When giving the prayer of dedication during the offertory on Sunday mornings, I often say someting like, “Dear God, bless these gifts, these offerings to your service and to helping those in need. Bless the gifts you have given us and show us how to use them to serve others, in Jesus’ name. Amen.” And almost every time I close the prayer with “Amen” an adult shouts a solemn “Amen” back.
But this past Sunday was different. As soon as I closed the prayer with an “Amen,” a little boy in the back of the sanctuary instantly shouted back a loud and enthusiastic “Amen!” It was a precious thing to hear. Many congregants and I laughed and smiled immediately at the sound of that joyful “Amen.”
I’ve said and heard “Amen” many times in my life. But never has “Amen” deeply struck a heartfelt chord with me until that little boy shouted the word. It was said with such delight and conviction that I truly felt that God’s promises (to feed the hungry, restore sight to the blind, heal the lame and free the prisoner) would be fulfilled in this world. In that one moment, I understood the exhiliration of what it means to be a child of God and to know God’s presence in my life.
One could argue that the little boy was merely repeating what I had said and wasn’t capable of knowing the meaning of the word he shouted. Maybe not. But the power and grace of God was in that word and delightful shout of praise all the same.
How can one hear a child cheerfully shout “Amen!” and not know that God’s steadfast faithfullness and unconditional love is working in the world, transforming us into proclaimers of the good news which brings light into the darkest places of the world? How can one hear that boy’s “Amen!” and not know that our God, in the words of Hebrews 12:29, is a consuming fire that burns in our hearts, igniting us with the passion to be a part of something much, much greater than us? How can one hear that excited “Amen!” and not know that we are called to a part of a kingdom where all are freed, all are loved, all are accepted? How can one hear “Amen!” uttered with such fortitude and not know that God is good all the time and all the time God is good?
One can’t. At least this one can’t. It is so. It is so. So be it. So be it. Amen. Amen.