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 4: Blessing for a Whole Heart

January 25, 2015

In Every Chamber of the Heart
Image: In Every Chamber of the Heart © Jan Richardson

Readings for Epiphany 4, Year B:
Deuteronomy 18.15-20Psalm 111, 1 Corinthians 8.1-13, Mark 1.21-28

I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart.
–Psalm 111.1

For the past year and a half I have been carrying a small piece of art in my purse. The size of a playing card, it’s a collage created by my friend Priscilla. Within the collage is a single word, printed in her handwriting:

Wholehearted

When Priscilla gave me the collage six months before Gary’s death, she could hardly have imagined how much I would need it, and how soon. I continue to carry it as a reminder and a prayer—not simply that my heart will be mended, but that even in the shattering, I will know there is a hidden wholeness that has already taken hold. This wholeness is a mystery I catch only in glimpses. But when I look at Priscilla’s word, I see not only a plea but also a blessing, a declaration of something that, in God’s strange timing, has already come about, and that I hope to live into.

This week, the lectionary gives us these same kinds of glimpses. Each reading offers a window onto what it means to have a whole heart, to live in a way that recognizes that, broken though we may be, God sees us complete and is about the work of helping us live into that completeness, not just for ourselves but for and with one another. Deuteronomy’s injunction against any prophet whose heart turns toward false gods, the psalmist’s wholehearted cry of thanksgiving to the God who sends redemption, Paul’s words that call the church at Corinth to be mindful of how their individual choices have consequences for the health of the whole community, and Jesus’ healing of a man with an unclean spirit: each of these passages shows us something of the wholeness in which God created us, and is working out within us.

This week, how might it be to open your heart—no matter how broken—to the One who sees you whole?

Blessing for a Whole Heart

You think
if you could just
imagine it,
that would be a beginning;
that if you could envision
what it would look like,
that would be a step
toward a heart
made whole.

This blessing
is for when
you cannot imagine.
This is for when
it is difficult to dream
of what could lie beyond
the fracture, the rupture,
the cleaving through which
has come a life
you do not recognize
as your own.

When all that inhabits you
feels foreign,
your heart made strange
and beating a broken
and unfamiliar cadence,
let there come
a word of solace,
a voice that speaks
into the shattering,

reminding you
that who you are
is here,
every shard
somehow holding
the whole of you
that you cannot see
but is taking shape
even now,
piece joining to piece
in an ancient,
remembered rhythm

that bears you
not toward restoration,
not toward return—
as if you could somehow
become unchanged—
but steadily deeper
into the heart of the one
who has already dreamed you
complete.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections on this week’s gospel reading, visit these posts:

Epiphany 4: Blessing in the Chaos
Epiphany 4: In the Realm of the Spirits

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 “In Every Chamber of the Heart,” 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.

Beloved: An Online Retreat for Lent 2015

January 23, 2015

Beloved Lenten Retreat
I am still savoring the amazing experience of traveling with everyone who participated in the Illuminated online retreat during Advent. Inspired by that journey, I am back in the studio, preparing an all-new retreat for Lent. I would love for you to join us! Here’s a glimpse of what this online retreat holds in store:
 


BELOVED
An Online Journey into Lent & Easter
February 18 – April 6
New for 2015!

This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your schedule! It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into the mysteries and gifts of this season. Intertwining reflection, art, music, and community, this retreat offers a space of elegant simplicity as you journey through Lent.

You can join in this all-new retreat from anywhere you are; you do not have to show up at a particular place or time. You’re welcome to engage the retreat as much or as little as you wish, in the way that fits you best. If you’re hungry for a simple way to move deeply into this season, this retreat is for you.

Individual, group, and congregational rates are available. You can also give the retreat as a gift! For retreat details, FAQs, and registration, visit Online Lenten Retreat.


 
The season of Lent invites us to know, most of all, how completely God loves us, and to let go of everything that would keep us from receiving and responding to that love. This invitation is at the heart of the Beloved Lenten Retreat. If that sounds good to you, please join us!

Blessings to you as Lent draws near.

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.

Baptism of Jesus: Beginning with Beloved

January 6, 2015

Blessing the BaptismImage: Blessing the Baptism © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Gospels, Epiphany 1/Baptism of Jesus: Mark 1.4-11

And just as he was coming up out of the water,
he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending
like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my Son, the Beloved.”
–Mark 1.10-11

Beginning with Beloved
A Blessing

Begin here:

Beloved.

Is there any other word
needs saying,
any other blessing
could compare
with this name,
this knowing?

Beloved.

Comes like a mercy
to the ear that has never
heard it.
Comes like a river
to the body that has never
seen such grace.

Beloved.

Comes holy
to the heart
aching to be new.
Comes healing
to the soul
wanting to begin
again.

Beloved.

Keep saying it
and though it may
sound strange at first,
watch how it becomes
part of you,
how it becomes you,
as if you never
could have known yourself
anything else,
as if you could ever
have been other
than this:

Beloved.

–Jan Richardson

P.S. I have a number of previous reflections on the Baptism of Jesus; for links, visit this post: Baptism of Jesus: Washed.

A Gift for You…

Wise Women Also Came

Celebrating Women’s Christmas: Originating in Ireland, Women’s Christmas is celebrated on Epiphany (January 6) as an occasion to take a break at the end of the holidays. I’ve created a new retreat as a gift especially for you to use on Women’s Christmas—or whenever you’re in need of some time to reflect and rest. The retreat is available to download as a PDF at no cost. You can find the retreat by visiting this post on my Sanctuary of Women blog:

Women’s Christmas 2015: Illuminating the Threshold


Using Jan’s artwork…

To use the image “Blessing the Baptism,” 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.

Women’s Christmas 2015 – A Gift for You

January 2, 2015

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

Happy New Year and Merry (almost) 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 a space of respite and reflection. The retreat, which you can download as a PDF, offers readings, art, and blessings that invite you to listen to your life. This year’s retreat explores the theme of thresholds, those betwixt and between places that emerge when we have left what was familiar but have not arrived at what lies ahead. Sometimes chaotic but full of possibility, thresholds are a great place to pray, imagine, and dream. The retreat is designed to help you do this.

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

Women’s Christmas: Illuminating the Threshold

I’d 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 as the new year begins, and Merry Women’s Christmas!

P.S. Our festive Advent discount on annual subscriptions to the Jan Richardson Images site continues through Epiphany/January 6! An annual subscription enables you to download any images for use in worship during the year. Advent rate: $125 (regularly $165). Visit Subscribe to Jan Richardson Images.

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

At the Edge of Advent

November 24, 2014

End and BeginningImage: End and Beginning  © Jan Richardson

Advent, almost! With the new season beginning this Sunday, it’s time to head over to my blog The Advent Door, where I’ll be offering a few reflections during the coming weeks. I’ve posted a new reflection there for this Sunday; you can find it here: Advent 1: Blessing When the World Is Ending.

I’m especially excited to be launching Illuminated 2014, our all-new online Advent retreat. The retreat begins this Sunday, and if you haven’t already registered, I would love for you to join us! The Illuminated Retreat is a wonderful way to enter into Advent without stressing your schedule. There’s info below, plus a couple more things I want to share with you as the season begins.

ILLUMINATED 2014
This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your holidays. It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into this season that shimmers with mystery and possibility. Offering a space of elegant simplicity as you journey toward Christmas, the Illuminated Retreat fits easily into the rhythm of your days, anywhere you are. Begins November 30. For info and registration, visit ILLUMINATED 2014. Individual, group, & congregational rates available. A great gift for yourself and others!


Jan Richardson Images

ADVENT SPECIAL AT JAN RICHARDSON IMAGES
The Jan Richardson Images site makes my artwork available for use in worship, education, and other settings. You can download single images or sign up for an annual subscription, which gives you unlimited downloads for a year. During Advent and Christmas, we’re 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. More info at Subscribe to Jan Richardson Images. You can also order any of the images as an art print!


Interview

INTERVIEW WITH FAITH & LEADERSHIP
I talked recently with Faith & Leadership about Advent, art, grief, and our call to be people who put the pieces together. Read the interview here in the Advent issue of their online magazine.

Blessings to you as Advent arrives!

So That You May Know the Hope

November 19, 2014

So That You May Know the HopeImage: So That You May Know the Hope © Jan Richardson

Reading from the Epistles for Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday: Ephesians 1.15-23

So that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened,
you may know what is the hope to which
he has called you.

– Ephesians 1.18

Hope is a hard word for me these days. Last Friday marked a year since Gary had the surgery that would begin to bear him away from us. I think of those who waited with me with such hope throughout that surgery, throughout the two emergency surgeries that would follow, and throughout all the days we kept vigil with Gary until it became clear our vigil was at an end. What is the use of hoping, when hope comes to such a pass?

For those in grief, it is common to encounter well-meaning people who seek to stir our hope by schooling us in God’s ineffable ways, who want to tell us our loss is part of a larger plan and a bigger mystery that we cannot know from here but that we will understand one day. I have a tremendous tolerance for mystery, a great capacity to abide the unknown. In the wake of my husband’s death, I am clear that when it comes to suffering, in the astounding variety of forms by which we experience it in this world, it is not enough to chalk it up to mystery, to a larger plan. It’s not that I’m not interested in the bigger mystery, or in knowing that I might have a better grasp of it someday in another world. It’s just that someday is not, in itself, sufficient to get me through this day, to move me from one moment to the next in this world where Gary is not.

In the midst of my grief, what I know is that hope, inexplicably, has not left me. That it is stubborn. That it lives in me like a muscle that keeps reaching and stretching, or a lung that keeps working even when I do not will it, persisting in the constant intake and release of breath on which my life depends.

The apostle Paul (or, perhaps, the author who wrote in his name) well knows the deep presence of mystery in our life with God. (For now we see in a mirror, dimly, he writes in 1 Corinthians 13.) But he, too, is uninterested in simply abiding the mystery or locating our hope in a “someday” realm. In this week’s passage from Ephesians, he prays quite specifically for his friends to be illuminated here and now, praying that God will give them a spirit of wisdom and revelation as they come to know God. He prays that the eyes of their hearts will be enlightened. So that you may know, he writes, what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power (18-19).

Paul is talking about a knowing that is tied with resurrection. He is talking about a hope that is bound together with the life of the risen Christ. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead, Paul writes in verse 20. Paul makes clear that Christ, in turn, is putting his power to work in us, and not just for someday, but also for now: that this hope is active in our lives as we press into the mystery that attends us. Even as Paul writes about the risen Christ being seated in the heavenly places, he also bears witness to a Christ who wore our flesh and abides with us still, hoping for us when our hope is shattered, breathing new life into us, encompassing us in the arms of a community that holds us with hope.

Hope is not always comforting or comfortable. Hope asks us to open ourselves to what we do not know, to pray for illumination in this life, to imagine what is beyond our imagining, to bear what seems unbearable. It calls us to keep breathing when beloved lives have left us, to turn toward one another when we might prefer to turn away. Hope draws our eyes and hearts toward a more whole future but propels us also into the present, where Christ waits for us to work with him toward a more whole world now.

What are you hoping for these days? Who helps you hope when it is hard to hope? How does your hope call you to see what is here and now?

Blessing of Hope

So may we know
the hope
that is not just
for someday
but for this day
here, now,
in this moment
that opens to us
hope not made
of wishes
but of substance
hope made of sinew
and muscle
and bone
hope that has breath
and a beating heart
hope that will not
keep quiet
and be polite
hope that knows
how to holler
when it is called for
hope that knows
how to sing
when there seems
little cause
hope that raises us
from the dead
not someday
but this day,
every day,
again and
again and
again.

– Jan Richardson

For previous reflections for Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday, visit Christ Among the Scraps and You Who Bless.

An Advent Journey…

ILLUMINATED 2014 — Registration now open!
Are you hungry for an experience that invites you into Advent without stressing your schedule? This online retreat is not about adding one more thing to your holidays. It is about helping you find spaces for reflection that draw you deep into this season that shimmers with mystery and possibility. Offering a space of elegant simplicity as you journey toward Christmas, the Illuminated retreat fits easily into the rhythm of your days, anywhere you are. Begins November 30. For info and registration, visit ILLUMINATED 2014. Individual, group, & congregational rates available.

Using Jan’s artwork…
To use the image “So That You May Know the Hope,” 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.