Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The Gift of Amen

I wanted to return to this whole topic of "amening." (Should that be two "n's"?) I have analyzed this phenomena quite a bit, and I have developed a sort of theory about it, which, of course, I will now share.

First of all, let me make it clear that I love amens. They can be extremely encouraging to a pastor. Further, it is a Biblical practice. Paul himself must have gotten a few amens because he mentions the practice (cf. 1 Cor. 14:16). Therefore I conclude that amens are a good thing.

However, I have noticed that there are bad amens as well as good ones. This is a fairly subjective observation, but if you've ever heard one, then you know what I am talking about. First, they are off in timing. I don't know how you measure this, but it's just off. It's like listening to a song that is somehow a half a beat off. It's distracting.

Secondly, there is the, "Why in the world did that guy amen that?" amen. I many have just said that the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth, and some guy says amen. That's odd. It's like the old chatty Cathy doll, I somehow, inadvertently, pulled the string.

Third, there's the self-conscious amen. This is the amen that someone gives, but they are a little shy about giving it because someone may hear it. It's sort of like when a little boy says a word that he knows is forbidden, and even though he is brave enough to say it, it still sort of slurs out, as if he is afraid that mom will magically appear with a bar of soap to wash his mouth out.

Then, there is the obvious, "I want to be heard" amen. It's the person with a sort of amen agenda. Maybe they have a pet doctrine or something and everytime it's mentioned they say amen really loud. (Am I the only one who notices this stuff?)

Yes, I know that this critique of the amen may sound harsh, but it is reality. That is why I say that it must be a gift. Some people selflessly, spontaneously, and with perfect timing and volume give amens. They are extremely valuable to the preacher. Oh how a timely amen can lift the spirit! Further, when you have a bunch of good ameners, it sort of brings the bad ameners to a higher level. It's like being in a choir full of good, loud singers. Even the poor singers can belt it out with no fear of being annoying. In an odd way, this sort of adds to the beauty of the song. Plus, the shy, good singers can sing without fear of being noticed.

Well, there are some of my thoughts on the gift of amen. It is both a true and good gift to the amener and to the congregation in which he or she so happily serves. So, if you've got it, let'er rip. Your pastor and the congregation will certainly appreciate it.

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