Tag Archives: Handel’s Messiah

Easter Sunday: Is “Amen” the end, or just the beginning?


“Amen”

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?

Prayer
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?)

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Lent Diary 2012: Easter Saturday and Handel’s Messiah


“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, and hath redeemed us to God by His blood, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. Blessing and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sits upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever.” (Based on Revelation 5: 12-13)

If you could take one human-made thing to heaven, what would it be? But what if, in all of heaven, there was to be only one thing that had been made on earth.  How do we choose something precious and meaningful for everyone: for kings and rulers; for sporting legends and movie stars; for shopaholics and the poorest of the poor; for empire builders and environmentalists?

Someone has suggested that there is one set of human-made items in heaven.  They are objects of intense worship. They bring the wearer power, riches, wisdom, strength, honour, glory and blessing.  None of us would have chosen to bring them to heaven; none of us is proud to find them there. But it wasn’t our choice; it was God’s.  The only human-made things in heaven are the wounds of the nails in the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

It is significant that the glory of the Christ is not in his majestic position or his power, but in his wounds.  He may well be the Lion of Judah but in heaven he is glorified as the Lamb of God, who was slain.

Here on earth, this Easter Saturday, as we ponder the events of Good Friday, we can only kneel in shame and recognition that our sins (yours and mine) caused those wounds.  But it was no accident.  “The Lamb was slain from the creation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8)  Our sin and the only solution were known to God from the beginning; his love made it inevitable. His wounds are not marks of shame but evidence of God’s extravagant love.  That is why, in heaven, they are worshiped, and why, even on Easter Saturday, we can join in the heavenly chorus, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!”

Prayer
Lamb of God, our sin led you to the cross, but your cross frees us from our sin.  Thank you for taking on our shame so that we can share in your glory.

This was my contribution for Easter Saturday 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

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