I'm so excited. I've been waiting on this day all year. There are so many people in town today. They've come from all over for this week; for this happy celebration.
Today should be the best of all. Many are dressed just for this occasion. There are musicians of all sorts in the town square. Wonderful smells of the various foods are wafting in the air and occasionally the unpleasant odor of a sweaty traveler who has walked from outside the city and through the crowded streets on this unusually warm autumn day.
As I make my way through the crowds in the thoroughfare I'm bumped into, stepped on and nearly pushed into the street but it's worth the effort. The loud voices of vendors hawking their wares come from everywhere. Performers of all kinds delight young and old with tricks. Families and friends stop to chat and catch up with news of the past year. What joy!
The parade should be starting soon. I should try to get a good spot because I don't want to miss one thing. Everyone is gathering along the street; craning their necks trying to see the procession coming. Whispers through the crowd announce that the royal procession is making its way up the street. Anticipation builds as someone shouts "They're coming! I can see them!"
No. This is not a band marching up Davis Avenue but a man on a donkey riding through the Eastern Gate. No Queen Silvia-but a King. No fancy float but a King on a donkey; a symbol of peace. No candy thrown to the people but people laying palm branches before the King; some even putting their own cloaks beneath the feet of the donkey. There are no waves and smiles from the King this day. From this honored one only tears streaming down his face. Why?
On this most wonderful day with everyone shouting his praises; why is he crying? Some of the officials demanded that the crowd be silent as the King passed by. I'm sure I heard him say, "if they be silent even the stones would cry out!" I don't understand. Does anyone?
No queen to relive a joyous week of her life over again while knowing they'll be another queen next year. Instead, we have one solitary forever King. A King, who after all the glory and honor given him this day, would be condemned. A King who would be crucified and buried. A King who would rise again to give you and me a new life - a glorious life - a forever life-simply because he loves us.
Long after this Forest Festival has come and gone, those of us who believe and have been changed by this forever King will have a celebration that will last for all eternity. Praise God. Don't miss the celebration.
(The opinions of this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Inter-Mountain, the Randolph County Ministerial Association or the author's church affiliation.)