Welcoming Advent and the Season of Faith
The weeks that precede Christmas are observed by many Christians as the season of Advent—a time of expectation, preparation, and waiting for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ at Christmas.
Many families use “Advent Calendars” as a special way to count down the days before Christmas. Advent is a time of personal reflection that culminates on Christmas Eve.
It is somewhat ironic that the founding sponsor of Adventist HealthCare—the Seventh-day Adventist Church—carries the root word Advent in its name but, because it is a non-liturgical Christian communion, has no formal celebration or traditions for the season of Advent. Its theological and practical focus is on the return of Jesus Christ to the world, an event that is referred to as the “Second Advent.” This is a foundational element of the Adventist faith—the expectation, preparation, and waiting for God’s culminating and triumphant salvation of the world.
Expectation. Preparation. Waiting. We have learned firsthand what these words mean over the last months that have been so dramatically shaped by COVID-19. Our own mission as an organization, which is rooted in a collective commitment "to extend God's care through the ministry of physical, mental and spiritual healing,” is shaped and nurtured through informed expectations about the opportunities and challenges inherent in serving our communities.
Our mission requires careful and intentional preparation for the circumstances that shape the health and wellness of the people we serve. We know the importance of waiting for the strategies and actions that we undertake to unfold over time in the health outcomes we seek for our communities.
During Advent, regardless of our individual faith traditions and practices, there is an opportunity to look inward as well as outward. How can we be more aware of God’s presence in our personal situation and in the circumstances of our daily lives? In what ways can we be more observant of God’s purposes for our lives? How do we prepare our hearts and minds—not only for those things that we can foresee and anticipate but also with the hopeful expectation that God’s love and goodness will express itself in helpful, valuable, and even transforming ways in the days to come?
Advent is often represented by the light of a single candle. In these winter days—when the darkness and seriousness of the circumstances that we face in our world, our communities, and our own situations can seem so difficult and intractable—Advent shines the light of hope and the unquenchable light of God’s love.
May this be our shared Advent prayer and the focus of our expectations.