One of the things I think of during the Advent and Christmas season are road trips. As a kid, almost every year we would load up the car and head to Grandma and Grandpa’s farm for Christmas. We’d fill the middle seat of our Ford Country Squire station wagon (the one with the wood paneling on the side…remember those?) with luggage and gifts, and then my brothers and I would crawl in to the back, rear-facing seat, and then my parents would pile more stuff around us for the 2.5 hour trip to the farm.
Sitting in those rear seats was always an adventure. We’d work to find the happy balance: we’d read until just before we thought we might throw up from being car-sick, and then pause until we felt better, and then start over again. My brothers and I would rate on a scale of 1-10 how friendly the drivers behind us were when we would wave at them.
And, we’d wonder what was on all of those road signs that were flying past us. (We could only see the back side of them.)
After a few years of doing this, we got pretty good at identifying some of the landmarks after we passed them: The Lion’s Tap in Shakopee, the silo painted like a 7-up can, the “Big Boy” guy holding up the hamburger in Mankato, so we’d get a sense of how much longer we had. But after we’d get past Mankato, there really wasn’t much left as landmarks (or scenery), and so we’d begin asking the question every parent loves to hear: “How much longer?”
And my Dad would inevitably reply: “Almost there!”
It didn’t matter if we were 5 minutes from Grandma and Grandpa’s, or 45 minutes. The answer was always “Almost there!”
Sometimes, this is how I think of Advent.
It is a journey of four weeks to Christmas. And let’s be honest, we all want to get to Christmas. The joy, the wonder, the events surrounding December 24 and 25 are something that most often we look forward to. But in Advent, we have to content ourselves to wait.
How much longer? Almost there.
In that rear-facing car seat, while we were impatient, it was because we knew what would happen once Dad lowered that back window and allowed us to crawl out. Waiting for us was family…a feast…gifts…games sitting on my Grandpa’s lap…a hug from my Grandma. I could wait because I knew what was coming.
Today is December 22. It feels like we’ve been waiting forever for Christmas. And I want to shout out the question “How much longer?!?”
The reply? Almost there.
We’re almost there. And as impatient as we are, we know what awaits us at Christmas. Family…a feast…time together…gifts…and most importantly, receiving the presence of Christ, who comes to us as a child.
Like a shepherd, he will care for his flock,
gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them,
leading the nursing ewes to good pasture.
– Isaiah 40:11
For that, I can (with great anticipation) wait.
We’re almost there!