We were singing our farewells at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Mwanza on the first Sunday of Advent last year. I had brought my banjo to Africa because I enjoy playing worship and praise songs, and the elders of the English congregation graciously let my husband and I chose two or three songs to lead each service. So on this last Sunday, we chose to lead the congregation in singing, “O come, O come Emmanuel”, “ Sweet Bye and Bye”, and our final song, “May the Roads Rise Up to Meet You”. This final song is usually sung in our local Kentucky church whenever someone is leaving. My husband wasn’t sure that we would be able to sing this song without tears.
That same Sunday, God brought a group of young people from Norway, and they also shared three songs with us. This group had been traveling throughout East Africa, sharing their music and youthful enthusiasm. One song they shared stands out in my memory with these words repeated throughout the chorus: “We are going to see the King”. I still remember their joyful voices proclaiming this hope and anticipation – (isn’t that what Advent is all about?) No more dying there; We are going to see the King. No more crying there; We are going to see the King. God brought these young people on that last Sunday to remind us that we all are looking forward to that day when we will see Jesus the King.
Now the year has rolled around to a new Advent, the beginning of a new church year. Yet I am reminded that all of life is really Advent. All of life is a waiting to see the King. All of life is a preparation for the life to come. All of life is hope in the resurrection. We wait in joyful anticipation as we journey together toward that day. Even when we are oceans apart from part of our Christian family, we still are one in this experience. We are going to see the King.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3: 13-14
I will never forget our beloved brethren; but I will forget the mistakes, the regrets, those things I wish I had not done, and those things I wish I had done. Also, I will strive to forget the sorrow of parting, for now God has us as missionaries here in Kentucky. Wherever God places us, we are His ambassadors bringing the message of hope that we are going to see the King.
In joyful anticipation,
Mama Anna and Brother Nathan