Absent Amens

Chapter 41

Good Monday Morning to this week 40 of 2020


The sanctuary was empty after M. had finished preaching, this a new normal for preaching during the pandemic, one pastor from a big church writes about the absence of the Amen.

“I have had some of the most powerful times of worship preaching in a sanctuary with no people,” he said. Preaching without a congregation became “an undistracted offering to God” without the temptation “to respond to what I’m seeing in the pew.”

There is a story of a meeting between two converts to Christianity, perhaps an Indian
and a Pacific Islander-one of whom was reading in his own tongue the
Christian Scriptures. Communication between them was impossible, till
one of them thought of summing up his mental attitude with an exclamation” Hallelujah,” whereupon the other at once heartily replied ” Amen.” The Hebrew expressions had, of course, been naturalized in both languages.

The word “Amen.” The fundamental idea is “stability, steadfastness, reliability.” “Amen”,
in the Arabic , “safe, secure,” while in Hebrew “Amen” an indeclinable particle meaning verily, truly, so be it, a strong agreement or confirmation with/of something.

In the Old Testament. The first thing that strikes one about the use of
“Amen” in the Old Testament is mostly Exilic or Post-Exilic.

Benaiah, replies: “Amen Yahwe the God of my lord the king say so too! “
Jeremiah says to Hananiah: “Amen! Yahwe do so!” and “Amen Yahwe ”
Nehemiah tells us that the “congregation” pledged itself in the matter of the poor brethren by a solemn “Amen”
Tobias and Sarah were left alone he prayed, and at the end of his prayer
“she said with him, Amen
Gabael prayed and blessed Tobias, all who were present said, “Amen”

Jeremiah replies to the word” that came to him from Yahwe in the phrase:
“Amen Yahwe ” In this cases “Amen” is a kind of conversational particle, and stands by itself, prefixed to an exclamatory sentence, expressing a wish, ” So be it!”
In the later literature the “Amen” tends to become more and more liturgical

Rabbi Jose tells us that “Amen” has three powers:
1. Acceptance
2. Acquiescence (consent, approval)
3. The secret of “Amen” God, the faithful King”

If “Amen” was in common use outside of the temple, and especially in the synagogues,
it would naturally be retained by the early Christians. At all events, I Cor. I6 shows that it was in liturgical use in the days of the Apostles as a well-known formal
response of the whole congregation. In one place in the “Amen” does occur
and is immediately preceded by Maranatha. This naturally calls to mind the “Amen” as in “Come Lord Come”

German kings and emperors early began to append “Amen” to the introduc-
tory and concluding formula of state documents.

By a rather strange fate, however, this word, which, as we have seen,
originally invariably stood at the head of a sentence, is now
also frequently used in the sense of the very last of any
matter in hand. H. W. HoaGG

Could it be that Covid-19 is bringing the “Amen” back to the beginning
of our thoughts and preaching with a refocusing of God-centered speeches? In any case it need not be absent, not in our prayer, not in our speeches, not in our daily lives not even in all that we are challenged to read see and listen “online” during this pandemic.

Wishing you a blessed week!



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