Archive for the ‘Advent’ Category

Into Advent

November 22, 2010

Where Advent Begins © Jan L. Richardson

The elves and I are busy in the studio, happily painting and plotting as we prepare for Advent to begin this Sunday. During the coming season, I’ll be posting new reflections and artwork over at The Advent Door instead of here at The Painted Prayerbook. I’ve already added a couple of entries there and would be delighted for you to stop by. I’m planning to post at The Advent Door several times each week and look forward to sharing the coming days with you. I have lots of other resources for Advent and Christmas; you can find out more here.

I am also thrilled to say that my new book, In the Sanctuary of Women, was published last month. You can find more info and place orders on the Books page at my main website, where inscribed copies are available by request. I have also launched a companion site for the book at More than just a site about the book, is designed to foster conversation and community through such features as the Guide for Reading Groups and the Sanctuary blog. I’d love for you to visit!

And if you live in central Florida, please join us for a special holiday evening to celebrate the book’s publication. The gathering will be Friday, December 3, at 8 PM at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park (near Orlando). For further info, visit Sanctuary Celebration.

In this week in which we celebrate U.S. Thanksgiving, know that I am grateful for you. Many blessings to you as we cross into Advent.

Anticipating Advent

November 9, 2009

Magnificat © Jan L. Richardson

Today has found me in the studio, working on some artwork for the cover of my new book. Amid the intensity of writing, I haven’t spent a lot of time in the studio in recent months, so it was lovely to clear off my drafting table today and play amongst the paints. As I wrap up the book and begin to contemplate the coming season of Advent, I’m looking forward to creating new art and reflections for my blog The Advent Door. I just published my first post of the year over there, with a few pre-Advent thoughts; I invite you to stop by. (And don’t miss the announcement there about the festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions at!)

Even though I’m someone who gives a lot of thought to Advent, I still often find that it catches me unprepared and that it seems altogether too short. Especially given what an intense year this has been with working on the book, I’m trying to get a jump on things and give some thought now to how I want to enter into the coming season. I don’t have a clear plan as of yet—and Advent tends to resist too much planning anyway—but I’m starting to envision some things that invite me to linger and savor and be: a good walk, a visit with a friend over a cup of tea, a stolen afternoon with a tasty book…

How do you hope to enter Advent this year? When we arrive at Christmas, what do you want to be able to look back on? What will help you stop and savor the coming season and open your eyes to the Christ who comes to us amongst these days?

As we anticipate Advent, may we also linger well with these present hours. Blessings to you.

Art for the Journey

October 4, 2009

Mother Root © Jan L. Richardson

Thanks so much to everyone who stopped by this past week  and to those who sent lovely words via a comment or an email. It was great to get to provide  support in word and image to folks preparing to celebrate World Communion Sunday. I’ve thought of all of you on this day that invites us to remember that each time we gather at the Communion table, we celebrate not just with our own community but also with sisters and brothers around the world and with the Communion of Saints across the ages. It’s a wide, wide table to which Christ invites us, with all its challenges and delights. I hope you had wondrous celebrations.

Although I’m blogging more sporadically these days while I work to finish my new book, I’d love to support you in whatever way I can, particularly with artful resources. Images are always available at I designed this website to make my artwork easily accessible for use in worship, education, and related venues. If you’d like to use any of the artwork that you find here at The Painted Prayerbook, you can acquire it from the website. High-resolution files of single images are available for a nominal cost, or, with an annual subscription, you can have unlimited access to all the images (within the Guidelines for Use). Although I’m not creating new art for the lectionary readings right now (though I look forward to returning to this later in the fall), the cool thing about art, especially abstract art, is that it invites an array of interpretations. So of course you are most welcome, as always, to use an image even if it wasn’t designed for the specific scripture or theme that you’re pondering.

I welcome you also to stop by, where you can find creative companions for your journey—or someone else’s—in the form of art prints, greeting cards, and books.

Your use of Jan Richardson Images and your purchases at go directly to support my ministry, for which I raise my entire income. Your support is a crucial form of patronage that helps make it possible for me to continue in this ministry, including providing this blog, and I am tremendously grateful for those who sustain my work in this way. I invite you to find out more about being a patron at the Be a Patron page.

Thanks so much for visiting and for all the ways you share in my ministry, including the prayers and the words you send my way—they are tremendously heartening and are manna for my path. I wish you many blessings in these October days.

P.S. Advent’s not far away—if you’re planning ahead, I have lots of artwork for the season at (check out “Advent & Christmas” in the categories menu), and you can visit two years’ worth of art and reflections at my other blog, The Advent Door. I look forward to adding new work there as Advent unfolds this year.

Merry (Continued) Christmas!

December 26, 2008

Presentation the Temple © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Christmas 1: Luke 2.22-40

A blessed Feast of St. Stephen and a Happy Boxing Day to you! Advent tends to be such an intense season for me that this year I find myself particularly grateful that Christmas is not just one day, concluding at midnight last night (at which point the radio station I was listening to abruptly ceased its Christmas music) but rather a period of twelve days. There’s some variation as to when the Twelve Days of Christmas begin; some say Christmas night, others begin counting on December 26; regardless, it’s finished by Epiphany on January 6. The point, however, is that Christmas invites us to not wrap up our celebration of the Incarnation too quickly.

This period offers us several feast days that add texture to the season. Two of them commemorate folks who were important in the life of the early church; today is the Feast of St. Stephen (the first Christian martyr), and tomorrow is the Feast of St. John the Evangelist (to whom the fourth gospel is attributed). December 28 offers us the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which bids us remember Matthew’s story of the slaughter of the male children in Bethlehem. This feast in particular calls us to acknowledge the shadow side of Christmas and to be mindful of our call to relieve the suffering that persists even amid the joy of the Incarnation.

This year, as I recover from the blessed intensities of the Advent season, I’m giving particular thought to how I might linger in my celebration of Christmas, how I might find some festive rest in these days. In this period between Christmas Day and Epiphany, are there any practices I might take on that would help me savor this season? Might those practices become new traditions in my own observance of the fullness of Christmas?

In the spirit of seeking some rest in this time, my reflection on the lectionary this week will be abbreviated. This Sunday the Revised Common Lectionary gives us Luke 2.22-40 for our gospel reading. Luke tells us of how Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple, which, according to the law, would have occurred forty days after Jesus’ birth. They went not only to present Jesus but also for Mary to go through the prescribed rituals of purification following a birth. In the Temple they meet the prophets Simeon and Anna, who have long waited for this moment.

When I created a mixed media series called The Advent Hours a few years ago, I included a depiction of this moment in the Temple; it’s the image above (somewhat cropped for my purposes here). In creating it, I borrowed from medieval artists who rendered this scene, particularly the artists whose illuminated prayerbooks inspired this series. This is what I wrote to accompany my version of the Presentation in the Temple:

A light for revelation, Simeon says of Jesus when Mary and Joseph go to the temple to engage in the rituals required after the birth of a child. Medieval artists sometimes conflated the Presentation in the Temple with the Circumcision of Jesus, which would have happened several weeks previously. Although Simeon wouldn’t have actually held the knife, as these medieval artists sometimes depict, he has cutting words nonetheless: And a sword will pierce your own soul, too, he says to Mary. Then the prophet Anna arrives, and she sings of redemption, and perhaps Mary remembers: A light, he said; a light for revelation. A luminous Word.

So how might these Christmas days invite you to linger with the luminous Word whose birth we are not done celebrating? Where do you find yourself in the wake of December 25th? What were the gifts of Advent? What were the challenges? What do you need now? How will you get it?

December 26 finds me feeling both sentimental and expectant. Not to mention tired. But recovering. In the wee hours of yesterday morning, I posted my final reflection for this year’s journey toward Christmas at The Advent Door. As with last year, publishing my Christmas reflection, and ending the Advent pilgrimage, offered a poignant mix of relief and regret. Intense as they are—and in part because of their very intensity—I love the days of Advent, love diving into their richness and finding what new words and images they have yet to offer me. I’m always a little sorry to see those days go. But—they’ll come around again next year, inviting us once again to find new gifts in the ancient story of the Word that came, and comes still, as light and life.

If you didn’t make it all the way through The Advent Door, I invite you to pay a visit there as we move through these lingering days of Christmas. Until Advent rolls around again next year, I look forward to finding what the coming months have to offer and exploring that here at The Painted Prayerbook. I am grateful beyond measure for your presence on the path.

Merry (Twelve Days of) Christmas to you, and a wondrous new year ahead!

‘Tis the Season!

November 23, 2008

During the season of Advent, I’ll be posting at The Advent Door instead of here. Please click on The Advent Door, and have a wondrous season!