Can I Get an Amen?
No seriously, can I get one? Just one? Been preaching in the PCA for over a decade now, and granted, I’m no Charles Spurgeon, but surely I have said something worthy of one, single, solitary, amen.
I mean a real one. Not the under your breath Presbyterian amen. Not the evangelical "mmh" of agreement. I'm talking a hearty, sanctuary filling, soul stirring, sermon interrupting, AMEN!
I preached this past Sunday at our partnership church in Louisville, Third Avenue Baptist, and I was secretly so excited at the prospects of a Baptist amen. And then it happened. I remember the exact moment of the sermon, the exact amen evoking statement: "In every other realm, greatness is measured by competency. Within the Kingdom of God, greatness is measured by dependency."
I was so happy I literally stopped to thank said amen-er (to hear that moment, click here and fast-forward to 22:32).
Look, I get it. TCPC values liturgical order. But what if I told you that it is precisely because we love liturgy that we, of all people, should be shouting amen.
The word liturgy literally means “the work of the people.” And this is primarily how we view worship. It is the God ordained time for God’s people to gather together and fulfill our highest vocation—worship of the living God.
This is why the voice of the congregation is so prominent in our liturgy. We don’t view you as an audience gathered to listen to musicians and ministers; we view you as participants gathered to be led by musicians and ministers. In this way, Sunday’s order of worship is a script that we have come to enact for the God that we adore, and this is why every element of our worship is participatory.
Well every element except the sermon. That’s where you sit and listen to me talk for 30 minutes, right?
Preaching is not my work. Preaching is a liturgical act, the work of the people. Just like all other elements of our liturgy where the minister leads and congregation responds, the minister also leads in preaching, and the congregation responds.
How so? Your amen.
Amen means, “so be it.” Therefore when congregants shout amen, they are agreeing with the pulpit proclamation. This is what we see in Revelation. Heavenly creatures created, it seems, for the sole purpose of amen. Truth is proclaimed in the heavens, and these creatures echo the truth with their loud, “Amen!”
Your amen is not your encouragement to the preacher (though it is encouraging), it is you joining the preacher in preaching yourself. It is telling yourself and all who have ears to hear, that what is being said is true.
And most importantly, it's telling your God it's true. At the end of the day, your amen is for God. Extolling truth back to Him who is worthy of your amen.
So the real question isn't necessarily can I get an amen, instead, can God get one? And surely even Presbyterians can give God an amen.