When I was little, my church used to have family retreats in upstate New York at a tired little camp in the middle of the winter. My family would go every year and sing in the talent show, spend a few nights falling out of our rickety bunk beds onto each other, and playing on the scooters in the gym.
One year, for some reason, my dad couldn’t come until later, so my mom took the wheel and started on the several hour drive with three small children.
I don’t remember much about the drive until Mom admitted we were lost. So lost, in fact, that we had to ask for directions at least twice at gas stations.
My supportive brothers and I suggested more than once that we should just go back home and wait for Dad. We had very limited faith in my mother’s terrible sense of direction (a sense I had the misfortune to inherit).
One year, the pastor’s wife got so lost she ended up in another state. Evidently this camp was harder to find than I give my mother credit for.
Recently, I was talking to my roommate about directions and we realized that people don’t get lost any more. I check google maps on my phone before I leave for work most mornings to check the traffic and fastest route. I don’t look up directions before road trips or even carry maps in my car.
No sooner have I missed a turn than my phone is thinking about the next fastest way to get to my destination.
We’ve forgotten what it’s like to get lost.
It’s Advent in the church calendar, a time when we endeavor to remember what it’s like to wait with eager expectation. We remember that the world was once lost, then rescued.
We remember that we are lost, and that we are not going to find our own way.
This year especially, Advent feels heavy. I see clearly that we are so lost, that the way things are is not the way they are meant to be.
I want to pull out my cosmic GPS and get us back on the right path. I want God to reach down and make everything new right now. The suffering and sin of the world feels heavier and nearer now than ever before.
And yet this is what Advent is. The God who has come before is here now and will come again. Emmanuel, God is with us. Through whatever this year has brought and will bring.
We may be lost, but we are not alone. And so we wait for rescue with confidence and longing.
O come, o come, Emmanuel.