Archive for the ‘Gospel of Luke’ Category

Lent 1: Beloved Is Where We Begin

February 11, 2016

Desert of the BelovedImage: Desert of the Beloved © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Lent 1, Year C: Luke 4.1-13

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness,
where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.

—Luke 4.1-2

If we back up a bit in Luke—if we turn around, hang a left at the genealogy, and take a look at Luke 3.21-22—we will be able to enter this week’s text with the same knowledge that Jesus had: that when he went into the desert, he went with the baptismal waters of the Jordan still clinging to him, and with the name Beloved ringing in his ears. How else to enter into the forty-day place that lay ahead of him? How else to cross into the wilderness where he would have no food, no community, nothing that was familiar to him—and, to top it off, would have to wrestle with the devil? How else, but to go into that landscape with the knowledge of his own name: Beloved.

In this first week of Lent, as we turn our faces toward whatever this forty-day place holds for us, we would do well to have that name echoing in our own ears—to enter into the terrain of this season with the knowledge that we, too, are the beloved of God. And so I want to offer you a blessing that tells us this. It’s a blessing I wrote last year for those who joined us on the Beloved Online Lenten Retreat—a beloved community indeed.

As we cross with Christ into the landscape of Lent and into the mystery that lies ahead of us, may we know at least this about ourselves: that our name, too, is Beloved.

Beloved Is Where We Begin

If you would enter
into the wilderness,
do not begin
without a blessing.

Do not leave
without hearing
who you are:
Beloved,
named by the One
who has traveled this path
before you.

Do not go
without letting it echo
in your ears,
and if you find
it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what
this journey is for.

I cannot promise
this blessing will free you
from danger,
from fear,
from hunger
or thirst,
from the scorching
of sun
or the fall
of the night.

But I can tell you
that on this path
there will be help.

I can tell you
that on this way
there will be rest.

I can tell you
that you will know
the strange graces
that come to our aid
only on a road
such as this,
that fly to meet us
bearing comfort
and strength,
that come alongside us
for no other cause
than to lean themselves
toward our ear
and with their
curious insistence
whisper our name:

Beloved.
Beloved.
Beloved.

—Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace

For a previous reflection on this passage, visit Lent 1: Into the Wilderness.

For a broken heart: If Valentine’s Day is a difficult day for you or someone you know, I invite you to visit A Blessing for the Brokenhearted.

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 in every season. Available in print and ebook.

Order the book


Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Desert of the Beloved,” 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.

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.

God of the Living

November 5, 2013


Image: Into This Living © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +25, Year C: Luke 20.27-38

“Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living;
for to him all of them are alive.”
–Luke 20.38

Jesus knows the question the religious leaders have posed to him is a political one, wrapped in theological trappings. As ever, he responds to what lies beneath the trappings, exploding some assumptions along the way. Following on the heels of celebrating the Feast of All Saints last week, it’s an especially potent point that Jesus makes here: that in the eyes of God, there is no question of the dead versus the living, “for to [God],” Jesus says, “all of them are alive.”

On this side of the veil, we feel the distinction keenly, and Jesus does not dismiss or disparage this. Bent as he is on breaking down the walls of division, however, he cannot resist pressing against this one, the wall we perceive between the living and the dead. With his own death and resurrection almost upon him, Jesus pushes against that wall, shows it for what it is, challenges us to enter anew into our living and into our world that is so much larger, so much more mysterious than we dreamed.

God of the Living
A Blessing

When the wall
between the worlds
is too firm,
too close.

When it seems
all solidity
and sharp edges.

When every morning
you wake as if
flattened against it,
its forbidding presence
fairly pressing the breath
from you
all over again.

Then may you be given
a glimpse
of how weak the wall

and how strong what stirs
on the other side,

breathing with you
and blessing you
still

forever bound to you
but freeing you
into this living,
into this world
so much wider
than you ever knew.


AN ILLUMINATED ADVENT:
Hungry for an experience that draws you into Advent without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your holiday schedule? Join us for this online retreat that will intertwine reflection, art, music, and community. A great way to travel toward Christmas in contemplation and conversation, from anywhere you are. Begins December 1. Visit Illuminated Advent Retreat or click the thumbnail below. All new material for 2013! Group & congregational rates available.


Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Into This Living,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. (This is also available as an art print—just scroll down to the “Purchase as an Art Print” section when you click the link to the image on the JRI site.) 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

A Blessing in the Dust

June 30, 2013


Image: A Blessing in the Dust © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +7, Year C: Luke 10.1-11, 16-20

But whenever you enter a town and they do not welcome you,
go out into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town
that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.
Yet know this: the kingdom of God has come near.’ 
– Luke 10.10-11

Knowing when to stay, knowing when to leave: this is one of the most challenging invitations for discernment that we will ever encounter.

There are times, after all, for leaning into the resistance that meets us; times when God calls us to engage the difficulty and struggle that will shape and form us in a way that ease and comfort never can. There are muscles—in our body, in our soul—that can be developed only by pressing through the resistance; not with pride, not with the utter conviction that we are in the right, but with the humility that enables us to summon our intention and will and open ourselves to the grace that carries us through situations that we cannot navigate on our own. There is ground that becomes holy only when we remain long enough to see the blessing that can emerge from struggle, that shimmers through only after the dust the struggle kicks up finally begins to settle.

And then there are times for leaving; times when—as Jesus counsels his disciples—the holy thing to do is to shake the dust from our feet and leave behind a place that is not meant for us.

This blessing is for those times.

A Blessing in the Dust

You thought the blessing
would come
in the staying.
In casting your lot
with this place,
these people.
In learning the art
of remaining,
of abiding.

And now you stand
on the threshold
again.
The home you had
hoped for,
had ached for,
is behind you—
not yours, after all.

The clarity comes
as small comfort,
perhaps,
but it comes:
illumination enough
for the next step.

As you go,
may you feel
the full weight
of your gifts
gathered up
in your two hands,
the complete measure
of their grace
in your heart that knows
there is a place
for them,
for the treasure
that you bear.

I promise you
there is a blessing
in the leaving,
in the dust shed
from your shoes
as you walk toward home—
not the one you left
but the one that waits ahead,
the one that already
reaches out for you
in welcome, in gladness
for the gifts
that none but you
could bring.

For previous reflections on this story, click the images or titles below:


Mapping the Mysteries



Are You Coming or Going?


P.S.
 Please come visit our Art + Faith page on Facebook! Gary and I would love for you to stop by, “like” the page, and be part of the creative conversation that’s unfolding there. And be sure to check out this summer’s Liturgical Arts Weeks at the Grünewald Guild—classes are filling fast, and we’d be delighted to save you a spot! For a glimpse of the Guild, visit this post: Where Heaven and Earth Meet.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “A Blessing in the Dust,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

To use Jan’s work in other settings (books and other publications, etc.), please visit Copyright Permissions.

Delivered

June 16, 2013


Image: Delivered © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +5, Year C: Luke 8.26-39

Those who had seen it told them
how the one who had been possessed by demons
had been healed.
– Luke 8.38

He must have found it suffocating at the least: to live with such an interior crowd, to never be able to turn off the constant clamor and press, the fracturing and fragmentation that left him unmoored and unhinged. He took to the graveyard, making his home among the tombs in a living death. And then one day Jesus came, and asked, What is your name?

Delivered
A Blessing

From the hundred wants
that tug at us.
From the thousand voices
that hound us.
From every fear
that haunts us.
From each confusion
that inhabits us.

From what comes
to divide, to destroy.
From what disturbs
and does not let us rest.

Deliver us, o God,
and draw us into
your relentless
peace.



Liturgical Arts Week at the Grünewald Guild

P.S. Please come visit our Art + Faith page on Facebook, where we’re currently featuring the remarkable artwork of our friends who teach with us in the Liturgical Arts Weeks at the Grünewald Guild. Gary and I would love for you to stop by, “like” the page, and be part of the creative conversation that’s unfolding there. And be sure to check out this summer’s Liturgical Arts Weeks at the Guild—classes are filling fast, and we’d be delighted to save you a spot! For a glimpse of the Guild, visit this post: Where Heaven and Earth Meet.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Delivered,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

To use Jan’s work in other settings (books and other publications, etc.), please visit Copyright Permissions.

A Needful Extravagance

June 9, 2013


Image: Extravagance © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +4, Year C: Luke 7.36-8.3

Therefore, I tell you,
her sins, which were many,
have been forgiven;
hence she has shown great love.

– Luke 7.47a

Once again we see Jesus’ persistent refusal to distance himself from us. From the hungry, from the sick, from those who have lost their way, from the outcast, from those burdened by the labels and names and roles laid upon them: Jesus refuses to turn away. And not only does he resist turning away; he welcomes those who risk making their way to him. He recognizes and elevates those who push beyond the barriers and boundaries and rebuffs: the woman, so long bleeding, who reaches out for the hem of his robe; the children who gather around him; the women who, in every gospel, come to anoint and bless him, who see him as no one else does.

In this passage from Luke, in this woman’s lavish gesture, we see how love pours itself out: not in self-abnegation, but in an offering that springs from the depths of who we are. Love makes its way past the labels, breaks through the burdens of prejudice and stereotype and bias. This woman who has been set free by Jesus, and who now comes to anoint him: she knows this. She knows how love looses us, how it bridges the distance between us, how it calls us to recognize and respond to the holy in our midst. With such clarity and grace, she illuminates who Jesus is. With his response, Jesus illuminates who we are: not defined by the sins of the past but by the love and grace of the present.

Blessing for the Anointing

Some with ointment.
Some with tears.
Me, today,
with words
gathered and treasured
carried and poured out
for you
wherever you are.

May you welcome this
as what it is:
a needful extravagance
an offering both lavish
and crucial
that has let go
of everything
to lay itself at your feet
and tell you

I see you
I bless you

And you,
where can you go
that you do not need
this anointing,
this blessing that drenches
the one who gives,
the one who receives?


P.S.
 Please come visit our Art + Faith page on Facebook, where we’re currently featuring the amazing work of our friends who teach with us in the Liturgical Arts Weeks at the Grünewald Guild. Gary and I would love for you to stop by, “like” the page, and be part of the creative conversation that’s unfolding there. And be sure to check out this summer’s Liturgical Arts Weeks at the Guild—classes are filling fast, and we’d be delighted to save you a spot!

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Extravagance,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

To use Jan’s work in other settings (books and other publications, etc.), please visit Copyright Permissions.

Rise

June 2, 2013


Image: Rise © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +3, Year C: Luke 7.11-17

And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!”
– Luke 7.14b

Blessing for the Raising of the Dead

This blessing
does not claim
to raise the dead.

It is not so audacious
as that.

But be sure
it can come
and find you
if you think yourself
beyond all hope,
beyond all remedy;
if you have
laid your bones down
in your exhaustion
and grief,
willing yourself numb.

This blessing
knows its way
through death,
knows the paths
that weave
through decay
and dust.

And while this blessing
does not have the power
to raise you,
it knows how
to reach you.

It will come to you,
sit down
beside you,
look you
in the eye
and ask
if you want
to live.

It has no illusions.
This blessing knows
it is an awful grace
to be returned
to this world.

Just ask Lazarus,
or the Shunammite’s son.
Go to Nain
and ask the widow’s boy
whether he had
to think twice
about leaving the quiet,
the stillness;
whether he hesitated
just for a moment
before abandoning the place
where nothing could harm
or disturb.

Ask the risen
if it gave them pause
to choose this life—
not as one thrust into it
like a babe,
unknowing, unasking,
but this time
with intent,
with desire.

Ask them how it feels
to claim this living,
this waking;
to welcome the breath
in your lungs,
the blood
in your veins;
to gladly consent
to hold in your chest
the beating heart
of this broken
and dazzling world.


P.S.
If you haven’t already visited our Art + Faith page on Facebook, please do! Gary and I would love for you to stop by, “like” the page, and be part of the creative conversation that’s unfolding there. And be sure to check out our upcoming Liturgical Arts Weeks at the wondrous Grünewald Guild.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “Rise,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

To use Jan’s work in other settings (books and other publications, etc.), please visit Copyright Permissions.

Only Speak the Word

May 28, 2013


Image: Only Speak the Word © Jan L. Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Pentecost +2, Year C: Luke 7.1-10

“Only speak the word, and let my servant be healed.
–Luke 7.7

Only Speak the Word
A Blessing

You might not have guessed
how far this blessing
can travel.

But it is worth believing
that it is built
for crossing distances
for stretching itself
for making its way
without hesitation
to the place
where it is needed most.

Only believe—
or, failing this,
latch onto someone
who will believe
for you,
who will ask
on your behalf,
who will plead
for this blessing
to come.

Trust one who knows
with a certainty
fierce as fire
that this blessing
will find its way
to you,
that it will treat
miles and time
as nothing,
that it will push through
each boundary,
cross every border,
pass through
all obstacles
to reach you.

Trust that these words
know the path
into your anguish,
that in your ache
they will become balm
and in your pain
they will become soothing.
Trust that they will be for you
a sweet
and stunning
peace.


Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Only Speak the Word,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. 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. If you’re using them in a worship bulletin, please include this info in a credit line:
© Jan L. Richardson. janrichardson.com.

To use Jan’s work in other settings (books and other publications, etc.), please visit Copyright Permissions.

Lent 1: A Return to the Wilderness

February 11, 2013


For my Ash Wednesday reflection, please see Ash Wednesday: Blessing the Dust
.

Reading from the Gospels, Lent 1, Year C: Luke 4.1-13

Almost Lent! As I shared in my previous post, during the coming season I’ll be devoting most of my creative energies to the online retreat that Gary and I will be offering, and we’d love to journey with you in this way. If you haven’t visited our overview page for the Lenten retreat (which you can do from anywhere, in whatever way works for you), please stop by and see what we’ll be about during the coming weeks.

Here at The Painted Prayerbook, I’ll post links to previous reflections and art for the season. After journeying through five Lents here, we have lots of resources for your Lenten path! I also have many images for Lent and Easter. See the Lent & Easter gallery at Jan Richardson Images.

I wish you many blessings as Lent begins.


For a previous reflection on this passage, click the image or title below.


Lent 1: Into the Wilderness


For related reflections on Lent 1 in other years, visit:

Wilderness and Wings
Lent 1: A Blessing for the Wilderness

 

A River Runs Through Him
Lent 1: A River Runs through Him

 

Discernment in the Desert
Lent 1: Discernment and Dessert in the Desert

 

Tempted
Day 3: Into the Wilderness


To learn more about our online Lenten retreat, click the retreat icon below. Group rates are available!

Transfiguration Sunday: Dazzling

February 3, 2013


Image: They Saw His Glory © Jan L. 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…. Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah” —not knowing what he said. —Luke 9.29, 32-33

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.


And also . . .

ONLINE LENTEN RETREAT: Gary and I would love to have you join us for the online retreat that we’ll be offering for Lent. If you’re longing for an experience that draws you into the season without feeling like it’s just one more thing to add to your Lenten schedule, this retreat is for you.  Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat is a great way to travel toward Easter in contemplation and conversation, from anywhere you are. Group discounts available! Begins February 13. For info and registration, click this icon:

For previous reflections for Transfiguration Sunday, click the images or titles below:


Transfiguration: Back to the Drawing Board


Transfiguration Sunday: Show and (Don’t) Tell

And I have one more image for Transfiguration Sunday at Jan Richardson Images:


Transfiguration II

[To use the image “They Saw His Glory,” please visit this page at janrichardsonimages.com. Your use of janrichardsonimages.com helps make the ministry of The Painted Prayerbook possible. Thank you!]