Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The welcome sound of the "Amen"

There is perhaps nothing that I enjoy more about the distribution of the Sacrament of the Altar than the sound of the "Amens" that some of the folk say when I say "The Body of Christ for you..."  Would that I heard more of them.  But I thought I was the only one who was encouraged - dare I say energized - by the sound of the "Amens" at the rail.  It turns out I was not.  I have had newcomers to Lutheranism say that they were just as pleasantly surprised by both the sound of these "Amens" at the rail and the effect of hearing them upon their own faith and life.  On a Roman Catholic blog, a convert to Rome remarked how a baptism made his family sit up front and how he, too, was encouraged and delighted to hear the continuous strains of the "Amens" during the distribution.

I would encourage those who do not, to consider it.  I would further encourage us all to make this "Amen" at the rail not simply a perfunctory thing but the true and joyous "Yea, it shall be so" to the gracious gift of God who delivers to us the heavenly grace of the body and blood of Christ hidden there in bread and wine.  Truly this is a blessed sound in the ears of God as well as the ears of those at the rail.  It may not be usual Lutheran practice, usual Lutheran practice not being a universal thing, I vote that we make it such.  Amen! to the body of our Lord.  Amen! to the cup of our Lord.

Lutherans are not well known for being spontaneous or for tossing in an "Amen" to signal our agreement with the preacher and his preaching.  I am not encouraging anything of the sort.  The "Amens" at the rail are the joyful words of faith that are bidden by the gift and grace of God present there and they are the result of the Spirit's own work in us of faith and trust in what that Word and elements bestow.  So, even if you would never in your life throw out an "Amen" in the sermon, consider an "Amen" at the rail -- said to the Lord first and foremost since it is at His bidding you come and His gift you receive, but also to encourage your Pastor who distributes the holy mystery and to uplift those around you at the rail who make their own "Amen" to the Lord.


Anonymous said...

Had a parishioner once who, instead of saying "Amen" at the reception of Our Lord's Body said, "Wow!" Liturgically savvy, perhaps not. Meaningful? You betcha!

SKPeterson said...

I always "Amen" after the wine. Is it more "proper" to do it after the bread, after both, or simply "user preference"?

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is a great encouragement to one's brothers and sisters in Christ to hear a firm "Amen" after receiving.

I say Amen after receiving the Body of Christ and again after receiving from the chalice.


John said...

I began to say "amen" a number of years ago upon receiving each, the body and blood of Jesus, after hearing the man next to me do so. I, later asked him about it. He said that he did so out of joy for receiving forgiveness of sins through Christ's very body and blood. I began doing the same the next time Holy Communion was celebrated, and have done so since. I have been asked, a few times why I say "amen" after receiving each, the body and blood of Jesus. I give the same answer that I was given.

William Weedon said...

And it IS what the rubrics instruct the faithful to do - in each Divine Service!

John said...

Dear Rev Weedon,

I am sorry to say that I never noticed that.

Thank you!!


Terry Maher said...

Pretty weird Communion pictured. No blood. Must be some sort of offshoot cult here. I'd be more concerned about Take/eat, take/drink, which he did say, than what is said after, about which he said nothing.

Anonymous said...

Leave it to Terry to find something to complain about if not in the article then the picture. True to form.

John said...

Rev Weedon,

I must say, though that I began saying "amen" upon receiving both the body and blood of Jesus many years ago, while using TLH, which does not have such in the rubrics. Neither does the ELH which was used in the ELS congregation to which I belonged for ten years. I never noticed it in LSB because I was doing it, anyway.

Terry Maher said...

You don't find Communion contrary to the institution of Christ something to complain about?

Jeremy Loesch said...

Nice post Pastor Peters!

Had the pleasure of leading a Lutheran service at a retirement community called Maris Grove in Chadds Ford/Kennett Square PA this morning.

This post was in the back of my mind as the number of communicants who said "Amen" was high. They came forward, received the elements, and departed with a firm amen on their lips.

Yes, yes, it shall be so.


Alynn said...

Terry, are we not to put the best construction on everything? Perhaps, rather than immediately accusing the pastor in the picture and the person posting it to be heterodox, you could have considered the following:

Is it very possible, if not probable, that the person serving the wine has gone to the altar or a side table to refill the chalice and thus is not in the photograph. That is how the set up for the distribution of Communion works in nearly all of the parishes I've attended over the years-the flagon with the Blood is left on the altar and the person with the chalice must step away from the distribution area to refill the chalice every table or two.