Archive for the ‘Epiphany’ Category

Women’s Christmas Retreat 2017 – A Gift for You

January 5, 2017

Wise Women Also CameImage: Wise Women Also Came © Jan Richardson

Happy New Year and Merry Epiphany, almost! In celebration, these three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need some time for respite and reflection, alone or with others. This year’s retreat is titled “Walking the Way of Hope” and includes readings, art, questions, and blessings. You can download it as a PDF.

There is no cost for the retreat. It’s my Women’s Christmas gift to you, with such gratitude for your presence on my path. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2017: Walking the Way of Hope

I would love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

In this new year, I pray that you will know the gift of hope, especially when it feels most elusive. I am so grateful for you and for the hope you provide for me. Deepest blessings to you. 

P.S. Our festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions to the Jan Richardson Images site continues through Epiphany, plus a few days! An annual subscription enables you to download any images for use in worship during the year. Advent rate: $125 (regularly $165). Extended through January 9. Click Subscribe to sign up.

[To use the Wise Women Also Came image or order it as a print, please visit this page at Jan Richardson Images.]

Epiphany Day: Where the Map Begins

January 3, 2017

Image: An Ancient Light © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany Day: Matthew 2.1-12

“We observed his star at its rising,
and have come to pay him homage.”
—Matthew 2.2

Friends, Happy New Year! I am grateful to be opening a new chapter of The Painted Prayerbook with you as this year begins.

With Epiphany approaching on January 6, I want to share a blessing with you that I first offered here in 2010 (in this post, which includes a reflection on the story of the journey of the Magi). Like so many blessings that I wrote before Gary died, this one rings differently for me now. As I work to make a new path so altered from the one Gary and I had dreamed together, it comes as a grace to remember the story of the wise ones who set out with only a star to guide them.

If you are feeling mapless, if you are needing light for an uncertain path, this is for you.

Where the Map Begins
A Blessing for Epiphany

This is not
any map you know.
Forget longitude.
Forget latitude.
Do not think
of distances
or of plotting
the most direct route.
Astrolabe, sextant, compass:
these will not help you here.

This is the map
that begins with a star.
This is the chart
that starts with fire,
with blazing,
with an ancient light
that has outlasted
generations, empires,
cultures, wars.

Look starward once,
then look away.
Close your eyes
and see how the map
begins to blossom
behind your lids,
how it constellates,
its lines stretching out
from where you stand.

You cannot see it all,
cannot divine the way
it will turn and spiral,
cannot perceive how
the road you walk
will lead you finally inside,
through the labyrinth
of your own heart
and belly
and lungs.

But step out
and you will know
what the wise who traveled
this path before you
knew:
the treasure in this map
is buried
not at journey’s end
but at its beginning.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “An Ancient Light,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Advent special! During this season, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click Subscribe to sign up. (Extended through Epiphany!)

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.

Transfiguration Sunday: A Blessing Made for Coming Down the Mountain

February 5, 2016

TransfigurationImage: Transfiguration © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year C: Luke 9:28-36 (37-43)

And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed,
and his clothes became dazzling white.
—Luke 9.29

Dazzling
A Blessing for Transfiguration Sunday

Believe me, I know
how tempting it is
to remain inside this blessing,
to linger where everything
is dazzling
and clear.

We could build walls
around this blessing,
put a roof over it.
We could bring in
a table, chairs,
have the most amazing meals.
We could make a home.
We could stay.

But this blessing
is built for leaving.
This blessing
is made for coming down
the mountain.
This blessing
wants to be in motion,
to travel with you
as you return
to level ground.

It will seem strange
how quiet this blessing becomes
when it returns to earth.
It is not shy.
It is not afraid.

It simply knows
how to bide its time,
to watch and wait,
to discern and pray

until the moment comes
when it will reveal
everything it knows,
when it will shine forth
with all that it has seen,
when it will dazzle
with the unforgettable light
you have carried
all this way.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

For previous reflections on Transfiguration Sunday, click the image or title below.

Transfiguration II
Transfiguration Sunday: When Glory

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Transfiguration,” 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 Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

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.

Blessing That Meets You in Love

January 25, 2016

For LoveImage: For Love © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Epistles, Epiphany 4, Year C: 1 Corinthians 13.1-13

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three;
and the greatest of these is love.

—1 Corinthians 13.13

Loving is always risky, because we cannot enter into it without being changed. Altered. Transformed. In the face of this, we might well ask, Do I really want this? Do we really desire to be so undone?

Loving is never just about opening our heart. It is about being willing to have our heart become larger as we make room for people and stories and experiences we never imagined holding. It is about being willing to have our heart become deeper as we move beyond the surface layers of our assumptions, prejudices, and habits in order to truly see and receive what—and who—is before us. It is about being willing to have our heart continually shattered and remade as we take in not only the brokenness of the world but also the beauty of it, the astounding wonder that will not allow us to remain the same.

Blessing That Meets You in Love

It is true that
every blessing begins
with love,
that whatever else
it might say,
love is always
precisely its point.

But it should be noted
that this blessing
has come today
especially to tell you
it is crazy about you.
That it has been
in love with you
forever.
That it has never
not wanted
to see your face,
to go through this world
in your company.

This blessing thought
it was high time
it told you so,
just to make sure
you know.

If it has been shy
in saying this,
it has not been
for any lack of
wanting to.
It’s just that
this blessing
knows the risk
of offering itself
in a way that
will so alter you—

not because it thinks
you could stand
some improving,
but because this is
simply where
loving leads.

This blessing knows
how love undoes us,
unhinges us,
unhides us.

It knows
how loving
can sometimes feel
like dying.

But today
this blessing
has come to tell you
the secret
that sends it
to your door:
that it gives itself
only to those
willing to come alive;
that it vows itself
only to those
ready to be
born anew.

—Jan Richardson


For a previous reflection and blessing for this passage, click the image or title below:


Epiphany 4: The Greatest of These

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “For Love,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible.

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.

Women’s Christmas 2016 – A Gift for You

January 6, 2016

Wise Women Also CameImage: Wise Women Also Came © Jan Richardson

Happy New Year and Merry Epiphany! In celebration, these three wise women are stopping by with a gift for you. You might know that some folks celebrate Epiphany (January 6) as Women’s Christmas. Originating in Ireland, where it is known as Nollaig na mBan, Women’s Christmas began as a day when the women set aside time to enjoy a break and celebrate together at the end of the holidays.

It’s become a tradition for me to create a new retreat each year that you can use on Women’s Christmas or whenever you need some time for respite and reflection. The retreat, which you can download as a PDF, includes readings, art, questions, and blessings. This year’s retreat, titled “Home By Another Way,” was inspired by my search for home in the wake of Gary’s death.

There’s no cost for the retreat; it’s a Women’s Christmas gift especially for you! You can do the retreat anytime you wish, alone or with others. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, visit this page at my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2016: Home By Another Way

I would love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

Blessings to you, and Merry Women’s Christmas!

P.S. Our festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions to the Jan Richardson Images site continues through Epiphany, plus a few days! An annual subscription enables you to download any images for use in worship during the year. Advent rate: $125 (regularly $165). Extended through January 10. Click Subscribe to sign up.

[To use the Wise Women Also Came image, please visit this page at Jan Richardson Images.]

Epiphany: For Those Who Have Far to Travel

January 2, 2016

TheWiseOnesImage: The Wise Ones © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels for Epiphany: Matthew 2.1-12

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born
in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East
came to Jerusalem.

—Matthew 2.1

For Those Who Have Far to Travel
A Blessing for Epiphany

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:

to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;

to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel

to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace


EPIPHANY UPDATE:
I have a gift for you! My new retreat for Women’s Christmas (which some folks in Ireland and beyond celebrate on Epiphany/January 6) is hot off the press. It’s a retreat that you can download at no cost and use anytime you wish throughout the year. For a link to the retreat and more about Women’s Christmas, click the Wise Women image or the title below:

Wise Women Also Came
Women’s Christmas 2016: Home By Another Way

I would love for you to pass along the gift by sharing the link with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, or any other way you’re connected.

New from Jan Richardson
CIRCLE OF GRACE: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons

Circle of GraceWithin the struggle, joy, pain, and delight that attend our life, there is an invisible circle of grace that enfolds and encompasses us in every moment. Blessings help us to perceive this circle of grace, to find our place of belonging within it, and to receive the strength the circle holds for us. from the Introduction

Beginning in Advent and moving through the sacred seasons of the Christian year, Circle of Grace offers Jan’s distinctive and poetic blessings that illuminate the treasures each season offers to us. A beautiful gift for the new year. Available in print and ebook.

Order the book

 

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “The Wise Ones,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Advent special! During this season, subscribe to Jan Richardson Images and receive unlimited digital downloads for only $125 per year (regularly $165). Click Subscribe to sign up. (Extended through Epiphany!)

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.

Transfiguration Sunday: Overshadowing

February 8, 2015

OvershadowingImage: Overshadowing © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Transfiguration Sunday, Year B: Mark 9.2-9

Then a cloud overshadowed them,
and from the cloud there came a voice.
–Mark 9.7

We’ve seen a few Transfiguration Sundays here at The Painted Prayerbook! Today’s artwork is new, created as I reflected on Mark’s use of the word overshadow (episkiazo in the Greek). I’m intrigued by how, in the gospels, the only other place we see this word appear is in Luke 1, when Gabriel tells a startled Mary that the power of God will overshadow her. [For more on this, and the invitation God extends to us to be a habitation for the holy, see this post: Transfiguration Sunday: Show and (Don’t) Tell.]

For blessings and other reflections for this final Sunday after Epiphany, I invite you to visit earlier reflections that I created for you. You can begin by visiting last year’s post for Transfiguration Sunday, which includes links to previous writings; I’ve included a link to that post below. Or you can simply enter “Transfiguration” into the search bar in the upper right corner of this page.

Thanks to everyone who’s registered for the online Lenten retreat! I am eagerly looking forward to sharing the season with you. If you haven’t signed up, I would love for you to join us. The info is below.

Blessings to you, and may the Spirit overshadow you and enfold you with peace.

A Lenten Journey…

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. New for 2015! Visit Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

For previous reflections on Transfiguration Sunday, click the image or title below.

Transfiguration II
Transfiguration Sunday: When Glory

For a broken heart: With Valentine’s Day coming up, I want to share a blessing that I wrote last year for the first Valentine’s Day after Gary’s death. If February 14 is a tough day for you or for someone you know, I invite you to visit “A Blessing for the Brokenhearted” by clicking the image or title below.

Valentine
A Blessing for the Brokenhearted

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Overshadowing,” 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 Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

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.

Epiphany 5: That All Be Made Well

February 1, 2015

For Joy
Image: For Joy © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 5, Year B: Mark 1.29-39

He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up.
–Mark 1.31

People I love are hurting. So in light of this week’s passage from Mark’s Gospel, I wanted to write a blessing especially with them in mind—a blessing for healing, a big blessing, a blessing wide enough and deep enough to match their need.

What came was this: a blessing small enough to carry in the hand or in the heart. If you are in need, may this be for you a word in the wound, in the illness, in the ache. May you be made well.

And All Be Made Well
A Healing Blessing

That each ill
be released from you
and each sorrow
be shed from you
and each pain
be made comfort for you
and each wound
be made whole in you

that joy will
arise in you
and strength will
take hold of you
and hope will
take wing for you
and all be made well.

–Jan Richardson

For a previous reflection on this passage, visit The Domestic God.

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Visit Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “For Joy,” 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 Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

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.

Epiphany 3: Jonah’s Blessing

January 18, 2015

Jonah's BlessingImage: Jonah’s Blessing © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Hebrew Scriptures for Epiphany 3: Jonah 3.1-5, 10

So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh,
according to the word of the Lord.

–Jonah 3.3

To appreciate what a marvel it is that Jonah finally goes to Nineveh, and to understand what it took to get him there, it is crucial to know what happens prior to this passage. This is one of just two readings the Revised Common Lectionary gives us from the book of Jonah, completely missing the gorgeous prayer of Jonah in chapter 2, so this is a great chance to revisit Jonah if it’s been a while since you’ve read this petite but powerful book. Important, too, to know what comes after this passage—that Jonah does not come away feeling warm and cozy about God, who stirs Jonah’s anger not by being less merciful toward Nineveh than Jonah imagined, but more.

Plus, reading the book of Jonah in its concise entirety invites us to contemplate just what sort of God we follow, who in a time of peril would send provision in the form of a great fish, and who stuns us by being more full of grace than we ever imagined.

In what strange quarter might you find refuge this week? How will you keep your eyes open for the God who is bent on drenching us with mercy in unaccountable measure?

Jonah’s Blessing

It comes as small surprise
that you would turn your back
on this blessing,
that you would run
far from the direction
in which it calls,
that you would try
to put an ocean
between yourself
and what it asks.

Something in you knows
this blessing could
swallow you whole
no matter which way
you turn.

Hard to believe, then,
that every line of this blessing
swims in grace—
grace that, in the end,
even you
will find hard to fathom
so swiftly does it come
and with such completeness,
encompassing all
it finds.

What to do, then,
with such a blessing
that depends so little
on us
and yet asks of us
everything?

What to do
with a blessing
that comes with
such strange provision,
every inch of it
looking like something
that will draw us
into our dying?

Trust me when I say
all it wants
is for you
to fall in,
to let yourself
find yourself
engulfed within
the curious refuge
that it holds

and then to go
in the direction
it propels you,
following its flow
that will bear you
where you desired not
where you dreamed not
yet none but you
could land.

– Jan Richardson

Blessing of Song: For a bonus blessing, I want to share Gary’s marvelous song “Jonah’s Prayer.” You can listen by clicking the arrow on the audio player below. [For my email subscribers: if you don’t see the audio player, click here to go to The Painted Prayerbook site, where you can view the player in this post.] The song is © Garrison Doles from his CD House of Prayer.


For my reflections on this week’s gospel lection, begin by clicking the image or title below.

Casting
Epiphany 3: Blessing the Nets

Registration now open!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Are you hungry for an experience that draws you into Lent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your schedule? Join us for this online retreat that easily fits into the rhythm (or chaos!) of your days, offering you an elegantly simple space to reflect on your journey and receive sustenance for your path. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter, from anywhere you are. Click Online Lenten Retreat for details and registration. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Jonah’s Blessing,” 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 Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

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.

Epiphany 2: Known

January 12, 2015

You Have Known MeImage: You Have Known Me © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Psalms for Epiphany 2: Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
– Psalm 139.1

Over the past year, I have been thinking a lot about knowing. Gary’s death left enormous holes in so much of what I had known—about my life, about God, about who I am in this world. As I reckon with the rending of my known world, I am living with a constellation of questions such as these:

Who am I, when the person who has known me best is no longer in this world?

What does it mean to know and be known by someone who now belongs to eternity?

In the midst of my grief, how do I lean into the love of the God who holds us both and knows us beyond the limits of time?

Where does this knowing lead me and call me in this time, this life?

I don’t have many answers for these questions, but as we travel with the readings this week—all of which have to do, in some way, with being known—I have this blessing, offered in the hope that we will never cease to reckon with the challenge, the comfort, and the call of knowing and being known.

Peace to you.

Known
A Blessing

First
we will need grace.

Then
we will need courage.

Also
we will need
some strength.

We will need
to die a little
to what we have
always thought,
what we have allowed
ourselves to see
of ourselves,
what we have built
our beliefs upon.

We will need this
and more.

Then
we will need
to let it all go
to leave room enough
for the astonishment
that will come
should we be given
a glimpse
of what the Holy One sees
in seeing us,
knows
in knowing us,
intricate
and unhidden

no part of us
foreign
no piece of us
fashioned from other
than love

desired
discerned
beheld entirely
all our days.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections for Epiphany 2, click the images or titles below.

How Did You Come to Know Me?
Epiphany 2: How Did You Come to Know Me?


Between Heaven and Earth

Of Fig Trees and Angels

Coming soon!

Beloved Lenten Retreat

Beloved Retreat: Advent and Christmas are barely past, but Lent begins soon! I am looking forward to offering an all-new retreat for the season, and I would love for you to join us. Intertwining reflection, art, and music, the Beloved Retreat is a great way to journey toward Easter from anywhere you are, in the way that fits you best. Registration and more info coming this week. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “You Have Known Me,” 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 Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!

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.