Expecting with Joanna Harader

“Expecting” with Joanna Harader

~ing podcast Season 3 Special Episode
Full Episode Transcript

Season 3 Special Episode: “Expecting”, with Joanna Harader was released on November 28, 2022. The audio recording is available on all major podcasting platforms. More information is available here.

Episode Description:

Christmas is about so much more than twinkle lights, sugar cookies, and perfect family photos. It’s about the world-changing, transforming, and sometimes messy reality of “God with us.” 

Through invitational spiritual practices and reflections, Pastor Joana Harader has created a daily Advent devotional centered on the stories of five women in Jesus’ genealogy—Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary—plus three additional female figures connected to Jesus’ early life in the days leading up to Epiphany. We’ll learn more about how she arrived at this project, and where you can find this brand new resource available now from MennoMedia.

The hymn list referenced in the episode can bf found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/14kKwfUXMIB6DgmIdJVyEF2Rh9gKlbXOHEiyedaF6Nk4/edit

A webinar from Anabaptist Worship Network featuring Joanna Harader going into more details about this project can be found here: https://youtu.be/iN-SHwmCTRQ

We hope you consider advertising with ~ing Podcast. Are you connected to an organization with similar values or themes to our guests? Consider becoming an episode or season sponsor! we’ll help you reach our growing audience. To find out more, email [email protected]

A written transcript of this episode is available at our website – https://www.mennomedia.org/ing-podcast/

~ing Podcast is a production of MennoMedia, a nonprofit Publisher that creates thoughtful, Anabaptist resources to enrich faith in a complex world. To find out more, visit us online at MennoMedia.org


Joanna Harader, Ben Wideman

Ben Wideman  00:00

It’s season three of ~ing Podcast, a production of MennoMedia’s Leader Magazine. What does it mean to authentically follow Jesus?

Joanna Harader  00:09

I mean, way back when I was a baby pastor, one of the very first Advents, we did a series on the women in Jesus genealogy, and that series always stuck with me. And when I thought about an Advent devotional, I thought that it could be really meaningful to look more closely at the lives of these women who are connected to Jesus, and listed there in Matthew’s Gospel, which is kind of an amazing thing that their names are even included.

Ben Wideman  00:40

Join us as we talk with people of faith who are creatively thinking, growing, and being… people who are reimagining and exploring what it means to enrich faith in a complex world. Our conversation begins now. Join us as we journey together.  Hello, friends, welcome to ~ing Podcast. We are hard at work on the next season here, but we wanted to drop in with a resource that I think is going to be really valuable as we enter the season of Advent together. I’m really excited today to be joined by a returning guest. We’re excited to have Joanna Harader here with us. Joanna is pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kansas, and does a lot of incredible work around worship and worship liturgies. But she’s got a new book out called Expecting Emmanual: Eight Women who Prepared the Way. First of all, thank you for being with us again here on ~ing Podcast. For those who don’t know you, or may not know you, how do you introduce yourself?

Joanna Harader  01:44

Well, I am pastor… I guess I’ve added author to that list now that I have my first book published with MennoMedia.  Some people may be familiar with me from resources in Voices Together – I wrote some of the some of the prayers and things that are included in the back of that hymnal. I’m honored to be part of that great project.

Ben Wideman  02:09

This resource… I’m really excited about Expecting Emanuel: Eight Women who Prepared the Way. What drew you to put together something like this an Advent devotional focusing specifically on the women in Jesus’s lineage?


Yeah, so I think the inspiration for a devotional came from me being the kind of person… I always want to use a devotional. And I have a hard time finding devotionals that I want to use. I appreciate sort of deeper dives into the biblical text. And there certainly are devotionals out there who do that do that – a lot of them. The devotional writing, though, is is more scratching the surface of the biblical text. So part of it just came from, you know, if there’s something you’re, you’re wanting that doesn’t exist, can you make it happen? The idea for the women… In the… way back when I was a baby pastor, one of the very first Advents, we did a series on the women in Jesus genealogy. It works out well, because there are four in the First Testament listed for women – besides Mary – listed in there, four Sundays in Advent before Christmas. So it lined up well, and, I just… that series always stuck with me. And when I thought about an Advent devotional, I thought that it could be really meaningful to look more closely at the lives of these women who are connected to Jesus, and listed… and listed there in Matthew’s Gospel, which is kind of an amazing, an amazing thing that their names are even included in the genealogy to begin with,

Ben Wideman  03:56

Included in a very patriarchal context. And yet, here they are, and, and women that don’t necessarily fit a neat and tidy kind of understanding of a woman’s role either in that in that time,


Not the women you might expect, right? These aren’t the matriarchs. This isn’t Sarah and Rachel and then they’re the women who – Ruth has an entire book with her name, so maybe Ruth is is probably the most familiar – but beyond that there, the women you have to look up, you know, in the index and go back and figure out who was that what did tamer do, whoo, you know, they’re they’re not the most well known women are the well known stories and yeah, they’re all kind of morally suspect from from this form of superficial reading of the story. There’s, there’s a lot of sex, there’s a lot of things that just kind of make you wonder what’s going on. It’s It’s an honor to be sure.

Ben Wideman  05:02

I’m imagining in this book you dig into why they might be included. But you went beyond those those names that we’ve we’ve mentioned Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary, you’ve also got a few additional female figures in this book is as well.


I was challenged to be liturgically, faithful and go all the way through epiphany rather than stopping at the New Year, because the New Year is not anything in the liturgical cycle.

Ben Wideman  05:34

Not the end of the Christmas season officially,


So you go through epiphany. I did look to some of the women in the, in the New Testament, and I wrote with with the First Testament women, there are multiple reflections kind of walking through their story, Mary span before Christmas, and after Christmas, because we have stories of her life before Jesus birth and after Jesus birthday. And then to fill out epiphany, we have just I have one reflection each on the Prophet Anna, the weeping mothers in the story of King Herod ordering the murder, the slaughter of the boys, and then Sophia, Flash wisdom slash logos. So I wanted John’s Gospel to get a little bit of time in the devotional. And the birth – that quote unquote, birth story that we have in John’s Gospel – is the preamble and the beginning was the word… the logos, which has very strong connections to the figure of Sophia, in the First Testament, and I was interested in looking at those scriptures together and thinking about Christ as a female figure in that context. So why not end with a bang? Right?

Ben Wideman  06:56

I like that. For those who pick up this, this book. What will they find when they open up those pages? Is it something for every day through this Advent and Christmas season? Yes, there are dated readings, they start on November 27, which is the first possible day for Advent to begin as it always begins on a Sunday, so the date will vary. But this this year, Advent begins as early at the earliest possible date, on the 27th, which means Christmas is on a Sunday. So there are daily readings, each reading has a scripture passage for people to look up and read, a reflection on that passage, a few questions to consider. And as suggested spiritual practice that goes along with some of the themes for that reflection, and I use the term spiritual practice very broadly. So it might be a form of prayer, but it might be write a letter to, you know, write a letter to someone who has influenced you or there, it’s a pretty broad understanding of spiritual practice. And it’s certainly not the idea that everyone will do every spiritual practice and write essays on every question to consider every single day, but they’re there and hopefully, some of them will spark people’s interest and attention and speak to their spirits. And as we go through the women’s stories, like with Tamar, when we get through her story, then there’s a blessing in the voice of Tamar. And with each of the blessings for each of the women. Michelle Burkholder, who’s also a Mennonite pastor has created artwork that goes along with the blessing. Oh, wow. So there are those are in blessing pairs for each of the women and those are available from MennoMedia as a digital download if there are any for any reason, really, but the the main reason we wanted them to be available is for churches who use the material to be able to use the images on we’re using art on bulletin covers. Columbus Mennonite is doing an amazing display where they blown up Michelle’s artwork really big and they’re putting it on these glass blocks to shine the light through. paper cutouts Michelle does paper cutouts. It’s just stunning. So there are there. There’s individual there are ways for individuals to use this throughout the season. But there are also suggestions in the back then for churches to use it in worship, or in small groups, or retreat settings. As a pastor. I had a desire to make a book that would be helpful not just on an individual level. But what as a pastor what I want to make it easier for me during the Advent, because there’s enough going on during and then if you can have a good resource that already has some prayers done already has some images to work with. Hopefully it can be helped to pastors and other leaders as well and give them a little space to breathe and rest and experience Advent themselves rather than just orchestrating it for everyone else.  It strikes me that there’s something theological in there, perhaps too, it’s not just an individual journey. But can you say more about that, too, is are you imagining it being used in these different ways to make it more communal than just a Chicken Soup for the Soul… personal, individual kind of devotional thing?

Joanna Harader  10:50

Well, it’s definitely not Chicken Soup for the Soul, however. I think it I think it depends. I think that there’s, there’s some hard and challenging things in the stories of these women. Yeah. And it could be very helpful to have a community walking with you through some of that. I also think that there are some individuals within communities who would not use a resource like this, but who personally might need some of the wisdom and accompaniment that these women offer. And I hope it can be a resource for them as well. I hope some people can find this book as individuals who might need a little bit of a different perspective. Yeah. So I don’t I don’t know what the Holy Spirit is going to do with this book and people’s lives. I’m, you know, I’m excited to see and to be part of whatever is happening.

Ben Wideman  11:53

Yeah. I like that, though. I mean, these are women that I would know, as someone who has been to seminary, I would know by name, but certainly have not spent much time digging deeper into who they are. And giving that to us as a gift feels really significant. And expanding it beyond ourselves to, to share in that together through digital worship resources through discerning together as community, I think is really, really powerful and valuable. And any reference to not just worship, but small group and retreat settings might be able to benefit from a resource like this as well. I really hope that whoever’s listening to this really does consider it and see how it might fit into to your season here, as we as we continue to journey.


And I’ll put in a plug, because it’s a book about women doesn’t mean it’s a book only for women. Yeah. This was actually the third podcast I’ve been on and you’re the first male person I’ve talked publicly about this book, I think we tend to pigeonhole studies of women’s stories as being for the women’s group. And I think these women deserve attention from everybody in the church. And in some ways, I think, maybe the men are the people who most need to pay attention to their stories.

Ben Wideman  13:23


Joanna Harader  13:23

But I hope that it is used as a book for everybody. I certainly welcome women’s groups to use it. I don’t want to discourage that. But maybe some men’s groups will use it or some, you know, broader, broader based groups. It was not my intent for this to be like, a resource only for women just because it is about the women.

Ben Wideman  13:45


Joanna Harader  13:45

And I feel silly saying that, because if this was a book about men, I wouldn’t have to be telling you that it’s not right.

Ben Wideman  13:52

Yes, that’s right. I’d love to hear a bit more about the working relationship between you and our mutual friend, Michelle Burkholder. Michelle is a pastor at Hyattsville Mennonite, and I’ve been really touched by the artwork that Michelle creates, and what was it like to, to be on the writing side of things and then to sort of hand it off to someone to say create something visual to go along with it.


Michelle’s involvement has been a really deep gift of this project. It was a random idea that I had that I threw out. And Michelle very graciously said sure. And MennoMedia said okay, and and allowed that to be added to the project, which was a lot of work on their end as well to add art into a project that didn’t originally have it. I believe that the art makes this a much more meaningful. book and I know that there I’m a very not surprising to anyone. I’m a very verbal wordy person. Not every not everyone is for folks who are more more visual, I think the artwork is essential. So I wrote the blessings, and sent them to Michelle. Michelle just kind of live with the blessings for a while, pondered them and then created the artwork. And it was one of the most thrilling moments. sounds like hyperbole, but I don’t think it is like one of the most thrilling moments in my life when I got to see the art. And it’s just amazing. And the way that it that it echoes and enhances and adds to the words and the blessing, I think are really, it’s really meaningful. And I’m so grateful that Menno media created the download, because like for us, we’ll have the artwork on the front of the bullet, and then the blessing on the back. And then that’s something people can have through the week or beyond to look at because I think it’s something, both the words and the image individually, I think you could spend a lot of time with either of them. And then when you look at them together, yeah, it’s my favorite part of the book, those pairings are my favorite part of the book. And I hope that people have this the same connect, feel the same spiritual connection that I am able to experience when I look at the artwork and consider it in relation to the words of the blessing.

Ben Wideman  16:34

Oh, I love that. I love stories like that where, you know, sum is greater than its parts.

Joanna Harader  16:41

Yeah, exactly.

Ben Wideman  16:42

A collaborative effort that just really makes everything better. Well, great. I’m really excited to to dive into this and to use it here at University Mennonite Church, in our worship as we continue through this season. Thank you so much for offering this to the church in this way. And for putting it out there for for people to benefit from. I’m sure there are other people to join, even though you know, it feels like a personal project or longing that you had. I’m sure there are other folks out there who don’t have the time to set aside for a project like this, who will be very grateful that it now exists is out there in the world to be used. So thank you.


Yeah, thanks for having me on. I always like to talk with you, Ben. For churches, I think probably like University Mennonite even at this point. I imagine churches have their Advent worship planned out. There are pieces in the book that I think could be useful in an Advent worship setting, even in congregations that aren’t specifically focusing on these women or this book for their time of worship. For churches who are using using the book. And a Baptist worship network has compiled a list of hints from voices together that go along that connect with each woman’s story is an amazing resource. And I don’t know what kind of I don’t know what final format this all takes. But I can send you the link to that to post for people. Because that’s amazing. And of course, the people who run Anabaptist Worship Network, were on the team that put the hymnal together. So they’re very familiar with that music and did a really great job. Choosing some hymns that may not be the familiar expected Advent hymns that tie in with the themes in the women’s race.

Ben Wideman  18:38

I think we’d be able to put a link to that in our show notes here on the podcast. So yeah. For those who are listening to it now. It’s there, hopefully. Well, great. Joanna, thank you so much. For folks who are interested in learning a bit more. How might one find a copy of this book?


Well, it’s almost sold out on Amazon. But MennoMedia has it… pretty much any online online bookstore probably has it or can get it.

Ben Wideman  19:10

I think it’s available both as a hardcopy and an ebook version. If you’re an e book reader, and like we mentioned earlier, there are accompanying digital worship resources, which can also be purchased through mental media’s web store as well. Joanna, thank you so much, and yeah, peace be with you through this Advent season as we continue on this journey.  As always we’d like to thank our guests and all who support ~ing Podcast. Thank you for joining us on the journey. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review in your favorite podcasting app. And if you have something to share, send us a message at [email protected] or by leaving us a voicemail. ~ing Podcast is hosted by Reverend Allison Maus and Reverend Dr. Dennis Edwards. And produced by me, Ben Wideman. Views and opinions expressed on ~ing Podcast are those of our hosts and guests and may not represent that of Leader Magazine or MennoMedia. ~ing Podcast is a production of MennoMedia, a nonprofit publisher that creates thoughtful Anabaptist resources to enrich faith in a complex world. To find out more, visit us online at MennoMedia.org.