Contemplating Christmas

By Jan Richardson

It’s official: as of yesterday, Advent has begun. As I set out into the season, I’m aware of how often I’ve lived out this scenario: I’m in church on Christmas Eve, catching my breath as the intense weeks of December come to a close, and I think, “Okay, now I’m ready for Advent to begin!”

This Advent season isn’t likely to be any less full than previous ones, but I’m working to discern how to move through it in a mindful fashion, one in which I can catch my breath earlier and more often. I have found myself thinking of Etty Hillesum, a young Dutch Jewish woman who composed an astounding series of journals before being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where she died in 1943. In one of those journals, Etty wrote, “…sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.”

On this Advent night, I’m taking a few deep breaths, and I would love your company. As a way of offering a space of rest and reflection amid these days, I’ve designed a video called Contemplating Christmas: Finding Quiet in a Season of Mystery and Hope. The video intertwines images from The Advent Door with a piece of stunning Christmas music from my sweetheart, Garrison Doles. For a few short minutes—six, all told, and hopefully a few beyond that—I invite you to breathe, and to ponder, and to rest.

In addition to the version of the video above (which is linked from YouTube), I also have a large-format, high-resolution version available for use in worship and other settings where you might like to invite others to enter some creative quiet. You can find this version by visiting Contemplating Christmas Video.

The song on the video is the title song from the CD The Night of Heaven and Earth, a wondrous collection of Garrison’s original Christmas music. You can find the CD and listen to samples here: The Night of Heaven and Earth.

On this day and all the days to come, I send you many blessings and pray that God will draw you into spaces of rest and delight. A Merry Advent to you!

10 Responses to “Contemplating Christmas”

  1. Melynne Rust Says:

    The video is beautiful, the words and the music and the images…’s funny how all of that can induce quiet, but it has…..a place of quiet to rest and simply be. A wonderful start to my day. Thank you!

  2. Carolyn Sargent Says:

    ……’A Merry Advent….’ I haven’t thought of these days in that light [no pun intended] but I will tuck the greeting close as December unfolds; in that meantime, a Merry Advent to you as well, Jan.

  3. Laure Says:


    what a gift God gives His church in uniting two sweet hearts like you and Garrison. individually and as a couple in Christ Jesus, you bring the light of our Savior.

    your collaboration on this video is a kindness and a reverence.

    thank you.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thanks so much, Laure–I am grateful for your words. Gary is an ongoing gift in my life and I’m deeply thankful for the opportunity to collaborate with him in ministry and in life. Blessings to you…

  4. Maureen Says:

    I came to this post late this afternoon and find my heart utterly calmed as the video and music end. Thank you.

    I would like to post this on my own site, on Sunday, with appropriate links and attributions.

  5. Kate Says:

    Jan and Gary,
    This video is just stunning. Thank you so much.
    May you both have a lovely and blessed Christmas!

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Thank you, Kate! It’s such a pleasure for me to work with Gary’s amazing music. Not being much of a musician myself (despite years of piano lessons), but loving music, I’m very grateful for his melodious presence in my life!

      Christmas blessings to you as well. Thank you again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *