Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Christmas Day: How the Light Comes

December 21, 2011


And the Darkness Did Not Overcome It © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Christmas Day, Years ABC: John 1.1-14

I love how John tells it. His version of the Christmas story is absent of anything we can put into a manger scene—no baby Jesus, no Mary who dared to say yes to an archangel, no Joseph who risked believing in his dreams and allied himself with Mary and her child. No shepherds. No angels. No far-traveling, gift-bearing Magi wafting in on the fragrances of frankincense and myrrh.

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

Glory and grace and truth.

In his telling, John the Evangelist invokes John the Baptist, Jesus’ way-making cousin who haunts the season of Advent. Himself a pared-down figure—the wilderness having worn away anything that would have hindered him from his call—John the Baptist is utterly at home in John the Evangelist’s telling of the story that enchants with its poetic simplicity and beauty. The Baptist knows about the basics, knows about getting to the heart of things, knows what it means to divest ourselves of anything that hinders us from preparing a way for the Word and proclaiming its presence in our midst.

And so for this day, in the Spirit of John the Evangelist and John the Baptist, a simple blessing and a prayer: that we may tell the story, that we may testify to the light, that the Word may take flesh in us this day and in all the days to come.

How the Light Comes:
A Blessing for Christmas Day

I cannot tell you
how the light comes.

What I know
is that it is more ancient
than imagining.

That it travels
across an astounding expanse
to reach us.

That it loves
searching out
what is hidden
what is lost
what is forgotten
or in peril
or in pain.

That it has a fondness
for the body
for finding its way
toward flesh
for tracing the edges
of form
for shining forth
through the eye,
the hand,
the heart.

I cannot tell you
how the light comes,
but that it does.
That it will.
That it works its way
into the deepest dark
that enfolds you,
though it may seem
long ages in coming
or arrive in a shape
you did not foresee.

And so
may we this day
turn ourselves toward it.
May we lift our faces
to let it find us.
May we bend our bodies
to follow the arc it makes.
May we open
and open more
and open still

to the blessed light
that comes.

P.S. For previous reflections for Christmas Day, click the images or titles below:

Christmas Day: Witness of that Light

Tangled Up in You

Door 25: The Book of Beginnings

Christmas Day: An Illuminated Joy

[Thanks to Jenee Woodard for featuring the “And the Darkness Did Not Overcome It” image this week at The Text This Week. To use this image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

Winter Solstice: Blessing for the Longest Night

December 19, 2011

Image: Longest Night © Jan Richardson

This week, in addition to preparing for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services, many congregations will offer a “Longest Night” or “Blue Christmas” service. Usually held on or near the Winter Solstice, this gathering provides a space for those who are having a difficult time during the holidays or simply need to acknowledge some pain or loss they are carrying in the midst of this season of celebration. For you who are offering or participating in such a service, and for all who struggle in this season, I wish you many blessings and pray for the presence of Christ our Light, who goes with us in the darkness and in the day.

Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.

It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.

So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.

You will know
the moment of its
arriving
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.

This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.

So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.

This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.

—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

[Update: Thanks to everyone who has contacted me to ask for permission to use this blessing for a Longest Night/Blue Christmas service. If you’d like to use “Blessing for the Longest Night” in a service, I’d be delighted for you to do so; simply include this credit line:

© Jan Richardson. janrichardson.com

No need to write me for permission, though I would be pleased to hear where you’re using it. If you’d like to use the artwork, please scroll down to the end of this post for info. Many thanks!]

P.S. For previous reflections on the Winter Solstice, click the images or titles below:

Winter Solstice: The Moon Is Always Whole

Door 21: Blue Plate Special

Solstice: A Woman in Winter
(From my Sanctuary of Women blog)

[To use the “Longest Night” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

Feast Day and Other Advent News

December 12, 2011


The Day of the Lady © Jan L. Richardson

Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe! Today is an occasion to celebrate Mary in her aspect as “La Virgen Morena” (The Brown-skinned Virgin) who appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico in the sixteenth century and became beloved as the Patroness of the Americas. I have a reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe and invite you to visit it during this day of celebration: The Day of the Lady.

We have passed the halfway point of the Advent season. How is your Advent path unfolding? I’m finding this a good occasion to stop and take a deep breath. I invite you to join me in taking some time to look back at the season past and to do some dreaming about the days that lie ahead. As you reflect on the season so far, what do you notice? As you contemplate the time between now and Christmas, what do you hope for? What might you need to do—or not do—in order to have the season and the Christmas Day you desire?

As we take a deep Advent breath together, I have a few things on my mind that I want to share with you.

BLOG SUBSCRIPTIONS: At the beginning of the season, I added an option in the sidebar that enables folks to subscribe to The Advent Door and receive these blog posts via email. I used Feedburner to set this up and subsequently found there were a couple of problems with the way that Feedburner manages emails, the most troublesome being that for some folks, depending on your email host, the blog post is squashed together in a continuous block of text, with no breaks for paragraphs or poems, which has a big impact on readability. I’m happy to say that my blog service now offers email subscriptions (they began doing this just days after I had set things up with Feedburner-!), and they seem to handle the formatting splendidly. I have switched over to their subscription service.

I am grateful to everyone who has signed up to receive these Advent reflections by email. If you signed up before last Thursday afternoon (December 8), you signed up via Feedburner, and I would like to move you over to the new subscription service. If you would simply sign up again, using the new sign-up form at The Advent Door (near the top of the sidebar), that would be great. Once you’ve done this, I’ll delete your address from the Feedburner list and will close out that account once everyone has switched over. I’m sorry for the minor hassle but really appreciate your taking a moment to do this so that I can serve you better.

And if you haven’t signed up to receive these reflections by email, I’d be delighted for you to do so!

BOOKS: It’s not too late to order books for Advent and Christmas! I have some copies of my book Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas still available and would be pleased to send them your way. My new eBook, Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas, is available on Amazon as a Kindle book. You don’t have to have a Kindle e-reader in order to enjoy the book; you can download a Kindle app to your iPad, iPhone, computer, etc. It’s been great to hear from folks who have done this in order to read this book. And my book In the Sanctuary of Women, just published last year, makes a good gift for yourself and others. For more info on all these books and to place an order, visit the Books page on my main website.

AN ARTFUL YEAR: During this season I’m offering a festive discount at my website Jan Richardson Images, which makes my artwork available for use in worship, education, and other settings. Through Epiphany Day (January 6), an annual subscription (which gives you unlimited downloads) is 125 smackeroos (normally $165). Visit subscribe to check it out. (Single images are always available as well.)

ART PRINTS: All the images at Jan Richardson Images—including the artwork from The Advent Door, my blog The Painted Prayerbook, and my books—are available as art prints. There’s still time to ship prints for Christmas! Once you’re on the images website, go to any image you’d like and scroll down to “Prints & Products” to place an order.

GRATITUDE: I am tremendously thankful for the opportunity to journey with you in this season. Thank you for your presence, your emails and comments, and your prayers. Thanks also to those who have supported the ministry of The Advent Door by linking to it through your blog, website, Facebook and other social media, or in print or by word of mouth (the original social media!). I am grateful as well to those who have sent a financial contribution, becoming patrons of my ministry through The Advent Door and beyond. For all the ways that you share in and sustain this ministry, I thank you. Know that I am praying for you in this season and beyond.

Blessings to you!

Into Advent

November 25, 2011


Crossing the Threshold © Jan L. Richardson

As we cross into Advent, I want to let you know that in addition to the new art and reflections that I’ll be offering during this season, I have an array of other Advent and Christmas resources designed for you. Be sure to check out the online Advent retreat coming up with Abbey of the Arts; the last day to register is this Sunday (11/27).

BOOKS: I have a couple of books created especially for this season. With reflections and art, they offer a richly contemplative space as these days unfold. Click on the covers or titles below for more info.

Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas
A longtime favorite that’s back in print this year. Inscribed copies are available by request.

Through the Advent Door: Entering a Contemplative Christmas
An eBook that was just published this week through Kindle. If  you don’t have a Kindle e-reader, it’s also available on all Kindle apps (iPhone, iPad, Android, etc.)—including one that enables you to read Kindle books on your computer. To download the Kindle app, visit the Free Kindle Reading Apps page on Amazon.com.

IMAGES ONLINE: Jan Richardson Images enables churches and other communities to download my artwork for use in worship, education, and other settings. Individual images are available, or you can sign up for an annual subscription, which gives you unlimited downloads for a year. During Advent and Christmas, I’m offering a festive discount on annual subscriptions: for just $125, you can sign up for an artful year (regularly $165). The site offers many images for Advent, Christmas, and beyond. Visit Subscribe to Jan Richardson Images to sign up.

ONLINE ADVENT RETREAT: I am looking forward to being part of the creative team for the online Advent retreat designed and hosted by Christine Valters Paintner of Abbey of the Arts, and I’d love for you to join us. This is a great way to enter into a reflective, contemplative space during this season. The retreat begins this Sunday, November 27, which is also the last day to register. For more info and registration, click the banner below:

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

ART PRINTS: All of the images at janrichardsonimages.com are available as prints. To order prints from that site, go to the desired image and scroll down to “Prints & Products.” A great gift for someone else or for your own self.

NEWSLETTER: 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.

As we enter into Advent, may you find deep sources of sustenance in these days. Blessings and peace to you!

P.S. If you’d like to receive these Advent Door blog posts via email, check out the new “Subscribe by email” box in the sidebar (near the top, just above the cover for the Through the Advent Door eBook).

[Today’s artwork is the first collage that I created for The Advent Door when I began this blog four years ago. To use the “Crossing the Threshold” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

Night Visions Ready for You!

November 3, 2011

Advent is just a few weeks away! I’ve been planning and plotting some Advent and Christmas treats for you in my studio and am eagerly looking forward to opening The Advent Door again and traveling with you through another holiday season (this will be the fifth year of The Advent Door!). As we prepare, I want to let you know that my book Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas is back in print! I’m grateful to everyone who’s ever written to tell me they return to Night Visions each year, and to ask when the book would be available again because they want to buy copies as gifts for friends or colleagues, or another copy for themselves because they keep giving theirs away. The words I have received about the book are such a gift to me.

I am thrilled to be able to say the book is finally available now and is just waiting for you, whether you’re a longtime friend of Night Visions or meeting it for the first time. With my original artwork, reflections, poetry, and prayers, the book accompanies the reader through the weeks of Advent to Christmas and Epiphany Day. I’ve heard from many folks who have used it in groups—book clubs, Bible studies, retreats, and other gatherings—as well as for personal reading.

You can learn more, view sample pages, and order the book by visiting the Books page at janrichardson.com. Inscribed copies are available by request.

Blessings to you as Advent approaches!

Christmas Day: An Illuminated Joy

December 24, 2010

Reading from the Gospels, Christmas Day, Years ABC: John 1.1-14

Greetings at the end of a day that has included a visit from our friend Eric, in town from Italy; driving with Gary to north Florida, where much of my family lives; and a Christmas Eve service at the white painted church in the pines of my hometown.

I had been invited to lead the candlelighting portion of the Christmas Eve service, which is always done in memory of those who have died since the last time we gathered on this night. I spoke of how John tells the Christmas story in his gospel: how, in his prologue, there is no manger, no inn to be turned away from; there are no angels, no shepherds, no wise men. John leaves these matters to others. Yet his telling of the incarnation has a strange beauty and power all its own. This, I said, is how he tells it:

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God . . . .
What has come into being
in him was life,
and the life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not overcome it.

I spoke of how we were there tonight, gathered in that place, because of generations of people who went before us, each generation telling the next about the Word who came among us as life and as light. I read the names of the beloved dead who had carried the light of Christ among us, including my aunt who died just a few weeks ago. Then the children walked through the congregation, touching their tapers to our waiting candles.

After the service, after the family dinner that followed, we headed just a little farther north to my parents’ home. The moon was low and orange as we crossed Paynes Prairie. Somewhere in that prairie darkness, bison and alligators sleep. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, the sun of Christmas Day has risen. It sends its message back to us, the moon bearing witness and passing the story along: how the light persists, how it shines in the darkness, and is not overcome.

As we move toward Christmas morning, I offer a reprise of one of the videos that Gary and I collaborated on last year; An Illuminated Joy intertwines his music with some of my images from a series called The Advent Hours. I invite you also to visit another video collaboration, Contemplating Christmas, and pray it will offer you some quietly festive moments this day.

Wherever you are, whatever your Christmas holds, I wish you a most blessed day, and may Christ our Light go with you. Peace to you, and Merry Christmas!

[For previous reflections for Christmas Day, see this post. For a reflection on the days after Christmas—or, rather, the days of Christmas, since Christmas is a twelve-day festival—please visit this post, which includes thoughts and artwork for this year’s gospel lection for Advent 1.]

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day: The Advent Spiral

December 19, 2010

Now on our fourth turn through Advent, we have accumulated a bit of a library of images and reflections for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. As we anticipate the coming celebrations, here are some blogs from Christmas past. Click on the image or title to page your way through them.

Reflections and images for Christmas Eve:

Christmas Eve: Longing for Light

Door 24: The Secret Room

Where the Foreign Meets the Familiar

Reflections and images for Christmas Day:

Christmas Day: Witness of that Light

Tangled Up in You

Door 25: The Book of Beginnings

P.S. A Little Holiday Housekeeping: For those just tuning in: through Christmas, we’re offering a discount on annual subscriptions at Jan Richardson Images, where my artwork is available for use in worship, education, and contemplation. A subscription provides access to all the images for a year’s time. Click subscribe for info. Also, there’s still a wee bit of time to order my new book for Christmas. (Or perhaps Epiphany!) Visit Sanctuary of Women to order. Inscribed copies are available by request.

Clothed with the Sun

December 18, 2010


Clothed with the Sun © Jan L. Richardson

Soon and very soon, we will contemplate the Gospel reading for Christmas Eve. In this text from Luke, we will read of the journey of Mary and Joseph and of the birth of Jesus in a manger; we will read of shepherds and angels and glory. At the last, we will catch sight of the contemplative Mary. It is the briefest glimpse: “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” Tucked into the very end of the text, it nearly eludes our notice. Yet more and more I find myself thinking that the heart of this story lies here, in the way that Mary gathers up all the pieces of the story and holds them within herself.

But not yet, not quite; a day or two still before we turn to this tale of glory that gives way to a space of stillness. For now, let us open a different window onto Mary.

In the book of Revelation, in chapter 12, John tells of a vision of a celestial woman who labors to give birth to a child as a dragon waits, intent upon destroying the child. Across the centuries, many interpreters have viewed this as an image of Mary. While the text itself does not confirm this, the story of the sun-garbed woman struggling to give birth certainly resonates with the tale of the mother of Christ. And so, on this Advent night, I offer this image that emerged as I contemplated this passage many years ago, along with this reflection and poem:

Clothed with the Sun

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birthpangs, in the agony of giving birth. —Revelation 12.1-2

It took three tries to begin to do her justice. In the first rendering, she wore a dress with a golden sun on it and looked very static. I read the story again and realized what is really says: that she was clothed with the sun, not with a sunny dress. So the second try had her swathed in the sun itself, with rays etched in gold wrapped around her body.

When I looked at the piece months later, I realized that the gold on the bottom layers of paper had soaked through the upper pieces. It looked unfixable. No matter; I realized I didn’t like it so much anyway.

When I returned home from a trip to Toronto with some fabulous gold paper from the Japanese paper shop there I realized it was for her and went, literally, back to the drawing board. As this dark-skinned, dark-haired woman began to emerge, I remembered a poem by Joy Harjo. “Early Morning Woman” tells of a woman stretching in the new day’s sun, moving with the strength of the child who grows in her belly. I had used the poem in my first book, in the section about this celestial woman who moves in the agony and hope of birth. Now the early morning woman took shape before me, dazzling in her luminous garb.

I always return to her, to the terror of her birthing and the force of her loving. In this Advent season, this sun-garbed woman, in labor as a dragon waits to devour her child, reminds me that the cave of the heart is not a place of escape. It is a place to wrestle with those personal dragons that emerge only when we slow down, a place to struggle with those parts of ourselves we hesitate to confront and which we sometimes stifle with too much work or too much play or too many possessions or with substances that dull the ache we cannot name. This struggle is integral to preparing for the labor; it is part of the labor itself. Hiding from myself won’t sustain me through the travail, and being merely nice won’t give me strength for the birthing, and my silence won’t protect what I bring forth from that which seeks to destroy it.

Sun Woman Speaks

When it was all over
they asked me for a charm
for banishing dragons.

I said
look them in the eye
and call them by name.
It makes them mad as hell,
but they can’t abide
the knowing
of their name.

[Art, reflection, and poem are from “Advent: The Cave of the Heart” in the book In Wisdom’s Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season © Jan L. Richardson.]

[To use the “Clothed with the Sun” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

Entering Advent

November 20, 2010


Crossing the Threshold © Jan L. Richardson

‘Tis the season, almost! I have been busy in the studio, eagerly preparing to open The Advent Door. All year I look forward to this journey through the scriptures, stories, and images that this time of year offers us, and to sharing in your company along the way. I’m sure that, as always, these Advent weeks will pass by too quickly, but I pray that we will find moments to savor and to experience the spaciousness of this season.

As we prepare to set out, I have a smorgasbord of other resources for Advent and Christmas that I am pleased 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 $120, you can sign up for an artful year (regularly $165). The site offers lots of images for Advent, Christmas, and beyond. Visit Subscribe to Jan Richardson Images to sign up. This is a great way to support the ministry of The Advent Door.

BOOKS: My new book, In the Sanctuary of Women, was just published last month. I’ve been delighted to hear from folks who are purchasing it as a gift in this season—for themselves as well as for others. Visit my Books page for more info and to order. (Inscribed copies are available by request.) And please stop by the companion website at sanctuaryofwomen.com, whose features include a Guide for Reading Groups as well as a blog. For a book designed to accompany you through the coming weeks, The Luminous Word: Entering the Mysteries of Advent & Christmas offers artwork and reflections on the sacred texts and themes of the 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. For an update on the reprint, click here.

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. Also, all of the images at janrichardsonimages.com are available as prints. (To order prints from that site, go to the desired image and scroll down to “Prints & Products.”)

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, including a Christmas CD from my amazing singer/songwriter husband, Garrison Doles.

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.

As we cross the threshold into Advent, I wish you blessings and peace.

[This image is the first one I created for The Advent Door when I started this blog three years ago. To use the “Crossing the Threshold” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]

Christmas Day: Witness of that Light

December 23, 2009


Witness of that Light © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Christmas Day, Years ABC: John 1.1-14

On Christmas Eve during my first year as a pastor (at a church just up the road from Disney World), I stepped into my office during a quick break between the six worship services we were having that evening. I spotted a gift that my senior pastor, Bill Barnes, had left for me. Opening it, I discovered an illuminated edition of The Book of Common Prayer. Containing an early version of the BCP, the volume includes nearly two hundred miniatures taken from a variety of illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages. The book enchanted me and remains one of the coolest gifts I have ever received.

I picked the book up tonight and was enchanted all over again, partly for the memories it evoked, partly for the doorways of history and imagination it opened to me as an artist, and partly for the book itself, its intricate and vivid pages shimmering (even in reproduced form) with gold. It’s the presence of gold that qualifies a manuscript as “illuminated,” and many medieval book artists drenched their pages with this precious metal. Artists, and their patrons who commissioned these books, were drawn to gold both because of its lavish quality and also because it signified the presence of the God who not only gives us light but who also came into this world as light.

Light shimmers through the gospel reading that the lectionary gives us for Christmas Day: the stunning prologue to the gospel of John. Tonight I read the version contained in my luminous Book of Common Prayer—the King James Version, of course. In this passage that I love and have read approximately a zillion times, what struck me tonight, in this version, were these words:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the light, that all…through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light.

Most times when I read this passage, I’m focused on John the Evangelist’s powerful description of how Christ came as the Word: the Word that was with God, the Word that was God, the Word that was in the beginning with God, the Word that came as life and light. As a woman with a passion for the Word, and words, and the bonds between them, I never cease to be stunned by the power of this poetic passage and what—and how—it tells us of the One who entwined himself with us as life and flesh and light. Yet tonight, amidst the stunning words about the Word, my eye keeps going back to John—the one whom we call the Baptist, the one who prepared the way—and how, as the King James Version puts it, he came “to bear witness of that light.”

We need darkness, and I often find myself uncomfortable with the ways that we in the Christian tradition perpetuate stereotypes that hold that all that is good is light and bright and white, and all that is evil is dark and black. I’ll say it again: we need darkness. The seed in the ground, the child in the womb, the body and soul in rest and in dreaming: we must have times of shelter from the light in order to grow in the ways God calls us to grow. I love that verse in Isaiah where God says, “I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name” (Isaiah 45.3).

And yet, even as it calls us to honor the gifts of the dark, this season bids us recognize our ancient longing for light, and to celebrate the One who came to us as light. Amidst the shadows—some necessary, some horrendous—God beckons us to look deeper, to look more closely, that we may find the presence of the Christ who shimmers there. And, finding that presence, to bear witness.

How do we, in our own lives, do what John the Baptist was called to do in and with his life? How do we bear witness of that light?

As we cross the threshold into Christmas, here at the end of our Advent pilgrimage, this is a question I’ll be carrying with me, tucked in the traveling bag where all my mysteries go. In the days, weeks, months to come, how will I bear witness to, point toward, open myself to, embody the God who came as life and as light? Are there any shadows that I’ve grown too comfortable with, any places of darkness that God might be wanting to stir around in and shed some light on? Are there any pockets of ignorance or indifference within me that God might be desiring to illuminate? Is there some dark corner of my soul that I’ve been content to leave in shadow, in mystery, where God might be inviting me to kindle even a small flame and wait in stillness to see what reveals itself?

How about you? What question will you carry on the path ahead? What light beckons you as we spiral into the coming season?

Wherever your path takes you, may this Christmas be for you and yours a day of celebration, a day of hope, a day of peace. A luminous day. I am grateful to you for sharing this Advent journey, and I welcome you to join me at The Painted Prayerbook, where I’ll soon return to explore some words and images in the year to come.

May Christ our Light go with you in every season. Merry Christmas!

CHRISTMAS BONUS: To hear a wondrous song from my singer/songwriter sweetheart, inspired by the prologue to John’s gospel, click this link: Garrison Doles-“From the Beginning” (from Garrison’s CD House of Prayer).

[For previous reflections on this passage, please see Tangled Up in You and Door 25: The Book of Beginnings.]

[To use the “Witness of that Light” image, please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Advent Door possible. Thank you!]