Journey to Jerusalem
Recently, someone asked me, “Why do we remove the word Alleluia from the liturgy during Lent?” It is a good question.
The liturgical calendar is a tool. It is designed to create an annual rhythm of devotion. Each of the seasons has a distinct focus intended to deepen a dimension of our Christian life. Lent is crafted to be a season to take us to a place we might prefer not to go, namely to the dark parts of our lives. Let me explain.
You and I are complex beings. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). Simultaneously, “nothing good dwells in me” (Romans 7:18). The dual nature of humanity is a dynamic and dramatic paradox that plays out daily in our lives. We are capable of noble, gracious, generous and sacrificial deeds. We are, likewise, capable of surprising, even shocking wrongs.
The apostle Paul spoke of this condition when he wrote, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:15). The famous story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a dramatic and exaggerated presentation of all of our lives.
Most people, naturally, want to avoid examining the dark, inner places. It is not pretty. It is not fun. It hurts. Lent is a tool to help us. Its purpose is to encourage us to investigate and bring to light those impulses, instincts and desires which are contrary to the will of God. Once identified and named, we can then turn from these ways. Though painful, the end product is a better person.
Self-examination, confession and repentance are, therefore, the themes of Lent. This means that Lent is a somber time, a time marked liturgically by dropping the word Alleluia from the service.
This is our second Journey to Jerusalem. We offer it to you as an aid to a fruitful Lent. By using this devotional daily, you will be in touch with the great themes of the season. We pray that it will be beneficial.
Grace to you