DEAR REV. GRAHAM: We moved to a new city last year, and the church we've started attending is more formal or traditional than our old one. Recently, they've been talking about Advent, and I'm too embarrassed to admit I don't even know what it means. I know it has something to do with Christmas, but what? —T.K.
Dear T.K.: The word "advent" simply means the coming or arrival of someone at their destination. It also can refer to the preparation someone makes for a journey.
For Christians, "Advent" refers to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world at Christmas, and the "Advent season" in some churches is a special time of spiritual preparation in the weeks before Christmas. During Advent, people are urged to remember the promises God made over the centuries to His people, telling them that some day the Savior would come. They also recall the moving story of the virgin Mary, and how God chose her to be the human mother of His Son.
But Advent season also reminds us of another truth: Some day Jesus Christ will come again in glory to establish His perfect Kingdom. As the angel said to the disciples after Jesus ascended into heaven, "This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
In the midst of all the busyness and materialism that often obscure the true meaning of Christmas, ask God to help you focus on the wonder of Christ's coming. He alone is our Savior, and He alone can forgive us and transform us as we open our lives to Him. Make this the best Christmas season you have ever had, as you put Christ first in your family and your life.