Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Advent Anticipation

In 1971 Carly Simon released a great song called Anticipation. It is widely believed that the song is about her relationship with singer/songwriter Cat Stevens. Even though the song reached #13 on the Billboard’s Hot 100, it might have been forgotten but for a sweet red condiment called ketchup.

Heinz Ketchup successfully used the Carly Simon song in its advertizing campaign. It’s difficult to think of Simon’s song without thinking of Heinz Ketchup. And for me the opposite is also true; nearly every time I see a Heinz Ketchup bottle I think of the song.

When I think of the lyrics Simon wrote I am not convinced that she knew what anticipation meant. It is as if she is blaming anticipation for the break-up. But the advertisers at Heinz Ketchup knew exactly the meaning of anticipation. The point of the commercial of course was that the ketchup was so good that it was worth the wait, it was worth the anticipation.

So the song has nothing to do with Advent but the feeling of anticipation has everything to do with Advent. The word “advent” comes from a Latin word that means, “coming.” If you can recall memories of excitement and anticipation as you were trying desperately to fall to sleep as a young child on Christmas Eve. That’s the kind of anticipation that Advent is meant to recall, an anticipation that is worth the wait.

Simon wrote, “Anticipation, anticipation/Is makin' me late/Is keepin' me waitin’.” Advent is in part about preparing for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. And that will be satisfied. I like to joke with people that Christmas will come (and go) whether I’m ready or not (and that’s a good thing). Advent is also about anticipating the birth of Jesus Christ as Lord of my life. That too (if it’s not already) will be satisfied, in time.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” Luke 3:4, 6

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