Approaching Advent

By Jan Richardson

Wise Women Also Came © Jan L. Richardson

In her book Dakota: A Spiritual Geography, Kathleen Norris tells a story that’s said to come from a Russian Orthodox monastery. A seasoned monk, long accustomed to the tradition of monastic hospitality that welcomes all guests as Christ, says to a young monk, “I have finally learned to accept people as they are. Whatever they are in the world, a prostitute, a prime minister, it is all the same to me. But sometimes,” the monk continues, “I see a stranger coming up the road and I say, “Oh, Jesus Christ, is it you again?”

Advent is just around the corner (this year the first Sunday of Advent is on November 29), and I have found myself thinking about this story as I begin to turn my attention toward this season of anticipation. In the rhythm of the Christian year, Advent is a time that beckons us to consider how—and whether—we are looking for the Christ who comes to us anew in this season. How do we keep our eyes open to the holy one who is so fond of hiding out in the most surprising disguises, again and again and again?  On those occasions when we do recognize the presence of Christ, how do we welcome him into our midst? Are we leaving enough space in our days to linger with the Christ who comes to us in this and every season?

These are a few of the questions I’m pondering as I prepare to enter into the coming Advent days. How about you? What’s on your mind and tugging at your soul as this sacred season draws close? What do you hope to welcome into your life as we begin to journey toward the celebration of Christmas?

After an intense year of working on an almost-finished new book, and taking a bit of a break from blogging at The Painted Prayerbook as a result, one of the things I’m looking forward to in the coming weeks is creating new art and reflections here at The Advent Door. I look forward to sharing the coming days with you and would love to hear what’s stirring for you as the season unfolds.

Along with the art and reflections I’ll be posting here, I have a few other resources for Advent and Christmas that I’d be delighted to share with you:

IMAGES ONLINE: Jan Richardson Images enables churches and other communities to download high-resolution files of my artwork for use in worship, education, and other settings. The images are available for $15 each, or you can sign up for an annual subscription, which gives you unlimited downloads for a year (within the Guidelines for Use). To celebrate the approach of Advent, I’m offering a festive discount on annual subscriptions: for just $100, you can sign up for an artful year (regular $165). The site offers lots of images for Advent, Christmas, and beyond. Visit Subscribe to Jan Richardson Images to sign up.

BOOKS: Published through my small press, The Luminous Word: Entering the Mysteries of Advent & Christmas offers artwork and reflections on the sacred texts and themes of the coming season. Visit Wanton Gospeller Press to find out more about these handmade books. Also, thanks for the inquiries I’ve received about Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas. We’re working to have it back in print next year and look forward to having it available for you again.

CARDS: I have artful greeting cards available for the season; visit Christmas Cards.

ART PRINTS: A great gift for someone else or for your own self. Visit Art Prints, where the available prints include one that gathers together 25 of the images from this blog.

ORIGINAL ART: For an extra special gift, I have a few of the original pieces from the series The Hours of Mary Magdalene available. For details, visit The Hours of Mary Magdalene and click on the individual images.

COOL MUSIC FOR THE SEASON: Check out the post Music and Mystery for some of my favorite tunes that draw me deeper into the season.

ETC: I send out an occasional e-newsletter that includes a seasonal reflection, artwork, information about current offerings and upcoming events, and whatever else strikes my creative fancy. I would be delighted to include you in my mailing list if you haven’t already subscribed. You can sign up here.

Blessings to you as Advent approaches! In the coming days, may we have many occasions to welcome Christ, and may others find his presence in us.

4 Responses to “Approaching Advent”

  1. Maria Says:

    Hello, Jan!

    I just discovered your site. I love your work, insights and questions about the coming Advent. Thank you!

    In response to your questions: “What’s on your mind and tugging at your soul as this sacred season draws close? What do you hope to welcome into your life as we begin to journey toward the celebration of Christmas?”, one thing that’s tugging at my soul is a small feeling of anxiety about the holidays. I hope to find my peace in the present moment, the only real peace we can truly have, but I find my thoughts racing ahead to the tasks ahead, the family to visit, the work and expense. Perhaps what I hope to welcome into my life is a greater commitment to daily time in prayer to reconnect with God and invite God’s grace into the circumstances of my life.

    Your thoughts?

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Many thanks, Maria! I hope these days find you having a good Advent season and that amid the tasks of these weeks, you are finding moments of peace. I find that it takes a great deal of intention in order not to get swept along by all the things that I need and/or want to do. Some days I’m better at it than others! Advent is such a great time to rethink the rhythm of our lives and to renew our commitment to what’s most important.

      Thank you for the ways you invite folks to be mindful in this season. I wish you many blessings in these days.

  2. Abi Says:

    I love that old story from the monastery. Thanks for reminding us of that. I look forward to spending Advent with you. My sermon series this year is taken from “Skipping Christmas, living Advent.” May we live afresh this Advent the story of Jesus.
    Abi Carlisle-Wilke

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thanks very kindly, Abi! Sounds like an intriguing sermon series… I’m glad and grateful for your company in this season, and I hope you have a wondrous Advent. Blessings to you!

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