At lunch time today, I went to the chaplaincy communion and offered to read (after I’d made sure it wasn’t from Judges!). The last verse of this reading (Matthew 25:29), taken from the parable of the talents, basically said that if you have lots you will be given more, and if you don’t have lots, it will be taken away from you. Although I do not agree with that sentence, I said Amen at the end, just because its what I always do. Richard, who was speaking on the bible passage, immediately picked up on the fact that I had said it begrudgingly and as if I didn’t really mean it (which I didn’t). This made me realise how often I say ‘Amen’ or another similar response, out of pure habit, when I don’t really mean it.
At Greenbelt 04, I heard some of Jeffery John’s talks on The Meaning in the Miracles, and also bought his book on the subject. One of the things, I can remember him saying in one of the talks is a story about a church he was minister at once. I gathered that it was from an affluant area, and there was a woman in the congregation, who was very posh, always stuck to the rules and was set in her ways. This woman was reading in church, from the Old Testement, where it was stating (in reference to the culture then) that a woman’s role in life was to be submissive to her husband and provide children. This woman read the bible passage and then stated, very definately, “This is NOT the Word of the Lord”.
When I was at home, a couple of months ago, we had a preacher at my church, who was …..um….. lets just say she was more vibrant than most Methodist preachers. She has a habit of saying ‘Amen’, fairly loudly during the middle of her sermon, after saying a prominant phrase. The congregation, would generally, repeat the ‘Amen’, to show their agreement with it. But, at one point in her sermon, she stated that the rich, Western countries were brilliant because they weren’t letting the poor countries starve, they were helping them (I had to physically calm down my errupting sister!). She then said ‘Amen’ in her usual, enthusitic manner. At this point, I thought “there is NO WAY I am saying Amen to that”, and I remained silent. I was pleasantly surprised when the rest of the congregation remained completely silent too! There was an arkward few seconds of silence, as the preacher realised that nobody was going to agree with her statement, before she carried on. I was proud of the congregation for not sucking in everything the preacher says, and believing it.
I think its important to critically assess the bible and the preacher’s sermons and not just believe every word that is spoken. I am going to try to be more aware of when I say ‘Amen’ and not just say it at the end of a bible reading, because thats what I’ve always done.