Amen; the very last word of Handel’s Messiah, sung about 49 times for emphasis.
But what does it mean? The end? Does it mean, “That’s done and dusted, you can all go home now”? Well, that might be true at a performance of Handel’s Messiah. And in our prayers “Amen” often just means, “That’s the end of the prayer; we can move on now.” But forty-nine Amens suggest that Handel wanted to convey something more.
Amen is a Hebrew word. Used in response to someone else’s words it means, “That’s true,” or “Let it be true; so be it.” Jesus used it uniquely at the beginning of some of his own sayings—usually translated “Verily” or “Truly”, as in John 3:3 “I am telling you the truth: no one can see the Kingdom of God without being born again” (GNB). The Message translates it, “Listen very carefully”. It suggests that this isn’t something to say a casual “Amen” to and then carry on as before. This is going to change your life, so listen up.
The Interpreter’s Dictionary describes Amen as “an exclamation by which listeners join in what they have heard, and affirm their readiness to bear the consequences of this acknowledgement.”
On this great day, we declare, “The Lord is risen; he is risen indeed.”
What now? Jesus, who died for you and for me, and for our neighbours, and for our enemies and friends, is risen, and we say, “Amen!” But does it mean that is the end, and now we get on with our lives? Or does it mean that we affirm our readiness to bear the consequences of our acknowledgement, to allow the risen Christ to reign in our lives, and to follow him in the world?
The Lord is risen. Will you let that change your life today, forever?
Risen Lord Jesus, you said “Amen” to your Father’s plans, and laid down your life for me. Let my “Amen” today affirm my commitment to bring your life into my world, and the world of my friends and enemies alike, today and every day. Amen
This was my contribution for Easter Sunday to “The Lent Diary”, a devotional project of Prestbury Methodist Church to which some 40 different people contribute each year. This year the meditations were based on the readings used in Handel’s Messiah. (My mother edits the Diary; maybe that’s why my contributions get published each year?)
- Lent Diary 2012: Easter Saturday and Handel’s Messiah (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)
- Lent Diary: Easter Sunday 2011 (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)
- Lent Diary: Easter Saturday 2011 (wonderingpreacher.wordpress.com)