I've gotten several questions about the practice of setting aside Alleluias during Lent (and the Children's sermon where I talked about the practice of "burying the alleluia" for this season).
Great question! Where does that come from? Maybe you (like me) didn't grow up in a church that included Lent in its liturgical year, so this is a new idea.
It begins with an understanding of what the book of Ecclesiastes (3:1,4) tells us, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: ….a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;"
While we rejoice at Easter and Christmas and remember that every Sunday is Resurrection Day, Lent is a more solemn season. It is a time to remember wandering, wilderness, and temptation; to consider the things that pull us away from God and the love God showed through Jesus in life and in death. Setting aside "Alleluia" for this season has become a symbol for the spiritual growth Lent represents and encourages.
Ethel Marbach, in Family Liturgical Customs for Lent, writes:
"The depositio (burial) of the Alleluia of medieval times became a solemn, emotional farewell to a well-known song. 'We part from Alleluia as from a beloved friend, whom we embrace many times and kiss before we leave him.' (Bishop William Duranti, 1296). Choir boys marched in procession with crosses, tapers, holy water, carrying a coffin (containing the Alleluia banner) with great 'moaning and mourning.' They buried the coffin at the cloister (garden), sprinkled and incensed it. In Paris a straw figure bearing an Alleluia of gold letters was carried out and burned in the churchyard." (exerpt found in this article: http://www.canticanova.com/articles/misc/art7t1.htm )
All seasons have their place, and just as salt can make a dish taste sweeter and absence can make the heart grow fonder, when we bury our alleluias it provides a time of perspective and (hopefully) a more joyful reunion when the Alleluia's are welcomed back at Easter, when the stone is rolled away and we realize that nothing- nothing- NOTHING- can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord!
It won't be long before Holy Week is upon us. Palm Sunday is on April 9, and on the Monday - Friday of Holy Week there will be breakfasts each morning at St. James Episcopal Church here in Lewisburg. The breakfasts are sponsored by the local ministerium, with churches taking turns cooking breakfast (we cook on Tuesday!) and ministers taking turns leading worship. The breakfasts begin at 7:00 A.M. and last less than one hour (they know people need to get to work, so each one ends BEFORE 8:00).
On Maundy Thursday (April 13) we will gather in the sanctuary at 7:30 for worship- remembering the last supper, Jesus' last days, and also celebrating the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.
On Easter morning (April 16) there is a sunrise service at 7:00 on the lawn across from the church (in front of Carnegie Hall). I will be preaching at this service. (there will not be breakfast after this service) and then we will have traditional worship at 11:00.
See you soon!