Ponderings – May 22, 2015

Amen.dougthumb

The word is said at the end of prayers. The word is bellowed out in a church meeting to affirm what was said by the speaker.

The word has an interesting history. It is transliterated from the Hebrew language. In some cases translators didn’t have an equivalent in their language for a word so they would keep the original word. “Amen” is closely related to the Hebrew word for faith. It was transliterated into the Greek language. It found its way into the Latin and then into English. The word “Amen” exists in many languages as “Amen.” When Jesus used it at the beginning of a story it could be translated as “truly.” In church life it came to mean “absolute confidence or trust in.”

“Amen” is the last word in the Bible.

In your life what happens after the “Amen?”

Many Methodist ministers will serve a two point charge some time in their ministry. I served the Arcadia-Mt.Mariah charge for five years. The big church was First Church in Arcadia. The smaller church was the Mt Mariah church north of Arcadia. The Mt. Mariah church service was at 9:00 a.m. the Arcadia service was at 10:30 a.m. They were both delightful churches. The Sunday Morning Liars Club met each Sunday morning under the trees in front of the Mt. Mariah church. The meeting began at 8:30 a.m. When I left that church the guys made me an official member!

On the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, the Mt. Mariah church held “Decoration Day” at the cemetery next to the church. The culinary advantage of Decoration Day was the meal that was provided. It was the largest pot luck lunch in the history of Christendom. There were eight, eight foot tables butted together filled with food. It was glorious. After the meal the families would spend some time in the cemetery cleaning up the family plots.

The Arcadia church agreed to finish early on Decoration Day, so the minister could be present to say the blessing over the meal. It was a seventy year old tradition!

My first Decoration Day was memorable. I finished the service at Arcadia early. I drove with great haste back out to Mt. Mariah. I could not believe the food on those tables. I was overwhelmed by the hundreds of people who had gathered for this sacred event. Everyone there was waiting for me to pray. The whole church day schedule was changed so I could pray this very important prayer over Decoration Day. The elders gathered the crowds up and they stood next to the church.

I walked in front of the tables to face the crowd. I wanted to be sure they heard my powerful combination Decoration Day and meal blessing prayer. Facing the crowd meant my back to those tables filled with culinary goodies. Someone should have told the preacher to make sure a table of food was between him and the crowd. I was soon to discover that I was in “no man’s land.”

I prayed a great prayer! I arrived at the closing, “In Jesus name.” What happened next was a blur. My mouth formed the sound “Ah” but before I could form the rest of the word “men” the crowd rushed past me to the food. When my eyes opened I saw only the wall of the church. I felt that I was lucky to be in the upright position.

I did not make that mistake again.

“Amen” can be a dangerous word if you are in the wrong place. If you live as Jesus said, “Amen” is the opening of that great paradox of faith. We live right now but our hope is not yet. We save our lives by losing them. We are made rich by becoming poor. We inherit the world by being meek. We turn the other cheek and pray for our enemies. We follow the One who gave us life through his death.

Living with contradiction is one of the secrets to a joyous life. There are times when things simply don’t and won’t add up. Still we trust in the one who “is the same yesterday, today and forever.”

“Amen ?”

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