Today's reading: Philippians 1:1-11
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. (v. 6)
Every Advent, we are traveling two roads at once.
We journey toward Bethlehem with the family, the shepherds, the angels, the kings. With sheep and camels and donkey; with the Hosannah-ing multitudes filling the skies. We journey in remembrance, doing our best to imagine ourselves in the footsteps that finally found rest among the livestock out behind the hotel. Counting down the days to Christmas, we know we will eventually arrive because there is a deadline, circled in red on our calendars----by December 25th, all the presents must be wrapped, the cookies baked, the tree decorated, and the manger padded with clean new straw for the newborn baby. We know there is an end to our planning and preparing, a culmination of our efforts. We will get there.
The other road we're walking isn't as sure. It leads off to a horizon in the far distance, and we can't see the final destination, can't mark our calendars and countdown the days til we get there. The second Advent we travel is the path to Christ's second Arrival, which we await just as anxiously as the prophets who foretold his first coming.
At times, we may be so anxious that we become obsessed with looking for signs that suggest we're nearly there (a habit that has preoccupied travelers since this route was first laid out). At times our anxiety may push us to move faster so we'll get there sooner, or to ignore the laws of respect and etiquette in our rush to arrive. In our hurry, we may be so focused on the horizon and its dreamed-of destination that we fail to remember that the journey is not ours alone, but that other pilgrims are making their way as well.
Just as Christmas inevitably comes, just as we count down daily to number 25, so the day of Jesus Christ will come. The inn on the horizon will slowly come into focus, and our tired footsteps will reach its door. The God who started us on this road will faithfully bring us to its endpoint--where not only the journey but we will reach completion. There's no need to count milemarkers, or to run red lights, or to change lanes to try to outpace each other; God's route is sure, and God's destination is secure. The good work of the Way will bring us Home.