Advent 3: Testify to the Light

By Jan Richardson

Testify to the LightImage: Testify to the Light  © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Advent 3, Year B: John 1.6-8, 19-28

He came as a witness to testify to the light,
so that all might believe through him.
– John 1.7

In Belfast there is a woman who lights candles for Gary and me. She has a gift for finding thin places: an eleventh-century stone sanctuary; a whitewashed church in the mountains of Wales; a chapel crypt on the Yorkshire moors that holds the bones of Saint Cedd. In those places, on an altar or in the chink of a wall, Jenny lights a candle, and she prays—not merely in memory of what was, but in hope and in blessing for love that endures and life that persists on both sides of the veil.

Here on my brokenhearted side of the veil, the light comes as solace and unexpected grace. In this dark time, when there is no one who can walk this road for me or lessen what has been lost with Gary’s death, the light comes as a vivid reminder that we have, at the least, the power to help illuminate the path for each other.

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.

Who holds the light for you? In this season, who might need you to hold the light for them in acts of love and grace?

Blessed Are You Who Bear the Light

Blessed are you
who bear the light
in unbearable times,
who testify
to its endurance
amid the unendurable,
who bear witness
to its persistence
when everything seems
in shadow
and grief.

Blessed are you
in whom
the light lives,
in whom
the brightness blazes—
your heart
a chapel,
an altar where
in the deepest night
can be seen
the fire that
shines forth in you
in unaccountable faith
in stubborn hope
in love that illumines
every broken thing
it finds.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections on this passage, visit Where I’m From and Advent 3: The Prayer Book of John the Baptist.

An Advent Journey…

ILLUMINATED 2014 — Still open!
Are you hungry for an experience that invites you into Advent without stressing your schedule? There’s still time to join us for this online journey! The retreat has begun, but we can easily catch you up. Offering a space of elegant simplicity as you travel toward Christmas, the Illuminated retreat fits easily into the rhythm of your days, anywhere you are. For info and registration, visit ILLUMINATED 2014.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Testify to the Light,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print. After clicking over to the image’s page on the Jan Richardson Images site, just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section.) Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. (Be sure to check out our Advent special on annual subscriptions at the images site! $125, regularly $165.)

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.

5 Responses to “Advent 3: Testify to the Light”

  1. Lisa Degrenia Says:

    This quote came to mind as I read the first paragraph of your reflection.

    Time is too slow for those who wait,
    too swift for those who fear,
    too long for those who grieve,
    too short for those who rejoice,
    but for those who love, time is eternity.
    – Henry Van Dyke

    Standing with you in love and prayer, in this time and every time.
    – Lisa <

  2. Annette Little Says:

    Beautiful ,uplifting and comforting words. I am going to share with my modernwidowsclub group. You are a blessing. Thank you.

  3. Don Saliers Says:

    Yes– bearing the Light, and seeing it in others. More than ever this Advent, personally & socially. Holding two of Atlanta’s street folks we lost; and for those who have cared and will care.

  4. Denise Lind Says:

    thank you for this meditation. It reminded me of all the people in my life who want to overpower the darkness. And of God’s light as well. It reminds me that the darkness is a smaller force that can overcome the light if I forget the grace that surrounds me.

  5. Wendy Johnston Says:

    Jan, thank you for this. I was searching your blogs for something about “witness” because I’m doing a Lenten photo challenge and this was today’s word. I came across this particular blog and stopped in my tracks with tears in my eyes. Jenny is my friend too. She is such a unique and special person and I’m so glad you know her.
    I’m so disappointed I missed meeting you when you were in Belfast but maybe next time. My prayers are with you and thank you for your inspiration and leading in my spiritual journey. Wendy x

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