Over the past fifteen years the season of Lent has become very special to me. I always attended an Ash Wednesday service to help me focus on the weeks leading up to the Easter resurrection celebration. Since moving to Ghana my Ash Wednesday service has transitioned into a meaningful phone call with a dear friend that shares my joy for all things contemplative. Although different, it still sets my mind toward the journey of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.
This year I came across something associated with Lent that I had never heard of before. It is the practice called “suppressing alleluia”. In other words, removing the word “hallelujah” from your vocabulary for the season leading up to Easter. Ready to try something different, I decided to give this practice a shot.
Holy Cow! I never realized how many songs contain the word “hallelujah”. It is said throughout our church service and our devotional times. Multiple times a day I have opportunity to utter this word. Never before have I realized its fullness. That is, until I chose to suppress it. When a song containing that beautiful word was sung around me, I let the word sit in my mind, but it did not escape from my lips. At church when the Pastor said “Amen” and everyone responded “Hallelujah”, I uttered a quiet amen instead.
In the days leading up to Easter I started getting really excited about getting to shout “Hallelujah” on that blessed Sunday morning. Never have I felt so much anticipation deep within my Spirit for Sunday to come.
This Easter I got to participate in a weekend church convention in a village a few hours away from home. On Friday night all 200 of us gathered around a small television to watch a movie depicting Christ’ suffering. I felt deep pain as I watched the story of Jesus’ death play out. Around me were shouts and cries of sadness as the people watched Jesus receive lash after lash. I had the job of commentator during the film, telling the people what was happening on the screen as we watched. All the while a frail, dust-covered child was sitting on my lap. On Friday night I almost couldn’t bear it. I desperately needed a “hallelujah”.
Saturday was quiet and thoughtful.
And then came Sunday. “Hallelujah” was released from captivity and into the open air. The joy. The hope. The freedom in that word. Now I cannot say the word without a smile on my face. This week I have listened to every song I own that contains that blessed word. Over and over again. I am swimming in a sea of Hallelujahs and loving it. You want to know why? Because “in Christ all will be made alive!” (1 Corin 15:22)