Carly Simon wrote the song “Anticipation” in 1971 in 15 minutes while playing her guitar as she waited for Cat Stevens to pick her up so the two could go on a date. The song became one of her biggest hits and was also used in advertisements for Heinz Ketchup for over a decade. I remember those commercials; kids holding ketchup bottles upside-down over burgers or hot dogs and waiting for the slow moving condiment to flow.
The dictionary takes us beyond the ketchup bottle illustration. You see, anticipation is more than just waiting. Anticipation involves preparing for a future event, even if that preparation is simply writing a song about the waiting as in Simon’s case. Waiting is what we do when we’re going to let something happen TO us; Anticipation is getting involved and taking part in WHAT is going to happen. To remember that, I like to mash the two words together. Part + anticipate = Participate. Anticipation involves preparation which is participation.
This causes me to think about how we prepare for academic tests. We usually find out in advance when the tests are and what material will be covered. Some students look at tests as a form of punishment and dread them. Their only preparation is a plan to be absent on test day. Admittedly, I’ve been lax in my studies from time to time and I paid for that on test day. I actually tried to take an on-line algebra II course and was so frustrated by the poor coordination and nonexistent tech support that I threw the books in a box and only showed up to guess on the mid-term and final. I managed to get credit for the class. What can I say? It was a required course. I’m not anticipating becoming a mathematician.
On the other hand – when I learned I was going to be a father, each of the three times (apparently – I paid more attention in biology class than I did in algebra) I IMMEDIATELY began to anticipate my child’s birth. Part of that was to provide healthcare for the child already alive in my wife’s womb. The rest of my anticipation was preparing a place in our home for our new child, preparing myself with lots of prayer and reading “What to Expect” books and then all those awesome trips to the baby stores to buy all kinds of cool baby stuff!
The Christmas season known as “Advent” has just begun. The word “Advent” comes from the Medieval Latin word “adventus” meaning “arrival”. The Adventus was a ceremony in ancient Rome in which an Emperor was formally welcomed into a city, usually after a military campaign or at the beginning of a religious festival. All the citizens anticipated this event by preparing for his advent. As Christmas Day rapidly approaches, Santa Claus may be coming to town, but a King of Kings has already come. All the holiday decorations and colored lights certainly brighten a dark time of year but they’re representative of the effect of a small light born into a dark world over 2000 years ago. The Advent has already occurred and so we celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmastime, but we can live in anticipation of Jesus’ return and participate in the preparation for His Second Advent every day of our lives.
© 2015 Curt Savage Media