There’s a wonderful text that comes to us from a 9th-century Eastern Byzantine Rite:
All of us go down to the dust,
yet even at the grave we make our song:
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
At first glance this text may seem like a downer. We’re reminded that none of us escape our mortality on this earth. This reminder might seem like a cry of despair when we have gathered to remember those who have already died.
Yet, the words of this rite point us to something greater, something which is beyond us. Though we may rightfully feel sad about losing our brother or sister in Christ, we come together and make our songs to be ‘Alleluia’. We sing Alleluia to remind one another that death does not have the final word. We sing Alleluia to remind one another that life, love, and passion live on eternally through saving grace of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
At St. Peter’s we’ve recently said farewell to two beloved companions who touched many others through music. Each time we have gathered we have sung words of encouragement and shared with one another this deep truth: our beloved ones are not truly gone. They live on in the great company of saints with whom we gather at every worship service and we know someday that we will rejoin them.
I’ll end with the following words from St. Augustine which capture this mystery with awe and wonder. They were sung at Chris Mummert’s service yesterday and will be heard again at St. Peter’s at times when we gather to remember those who have gone ahead of us.
All shall be Amen and Alleluia.St. Augustine of Hippo
We shall rest and we shall see.
We shall see and we shall know.
We shall know and we shall love.
We shall love and we shall praise.
Behold our end, which is no end.