Our Strength, Our Hope

Israel’s strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art.
-Charles Wesley
“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”

Jesus, Child of God, you are our strength, our hope, our comfort, and our consolation. You are, indeed, the hope of the world. Send your strength and healing to every broken place, every despondent heart.

From Child of the Light by Beth A. Richardson. © 2005 by the author. Published by Upper Room Books.

Photo: St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland.

Grief

img_5611
Grief sneaks up on me,
cunningly disguising itself
so I can’t see it coming.

Or maybe I see through its costumes
and just don’t want to accept
that it’s still here,
dragging at the corners of my spirit,
masking the colors around me,
dimming my hope, my joy.

I don’t want to be sad
when the world is so shiny with tinsel
and the music calls for holiday cheer.

And then, finally,
I turn toward grief
and open my heart.

Grief and I embrace,
weeping,
into the night.

The Uncluttered Heart

a1_2016_sunday-e1476124865863

Blessings to you, friends, as we have begun another Advent season. In case you are looking for The Uncluttered Heart, I wanted to direct you to its new home.

I am grateful for the chance to share the Advent journey with you through The Uncluttered Heart.

Update: To sign up to receive The Uncluttered Heart via email, choose: “Get updates about My Quiet Spaces” on the My Quiet Spaces email list.

Blessings and Love,
Beth

Advent Practice and Hashtag Prayer

  
Alive Now, one of the publications I edit, has been participating in an Advent practice of “praying with your camera in your hand,” or praying with your eyes – Visio Divina

We’ve shared the graphic (above) with the words for each day and invited people to see, pray, hashtag, and share. Churches and people all over the world are observing Advent together in this way. Even a church in Jerusalem!

I’ve been teaching the use of hashtags and how to use them. “Tag your photos by typing in the hashtags #AliveNowMag and #adventphoto. Then click on the hashtag to see and pray the photographs of others.”

There is still plenty of time and need for Advent practice. This time of Advent starts to speed up and some sort of practice of stopping, praying, and listening is more important than ever. 

Visit my Facebook page, follow me on Twitter, or search for me on Instagram and pray with all of us these last days of the season of preparation. 

Blessings,
Beth

Podcast about The Uncluttered Heart

Uncluttered Heart cover
Uncluttered Heart cover

I was interviewed Monday about Advent and The Uncluttered Heart.

Listen to Beth Richardson discuss her Advent study, The Uncluttered Heart, with BWC webmaster Lesley Carter. Beth, who is currently the editor of Alive Now magazine and deacon at Edgehill UMC, Nashville, Tn., talks about the opportunity to develop spiritual disciplines and practice during Advent as well as her innovative use of technology in support of the book.

Listen here: http://www.bwcumc.org/content/podcasts/unclutteredheart

Order the book or visit the website.

Top 10 Reasons to Celebrate Advent

Candle
Candle

10. You get to start celebrating New Year’s early.

Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians. [Liturgical — from liturgy, which means the forms and functions of public worship.] The dates of Advent vary each year, but it always contains the four Sundays before Christmas Day. This year Advent starts on November 28.

9. Christmas Procrastinators Rule!

If you observe Advent, you have a legitimate reason for putting off all sorts of things — decorating, putting up your Christmas tree, buying presents. (Be sure to get your Mom’s present, though …) In the Christian realm, Christmas-celebrating doesn’t start until Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. But then you have 12 whole days of Christmas afterward! Christmas ends with Epiphany (January 6), the day when we remember the Wise Men arriving to worship the Christ child.

8. Go ahead, all the other Christians are doing it!

Well, OK, not all Christians are observing Advent. (One Christian even asked me if Advent was a Jewish holiday.) But Advent’s been around since the early centuries of Christianity. In recent years, more denominations are starting to observe Advent — kind of recapturing our history.

7. Offers an excellent alternative to decorating with red and green.

The colors of Advent are purple or blue. You may see these colors in your church vestments (the cloths on the altar or podium), in the stoles worn by your pastor or choir, in the color of the candles on the Advent wreath. These are royal colors, calling to mind the Coming of the Son of God.

6. If you LOVE candles, you’ll LOVE Advent!

Lots of folks celebrate Advent by using an Advent wreath. It’s often four candles on a circular wreath signifying the four weeks of Advent. A candle in the center is the Christ candle, lit on Christmas Day and Epiphany. Usually the four candles are purple or blue. If you celebrate Gaudete Sunday on the third week, that candle is pink. (Gaudete means “rejoice” in Latin.) The Christ candle is white.

5. Learn new words to impress your friends.

What more could you ask for? Advent, liturgy, Gaudete, Advent wreath, liturgical season, vestments. You rock, linguistically speaking.

4. Learn new seasonal songs.

When you celebrate Advent, wait until Christmas to sing all those Christmas songs (“Silent Night,” “Jingle Bells,” “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer,” and other liturgical favorites). There are TONS of great Advent songs that most people don’t know so well. … Like, “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light,” and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” You can even sing some Advent texts to Christmas tunes (if you can’t wait to hear them).

3. Because I wrote 2 cool Advent books.

I really wanted this to be the number one reason, but I’m trying to work on my humility. But I DID write a couple of cool Advent books. The Uncluttered Heart: Making Room for God during Advent and Christmas. The first one was called Child of the Light: Walking Through Advent and Christmas

2. Gets you in touch with Jesus’ story.

The whole reason for observing the liturgical seasons is that we get to hear Jesus’ entire life story every year. For those of us humans who tend to forget important things like Love and God and Christ, this is definitely a good idea. During Advent, we remember the events leading up to Jesus’ birth.

1. Great remedy for pre-Christmas stress.

Advent’s primary message is to wait, listen, get in touch with God, and prepare our lives and hearts for Jesus’ coming. For speeded up, stressed out people (that would be most of us), this is an intriguing invitation. Observe Advent — and get more in touch with God.

You’re invited to observe Advent this year. Light the first Advent Candle — and lower your stress — starting November 27, 2011.

Get Ready for Advent:

Life after Advent/Christmas/Epiphany

Ordinary mushroom for Ordinary TimeI’ve been so social, so extroverted(!!!) since the beginning of Advent that today felt a little odd. On this day after Epiphany, I felt sort of like — “Where’d everybody go?”

I asked my Facebook friends about life after Advent and here’s some of their collective wisdom:

Bob: Yes, most certainly!!! I think it is something about discipleship.

Micah: Yeah, it’s called Mardi Gras!!!

Pam: I on the other hand think its about sleeping… until the Annunciation wakes you up.

Debbie: Absolutely, there is life after everything!

Ann: Good question.

Lynda: There are wonderful ordinary days which are relaxing and can be spirit filled. I remember our student preacher, Rachel, say in a sermon that God can come in the ordinary days of January as much as in December when we are overwhelmed with it all. Was comforting to me to hear this since I love the quietness of Jan. and Feb.

What about you? Tell me about your life after Advent.