Students sitting outside Bockman
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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Alleluia, song of gladness,
voice of joy that cannot die;
alleluia is the anthem
ever dear to choirs on high;
in the house of God abiding
thus they sing eternally.

Alleluia you are sounding,
true Jerusalem and free;
alleluia, joyful mother,
bring us to your jubilee;
here by Babylon's sad waters
mourning exiles still are we.

Alleluia cannot always
be our song while here below;
alleluia our transgressions
make us for a while forgo;
for the solemn time is coming
when our tears for sin shall flow.

In our hymns we pray with longing:
Grant us, blessed Trinity,
at the last to keep glad Easter
with the faithful saints on high;
there to you forever singing
alleluia joyfully.

A few years ago, my wife and I were enduring a particularly difficult season in our family. I stood despondently one Sunday morning and confessed to a friend, "I can't sing 'Alleluia' right now. I don't have it in me." Without missing a beat, he replied "Dave, you don't have to sing it today. That's why you belong to this church. We will sing it for you. You don't have to pray today. We will pray for you. This is the beauty of Christian community." Ever since that moment I have tried to sing as loudly as I can because I now realize that there may be someone else who can't sing "Alleluia" who is sitting in the pews with me.

This hymn both names the reality that "Alleluia cannot always be our song" while also acknowledging that we don't sing this anthem alone. There are "choirs on high" that are raising their voices when we feel as though we have lost ours. This is religion when it is at its best. It binds us together again in a way that individualized spirituality cannot--as we remember that we need each other to participate in God's mission. The words of Martin Luther King, Jr. put it well: "All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be" (Letter from Birmingham Jail).

God, comfort us in our pain. Hold us in our grief. Remind us that even when we cry out to you we are still surrounded by the Alleluia song of your saints. Take us out of ourselves and into your community of interdependence. Amen.

David Scherer, ‘15
Contextual Learning Coordinator, Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.