burying the alleluia & signs of repentance

At the Episcopal church where we worship, lent is a penitential season. The liturgy is somber, and on the last Sunday before Ash Wednesday, we bury the alleluia. The children letter and decorate posters, and the alleluia is interred until Easter, absent until it leads us again into the celebration of resurrection.

Alleluia means "praise the Lord," and it is an expression of joy. During lent, we do not fast from praise, certainly, but as Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness in preparation for ministry, lent is similarly a sobering time, characterized by asceticism to prepare our own hearts for the weight of the cross and significance of Easter.

Had I been able to find the liturgy online, I would have linked, but instead I transcribed it here from Sunday's bulletin.

The Burial of the Alleluia

I heard a great voice of many people in heaven saying, Alleluia:Salvation and glory and honor and power be to the Lord our God. And again they said, Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Alleluia! The Lord does reign! He is clothed with majesty. Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

There is a time to laugh and a time to weep. A time to dance and a time to mourn. As we enter the season of Lent, bring forth acts that are suitable signs of repentance. Remember that the sacrifices of God are a humble spirit. It is a humble and contrite heart that God does not despise.

Until the day when Christ's resurrection is celebrated with joy and gladness, we commit our joyful ALLELUIA to God who gave it.

Let us pray (in unison)
O God, look with favor on your people gathered here. We know that we have sinned and deserve your punishment, yet we look to you for mercy. Spare us, as you have spared your people in the past. During Lent, help us to reorder our lives so that others can see your presence. We ask this in Christ's name. Amen.

Happy are the dead who die in the faith of Christ! Henceforth, says the Spirit, they may rest from their labors. So says the church of its ALLELUIA.

Today it dies until with Christ it rises at his glorious resurrection. When he died, he dies to sin, once and for all. Living as he lives, he lives to God. In the same way you must regard yourselves as dead to sin and alive to God, in union with Christ Jesus. Amen.


Anyone hitting up a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper? I'm a little sad our church isn't hosting one this year, but 'tis the season for fire hall Friday fish fries, an admittedly huge highlight for me in these grey, late winter weekends.

Jen Luitwieler is kicking off a series of lenten reflections this week, and Margaret Feinburg is reading the WHOLE BIBLE over the next forty days. (Read more and download her Wonderstruck by Scripture here.) Kirsten Oliphant's Consider the Cross: Devotions for Lent is 2.99 for e-readers. Kris Camealy has a free lenten e-book availableMason ties lent to resisting consumerism, and Kamille mediated on Isaiah 58 last year.

Do you observe Lent in your church, family, or community? We enjoy soup suppers and compline services, and our church is going through Scot McKnight's 40 Days Living the Jesus Creed together. I also am continually challenged and nourished by Bread And Wine: Readings For Lent And EasterThe Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, and Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

Do you have any favorite prayer books, practices, or resources for lent? Some fast from certain habits or indulgences, while others "take on" other devotional, spiritual, or ascetic practices. The season begins Ash Wednesday this week, and I'd love to hear what's stirring your heart.

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