The tabloids tickle the curiosity of their readers with intriguing accounts of alien landings. Our planet has been visited by beings of great intelligence, we are told.
Strangely enough, they are partially correct. We have been visited by someone from "out there."
The word "advent" means "arrival." It is in this season that the church celebrates the arrival of God in human form, in the person called Jesus. In him, heaven's truth is revealed to earthlings.
In this troubled world, we long for someone to help us with truth and love, justice and peace. Advent announces this one has come. Help has arrived. A Savior has come.
When we accept God's help, receive God's pardon and direction, we discover we've been embraced by the Creator, our heavenly Parent.
Here is a true story that illustrates the meaning of Advent. It has to do with how Hans felt when he first met his father.
Before Hans was born, in a town near Moscow, during the terrible days of World War II, his father, an artist and a Christian, was arrested and imprisoned in a Siberian concentration camp. So Hans had never known his father.
With amazing courage and perseverance, his mother managed to escape to the United States of America and Hans grew up in Pennsylvania. He learned some things about his father through sketches his mother had managed to keep when she fled. She told him stories about his dad. Then, after the war, through consulate officials, a contact was made. Han's dad was alive! Letters began to stream in. Finally, his dad came to the United States.
Hans, now 17, was waiting with eager excitement at the airport. When they met, it was a tearful embrace. Now he could live with his father and know him personally.
This is what Jesus Christ's advent means to us. We've seen God's artistry in creation. We've read his letters in the Bible. But in Jesus, we experience a personal meeting with God, who meets us at our level, in the weakness of flesh and blood, to imbue us with heaven's grace and power.
Yes, our planet has been visited. God has come to us in Jesus, with arms open to embrace us, forgive us, and teach us the ways of love and mercy, justice and peace. That is the good news of Advent.
The Rev. Randy Klassen is retired minister of the Evangelical Covenant Church. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.