December 14 - Expecting the Best

Reflection by Raphiell Ashford, student at Virginia Theological Seminary.

This past Sunday was the Third Sunday of Advent, also known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Gaudete from the Latin which means “rejoice!” Indeed, this season is a not only a time of anticipation and expectation, but in many ways also a time to rejoice. This Sunday was originally meant as a break in the season (often penitential in tone) and signified the nearness of the Lord’s arrival.

I have been reflecting on the themes of advent: anticipation, expectation, and rejoicing, and pondered what if we expanded these themes beyond the season of Advent. What if we were to incorporate them into our daily lives?  How would that change us? The world?

To anticipate the best in others would cause us to expect the best in others and rejoice when this belief comes to fruition.

To anticipate the best in others would cause us to expect the best in others and rejoice when this belief comes to fruition. Anticipating the best in others might lead to us to seeing each other in a different light. Expecting the best of others, might lead us to change our thought patterns. Rejoicing when those expectations are met might be contagious to those around us and spread outside the boundaries of our circle.

The one for whom we await the arrival on Christmas Day would live his life in this way; encouraging us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To be a light in the darkness for those who need a compass to guide them to the life of Christ; to anticipate the needs of those who are marginalized; to expect that all persons will be treated with dignity and respect, and to rejoice when someone has chosen to make a commitment to Christ.

We should live an Advent life thorough out the year; not just in December. Jesus did not choose a specific time to go among the people spreading the news of the Gospel with zeal. It was his life. As we continue throughout this season of anticipation, expectation, and rejoicing, let us take a moment to think about what it would mean to you and others if we modeled and lived an Advent life year around.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. 

About Raphiell

Raphiell Ashford is currently in his senior year at Virginia Theological Seminary, where he serves as the Student Body Vice-President. Prior to seminary, Raphiell served as Organist/Choirmaster and Parish Administrator at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Jackson, MS for thirteen years. He has also worked in the social services, mental health, and medical fields prior to his matriculation at Virginia Theological Seminary. A native of Kosciusko, MS, Raphiell’s hobbies and interests include playing his musical instruments, bowling, horseback riding, historic tours, reading biographies, and watching the ID Channel. 

About Virginia Theological Seminary

Located in Alexandria Virginia, Virginia Theological Seminary is an accredited Seminary of the Episcopal Church – one of eleven in the United States. Students from every Episcopal province in the United States and from many other countries have found their way to VTS to be shaped by the discipline of worship in an environment committed to learning so that they can serve Christ effectively.

VTS is recognized as one of the Seminaries that Change the World: Class of 2016-17. To learn more about VTS, visit their website at, or view VTS's full Seminaries that Change the World profile.