Can I Get An Amen?

When I was a kid I went to churches where people (mostly men) would give the preacher an "Amen" every once in a while during church.  Sometimes they overdid it, though.  

I remember this one guy who would offer up an "Amen" no matter what was happening.  He would "Amen" the Scripture reading, the end of a song, and at least twenty or thirty other "Amens" during the preacher's sermon.  

When I started attending Presbyterian churches, I discovered that most Presbyterians kept their "Amens" to themselves until after the end of a prayer, and then they would pronounce it "Ah-men," rather than "Ay-men."  

So what exactly are we saying when we say "Ah-men," or "Ay-men?"  

Some definitions of "Amen" simply declare that it means "so be it," or "in agreement," which makes sense, considering how it is usually used and intended by Christians who use it in worship, after prayers, etc.    

It also can mean "truly," "certainly," or "assuredly."  Jesus used a version of the word when he wanted to get the disciples attention before he taught them.  In the old King James version of the Bible the word was often translated "Verily."  

But "Amen" is actually a word that came to us in English by way of Latin, which received it by way of Greek, which came to it by way of Aramaic, which gleaned it first from Hebrew.  The original Hebrew word is aman, which basically means "he confirmed, supported or upheld."  

Why does this matter?  

Well, I think that we need to renew our relationship with the word "Amen," considering this last and probably more meaningful definition.  When I finish my prayers, for example, and I say the word "Amen" at the end of them, what I am saying essentially is this:  "God, affirm, support and uphold my prayers, petitions, laments, cries for help..."  

Or more specifically and with some boldness:  "God I know that you will hear and affirm in your wisdom and way my prayers, petitions, laments, cries for help..."

Right about now, considering all of the turmoil, strife and tragedy in our world, we could all use a serious "Amen" with our prayers.  When I speak the word with boldness, with confidence and hope, what I am saying to anyone who will listen is simply, "I believe."  

When I offer up a bold "Amen" at the end of my prayers, petitions, laments and cries for help, I am saying, "I believe whatever evil is assailing me is not going to get the last word."  I am declaring, "I am confident God will lift me up in the time of trouble."  I am proclaiming, "I believe nothing can separate me from the love and mercy of God... nothing."  I am stating unequivocally, "I know God is my refuge, my ever present help in time of trouble, whom shall I fear?"    

May you declare your "Amen" today with great faith and trust in the One who covers you in his grace and love.  May you declare your "Amen" with passion and joy today so that anyone listening might take heart and know that sin and death do not get to win.  

And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen. 


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