hallelujah - Dwelling Spaces

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


Hallelujah or Alleluia...it's that time of year when Christians say it a lot! It means 'praise ye the Lord' or 'Dudes! Let's praise God!'.  We say it to encourage one another to recognise how awesome God is.  It feels a particularly powerful word just after Easter in the Church of England because we have tried to avoid saying it in Lent during the six weeks that run up to Easter.  Why?  Because we are waiting for Jesus to be fully revealed as a different sort of Lord and King.  A King who was enthroned on a cross, killed by those he chose to forgive as he showed that through him - Jesus - nothing can separate us from the love of God.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8.38-9).

After Easter I went off to Spring Harvest with my church.  Spring Harvest is a big Christian conference with thousands of people gathered together to study the bible, pray and sing to God, and learn more about how to live the Christian life.  Whilst I was there we had the privilege to hear from someone who had spent many years in prison in North Korea for being a Christian.  It was a distressing and powerful story to hear which involved the killing of family members, brutal torture, hard labour, and unbearable living conditions.  In this place of sleeping on cold concrete, rat and insect infected, piled up in small rooms with people who died in the night and whose bodies were often not removed for days...in this place the whispered gatherings of a handful of people kept faith and hope alive.

As Christian believers passed each other they would whisper to each other 'hallelujah'.  What an extraordinary word to whisper into the face of unbelievable oppression. Hallelujah.  What is it about Jesus that draws praise from the lips of someone in the midst of such intense suffering?  Hallelujah.  I think it is this truth that there is no place to which God is not prepared to go to with you so that it can be healed and redeemed.  And in that truth is hope. 

Leonard Cohen sings of hallelujahs that are cold, hallelujahs that are broken, hallelujahs that are holy.  Choosing to praise the Lord does not always come from a place of joy and peace. Sometimes it may not even come from a place of hope.  But the hallelujah that emerges as a trailing whisper from the very end of ourselves will always connect us to the One who knows our end from our beginning, who holds our lives together. 

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