Lent 2014 – March 9, 2014
Lenton Note – March 9, 2014
You might have noticed a peculiar happening at the end of the service on March 2nd. Our Alleluia banner was taken from the altar, paraded around the sanctuary then “buried” in a small purple box. Now, what was that all about?
That little moment marks an ancient practice known as the depositio – discontinuance – of the Alleluia during Lent. Over the next 40 days we will not sing our great festal shout. We will have a fast from Alleluia.
Alleluia or Hallelujah is an ancient Hebrew word. Some say it means “Praise Yahweh,” or “Praise the Lord.” It expresses joy, wonder and awe. People have shouted Alleluia since the time of the Psalms and before. Jesus, the disciples, St. Paul, Mary Magadelene all knew this word, and you can bet they sang it with all their hearts, just like we do during our services. In Revelation 19:1-8, a great multitude in heaven rejoices and shouts “Hallelujah!”
As Christianity formed during its early centuries, people sought ways to tie our worship to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lent developed during the fourth century as a time of preparation for baptism, along with penance and reflection. It is a somber time. During Lent we sing a solemn Kyrie, rather than the more joyful Gloria. And, the priest and people do not say Alleluia at the breaking of the bread during Holy Communion.
Taking away the Alleluia helps remind us that we are in a time of penitence. As much as we may love to shout and sing Hallelujah, we have a chance to remember that we are engaged in something far greater than our personal likes and dislikes. We are worshipping the One “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
So, when you get the urge — Hold back. Millions of Christians around the world are doing the same. Know that Easter is coming. And on that great day we will have a symbolic resurrection as we take our banner from its box. We will shout with jubilation over God’s mighty act, and our song of praise will rise to the heavens as we sing: Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Here’s an interesting quote to help your Lenten considerations: “In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized, Jesus went off alone in the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask what it means to be themselves”. –Frederick Buechner