Thursday, 12 January 2012
Do I Hear An Amen?
Nope? Thought not. Saying Amen was once the only opportunity (hymn singing apart) that free church congregations had to join in with worship. Now, it seems, this little Hebrew liturgical fragment is going the way of house sparrows, milkmen and phone boxes. And we are left to mumble and stumble our way through services like a bunch of sullen teenagers with p.m.t.
This bugs me. I know it shouldn't but it does, bugs me bad. So much so that more than once I've considered printing little cards with AMEN in big bold letters, handing them out to the congregation before the service and asking everyone to read from the card when prompted. Do you think that would help? No?
Why won't people join in at the end of prayers? Is it too much to ask? Surely not everyone has nodded off. Not after every prayer. Surely.
I realise that part of the reason might be misunderstanding. I'm sure some people think Amen means, "By 'eck, that were a cracking prayer!" when of course all it means is, "yup" or "me too". So there's no need for the respondent to be impressed by a particular prayer, all that's necessary is that they agree. And that they realise that a big part of corporate worship services is JOINING IN.
I realise too that some take a more principled position on this key issue of our day. They think that corporate worship suppresses their individualism, enforces mindless conformity. But here's the deal, we are communal creatures so it is highly appropriate that we act in concert, as a body, many but one n all that.
Saying Amen is one way of expressing this aspect of our identity. (While I'm at it so is standing up and sitting down at the same time. Is it just me?)
It's about time we began a movement to bring back this poor, neglected little word. I know, why don't we start the Coproate-self Preservation Society? (We could all talk like Michael Caine and have a Mini Cooper as our logo.) Join me! Let's stand against apathy! Let's push back against pushy individualism in worship!
Do I hear an Amen?