Dear First Pres,

   It was pretty cold this morning. Did you notice? For the last week, I've been wearing a thin pullover in the morning; but today, I put on a thicker, warmer fleece jacket (the one that has a big N for Nebraska on it). The season is changing. The temperatures are dropping; there's more basketball than football on television; and the leaves are awaiting their imminent fall.

   We're also entering a new season as a church. Sunday marks the beginning of Advent. I love Advent. Not only does it mean having folks from the congregation light the Advent candle at the beginning of worship, and the slow build of Christmas hymns Sunday after Sunday. It also serves as the reminder that we need a Savior who comes to us.

   As many of you know, Advent comes from the Latin word that means "coming" or "visit." It's an important season in the year because it helps us look back and look ahead. First, Advent reminds us of the longing of the Jews for the promised Messiah who would finally set them free. During Advent we identify with that longing as we wait for the celebration of Christmas; it helps us get in touch with our own need for the Savior's birth and our deep gratitude for God's sending of the only begotten Son. Second, Advent reminds us to look ahead to the second advent of Christ Jesus when God will finally bring everything under the complete Lordship of the Son.

   So Advent is a season of remembering, anticipating, and waiting. How will you lean into the season of Advent this year? I encourage you to make Sunday worship a priority. I also encourage you to mark the time with some sort of an Advent ritual in your home (wreath, calendar, candles, devotional). Take a few moments each day, starting Sunday, to consider the season and what it means. Click here for a trusted Advent Devotional. It's designed for each Sunday of Advent, but can easily be adapted for daily meditation.

   All in all, my message is simple: be intentional about living into this next season, Advent. Whenever I've done this well, my heart is much more prepared to truly celebrate the following season, Christmas. May it be so for you.