Anticipate verb an·tic·i·pate \an-ˈti-sə-ˌpāt\
: to think of (something that will or might happen in the future)
: to expect or look ahead to (something) with pleasure : to look forward to (something)
: to do something before someone else
May is always a month of anticipation, as thousands of students across the country graduate from high school, colleges and universities, and other places of higher learning. Students have greatly anticipated finishing their degrees and moving on to what the future holds for them.
As June comes upon us, we, as a church, live in a time of anticipation. We’ve said our goodbyes to Dr. John and Susan Robbins and now we are in a season of anticipation, awaiting the opportunity to welcome our new senior pastor, Dr. Jan Davis and her husband, Deames.
As we anticipate, we may be tempted to have a “let’s wait and see” attitude. However, there is a danger in spending all our time thinking about the future and looking ahead to the future. When we become too future-focused we most certainly will fail to experience the gift of the present moment. That’s why my favorite definition of anticipate is “to do something before someone else.”
In sports there are certain people who seem to have a nose for the ball. In football, they are the players who always seem to come up with the ball when it is fumbled. In basketball, these are the players who outhustle everyone else to get the lose ball, make a steal, and come up with the crucial rebound. They have the uncanny ability to anticipate where the ball is going to be and get there before anyone else does. They are able to do something before anyone else does. They don’t wait to see what happens. These players make things happen.
We can do something before someone else right now in the name of Christ. I don’t mean that we should compete with one another through good deeds. Instead, I am thinking more of what Jesus said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:7). The harvest is always plentiful and there is no time to have a “let’s wait and see” mentality. If we wait, we miss great opportunities to share the gospel in word and deed right now in the present moment.
Recently, we recognized the birthday of the Church on Pentecost Sunday. Pentecost is the day when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples of Jesus and they began to boldly proclaim “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). Soon thereafter, the Spirit-filled disciples, along with the estimated 3,000 new believers, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers” (Acts 2:42). I’ve heard these early church practices referred to as the four legs of the chair on which the Church sits. Yet, sitting is never the final posture of the Spirit-filled Church. The Spirit-filled Church advances the good news of Jesus Christ in word and action. The disciples, along with the new believers, soon found themselves doing what Jesus had been doing—providing for those in need, healing, freeing, correcting injustices, crossing racial and ethnic boundaries, and forgiving sins. All the while, they lived with the anticipation that Christ was going to return soon. The Holy Spirit gave the early church—and gives us—a nose for the ball.
I believe Central should look to the activity of the early church as our model as we anticipate Dr. Davis’ arrival. Let’s not take a “let’s wait and see” approach. Instead, let’s advance the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit through our words and deeds in the present day. After all, there is a great need for the presence of Christ in our world through the Church right now. We shouldn’t wait for a future date to be the people God calls us to be today.