Irenic Thoughts

Irenic. The word means peaceful. This web log (or blog) exists to create an ongoing, and hopefully peaceful, series of comments on the life of King of Peace Episcopal Church. This is not a closed community. You are highly encouraged to comment on any post or to send your own posts.



Every prayer in our worship ends with the word "amen." Amen is a Hebrew word, which came to be a New Testament Greek word (pronounced Ah-Main in both of those languages). Amen is an acknowledgement that everything that comes before it is true and binding for me. Amen was first a response to words said by another person. The amen was not self confirmation and so would not have, in its ancient usage, been said by someone ending a prayer when praying alone.

Jesus himself used the word amen differently, using amen to confirm that his own sayings are true. In verses often translated, "Truly, Truly, I say to you..." such as in John 3:5, Jesus' words are recorded in the Greek as "Amen, Amen, I say to you...." Jesus acknowledges the validity of his sayings. Jesus' use of the amen with statements he made perhaps opened the door to Christians saying amen at the end of a prayer whether others were present or not.

In 1983, Robert Hovda wrote this of the use of amen:
"Amen" continues to be, as it has been from the ancient roots of our tradition, one of the most important words in our liturgical vocabulary. It suggest no mere passive acquiesense but, rather, like "Right on!" and "You said it!" and "Sing it again, sister!" an active, responsible, even enthusiastic joining in the deed that needs our participation.
This is nowhere more true than with "The Great Amen," which is the amen that comes after almost all of the communion service and immediately before we pray together The Lord's Prayer. Currently at King of Peace on Sundays, we sing that Amen. It is called The Great Amen because it is there that the congregation gives its agreement to all of the communion service leading up to that point, and so make the words of the service their own.


Post a Comment

<< Home