes and hearts to what these weeks will hold as Christ draws near to us. I am grateful to be entering this season with you. Blessings to you as we begin.

Mark 13.24-37

Advent 1: Blessing When the World Is Ending
Advent 1: In Which We Stay Awake
Advent 1: Through the Door

Related Reflections on the Gospel

Advent 1: The Vigil Kept for Us
Advent 1: A Blessing for Traveling in the Dark
Advent 1: Drawing Near
Advent 1: Where Advent Begins
Advent 1: Practicing the Apocalypse

Isaiah 64.1-9

Advent 1: No Between

Psalm 80.1-7, 17-19

Advent 1: When Night Is Your Middle Name

1 Corinthians 1.3-9

Advent 1: I Spy with My Little Eye

P.S. If you’re not already a subscriber to The Advent Door, you can sign up to receive these blog posts in your email inbox during Advent and Christmas. To subscribe, enter your address in the “Subscribe by Email” box near the top of the right sidebar at The Advent Door, and click the “Subscribe” button below your email address.

Using Jan’s artwork
To use the image “Crossing the Threshold,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. During Advent, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for use in worship for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click here to subscribe.

Using Jan’s words
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this site without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

Celebrating Epiphany and Women’s Christmas

January 5, 2017 by Jan Richardson

Wise Women Also CameImage: Wise Women Also Came © Jan Richardson

Friends, thank you so much for traveling through Advent and Christmas with me here at The Advent Door! I am so grateful for the blessing of your company in this season.

With Epiphany close at hand, I’ve returned to my blog at The Painted Prayerbook and would love for you to join me there. I’ve recently posted a blessing for Epiphany; you can find it at Epiphany Day: Where the Map Begins.

I especially want to let you know about a gift I have for you! You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need some time for respite and reflection, alone or with others. This year’s retreat is titled “Walking the Way of Hope” and includes readings, art, questions, and blessings. You can download it as a PDF.

There is no cost for the retreat. It’s my Women’s Christmas gift to you, with such gratitude for your presence on my path. (And it’s not for women only!) For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2017: Walking the Way of Hope

I would love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

In this new year, I pray that you will know the gift of hope, especially when it feels most elusive. I am so grateful for you and for the hope you provide for me. Deepest blessings to you.

P.S. Our festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions to the Jan Richardson Images site continues through Epiphany, plus a few days! An annual subscription enables you to download any images for use in worship during the year. Advent rate: $125 (regularly $165). Extended through January 9. Click Subscribe to sign up.

[To use the Wise Women Also Came image or order it as a print, please visit this page at Jan Richardson Images.]

Christmas Day: What Fire Comes to Sing in You

December 24, 2016 by Jan Richardson

Image: In Reverence © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels for Christmas Day: John 1.1-14

The true light, which enlightens everyone,
was coming into the world.
—John 1.9

There is a door in our heart that opens onto eternity. This accounts for how the heart can grow so spacious; it does not reckon only with what we can see in front of us. Neither is it bound by linear time. Our heartbeat echoes with the hopes of those who have gone before us, the dreams of those who will come after us, and with the love of the One who holds us across time and beyond it.

When we celebrate, the door onto eternity opens. Whether in gladness or in sorrow, in difficulty or in ease, celebration is a living act of hope, a recognition that there is more at work than what we can see.

Christmas offers a time to revel in this fact. At the same time, it gives us a glimpse of that “more” that is continually at work on our behalf. Christmas invites us to remember how heaven and earth met in the person of Jesus, who did not merely condescend to take flesh but took delight in it, and who found cause for joy even in sorrow. In this season we remember that heaven and earth continue to meet as we welcome Christ and allow his story to live in us.

Eternity can be a lot to take in. So it comes to us most often in small ways, weaving through our everyday lives, showing up in celebrations we might not have even thought of as celebrations: lighting a candle, sharing a table, offering thanks, singing amidst the shadows—all those moments when hope takes flesh in us, a door in our heart swings open, and heaven and earth meet.

O my friends, may heaven and earth meet in us this day. Merry Christmas!

What Fire Comes to Sing in You
A Blessing

This blessing
had big ideas
about what it wanted
to say,
what it wanted you
to know,
to see.

This blessing wanted
to open your eyes
to the joy that lives
in such strange company
with sorrow—
wanted to make sure
to tell you,
lest you forget,
that no matter how long
it seems absent,
no matter how quiet
it becomes,
joy has never
been far from you,
holding a space
of celebration,
watching for you,
humming as it
keeps vigil.

But now that
it comes time
to speak it—
comes time to
lay these words
on your brow,
your beating heart—
all this blessing
can think to say is

Look—
your life
a candle,
this day
a match.
Strike it and see
what blazes,
what fire comes
to sing in you.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

The Cure for SorrowJUST RELEASED!

A blessing meets us in the place of our deepest loss. In that place, it gives us a glimpse of wholeness and claims that wholeness here and now. —from the Introduction

Jan’s much-anticipated new book enters with heartbreaking honesty into the rending that loss brings. It moves, too, into the unexpected shelters of solace and hope, inviting us to recognize the presence of love that, as she writes, is “sorrow’s most lasting cure.”

Order the Book

 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “In Reverence,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. During Advent, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click Subscribe to sign up.

Using Jan’s words…
For worship services and related settings, you are welcome to use Jan’s blessings or other words from this blog without requesting permission. All that’s needed is to acknowledge the source. Please include this info in a credit line: “© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

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