At Christmas time around many churches, we hear the word “Advent”, and many of us really don’t understand what the word even means. It is from a Latin word that means, “coming.” So in the Christian use of the word, it means the time of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It is the time we set aside to prepare our hearts, as we celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!
Now, I love Santa, and I had an uncle and a good friend who played the part of Santa for many years. My friend was from Idaho and at the time I met him, I was the Pastor of a church in Hampton, VA. Keith was the Santa at the mall in Hampton for many years, and his home church was the same denomination as we were. He walked in one Sunday morning, and my first thought was, “Santa has come to worship the Baby Jesus of Christmas!” Keith and My wife and I quickly became good friends and would often go out to eat together when he was in town. One day at lunch, we were at Cracker Barrel and 3 ladies walked up to our table and asked if they could take a picture with Santa. We quickly set a chair by the fireplace and Keith sat down for the ladies to gather around him. Then came what he said was his most unique request ever. One of the ladies who was from Germany said, “When I was a child, I never had an opportunity to sit on Santa’s knee and tell him what I wanted for Christmas!” So, Keith obliged her, and she sat on his knee, and the other ladies stood behind and Rachel took a picture of them! And then Keith said to them, “Santa is in town, but I attend this Pastor’s church so I can worship and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!” Today, Keith is in the presence of Jesus because he prepared his heart to meet Jesus at the end of his earthly life.
So, Advent offers all of us a wonderful opportunity to discover the true meaning of Christmas. We can have Santa and have gifts, but that is not why we have Christmas. It is all about a God who loved us all so much, that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to be born as a baby in Bethlehem.
Let’s use this season to prepare for Christmas, to open our heart to Jesus, and to prepare for the next arrival of Jesus. We don’t know when that will be, but I want to be prepared! I may die before that moment, but I want to be prepared either way. Don’t you? Remember dear friend, God loves you. Every single person is loved by God, and I love you too.