Of Pine Needles and Alleluias


It is a Lenten tradition in our congregation that on the first Sunday of Lent, the children hide papers with the Alleluia printed on them. We symbolically bury the alleluias for the Lenten season, reminding us of the somber tones of Lent. Then on Easter Sunday the children find them and we bring the alleluias back to our worship. As we were getting the last of the Advent/Christmas decorating finished right before Christmas and moving things around in the chancel, I came across a folded sheet of paper—one of the alleluias that had not been found on Easter last year. Fast forward a few weeks to putting away the decorations and moving the Christmas trees out. Even if you have an artificial tree you end up vacuuming the needles. It seems that for the rest of the year you will find a needle here and there. They are never completely gone.
The church is between times right now…we call it ordinary time. Ordinary time is the seasons outside of the major observances of the Christian year; namely Advent, Christmas, Lent, and Easter. It doesn’t mean this is an unexceptional time of year, rather it takes its name from the fact that ordinal numbers are used to describe the sequence of Sundays. Extraordinary things happen during ordinary time, but I always think we have to pay extra attention because we aren’t in the big, exciting seasons such as Christmas and Easter. Ordinary time gives us a chance to figure out what it means to live out the message of the Christ child…and then the message of the Risen Christ. It’s a time when we aren’t facing the frenzy of preparing for the major holidays, so we have the space to do that.
As we observe ordinary time, I love the fact that you can almost always find an alleluia tucked away somewhere in our sanctuary…and in our homes and at church there’s always a pine needle to vacuum up. The pine needles and alleluias break into our everyday, just as God surprises us and breaks into our lives. Such reminders help us to remember what the love of God has done, and continues to do for us. They are the signs of the mystery of God’s love found in the cross and the cradle. May pine needles and alleluias break into your every day to remind you of the awesome mystery of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ.

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One Response to Of Pine Needles and Alleluias

  1. Elaine says:

    This made me weep. Not sure why yet. Loved it.

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