I love the Easter Season.
It’s hard to find more joy in a service than either the Easter Vigil late Saturday evening or the celebration of Holy Eucharist on Easter morning. The preparation we go through during Lent to arrive at this place in time is well worth it. Even the hours we spend planning the Sunday service during Lent doesn’t take away from this joy.
I’ve never heard anyone tell me they don’t like this time of year. Seems like everyone agrees Easter is something special.
But those of us who have been ordained as Deacons know of one event that brings a smile to everyone’s face. An event that’s even more special to some than the standard conclusion of the liturgy.
That would be the dismissal at the end of the service where the Alleluias return.
I’m always questioned during the rest of the year why I omit them once the 50 days of Easter are over. The week after Pentecost when my dismissals stop short of the alleluias, you can feel the congregation’s pause. They expect something more. More than a few eyes stare at me like I’ve forgotten something very important.
Yet, I’m not forgetting anything. At least I hope not. I read the Gospel, led the confession, set the table and cleaned up. And now I have the honor of calling the service to an end with the dismissal.
Actually, it’s not as much of a dismissal as it is a sending forth of God’s people. Whether it be “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” or “Let us bless the Lord,” the people respond with “Thanks be to God.” They accept the responsibility of declaring that Christ is risen. It is the focus of Easter Sunday and the season that follows up to Pentecost. That is why we are sent into the world with an Alleluia; because we acknowledge the resurrection.
During the rest of the year, there may be an occasional time where a Deacon might slip in the added response. They are few and far between so as not to diminish the acclamation that excites everyone this time of year.
It is that special. The Alleluias at the end of the dismissal put the exclamation point on what it is we celebrate each Sunday. Will people miss it once we begin Pentecost? I’m sure they will. Just like I will miss bellowing it out. But come next year on Easter Day and for the next 50 days, I’ll be rejoicing loudly as I send God’s people out into the world with several very energetic “Alleluias!” Pax et Bonum.