By Jenifer Eriksen Morales
Over and over again throughout this season of advent, I find myself looking at our Crèche (a model representing the scene of Jesus Christ’s birth), longing to place the Little One in the empty manger early — a symbol of hope. This has been a tumultuous year for many in our congregations, communities, nation and world. Some of us struggle with illness, finances, and relationships, while others are mourning the loss of a loved one. As a church, we long to belong and we long to get along. Just 15 minutes of the morning news highlights clips about political corruption, racism, assassinations, suicide bombings and other forms of violence in homes and neighborhoods. A quick scroll through Facebook reveals posts of sexual abuse, injustice, commercialism and a war in Syria that has left so many homeless and taken so many innocent lives, especially in the city of Aleppo.
Needless to say, it doesn’t surprise me that this advent season the typical advent and Christmas songs are not running through my head. Instead it is the song, “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen, a Jewish song writer, singer, and poet who passed away in November. There are many verses and versions to this song, but In “Hallelujah,” Cohen writes:
…Love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.
Maybe there’s a god above
All I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
And it’s not a cry you can hear at night
Not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Amidst the cold and broken hallelujahs of this advent season comes my six-year-old with a painting she made. She asks to hang it behind the crèche — a symbol of hope. I am touched by her awareness, heart and imagination as she describes her art.
“This is a flower and this is Leonard Connan (Cohen). He is holding hands with a little girl from Aleppo. They are in heaven and they are singing ‘Hallelujah!’ But Mommy, their Hallelujah isn’t cold and broken anymore. It is warm and fixed!”
I hug her tight and whisper a prayer, “May it be so Little One. May it be so… ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’.”