“Alleluia, alleluia, Christ, the Savior of the world, He has come!
Alleluia, alleluia, To the highest name of all, Alleluia!”
(Lyrics from Chris Tomlin’s ‘A Christmas Alleluia’)
Alleluia, or hallelujah, means “Praise the Lord”. It is a word I have sung and spoken many times. But there have been times when I was not allowed to use it. I grew up in a very conservative, traditional church and during Lent, no form of “Alleluia” was used.
The liturgy was edited to exclude it and hymns were chosen that did not have the word in it. During my sophomore year of high school, I was playing organ at our tiny church. I will always remember the week that I played the “Alleluia” at the end of a chorus in the liturgy. Every week afterward, I was reminded by my pastor to leave it out.
When I was in college, I attended a church that “buried the Hallelujah” on Ash Wednesday. The hallelujah banner was tucked away into a box while a teaching lesson reminded us of the sadness we carry and taught us the symbolism of omitting the word, “Hallelujah”. On Easter morning, the sanctuary was filled with the glorious sights and sounds of “Hallelujah, He is Risen Indeed!” as the banner reappeared and all voices lifted praise for our Savior.
Many churches have a tradition of singing Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” on Easter. But, a tradition that my family participated in was to find a place where we could hear Handel’s complete work as a Christmas concert. My favorite event was the Messiah sing-along that the Minnesota Orchestra performed. Here the audience was invited to stand and sing during the “Hallelujah Chorus”. There were so many people of all ages and races who were singing praises!
This year, I have used Chris Tomlin’s worship video, “A Christmas Alleluia,” as an Advent devotion. Sitting by the Christmas tree, with the beautiful sounds of the refrain repeating over and over and the soft lights of the tree glowing, drew me into a peaceful time that I used to remind me to welcome baby Jesus.
My hope as the New Year approaches is that I can daily remember to praise the Lord and say my alleluias, to find a quiet time to welcome the newborn Baby and to reflect on the burden that is to come.
Gracious Father, Thank you for sending the best gift of all. Help us to remember that the heavens do indeed roar and the angels sing as we give all our praise and glory to welcome the newborn King. Amen.
Written by Julie Anderson
If you would like to serve as a member of the Sheridan Lutheran Writing Team and help to write devotions based on the text for the weekend, contact Patty Forsberg.
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