In my Manitoba home, singing “Alleluia” has been hard for me this Easter. Usually, nature cooperates with the church calendar by providing some long anticipated hints of green outside. Not this year. With an early Easter and a prolonged winter season, we drove home from church on Easter Sunday in the midst of snow flurries and mounds of snow covering the earth. A family member missed the Easter gathering because of her partner’s car accident on icy roads. A friend’s mother died. And, and, and. In short, singing “Alleluia” was a discipline this Easter, even as I led worship, rather than a natural response.
I remember the world-wide church, where many are moving toward shorter, colder days. With all of them, we have entered the “Alleluia” season of the church year. Many will have deeper reasons than I to say “Grrr!”
Lent challenges us with the disciplines of fasting and repentance, but the “Alleluia” season also requires a discipline, the discipline of joy. And the discipline can help us live in hope.
So here I am, claiming joy as a discipline, even while my winter-weary body feels like gritting her teeth and saying “Grrr!” How will I claim joy?
- I will keep the barley I planted in a pot for Easter on my windowsill as a witness to new life.
- I will play Mozart’s “Ode to Joy” as my song of the season it till it sings inside of me; until it is learned behaviour, blesses me, and helps me bless others.
- I will remember the confusion and bewilderment of the first witnesses to the resurrection; claim solidarity with them and others who have difficulty singing “Alleluia.”
- I will let myself say “Grrr!” when I need to, and lean more heavily on God’s Spirit to help my “Alleluias” grow more authentic with practice.
- I will sit or walk in the sunshine whenever I can, looking for signs of life and love.
- And… when that snow finally yields to the strong spring rays of the sun, I will sing “Joyful, joyful we adore you… hearts unfurl like flowers before you” as I plant in the garden beyond my windowsill.