Burying the Alleluia: A Lenten Spiritual Practice

Burying Alleluia SanctuaryFaith’s worship and spiritual formation staff is introducing our congregation to the Lenten spiritual practice of Burying the Alleluia this Lent. While the practice of Burying the Alleluia might be new to Faith UMC, it is an ancient Christian tradition practiced in many faith traditions. Read on to learn more about this Lenten spiritual practice.

Alleluia is a word heard throughout the Christian world regardless of language. Alleluia is the Greek and Latin form of the Hebrew word Hallelujah, a word meaning praise the Lord. In the Western world, Alleluia came to be associated with the celebration of the most important season of the Church year, Easter. The association of Alleluia with Easter led to the custom of intentionally omitting it from liturgy during Lent.  It’s a kind of verbal fast, not with the intention of depressing the mood of our worship services, but instead to create a sense of anticipation and greater joy when the familiar praise word returns on Easter morning.

Burying the Alleluia is a Christian custom that dates back to medieval times. It is rooted in the practices of liturgical churches that refrain from reciting their usual “Alleluia!” after the Gospel reading during the season of Lent. The intention of this practice is not to be archaic or dismal, but rather to be a practice that enriches our spiritual lives as we anticipate Easter.  Lent is a season of preparation in which we prepare for Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday. Alleluia is a special word used to jubilantly proclaim Jesus is risen! The practice of burying the Alleluia invites us to refrain from using this word during Lent so we can save it for the special celebration on Easter.  The intention is to let the word rest so that when it reappears on Easter we might hear it anew and experience the joy of Christ’s resurrection in renewed and meaningful ways.

Burying the Alleluia is not about abstaining from praising and expressing our love and devotion to God. Both secular and religious traditions have customs that if celebrated every day would no longer be special (Singing of Happy Birthday, Christmas Tree, etc). Saving the singing of “Happy Birthday” for birthdays and decorating a Christmas tree for Christmas helps us to know those are special times of celebration. The same can be true for burying the Alleluia.

How might the practice of burying the Alleluia during the season of Lent, to reserve it for use on Easter morning, enhance our celebration of the resurrection of Christ on Easter?

Burying the Alleluia is a practice that helps worshipers of all ages recognize the transition from one season of the Church year to another. The practice of physically burying the Alleluia is especially meaningful for children. In connection with the ancient tradition of ‘Burying the Alleluia’ for the season of Lent, the worshiping community at Faith UMC will bury the Alleluia throughout our worship to reflect the focus on introspection, reflection, and waiting during our Lenten season. We will be singing the Doxology to an alternate tune which lifts praise to the Triune God – sans Alleluia. We will await to uncover the Alleluia on Easter, the celebration of our risen Lord.

Burying Alleluia FLCLook for the return of the Alleluia on Easter Sunday to be a celebration of great joy! Until then, let us use this season of Lent to not just focus on the joy of Christ’s resurrection, but to reflect on the life of Christ and the great sacrifice of love Jesus made on the cross for us. Instead of the Alleluia, let us focus on living and loving as Jesus has taught us. Let us focus on God’s love as we remember Jesus on our journey to Easter this Lent. Let’s anticipate celebrating anew when the Alleluia returns on Easter morning!

Lord Jesus, It is our joy to sing and say ‘Alleluia’ in celebration of your love. But we don’t want to take your love for granted. So, during the days of Lent, we say good-bye to ‘Alleluia’ so that we may take it up anew on Easter. Amen.

(Prayer adapted from http://www.gbod.org/resources/burying-the-alleluia-during-lent)

Resources:

http://www.gbod.org/resources/burying-the-alleluia-during-lent

http://littlepeoplebigword.com/tag/bury-the-alleluia/

http://worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.com/2014/01/burying-alleluia-for-lent.html

http://fullhomelydivinity.org/Lenten%20customs.htm

http://www.buildfaith.org/2011/02/02/saying-goodbye-to-the-alleluia/

http://www.buildfaith.org/2012/02/04/farewell-alleluia/

http://catechistsjourney.loyolapress.com/2009/02/4040-lenten-activities-bury-the-alleluia/

http://www.epicenter.org/why-do-we-bury-the-alleluia/

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Ash Wednesday Jute Prayer Bracelets

FullSizeRender (30)Then I turned to the Lord God, to seek an answer by prayer and supplication with fasting and sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. Daniel 9:3-5

It’s a simple piece of jute twine. Cut by the hands of eager children excited to serve as worship leaders for Faith’s Ash Wednesday service. A prayer knot was tied in each bracelet in contemplation of the person who would receive it.

The twine is rough and prickly. The jute twine bracelet is a symbol given to remind us of the ancient Biblical practice of seeking repentance by wearing sackcloth and ashes.

We are reminded of Daniel’s words and pray them as our own, “Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, … we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances.”

FullSizeRender (32)The jute prayer bracelets are a visual and sensory reminder to help us turn from those things that keep us from God and focus on living and loving like Jesus. And so we wear these Lenten prayer bracelets as we turn to God this Lent, seeking and praying and surrendering ourselves to the Lord.

We repent and reflect on the ways we have fallen short. We repent and reflect on the ways our hearts have become hardened to even those seemingly innocent sins like gossip, jealousy, judgment and indifference.

We repent and reflect on who we are in Christ.

 

We remember the sacrifice Christ made for us.

The Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation given because we are God’s beloved children.

We look towards Easter and remember God’s promises.

Lent is a journey, a season to refocus and renew our faith commitment and allow God to change our hearts and shape and mold us to be what God has created us to be.

Lent is a season to immerse ourselves in the words of Jesus.

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me…” (Luke 4:18)

As we feel the prickly rub from our Ash Wednesday jute bracelets against our skin throughout these 40 days of Lent, let us be reminded of our call to return to God.

Let us be reminded of our anointing to live and love like Jesus.

AMEN

child of God

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Love Is On The Way – Epiphany 2015

Epiphany—January 6

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

A11epiphoc (1)Epiphany of the Lord, celebrated on January 6th, is the climax of the Advent/Christmas season. The term Epiphany means “to show” or “to make known” or even “to reveal.” In Western churches, Epiphany Day has marked the observance of the coming of the wise men bringing gifts to visit the Christ child (Matthew 2:1-12), revealing Jesus to the world as Lord and King. The original celebration day of the Advent/Christmas/Epiphany season was Epiphany. This was a celebration of the revelation of God’s light and power in Christ (Luke 2:32 & John 1:1- 2:11).

Jesus is the light of the world! 

Thank God for revealing himself to us in Jesus!  The wise men followed the star to find the baby Jesus.  The disciples learned to follow Jesus.  We are called to do likewise and must answer the question, What does it mean to follow Jesus?  Make time for Jesus and let God fill your life with his holy light so that his light can shine through you into the world!  Our world needs to experience more and more of God’s love. Our world needs to experience the light  of Jesus in its darkness.

 

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Love Is On The Way – New Year’s Day 2015

NEW YEARS DAY

newyear_6262cpJohn Wesley’s Covenant Prayer

              I am no longer my own, but yours.

             Put me to what you will,

rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside by you,
enabled for you or brought low by you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
you are mine, and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

 

Pray John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer as you begin this New Year. Surrender yourself to the Lord and seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

 

Suggestions for using the Covenant Prayer in your daily spiritual practice:

  • Rewrite the prayer in your own words.
  • Make praying the Wesley Covenant Prayer a part of your daily devotions.
  • After praying the prayer, take one line each day and meditate on what living a life reflective of this prayer would mean for you.

 

John Wesley’s Daily Prayer

 

O God, the giver of all good gifts, thank you for giving me this day in which to renew my commitment to walk in Your ways.  Help me to perceive the ways in which I can improve my obedience to you.  Be present at all times, in every task, in whatever company I keep; let Your love be my compass throughout today’s journey.  AMEN

 

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Love Is On The Way – Christmas Day 2014

CHRISTMAS DAY DECEMBER 25, 2014

Scripture: ISAIAH 11:1-5, ISAIAH 59: 20-21, LUKE 1: 68-75

cmasday_10880c (3)Each of us has special days in our life that we look forward to with great anticipation and Christmas is one of them. This was a day, the birth of the promised one, that the people of Israel had long awaited but they were not aware that it was about to happen. When that moment came God chose the way that it would come about and this would allow Him to do it His way and let His love show through to the people. It would also let Him fulfill the promise made to the prophet Isaiah and have a long profound, lasting impact on the people and the world for years to come. He would do it by teaching and leading others on how love would change their life and how they could also impact the lives of others by reaching into their hearts and souls. This was done each day by being a living example to all that He touched and witnessed too. He was able to show everyone that God’s love was on the way and it was there for the taking if they would only accept Him as part of how they lived their lives. If we are true servants of the Lord then others will see God working in our daily activities and that He loves us and wants each of us to have this love every day. It also allows us to understand that God’s gift of Christmas is not a one day thing but that it is forever. I would challenge each of us to experience the joy of Christmas every day with an act of kindness to others and they too can know the love, warmth and joy of our Lord.

By Butch Ransom

PRAYER: Heavenly Father we thank you for the gift of your Son and your love that He brought to us. May we share this gift with others as our way of honoring You and Him. AMEN

Advent Wreath Litany for Christmas Eve or Day

Voice 1: We have prepared our homes.

Voice 2: We have prepared our hearts.

Voice 3: We have watched and we have waited.

Voice 1: We have looked east…

Voice 2: Your star has risen in the east.

Voice 3: We have looked east…

Voice 1: And you have come.

Voice 2: You have come to be right where we are.

(Light 3 purple, 1 pink, and 1 white candle.)

Voice 1: Look, the light is lit.

Voice 2: Look, Jesus, the Bird, is coming.

Voice 3: Please join in singing to invite and welcome him in.

Birds, though you long have ceased to build, guard the nest that must be filled. Even the hour when wings are frozen  He for fledging time has chosen. People, look East and sing today: Love, the Bird, is on the way.

 

People, Look East” by Eleanor Farjeon
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 202

 

 

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LOVE IS ON THE WAY – 4TH WEEK OF ADVENT – DECEMBER 21, 2014

fourth_10846c (1)Fourth Week of Advent—December 21, 2014

Scripture Readings: Luke 1:26-38, 46-55, Romans 16:25-27, 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

 

 

 

Angels, announce with shouts of mirth
Christ who brings new life to earth.
Set every peak and valley humming
With the word, the Lord is coming.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the Lord, is on the way.

People, Look East” by Eleanor Farjeon
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 202

Questions for Reflection:

What does it mean that Jesus is Lord?

Consider Mary’s response to the angel’s message. To what do you need the courage to say yes?

 

 

 

Prayer: Jesus, who brings new life to earth, help me to recognize how all of creation hums with your love.  Help me to trust you and have the courage to say yes to you this Advent.  Love, the Lord, is on the way. Amen.

Advent Wreath Litany for the Fourth Week of Advent

Voice 1: Lord Jesus, your name is love.

Voice 2: Every peak and valley are stirring with the message, “The Lord of love is coming!”

Voice 1: People, look east…

Voice 2: We look toward the light that is rising on the horizon.

Voice 3: We look toward the Son who is coming.

Voice 1: People, look east…

Voice 2: We look for the God who comes to us in great power and splendor.

Voice 3: We look for the God who comes to us in great humility and meekness.

Voice 1: People, look east… (Light 3 purple, 1 pink candle.)

Voice 2: Look, the light is lit.

Voice 3: Look, Jesus, the Lord, is coming.

Voice 1: Please join in singing to invite and welcome him in.

Angels announce with shouts of mirth him who brings new life to earth. Set every peak and valley humming with the word, the Lord is coming. People, look east and sing today: Love, the Lord, is on the way.

 

 

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LOVE IS ON THE WAY – 3rd Week of Advent – December 14, 2014

Third Week of Advent—December 14, 2014

Scripture Readings:

John 1:6-8, 19-28, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24, Psalm 126, Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11

 

 

third_10845c (1)Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim
One more light the bowl shall brim,
Shining beyond the frosty weather,
Bright as sun and moon together.
People, look east and sing today:

Love, the Star, is on the way.

People, Look East” by Eleanor Farjeon
The United Methodist Hymnal, No. 202

 Questions for Reflection:

Why does it mean that Jesus is the bright and morning star?

In what ways is God your light in the darkness?

In what ways is God calling you to shine your light for Jesus?

 

 

Prayer:

Shine in my heart , Lord, Jesus.  Show me how I am called to testify to your light this Advent. Love, the Star, is on the way. Amen.

Advent Wreath Litany for the Third Week of Advent

Voice 1: Shine in our hearts, Lord Jesus.

Voice 2: Your light is brighter than both the sun and moon together.

Voice 3: You are the star which shall come forth out of the tribe of Jacob.

Voice 1: People, look east…

Voice 2: We look toward the light that is rising on the horizon.

Voice 3: We look toward the Son who is coming.

Voice 1: People, look east…

Voice 2: We look for the God who is light in our darkness.

Voice 3: We look for the God who comes  as the bright and morning star who to usher in the new day.

Voice 1: People, look east…  (Light 2 purple and 1 pink candle.)

Voice 2: Look, the light is lit.

Voice 3: Look, Jesus, the Star, is coming.

Voice 1: Please join in singing to invite and welcome him in.

Stars, keep the watch. When night is dim, one more light the bowl shall brim, shining beyond the frosty weather, bright as sun and moon together. People, look east and sing today: Love, the Star, is on the way.

 

 

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