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allelujiaToday, as often in the Easter season, there is an alternate refrain for the psalm response to the readings in the lectionary. It is simply the word Alleluia! (sometimes seen as Halleluiah as in the Hebrew Scriptures). As I read, I was conscious of the repetition of this familiar word every few lines and of the casual way that I sometimes say it – as well as the fact that it has become part of the lexicon of our times to express relief at a good result of some effort or the end of a task or a successful search for a lost item. I got to wondering how often in those cases there is any consciousness of the etymology of the word as an imperative to praise God or simply the action of doing so.

That same wondering stayed with me as I heard the words of Jesus in John’s gospel (14:27-31): Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid… We use the word peace a lot these days. I myself am fond of it as a ‘sign-off” for some e-mails. In the same sense as the call to praise the Lord, I see the use of the word peace as a reminder to work toward a state of peace as well as the hope of finding it in our hearts. Jesus was clear that what he was talking about was not an easy peace; the world is not a peaceful place. If we can come to a place of peace in our hearts, however, we will be more likely to effect a sense of peace in our small corner of the world and thereby add to the peace of the whole. Perhaps a way to begin would be to wake up each morning with an Alleluia! (Halleluiah! if you prefer) on our lips as a reminder to be thankful for blessings received and all that is good in life. Tape the word on a wall or mirror if necessary until it becomes habit. Whatever it takes…

God’s peace be with you!