Sing the climax of "The Lord's Prayer" by Albert Hay Malotte along with me.
"For THINE is the KINGdom and the POWer and the GLOOOOORYYYYYY for EeeeeeeeeeVer. Aaaaaaaaaaaah-ah-mmmmmen." I've played it for weddings a hundred times. It was one of the first piano pieces I ever memorized. That ending is so majestic and powerful. Even the "Amen."
Never once did I think of the word "Amen" as being masculine. I had always been taught it simply meant "so be it," "let it be so," "it is so." It is the Hebrew word for certainty. In my prayers, it usually follows "In Jesus' name."
One of my favorite bloggers, Sean Dietrich, must have wanted to mention this, too, because recently he wrote a post called "Continental Breakfast." Here's an excerpt:
I’m in a hotel dining room, eating breakfast. Everyone is wearing masks, some are wearing latex gloves. I am wearing a bandanna around my face like I’m about to rob a stagecoach.
Even so, these scary modern times haven’t changed the state of the American hotel continental breakfast. Nothing can change that. I’m pleased to report that hotel eggs still taste like they were manufactured by the Reebok corporation. And all “sausage-like” products still taste like deflated footballs that were cooked on the radiator of an old Chevy.
The first thing I see in this dining room is a young family, hands folded, eyes closed. They are saying grace. The youngest boy is bowing his head in exaggerated reverence. Eyes shut tightly.
When they finish praying, I hear a communal “amen.” Everyone lifts their masks, and begins to eat.
“Mom?” says the boy. “What does amen mean?”
I love overhearing this kind of stuff. And I’m glad I overhear the kid ask this because sometimes I wonder whether kids still ask these wonderful questions.
As it happens, I remember when I asked my granddaddy the same thing. I was a 5-year-old. We’d just finished saying grace.
“What’s it mean?” was Granddaddy’s reply. “Aw, well, amen just means ‘over and out,’ ‘ten-four, captain, ‘aye aye, sir.’”
And the thing is, I completely understood what he meant because Granddaddy spoke fluent Kid.
You see? It's a simple, uncomplicated, carefully-nurtured tradition taught in Christian homes such as the one I grew up in.
When the 117th Congress convened in early January, Emanuel Cleaver, a Representative from Missouri was asked to pray the opening prayer. For some reason, he chose to end his prayer with "Amen and a woman." I've listened to his entire prayer, and, except for expressing some political rancor, it appears theologically correct . . . until the end. From all I can determine, Cleaver is a smart man. He was elected the first African American Mayor of Kansas City, Missouri in 1991 and is serving his 9th term in the House of Representative. He has a master's degree from Saint Paul School of Theology, is a United Methodist pastor, and has received five honorary Doctoral degrees. Let's just say I'm having a hard time understanding his reason for doing this and wish I could have a conversation with him about it.
That prayer was followed shortly by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi presenting the Rules Package for the 117th Congress. Clause 8 of rule XXIII directs the members to strike the words father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, husband, wife, etc. and replace them with parent, child, sibling, parent's siblings, sibling's child, spouse, etc.
I was okay when we were told to change postman to postal worker, steward and stewardess to flight attendant, and fireman to firefighter, but striking some of my most precious titles? There's something very wrong about that. My most cherished identities in my life are wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, niece, daughter. GENDER IS IMPORTANT.
The first chapter of the first book in the Bible -- Genesis 1:27 -- And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created "them."
I love my role/identity as a woman. I think there were only a few brief moments when I wondered what it would be like to be a man, and that was when I was in the middle of childbirth and Steve was watching painlessly by my side. :) When we lived in Ecuador, we observed that gender roles were even more pronounced there than in the U.S. Some of that no doubt stems from the reverence for Mary, mother of Jesus, emphasized by the Roman Catholic culture.
An incident stands out in my mind. We invited a lovely Ecuadorian family (parents and 3 children) to our home for dinner one night. When it was time to clear the plates and serve dessert, Steve got up to help me -- something he almost always does when we have company. The Ecuadorian father was shocked. He immediately told Steve to sit down and instructed his wife and daughters to get up and help me. Clearly, in that place, there were some things that men did NOT do!
I most certainly do not want my blog to become a political forum, and I promise that I will move on to other topics soon. But somehow, these things have turned over in my brain so much lately, I just couldn't avoid sharing my thoughts. My mind keeps going to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Bible. I urge you to refresh your memory about it by reading Genesis 18:20 - Genesis 19:29. When God tells Abraham that He is going to destroy Sodom because of its wickedness, Abraham says, "Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?" (18:23). In 18:26 God responds, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account."
Maybe the 2 absurdities I've mentioned today are merely trivial absurdities, but what if they're not? What if they are symptoms of much more sinister problems in our country? There ARE some critical moral issues being challenged in our day. Is God looking for 50 people who will defend the truth in His Word? Is He searching for 50 strong Christians who will reflect Jesus in every aspect of their lives? And if we do stand strong, will we be IN the lions' den or the fiery furnace before we look over and find Him right beside us? Will our persecution go that far?
Here is a verse I am claiming today --
Psalm 25:5 (NET) -- "Guide me into Your truth and teach me. For You are the God who delivers me; on You I rely all day long."