The Real Hallelujah

The Real Hallelujah

By 10:00 a.m. this morning, I was ready for an Easter do-over.

I had managed to write a piece for a client before the kids woke up, and got started on another one. I wanted to get more work finished then so there would be less to do later. I wanted to pack while I had some energy since our house has to be ready to show in nine days.

Honestly, I wanted to just breathe after a whirlwind trip to Pittsburgh to try and find a house there. I wanted to rest in a way we hadn’t been able to since the news broke of us moving away. We are emotionally and physically exhausted, and rest will be hard to come by for several more months.

As a result, my mind was not on Easter. Everything took longer, we were later than I wanted to be for church, and our Easter picture, while the kids are all smiling, definitely has a disgruntled mother behind the lens, begging the kids to open their eyes and smile all at the same time for just one picture. I took 25 to get one good one.

We got to church and they could not stop talking and poking each other during the service. They colored and tried occasionally to pay attention. I tried one on my lap, held the hand of another, and threatened to take Easter candy away from all of them more than once.

At that point, I was thinking to myself that Jesus was alive, so surely he could come and take the wheel.

Liam acolyted, and I left the other three kids with Tim at the end of the service to make sure he was ready to carry the light out. When I returned to our pew, Titus motioned for me to pick him up. So I grabbed all 47 pounds of him while Tim offered the benediction.

Titus wrapped his arms around my neck and squeezed. And then the choir began to sing the “Hallelujah Chorus.”

As the music started and the voices soared, things changed. I looked at the faithful people praising God and singing about God reigning forever.

I watched one woman sing, knowing that she had lost her husband just a few days before, that she hasn’t even had his memorial service yet.

I watched another woman sing, knowing that her brother had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly just two weeks ago.

I watched a man singing who had just returned from giving a week of his time to build homes for a part of the country impacted by hurricanes.

I watched another woman sing who walked up to the front using a cane and wearing a brace. Even though we had the music in our pews, she seemed to fell the pull to be up front and join the chorus.

I watched people in that choir from the age of 12 all the way up to their 80s praising God. And those were just the people in front of me. There were a couple hundred behind me praising too, many whose stories I know and some whose stories I may never know.

And I held in my arms a boy who in many ways still suffers from a broken heart. He tested my patience all morning, but in that moment he was vulnerable and endearing. He clung to my neck, played with my hair, and asked why we sing this song so loud.

We do it because in the end, praising God is all we have. And blessed are the people who realize that fact while they’re still here, who know what’s important, and who sing through their tears no matter what, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Theirs is the risen Lord.

I’d love to say that my parenting has been perfect and my temper completely tamed for the rest of the day since that moment, but they’re not. Sadly, I’m still imperfect. And the beautifully maddening thing about kids is that one minute they’re teaching you a life lesson with their innocence and the next they’re testing your sanity by doing wheelchair races across the church parking lot.

But the image that I will carry with me from today is the people in the choir. These beautiful Easter people praised God with their whole hearts and reminded me that Easter isn’t just about what you sing, but the fact that you sing no matter what, both before the stone is rolled away and because it is.

Oh, and here’s the best of the 25. Because they’re great kids, learning to be Easter people too.


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