Anna is a long time supporter and volunteer with Habitat; having volunteered locally on local programmes and representing Habitat at faith events; Anna has travelled in support of the Hungary and India partnerships and for a number of years has led teams to Malawi most recently a Building on Faith team from Hillsborough Parish. Anna is currently serving as a Curate Assistant in Seapatrick Parish, Banbridge. Read her Advent reflection below:
We were travelling to site for our first day of building - weary from the long journey from Ireland to Malawi, but hopeful for all that lay ahead of us. Seeing Malawi in daylight for the first time, everything was new and beautiful to us: the dusty streets, the small villages, the markets overflowing with food and people. We veered off-road in a cloud of dust, following a track that wasn’t built for a bus, which led to a village that was watching and waiting for one.
We heard people before we saw people. A thrill of hope. A colourful, noisy, and joyful crowd emerged from the village - everyone had gathered to welcome us in song and dance. Weariness turned to joyfulness. They took our hands as we filed off the bus, invited us to join them, hugged us, danced with us, encouraged us to sing with them though we didn’t know or understand the words. In that moment, we became friends - such is the warmth and hospitality of the people of the warm heart of Africa.
This experience - and every Habitat volunteer will have their own story of this kind of welcome - is what I imagine when we sing O Holy Night - a thrill of hope, a weary world rejoices. This lived experience of a beautiful celebration in a Malawian village, on a Habitat for Humanity site, cultivates our imagination of the things of the Kingdom and the coming of a King, whose arrival thrills us with hope and lifts weary hearts to rejoice, whose return we hope and long for.
This is our Advent hope. Though our world is wearied by changes, challenges, a pandemic, injustice, brokenness, pain, and grief, we are thrilled by hope and filled with joy when we attend to glimpses of the Kingdom. We magnify these glimpses by participating in Kingdom work - one brick, one home, one village at a time. This daily, Kingdom-building work of Habitat for Humanity points us to the beautiful Gospel truth of the King who thrills us by making his home among us in order that we might have the hope and the joy of making our home in His Kingdom.
Heavenly Father, thank you for your faithfulness, for signs of hope, for acts of love, and for the promise of a coming Kingdom. Give us eyes to see the glimpses of your Kingdom breaking in; give us hands and feet ready to participate in Kingdom work; and give us hearts ready to receive the King, who was, and is, and is to come. Amen.