“The Hebrew word Halleluya as an expression of praise to God was preserved, untranslated, by the Early Christians as a superlative expression of thanksgiving, joy, and triumph. Thus it appears in the ancient Greek Liturgy of St. James, which is still used to this day by the Patriarch of Jerusalemand, in its Syriac recension is the prototype of that used by the Maronites. In the Liturgy of St. Mark, apparently the most ancient of all, we find this rubric: “Then follow Let us attend, the Apostle, and the Prologue of the Alleluia.”—the “Apostle” is the usual ancient Eastern title for the Epistle reading, and the “Prologue of the Alleluia” would seem to be a prayer or verse before Alleluia was sung by the choir.”
It is excluded from worship during Lent. 40 long days without Alleluia.
I tend to slip into saying it during my worship, so used to hearing the exclamation through my robotic repeating of the words.
The Orthodox services continue their usage of this word of praise even though the Lenten season. But I, I always slip up and forget that in my church we do not.
In thinking on it, in being forced to miss my Alleluia, I’m forced to think on where we are still. Right now. Mourning the inevitable, the death of Him.
I haven’t experienced a great grief. I think of friends who have lost children, of people who I don’t know who won’t feel little arms around their necks- through loss of what was once there or that was never blessed to them. I wonder, does Alleluia ever come back to them?
We praise those who can work through their grief, find happiness again, or find a greater meaning. But what about those that can’t? Is their grief any less meaningful? Is there loss one that does not count as much?
We’ve got a lot of death around us these days. Dark days. I cannot stop thinking about the parents who lost their 8-year-old son because a man couldn’t accept his wife did not want to be married to him anymore. And those who say it’s inevitable. A gun isn’t what killed him.
I think those people are missing the point. Can those parents ever find Alleluia again? And can we condemn them if they cannot? Shouldn’t we do something, anything, to actually try?
How many children must die around the world for people to come together?
Perhaps I’m letting it all weigh too heavily on me. I’ve got a great life. Two amazing children who are healthy and happy. A guy by my side who is an amazing partner. A job that I love, a house that I am about to move into of my own. Good and amazing friends.
This Easter weekend was filled with fun. Hectic, challenging, but fun. Soccer, coffee, Easter Egg hunts. Making new friends and seeing old ones again. Watching my children share Easter eggs with smaller children. Watching my family embrace someone new into the fold.
But I can’t let go that there’s a chance that someone could come into my kids school, with a gun, and someone will have an excuse of why it’s ok. And the added fact that this act of domestic violence has already faded from our headlines.
Maybe that’s the point… or part of it.
I’ve always lived by the principle that the hardest things to do in life are the ones most worth it. Father Bryan preached a simple sermon on Easter morning, but one with a point. My take away was that perhaps our grief is meant to take us somewhere.
I am still Doubting Thomas personified. I need to place my fingers in the flesh of the risen Christ before I can sing my Alleluias again. I waver between that feeling of great doubt and one of great faith when I see so many around me suffering. Knowing that God is here for me and has raised me above so much and while I never doubt his love for me- I cannot tell someone else they should not. What does that make me?
God’s love was made tangible in the death of his only Son, our Christ. I know this. But I cannot tell someone who suffers great loss this. I cannot slap them in the face of their grief with something that I know to be true, when there is so much hurt.
Christ’s rising is not a promise that everything will be ok, but that we are strengthened in his love.
Perhaps that is the point, that when others are grieving- those of us who are stronger are simply meant to fall with them in an embrace. Ready when they are. But also not allowing others to forget, even as our headlines fade.
Finding Alleluia this Easter wasn’t as simple as the sun rising on Easter morning. Mine never really left, but it is hard to sing for others.
Love to all y’all,
Molly McWilliams Wilkins
Molly McWilliams Wilkins is a Southern culture commentator, web producer, and social media marketing maven. She is also a freelance writer who has worked with a variety of publications and online magazines including Bourbon & Boots, Paste Magazine, Macon Magazine, the 11th Hour, Macon Food & Culture Magazine, and as the Digital Content Editor for The Southern Weekend. Mommy first, fashionista, social media maven, writer, artist, dreamer and poet. Hangs on to her Oxford Commas by force. Addicted to shoes and purses- and lots of coffee. Coffee coffee coffee.