Christmas & Easter: Burying the Alleluia

Contributed by: Rev Jemma Allen, Diocese of Auckland, 28 February 2017

In many churches it is the tradition to abstain from saying or singing ‘Alleluia’ during Lent. Lent is a solemn season and we ‘save’ the word ‘Alleluia’ for our resurrection rejoicing.  ‘Burying the Alleluia’ is an acitvity which can be done during a service on Ash Wednesday or the first Sunday in Lent. It makes a very clear symbol of this practice and creates an opportunity to explain it.

There are a variety of ways for doing this – from keeping it simple with just printing a banner or go all out using helium balloons and party blowers! In her resource ‘Creative Ideas for Lent & Easter’, Rev Jemma Allen shares a number of creative ways churches have done this. Here are some of those ideas:

IDEA 1

Print sheets with the word “Alleluia” in black and white, using lots of different fonts. Hand out one to everyone at the Ash Wednesday service. Invite people to place them in a small box, and close up the box like a tiny coffin. During Lent, replace the black and white papers with ones done in lots of different colours. At the start of the Easter service, bring out the same box, reminding everyone what happened at the beginning of Lent, and pass the box around for everyone to pull out a paper. One vicar commented that everyone who was at the Ash Wednesday service started murmuring immediately when they saw the colours, and you could see them explaining to those who had not been there, “We put in plain ones, not coloured!” – it worked really well!

IDEA 2

Use 3D cardboard shapes which your young people have decorated beforehand. Also get them to decorate a box, with bright colours and sparkles, and filled with brightly coloured shredded paper. Bury the letters in the box and put it away for Lent. Get your children/youth to hide it – then they are the only ones who know where it is to find and open on Easter Day! Before Easter, you can also surprise them by putting noise makers in the box, so that they can blow them anytime in the service they hear the word Alleluia!

IDEA 3

On the first Sunday of Lent, place a small, unimpressive ‘Alleluia’ sign into a dingy ordinary box. Invite some young people to help you tape up the box really well, so it stays shut and the alleluia doesn’t get out. You may like to add a sign that says “Don’t open before Easter”. On Easter morning, the box is transformed, bigger, painted white,and the sign inside is transformed and attached to balloons, so a big sparkly alleluia lifts out of box as everyone shouts “Alleluia!”

All these ideas have been tried so you know they work well. It’s a great way of engaging young people in your church (and the adults love it too!). For more ideas, see Jemma’s resource ‘Creative Ideas for Lent & Easter’.