Advent 3: Bearing the Light

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 Your use of 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.” For other uses, visit Copyright Permissions.

6 Responses to “Advent 3: Bearing the Light”

  1. Lynda Says:

    This time of year highlights the loneliness of those of us who live alone – who are no longer or perhaps have never been the most important person in the life of someone else. God’s light is carried to us by others – in their willingness to be present to us when they don’t even know the depths of this loneliness or the desperate need for the light. God has brought to my awareness this need to pray for those who feel very alone and whose loneliness seems even greater during this secular holiday season, that they might experience the love and light that only God can give through the love of others. May we all be aware of the needs of others and bring the light of Christ to them by our very presence. Thank you for sharing your insights with us Jan. Blessings.

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Lynda, thank you so much for your beautiful words. And thank you for following God’s invitation to be in prayer in this way, in this season. That is a gift. I send you much gratitude and many blessings in these Advent days and beyond. Thank you for the light you bear!

  2. Heather Says:

    Dear Jan,

    This is Heather Swanson, at Holden. How are you? I hope your days since your visit here have been full and good. I look back on our exchanges together here and am grateful.

    I am working on the theme of darkness for advent and was wondering if you could steer me toward a poem of your speaking to that theme. I don’t have a copy of Night Visions so will probably order one for next year.

    Thank you,

    • Jan Richardson Says:

      Heather, thank you! The time at Holden was such a gift, and I’m grateful to you for the ways you were a part of that. It’s great to hear from you!

      Thanks for asking about a poem in connection with Advent and darkness. These are a couple that come to mind:

      “Blessing for the Longest Night”–this is in The Cure for Sorrow, and here’s a link to the blessing:

      “Blessing for Traveling in the Dark”–this is in Circle of Grace, and here’s a link to the blessing:

      Also, Peg + Chuck have a copy of Night Visions (and the other books as well), if you’d like to get your hands on a copy this Advent. The first section of the book explores the theme of darkness.

      Thank you again! I wish you many blessings in these Advent days, and a wondrous Christmas.

  3. Cait Finnegan Says:

    Beauitful. Thank you for this.

Leave a Reply

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