By Sharon Wilson

My dog knows when I am getting ready to take her for a walk. She knows the difference between my work clothes and my walking clothes. As soon as I put on the sweatpants and t-shirt, she starts pacing the room. When she sees me slip on my tennis shoes, she goes berserk! Often her enthusiasm is premature, and she has to wait for me to tidy up the kitchen, take out the garbage, or pause to have a cup of coffee with my husband before I leave. At these times, she quiets down just a bit and watches me with anticipation until I grab her leash, and we are on our way.

Anticipation is a great word. It is similar to expectation, excitement, faith, and suspense. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines anticipation as “a feeling of excitement about something that is going to happen.: the act of preparing for something.”

Christmas is just a mere five days away, and sometimes like a little child at Christmas – I can’t wait! I am not good at waiting, and more times than not, our family opens a Christmas present early – just one. But waiting is a spiritual discipline. Part of the joy of experiencing something comes from anticipating it and reflecting on it.

Nine months ago, we celebrated the Annunciation of the Lord and heard the story of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary in Luke’s Gospel.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” ~Luke 1:31-33

Mary waited nine months for the birth of Jesus—what joy to carry the Christ child in her womb and anticipate his birth into the world. Entrusted by God with the messiah—Emmanuel, God is with us. The salvation of the world promised—will finally arrive!

Anticipation or apprehension – both involve waiting. What makes the waiting different? Oh, to only remember the words the angel said to Mary.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God” (Luke 1:30).

When our waiting is bringing us closer to God, Jesus, and salvation, the fear is gone, and we can anticipate with joy, excitement, and expectation.

A few decades ago, Carly Simon sang a song called Anticipation.  The song begins, “We can never know about the days to comeBut we think about them anyway.”  In these last days of waiting for Christmas, while we are thinking about the days to come, let your anticipation bring you joy!