Sunday’s worship at all four services will be dominated by hallelujahs – sometimes the alleluia variant, but still dominated by hallelujahs. From the Fourteenth Century words to the familiar “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” to the contemporary “All I Have is Christ,” from the contemplative “Alleluia,Give Thanks” to Handel’s magnificent chorus, we will sing hallelujah.
The word itself is not found in any of the Easter narratives. Its lone place in Scripture is in Revelation 19 as the consummation of history draws near and invitations to the wedding supper of the Lamb are given. The whore city Babylon has been defeated and the New Jerusalem is soon to come down out of heaven as a bride adroned for her husband; a new heaven and a new earth, no more crying and no more pain, all things made new.
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure.”
We need not get lost in the symbolism and mystery of the Revelation. The message is clear: history has a purpose and a destination. It has a Lord and he is good. The future will not be easy, but its outcome is certain: the kingdoms of the world shall become the Kingdom of our God and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.
History has a purpose and a destination. It also has a center. Its center is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, very God of very God who is our redeemer and has become our friend and our brother, a great high priest who lives ever to intercede for us.
So why do we sing “Hallelujah!”? Because the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Death has been defeated by life, the darkness by Light. We celebrate the resurrection and we are bold, audaciously bold, in joining our voices with the multitude in heaven already singing Hallelujah.
Think about it. Around 11:00 a.m. the Chancel Choir (and friends – you?) will take to the chancel steps in our little church. Voices young and old, some well-trained and others not, singing George Frideric Handel’s vision of what it will be like on that day. It will be a unashamed declaration that despite the evidence of the headlines and protestations of the philosophers of the age, God – not fate, not cynicism, not DNA, not power and riches, not the tyranny of Omar Hassan al-Bashir and his like; not any of the pretenders to the throne – reigns. We are either deluded or filled with a joyous truth.
I don’t think we are deluded.
See you Sunday, Resurrection Day!