Anticipations on Dec 20
As you read this, I expect your calendar claims it is 2007. That’s not yet the case for me, however.
For me, while I am writing this, it’s still 2006. In a few days we’ll celebrate the 4th Sunday of Advent, and then later, that night, we’ll experience the magic of Christmas —especially during our spectacular “Midnight Mass”, and a week later a New Year’s Eve party and a trading in of my old calendar for a new one.
As you read this, all of these either happened or they didn’t — but in either case, it’s all in the past. Gone.
Yet as I write here at my desk, it’s all in the future. Sweet anticipation! And that anticipation is a big part of what I like most during those days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like the mixture of memories and the looking ahead. I like the planning, and the expectation. And as I discover the anticipation bubbling to the surface, and become increasingly aware of how it affects my thinking, emotions, and behavior, it makes me realize how important anticipation is to my spiritual experience as well.
None of this is news to us, and our liturgy is so packed with anticipation. Both Advent and Lent, for example, are more about anticipation than anything else. Our prayers and creeds are also packed with anticipation. “Thy Kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come.”
Yet every year my anticipation of Christmas and New Years Day are rewarded shortly thereafter by their appearances. Not so with our liturgical anticipations. Every we week I say we look for the life of the world to come… but never yet have I said, “look! It already happened, it came last week, it’s past.” New Year’s Eve parties always include an exciting, climactic moment — but anticipating the life of the world to come has to produce any confetti or kissing.
Under these conditions, it becomes possible for us to let our anticipatory dreams die. Rather than longing for the future, and giving ourselves to bringing it to light, we may become dulled to hope, longing and anticipation. We may, like Scrooge, desperately need a visit from the ghost of Christmas Future.
This Sunday, when we come to gather, may we hear a whisper from the Spirit: “Listen to what you’re singing! Listen to what you’re saying! Pay attention to what you’re doing. It’s all true! Anticipate!”
The Lord be with you!