Advent, Part 1: Anticipating

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender is joined by Dr. Angela Parker to begin a four-week series engaging the season of Advent. Dr. Parker is a womanist theologian, New Testament scholar, and Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. She and Dan discuss what it means to anticipate the arrival of Jesus in our lives, our culture, and our systems.

Dan and Angela focus on Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1, her song of celebration, protest, and anticipation upon hearing that she would bear the Son of God.

Angela: “When I think about Mary as a woman, and most assuredly a lowly woman, a woman who does not have a lot of means and is a low part of the system, that anticipation of something inbreaking to bring about change, and that God is going to use you to bring about that change, is actually a very womanist thought. […] There is this idea of reversal.”

Dan: “What you thought was going to be redemption, how you thought the kingdom of God was going to come to this earth—in every regard it is not what you thought.”

Because of this unexpected upheaval of the kingdom of God, those who are in power often seek to minimize, marginalize, and silence the voices of those who carry the spirit of God. “Mary, in all of her sassiness, is really just lifting up, crying out what she knows, what she has been told is going to occur,” says Dr. Parker. “And that’s hard for people who see others as lowly.”

Dan: “I don’t know what she thought when she heard Gabriel say the Holy Spirit is going to come upon you. But whatever she thought, she simply had the confidence that the word of God does not come back void, and therefore I’ll come play. I will not hate hope. I will not turn my heart to cynicism. But I will anticipate by shouting. In her song she is literally crying out, there will be another world that we could never have imagined, there is the coming of the savior who is going to change things at a level that you didn’t anticipate.”

Angela: “Mary makes me realize that staying in your place is not what we are anticipating in the coming of Jesus. Staying in our place is not Gospel.”

As they reflect on Mary as a sassy revolutionary helping us anticipate Jesus’ arrival, Dan and Angela discuss the invitation to use our voices to challenge the systems that oppose the work of the Messiah, systems that resist restoration, reconciliation, and freedom. And this invitation is not to be taken lightly, because it changes everything.

Angela: “God’s promises do not come back void—no, the promise has been made. So it’s incumbent upon us to speak into existence the promises that we know are going to occur.”

Dan: “Could we actually imagine, as we step into this Advent season, that we’re meant to have remarkably different marriages, friendships, that our conversations over this season of preparation are meant to be different? Is there an upheaval that we’re meant to participate in with regard to Mary’s song? Because she’s not just singing that for herself. She’s singing it for me. She’s singing it for you.”

All of us at The Allender Center and The Seattle School wish you, your families, and your communities a meaningful and restorative season of Advent. We would love for you to join us for our weekly reflection series that continues until Christmas, and tune in the next three weeks as Dan Allender and guests engage Advent and the themes of preparing, welcoming, and celebrating.