In the Catholic liturgical tradition as well as in some other Protestant traditions, once the season of Lent begins, the church “buries” the Alleluia. That is, in all church liturgies each Sunday during Lent, the word (and sentiment) “Alleluia” is absent from songs, readings, etc. This is one way that reflects this season of Lenten fasting – a season of relinquishment, repentance, lament, reflection, giving up, and letting go.
This year, it feels hard to talk about resurrection. It feels like it may be too soon to resurrect our “Alleluias.” Our reality in this strange moment in history is one that fits well with Lent and with Good Friday. But what about the hope of Easter? I wrote this “Good Friday” prayer earlier this week:
In the season of Lent, we fast – we lay down our satiable hungers for a filling only accomplished by bread and water from the source of life. We fast, and we sit, and we open ourselves to the possibility of hurt and grief – both past and present. And in our fasting, both planned and in this season forced, we have anticipated this Holy Week where we learn what it means to participate in the body of Christ – in serving, in suffering, in darkness, and in death. We have buried the Alleluia, and though we want nothing more to rush toward Easter to resurrect it, we first rest here, at the cross. With the saints of old, we pray, “Take me to the cross and leave me there.” And we pray, in faithful solidarity with the suffering of the world, “How long, Lord?” May we have the courage to stay here in this Good Friday spaciousness, knowing that even here in the darkness and the unknown, God dwells.
But today, this Easter Sunday, we add this line to the prayer: And we trust, in faithful defiance, that the story will not end here, for the story of Jesus, our story, is the story of death, burial, and resurrection.
We see hints of it – moments of resurrection even in the most shadowed spaces. I met with my spiritual director last week and she asked me what I was feeling. Fear. And then she asked me what the opposite of fear is, and I almost automatically responded by saying, “faith,” but stopped myself. Love. Love is the opposite of fear. So the question and the call on my heart over the past days has been to love. Love casts out fear. Love conquers death.
In this hard, sad, shadowed season of fear and death, may we learn to love in ways we’ve never known before. We are part of this resurrection story.
Alleluia! He is risen! He is risen indeed!