“Bring it on!”
We probably say ‘Amen’ several times on a Sunday, mostly at the end of a prayer and occasionally in response to something said in a sermon (albeit quietly… we ARE Presbyterians after all!). We probably also deploy ‘Amen’ countless times the rest of the week. What do we mean we say this word? Why does it close all of Paul’s epistles and why do we close our prayers with this word?
“Amen” is Near-Eastern and Hebrew in origin and migrated into the Aramaic language, the language Jesus spoke every day. It made its way into the Greek language through the ancient Christian Church’s worship and texts, and thus to us today in English. “Amen” was usually a word of response to a doxology or benediction in Jewish practice, coming after something was said, a way of affirming the words of a Rabbi or Priest in Jewish worship. Rabbi Jesus used ‘Amen’ differently, at the start of many of his sayings rather than as a response. He begins with ‘Amen, Amen, I say to you…’, usually translated as ‘Truly, Truly I say to you’ in English. He invites our responsive ‘Amen’ to his initiatory ‘Amen’, and both mean the same – ‘Truth, Yes for Truth upon Me/Us.’
When we say ‘Amen’ in everyday usage, it usually sounds something like, ‘Amen to that!’, signaling our agreement with something someone has just said. ‘Wow, that final exam was HARD!’ the student said. ‘Amen to that’, she answered. We’re just saying ‘We emphatically agree.’
A Biblical ‘Amen’ is stronger than mere agreement. In a way, it is a request. When we say ‘Amen’ we aren’t simply saying ‘the end’ to prayer or ‘I agree’ with something said, but rather ‘I want this truth applied to me right now.’ To say ‘Amen’ to Jesus’ ‘Amen’ is to invite him to apply his Gospel to your heart and life today. It isn’t just ‘I agree’ but ‘Bring it on!’
As we pray the Lord’s Prayer this week for ourselves and our church and finish by saying, ‘Amen’, let us be mindful that we are saying to God ‘Bring it!’
And I for one cannot wait for him to do so.
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