The Disruption of the Incarnation
The message of Christmas is one that disrupts the norm and turns systems of power upside down. When we examine Mary’s Magnificat in Luke 1:46b-55, we see that disruption unfolding, not only in Mary’s own life but in the course of humanity.
Today on the podcast, Dr. Dan Allender is joined by two guests from The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology: Dr. Chelle Stearns, Associate Professor of Theology, and Trevor Grindle, the Director of Marketing & Communications. Their conversation covers both cultural and personal implications of Mary’s Song.
As you listen this Christmas weekend and beyond, we invite you to join us to consider how this passage can impact our own lives and open our ears and hearts to the voices and stories around us with a fresh perspective.
- Listen to our conversation with Dr. Chelle Stearns in 2021 in The Revolution in Mary’s Magnificat
- Listen to a reading of Mary’s Magnificat by Trevor Grindle in 2021 in Mary’s Song: A Christmas Reading
- View Trevor Grindle’s tattoo on Instagram
About Our Guests:
Dr. Chelle Stearns is an Associate Professor of Theology at the Seattle School of Theology & Psychology. She has a PhD in Systematic Theology from University of St. Andrews in Scotland, an MA in Christian Studies from Regent College, and an undergraduate degree in music from Pacific Lutheran University. Her academic work has focused on the interaction between theology and music, and she loves to talk about the Christian imagination. She is also passionate about trinitarian theology. As one student recently remarked, “You really do dig this trinitarian stuff, huh?”
As a violinist, she brings with her a background in teaching violin and performing in chamber and orchestral settings. She also has a long history of serving in the Church as a musician, teacher, and worship leader. Little known fact: her stage debut was at the age of 3 months, as she was ‘kidnapped’ by her older cousins to play the role of baby Jesus in the church’s Christmas pageant. Dr. Stearns lives in Ballard, Washington, with the other Dr. Stearns, whom she affectionately refers to as Dave.
Trevor Grindle is currently the Director of Marketing & Communications. In October 2018, he started as the Audiovisual Technology Specialist, and then moved to the role of Interim Institutional Support Manager in 2020. In the summer of 2021, Trevor joined the marketing team as the Media Production Manger before being promoted to the Director of Marketing & Communications in February of 2022. Drawn to both the big-picture vision of the school as well as the individuals he works with, Trevor enjoys the purpose-driven environment where he feels comfortable bringing his whole self to work. He believes in what the school offers and is doing, and he is honored to be a part of promoting that out into the world.
To his work at The Seattle School, Trevor brings his background and training as a worship pastor. He received a BA in Worship Ministry with a minor in Media Arts & Technology in 2014. For more than 10 years, Trevor has worked in pastoral ministry, paid and unpaid, full-time and part-time. From his years as a pastor, he believes strongly in collaboration, empowerment, and equity.
Outside of work, Trevor enjoys going places with his wife and son, playing golf, and drinking coffee–passions reflected in his tattoos. After living in Seattle for five years, he recently moved to Rockford, Illinois. Even though Trevor has lived in Illinois off and on since 2014, he claims Wisconsin as home.
Dan: Oh dear listeners, I don’t expect that you likely recall podcasts from a year ago, but I do. And this particular one today is an opportunity to reprise a conversation with dear friends. And first and foremost, I will introduce Dr. Chelle Stearns, who is the associate professor at the Seattle School for Theology and Psychology, and somebody I just love hanging out with. And so most of our listeners have heard you before Chelle, but just to say your PhD is in systematic theology from the August school in Scotland called St. Andrews. So welcome, Chelle.
Chelle: Good to be back, Dan. Thanks.
Dan: Thank you. And we will have to say to our audience that you are a bit impaired, but not certainly in terms of the thoughtfulness of your mind. They might hear you as bearing the old phrase, a frog in your throat or as a sultry blue singer. But thank you, even not being well joining us.
Chelle: No, it’s good to be here. It’s a snowy morning here in Seattle, so it’s appropriate to talk about Christmas Eve.
Dan: It’s a rare gift, a rare gift. And as well, Trevor Grindle, who is the director of marketing and communications at both the Seattle School and the Allender Center, and oh, Trevor, you have been so many things in so many worlds that we’ll just say that’s your last title. But also to say that you have been invested in the local church, particularly as a worship leader. And it’s a privilege to have you. I mean, you actually are the boss of this podcast or all podcasts, so to have you on just feels ever so appropriate, but even more so given what we’re going to be dealing with today, and that is the Magnificat. So a year or so ago, we did, Chelle and I, did a podcast on the Magnificat and the Song of Mary, the Canticle of Mary in Luke chapter one. So we’re going to step back into that. And Chelle, do you wanna read Mary’s song?
Chelle: I will. I’m reading it from the NIV. Hopefully that won’t offend anybody but. So Mary’s song: “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior. He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on, all generations will call me blessed for the mighty one has done great things for me. Holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm. He has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things, but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant an Israel remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever just as he promised our ancestors.”
Dan: It is such a stunning song, and one that as we talked a year ago, will again step back to a little bit of conversation. It is the dissent of Jesus. And in some sense, the implication of the ascent, marries ascent of praise, the intersection of dissent and ascent is so crucial. That contrast of mindful, of the humble, merciful to those who fear, he brings down rulers, he lifts up the humble fills, the hungry sends the rich away. I mean, again it’s a pretty dramatic song. Would you not say?
Chelle: It’s apocalyptic. It’s in that good sense of revealing setting, right? Looking at the world as it actually is. What is the word for this year, is gaslighting? This is probably the most non gaslighting biblical song that you could find.
Dan: Well, one of the comments that you made a year ago is that this has actually been forbidden to be read or engaged in a number of totalitarian worlds. And that reality that it is a call of personal, familial, cultural, political, religious. In some sense the issue of arrogance is not bound to just a individual. And that notion that this is again, what Mary understood as the disruption that was coming as a result we don’t know fully what she had in mind. But we also have another passage in Luke 2:34, Semeion, as I’m reading from actually Torrance’s book, The Incarnation, his translation where he says, “Behold, this child is set for the rising and the following, and for a sign that is spoken against and a sword will pierce through your own soul also that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. So Mary, Semeion, everybody’s got a little bit of a sense that this savior is not just warm, fuzzy things are going to work out. It is a deeply disruptive arrival, not exactly how we celebrate the birth of most human beings, but I wanna move from that to talk about that. I love that phrase, and for a sign that is spoken against Jesus is a Semeion the Greek word for sign, where we get the word semiotics the notion of how we read reality. So to eventually pass it to you, Trevor, because a lot of this was a conversation that came because in our interaction, you mentioned hearing this podcast and some significant things were percolating in your life. So I’d love to get the notion of how did this sign come to play in your life?
Trevor: Yeah, absolutely. And yeah, this was when we were recording this podcast. So like you mentioned earlier, I’m, I mean, my title of producer or executive producer doesn’t necessarily exist, but listeners of the podcast will have heard me on this podcast saying, “Hi, this is Trevor, one of the producers of the Allender Center podcast.” I’m like going into something, either a commercial or something along those lines…
Dan: And let’s just say such a beautiful radio voice.
Trevor: I’ve been told. I’ve been told. And so, yeah, I think when we were recording that episode, I wasn’t the director at the time. I was the media production specialist or manager at the time. And it was also in a season, if I’m remembering, I believe this, we were recording probably late November, early December of last year. And also, I just wanted to, before I forget that this episode is going out on Christmas Eve, so merry Christmas to everyone that is listening at this point.
Dan: And we who are on the podcast never have a clue when it’s going to be delivered, so, good to know that boss has said when this arrives. So yes indeed to people, Merry Christmas.
Trevor: Yeah, Merry Christmas. And so yeah, we were recording this probably a month or so before, so it’s probably just entering the advent season. And at that point this would’ve been after probably months of pretty intense COVID church planting. And so at the time I was a church planter and we had been in COVID at that point, what’s that month and, or year and a half, whatever, I can’t remember. It was all just a blur. And COVID ended up closing our church as a result. And so it was a pretty intense, what do I believe? What is happening? My world is crumbling around me, all these kinds of things. And at the moment of that podcast, there’s a couple times I’ve told people that work on the marketing team that you will often experience when you are doing this work. So doing editing of podcasts, editing of videos, what have you, we also experience the same things that are being said in those episodes. So there have been moments while editing a podcast or producing one where I will pause and have to text someone and be like, “Hey, this thing happened” and I’m not in therapy, but your experiencing things that you need to reach out and take a minute. This would’ve been one of those things. In the beginning of that episode, we were doing some research around the Magnificat, and that’s where we found out you were alluding to Dan that this story, this song has been banned from a number of countries because it has been, people have latched onto it as the song of the oppressed. And for me, in that moment in my, I don’t want use too many buzzwords, but in my deconstruction journey at that point is was kind of culminating to a point of I was reaching the bottom of my deconstruction. So it was a result of probably 8 to 10 years worth of questioning nearly every systematic theology that I held from ecclesiology to missiology, to soteriology, to almost everything I was questioning. And it kind of reached this point where I do not embody a oppressed body. I am a white, cisgender, tall, slim male American. All of the things that are the pinnacle of our social hierarchy, I embody. So I’m not saying that I’m oppressed, but I am saying that I was reaching the bottom of my deconstruction journey. And that’s where the incarnation and the Magnificat kind of met me. And I would say for me personally in my story, that I would not be a Christian without the incarnation. If the incarnation was not a part of our theology or orthodox theology, I would not be a Christian anymore. And so that podcast, in conjunction with a number of other things related to advent related to the incarnation artwork that I was shown, different ways to view the incarnation through the lens of liberation theology, womanist theology, et cetera, in a lot of ways kind of was the pinnacle and now moving into a reconstruction stage or a rebuilding stage, I don’t wanna use reconstruction, but yeah. So that podcast was a moment in time that almost gave me permission to center the incarnation and center the Magnificat in my theology and in my gospel story or the way that I narrate the gospel, rather than the way that I grew up with the gospel of narrating it from redemption, fall or creation, fall, redemption, and instead, centering a more Eastern Orthodox narration of creation, incarnation, recreation. So yeah, kind of culminated all of those things into, and I have a number of tattoos. I know listeners can’t necessarily see what the tattoos are, but I can describe them once we kind of get into that. But yeah, that’s kind of where this tattoo came from or how we kind of arrived at that. There’s even probably more to that, but…
Dan: Yeah. Well, before we go to a number of things that I want both of you to reflect on are able, I should have done this off screen, but are we able to bring to the listener visual pictures along with the podcast?
Trevor: Yeah, we can. When we post the audio clips on Saturday and Sunday, we can show a clip of what I just showed you earlier on Instagram where it’s me taking a photo of it as well as the original artwork. And we could also put in the description of the podcast links to that Instagram post.
Dan: Yeah, great. Well, so folks, you will have a chance to be able to see the sign, the semeion, of the Magnificat that Trevor has, shall we say, permanently brought pretty to the…
Trevor: Pretty permanently
Dan: To the world around. But before we get to that actually just there are two things that are just popping in my mind, the interplay, again of art and theology. That’s a very strong statement, but particularly the nature of music song lyrics into the revelation of God. Just before we go much further, I just want you to have opportunity, given that you as a professional musician as well as theologian, do a whole lot of thinking about the interplay of Sign, Semeion and Revelation.
Chelle: Well, I’m actually going to quote a comic book person, a comic book artist.
Dan: That’s so appropriate.
Chelle: And now I’m like, I can’t remember who said this specifically, but talking about why do you get a tattoo? Well, I know exactly who said it, but I’m not going to say what comic this came from because it, it’s maybe inappropriate for a Christmas thing, it’s a little controversial. But she was asked, why do you think people are getting tattoos of the characters in your comic? And she’s like, I don’t think that it’s necessarily that they’re fans of what’s happening in the comic. It’s more that they find that there’s something about those characters that’s a fan of something within themselves. There’s a truth that resonates between. And so when you choose to have something actually placed upon your body, I think there’s something really significant and wondering what is resonating fully with you. And maybe before we get into music and all of those kinds of things, maybe I’ll just turn it back to Trevor and just ask, what do you think in the story as a fan of something for you, something within you, something that you see as really true in the world?
Trevor: Yeah, I think the tattoos that I have I know there are people that get tattoos for, and they’re probably just for the sake of fun or for the sake of I enjoy the experience and so on and so forth. I think the tattoos that I have all are markers on my journey specifically theological markers on my journey. So I grew up as a pastor’s kid. Born and raised in the Midwest, and I think it was a pastor’s kid since I age of six and then went to a Christian school to get my degree in worship ministry. And so I’ve been in pastor/pastoring in some shape or form, and basically since I was a junior in high school. And so my journey has drastically changed. So actually each with the exception of my left forearm, which is more stories of family or backgrounds, this is a coffee Chemex that has a story of my son. This one is, and I apologize to listeners who can’t see what I’m pointing at, but this one is my boutonniere from our wedding. And then some of these all the flowers that are all over my arm are Peonies that were in my wife’s bouquet on our wedding day. And all of that actually happened in, again, a transitionary period for me, so I actually currently live in northern Illinois, so I still work at the Seattle School based in Seattle, but I live in northern Illinois. And so this was a season of when we were trying to figure, our church had closed. We were trying to figure out if we were going to stay in Seattle or move closer to family. And so there’s a lot of markers there, but I think all the other ones that I have, so the one on my left arm that is a lion that is crushing or attacking a snake with a tree and the Celtic symbol of the trinity in the bottom elbow area was kind of my marker in when I first started ministry. And it was my creation, fal,l redemption narrative of Genesis three where God is cursing man, cursing the woman cursing Satan, saying that a child will be born of this woman that will, you’ll strike his heel, but he will crush your head. That is this story. And then the one on my right arm is kind of my missiology that moving away from American centrism, where America’s not the center of the globe or the universe. In fact, God’s kingdom is for all, it is for the entirety of the world and the entirety of the universe. And then ultimately the one that we’re here to talk about is one of the Magnificat, which came from an artist named Ben Wildflower. And he is kind of a protest artist of sorts that I discovered a few years ago from my co-pastor actually. And so I think what they do to me is, even though I would not probably agree with my former self of 10 years ago, five years ago, that got these tattoos, they are still markers on my journey and were reflections of who I was in that moment, in that point in time. And they’re kind of reminders of that so that I can see the growth that I have gone through to eventually get to this one. And then I would imagine I may not agree with some of the current beliefs that I hold now, and that’s totally fine in five to 10 years while I continue to build out my journey. And so I think they are kind of speaking into my internal processing as someone who does mostly internal processing as an enneagram five, as a primarily head thinker person and struggles to evoke emotions. These are my attempts of showing those emotions or showing those intellectual crisis moments where I’m overcoming those moments. So yeah, I can’t remember the original question there, but that was kind of why of the tattoos I think for a lot of ways.
Dan: And why, again, the Magnificat tattoo will come. But again, back to the word a tattoo is a sign. And again, not to say it’s the only sign, it’s not primarily the sign that Semeion is inviting the listener to engage in Luke chapter 2:34 and following, but all signs in that sense are an invitation to see beyond itself to something more. And I’m just curious, as you ponder that past podcast in the season in which your life is really, again, there’s hardly possible with a few words to describe the level of dissent that you were in the middle of; deconstruction of your faith, loss of your church, COVID, the insanity that all of us at one level knew. But all that to say, what was it about the magnificat that shall we say shifted for you the necessity? And that really feels like, of course it was a choice, but that sense of it’s an inevitable choice because the choice reflects something of the core of your heart’s desire to actually then take on this tattoo and again, want you describe it as well.
Trevor: Yeah. So yeah, I think I almost have to then describe it before sharing the significance of both the Magnificat and this image. So basically again, we will link in the description of the podcast or share it on social media at Allender Center on Instagram and Facebook for those, I’ll give my director of marketing plug there. So it is an image that was actually carved in wood. So it was actually originally a wood carving image that you have Mary standing with her fist in the air and the stars around her head as a halo and is standing on top with her right foot on top of a skull that is also on top of then a snake. So the symbolism for me of the snake on this arm and then the snake on the left arm holding two different theologies there. And then there are words surrounding it, which I was never thought I would be a person that would put words on my body because I believe, or it’s easier to reinterpret an image than it is to reinterpret a series of words. But these words felt significant enough to me that I didn’t ever want to lose the belief of these words primarily because again, the position that I hold in society as a straight, white, cisgender male allows me to not sit with the oppression of those who are marginalized or allows me to go about the world in that way. And this was kind of my forcing myself to not look away and to not turn a blind eye. So the words are it comes at the kind of second half blast, two verses of the Magnificat where it is “Cast down the mighty, lift the lowly, fill the hungry, and send the rich away.” And to me, those words hold such piercing…piercing thought and direction in how to live one’s life and see the world. And I think it also is a kind of culmination of both my theological deconstruction as well as political deconstruction and social deconstruction and so on that these words felt significant, that I didn’t want to forget that the position that I hold is one of privilege and that I need to constantly be at work to fight for those that are not able to be in the spaces that I’m able to be in and be able to advocate for them on their behalf. So going back to the beginning of the Magnificat being a song for the Oppressed, I to want to live my life in such a way that I am amplifying the voices of the oppressed and speaking on their behalfs and spaces where they are not able to access because of their sociopolitical, economic, fill in the blank position, whereas I am able to enter those spaces because of yada, yada, yada, yada. So I think to me, it was the learning of the Magnificat, especially as someone who grew up in the more White evangelical American church that didn’t really read the Magnificat. It was not something that I really knew about or really experienced or participated in and learning about it in the midst of all of that deconstruction and go, oh my goodness, here is a story, here is a song that marginalized people groups and oppressed people groups have latched onto. And I want to be able to not co-opt it, but be able to say, “Hey, I hear you. I hear this pain that is being experienced,” and I want to then amplify and share those voices as best as I can and as often as I can.
Dan: And the question that this passage, what you’re putting words to in terms of your own experience, puts us really in many ways at that apex of where are you as you are now that we know it’s Christmas Eve? Where are you? Are you a ruler? Are you rich? Are in the position of being called the proud? Because what’s true in your innermost thoughts as the passage says it’s presumption. Is power. Is control. And that can be both personal, just at the level of you need every package to be absolutely wrapped in a way that is perfect, oh, good God again, what exhaustion you bring to the universe, but to your own body, let alone these are deeply personal interpersonal interpsychic. And as you’re bringing categories that when despots silence this song, because the implication is, rulers are going to come down, certainly, and I bear some of the categories you bear, other than I’m a bit more aged and a lot less thin, I see myself more within the category of the arrogant, as a ruler, as rich. And this disruptive passage is inviting me to address how willing am I to enter into what is true about those who have been humbled, who have been oppressed, who know oppression at a different level than what I tend to. Chelle?
Chelle: Well, I would add to this, there’s probably two different things here. One is what is it like to maybe be in that place, but also open up your heart, open up your ears to different voices, and even having that category of who am I allowing in to influence me or who am I opening my ears to? What kinds of voices, what kinds of stories are we actually listening to? And the second part of that is something that I’ve been playing with a lot in looking at lament. Rebekah Eklund’s books on lament in the New Testament especially, she talks a bit about what does it mean for Christ to step into these places? So if we’re talking about the incarnation, you have this whole kind of example of Jesus, and really in that, that incarnation, God responding to these voices in really, really significant ways. So Mary in many ways represents many of the women who cried out in the Old Testament or in other sacred texts, but especially those who are speaking in the Hebrew scriptures that were like, no, you have not answered my plea. You have not answered me. And Mary steps into that place of the woman saying, my children have died. War has taken away the children of our village. We have lost our land. Deep, deep places of oppression where there is no justice. And so this is part of Rebekah Eklund’s argument that in Jesus, Jesus becomes both the one who is weak and vulnerable and steps into the role, I mean first through Mary to be in that place of the one who laments and then to be God’s response. And I don’t mean that to be like, and God responded and everything is fine, more of the powerfulness of the fullness of Christ’s solidarity in human experience. And so that that would be God’s response to us. I mean, this is the Philippians 2 hymn didn’t grasp after power. And that question of, well, if that’s the revelation, we’re talking about signs, we’re talking about what it means. But if that’s the revelation of who God is, if that’s the revelation of the depths of God’s love, then it may be that our spirituality in the West has often veered in the wrong direction.
Dan: Veered in what direction?Chelle: Toward power. Toward, toward, I would say toward control. We could talk a lot about where some theologies are going right now, where it feels like this doesn’t feel like the place of, yeah, I won’t get too much into it, but if we’re going to get into an early Christian spirituality, there’s much more about the invitation into God’s life. There’s much more about the journey of how we become people who are nourished by God’s goodness and beauty. And what does that mean if that journey as revealed through Mary, as revealed through Jesus is to give good things to the hungry and send the rich away without anything? That’s a radical message. And what does that mean, that that’s actually being undone from that power and being rewoven into this place of goodness and beauty?
Dan: Well, this is a semi trite example but we decided over Thanksgiving that as a family, we were not going to give gifts, which was a really? okay. But what was agreed upon is we can give experiences. If you wanted to read a novel with another member of the family, set that up if you wanted to go out on a hike toge. So that was great. And then a week or two before Christmas, I started shopping. And the guy, this almost sounds like Becky is catching me in something wicked, but she caught me and she was like, what are you doing? And I’m like, oh, nothing. You’re shopping. Who are you shopping for? And I’m not going to tell you you’re shopping for me or somebody in the family. Okay, yes. What’s going on? We already agreed, and I won’t go beyond the category of the idea of not getting a few things for a few people in the family felt like I’m failing. I’m failing. Because in some sense, the gift I give is essentially more valuable than the time or the planning for an experience. And it’s just such a small matter, but how much control, how much power, and where we find that back to that image of I don’t wrap presents very well but I’m pretty good at buying. And when I’m deprived of what I have utilized as a means by which to express my love and care for members of my family, particularly my wife, it really felt like I’m being, well, stripped is too strong a word, but stripped of power, stripped of control, and between, again, the interpersonal but also the deeply personal, that’s also corporate, political, cultural. It really is the disruption of control, as you have put it.
Trevor: Yeah. And it’s getting into the fact that the kingdom of God, which is the good news, is an upside down kingdom. So where I think when we often think of Christmas, when we think of presents and all of these kinds of, the simple idea of not giving gifts is countercultural and upside down to how we perceive Christmas. And so I think that’s what I love about Christmas is, how I love about advents and all of these things, it is that is taking all of these things that we take for granted, like materialism, capitalism, war, power, all of these things, and the kingdom of God turns all of that upside down in the incarnation by using someone like Mary by coming in the way that he did. It just is, to me, the culmination of everything that is the good news, which is the upside down kingdom, the kingdom for the oppressed, the kingdom for the poor. And it’s challenging all of us that are in those positions of power, whether we like it or not, or whether we recognize it or not, to acknowledge the upside down kingdom and how this is being flipped through Jesus in the incarnation.
Dan: Yeah, I mean, Thomas Torrance, the book that I’ve referred to, The Incarnation, it just has the simple phrase, the radical inversion of status, that there is something in Christmas, again, the notion that it isn’t just a sweet little holiday. The reality is the dragon is over this, Herod is about to kill a deep, deep massacre of young lives to destroy the savior. There is an awareness that this king born in Bethlehem, is going to disrupt families. It’s going to disrupt people and cultures. And in that, yes, there is oh, silent night, oh, holy night. But one needs to have that sense that the shepherds are terrified and there is loud wild noise. There is an inversion. And for us to be able to, I’m sure there are going to be plenty of families with lovely gifts under the tree. May it be your blessing in that. That is fabulous. We chose not to. I got caught. I chose not to. But in doing something that creates inversion, we have to come back to the fact as Simeon says, that the thoughts of the hearts will be revealed. Christmas. The incarnation is the exposure of what our hearts most desperately need, what we are so prone to, shall we say, formally work into a life without actually being disrupted by what the incarnation brings. So before we end I just want from each of you, how will this be a disruptive holiday day?
Chelle: I wanna hear from Trevor first, so.
Trevor: Yeah I’m thinking through my journey since a lot of this has revolved around the idea of this tattoo is a culmination of my story. This will be the first advent that I have, and I’m double checking my facts here. This will be the first advent in almost 10 years that I have not been a pastor and is the first that we have yet to land ourselves in a community of people here in the northern Illinois. And I think in the way that this story, this advent season can be disruptive, is disrupting our current, I, by my family’s current, kind of going through and trying to land, but allowing us to get into that or to disrupt that almost coasting that we’ve been taking advantage over the last couple months and trying to go, you know what? No, we need to sit in this season and not continue to simply coast in our, I don’t wanna use strong words, trauma or pain, but in trying to almost in some sense, avoiding the last two years of COVID, and all the disruption that has brought, we’ve kind of just been now, especially in northern Illinois where COVID is, doesn’t really exist in the minds of the culture. It’s kind of like you might see two or three masks versus in Seattle you saw ’em all the time. And I know listeners are probably all over the country. And so everyone has a different experience than what COVID has been like. And I think for me, it has been a culture shock. And so we’ve been trying to just avoid it. And so I think in the way that Advent can be disruptive is forcing a time to sit and be silent and to listen and to be present in this season rather than let it simply go by. Because I think that would’ve been more of how we would’ve approached this season is allowing it to go by, but instead actually sitting with it and allowing it to speak to us in this moment which is not the commercialized Christmas for me. And I think I’m okay with that. I think I’m okay with not centering the Christmas holiday, but instead actually centering the radical upside down invitation to sit with the newborn child and to sit with goodness, kindness, gentleness, selflessness and just pure embodiment of love is the invitation and the disruption for me.
Dan: Thank you. Thank you.
Chelle: Trevor. I like you. No, I think this is, I’ve been pretty resistant to Christmas, I think this year. I think just some of the busyness and I have my own, kind of, what is it that I wanna sit with in this season? And realizing that probably the biggest thing for me, thinking about women’s voices, especially in the Bible, how often they’re paired with a male voice and silenced a little bit more the desire often for justice that women cry out for in scripture. You definitely hear it in the Magnific. It’s, it’s just the volume gets turned down. And I think there’s something about embracing one’s desire for the good and the beautiful in the world and not in a trivial sort of way. That includes justice. It includes equality, even to have the desire thinking through, yeah, what are you spending your money on in this season? Christmas is this lavish thing. Advent is actually meant to be a season of fasting before the feast. And I’m like, so where are you looking around the world? Where are you looking in your own backyard? Are there food banks? Are there places where you’re thinking about I don’t know, children having sight, things like that. People being educated, the capacity for other voices to rise up and be heard. And so those kinds of desire, that’s what I hope for, instead of commercials are coming at you and you want that new code or you want that new thing. And instead, I think scripture is kind of the anti of that. Where your desire moves and that direction of, I want the world to have health, wellbeing the capacity to love their children, to hold their children, to have communities that can come together. Those seem very simple desires, but it feels like when we read songs like The Magnificat there’s something that happens where you were like, I think it’s closer to God’s heart, to God’s sense of love and wellbeing in the world. What redemption is, what reconciliation is, that it would to be enable all to live well, to love well, and that’s not some, I don’t know, liberal butterfly dream. I think that’s a Biblical thing of the cry out that my child will be okay in this world.
Dan: Well, to our listeners, we say to you again, may the Song of Mary be one that both exposes but also comforts to know that somehow in owning our own lack of humility our own arrogance, our own wealth, that it also opens up the possibility of naming where we really are weak and where in our weakness and our frailty, there is something in that to not only be blessed, but to be able to bless our living God for choosing to become flesh. And as we come into this season of reversal, of challenging every presumption and expectation may in one sense, the presence of this babe, be one that not only brings exposure but celebration as it did for Mary. The dissent is the open door to ascent. And to that ascent, we say to you all, Merry Christmas.
Trevor: Merry Christmas.
Chelle: Merry Christmas.