Advent, Part 4: Celebrating

This week on the Allender Center Podcast, Dr. Dan Allender and his wife, Becky Allender, conclude our series on Advent by talking about the act of celebrating the arrival of Jesus. In previous episodes, Dan and guests discussed the themes of anticipating, preparing, and welcoming. Now, he and Becky ask, how do celebrate this season? How do participate in the fullness of the joy and goodness in Jesus’ coming? First that means talking about longing, since being able to celebrate first means recognizing that something is missing.

Dan: “If there is not an ache for his arrival, then there’s not much anticipation. There certainly isn’t much preparation, and the welcoming will be muted to say the least. […] His arrival as an infant also puts us in the deep ache of that prayer, Maranatha—come quickly, Lord Jesus.”

Becky: “We have an ache for all things to be set right.”

Dan: “To know that we are receiving is to acknowledge that we have been waiting for so very long.”

As Dan and Becky talk about the celebration of Christmas, the conversation turns to the longing of Simeon and Anna in the Gospels, to the strange and wonderful gifts of the magi, and ultimately to the joy of giving and receiving gifts. Gifting inherently involves our relationship with desire and our capacity for wonder and surprise.

Dan: “How do we participate in the joy of receiving and giving? I think that is such a central part of the wonder of celebration. […] The drama of this is literally meant to capture us, knowing that we can give but can’t receive. All of this gifting process is actually meant to make us somewhat uncomfortable in the presence of receiving what is so far beyond what we know we need, so lavish in terms of the living God becoming flesh on our behalf. All that is meant to bring us back to our heads spinning.”

All of us at The Allender Center and The Seattle School are wishing you, your families, and your communities a merry Christmas and a time of rich, full celebration. And tune in next week as Dan invites us to reflect on the past year and reflect on how to step into 2017 with intentionality and care.