And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
Those, of course, are the words from the third stanza of Martin Luther’s A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. Recently I was struck by the last six words – One little word shall fell him – and specifically the word little. Luther shames the devil and extols the power of God’s word. Not just one word shall fell him. But one little word. God’s word is a mighty chain saw and the devil is a tiny tree. It takes but one little, tiny word to fell him! Glory!
But what is that little word? Luther doesn’t tell us. Perhaps he has in mind the name of Jesus, or the title Christ. But what if he has in mind the church’s little word; the little word the church speaks to respond to God’s victorious word? What if he has in mind the little word, Amen.
God’s word is a mighty chain saw and the devil is a tiny tree
Do you say Amen? When the minister says: “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: Grace to you and peace.” Do you respond with a throaty: Amen!? When the minster says: “Blessed is the kingdom of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, now and forever to the ages of ages.” Do you respond with all that is within you: Amen! You should. For as Alexander Schmemann notes,
It is indeed one of the most important words in the world, for it expresses the agreement of the Church to follow Christ in His assertion to His Father, to make this ascension the destiny of man. It is Christ’s gift to us, for only in Him can we say Amen to God, or rather He himself is our Amen to God and the Church is the Amen to Christ. Upon this Amen the fate of the human race is decided. It reveals the movement toward God has begun.
Of course Schmemann is just echoing the apostle Paul –
For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory (2 Cor. 1:20).
So, as we worship, don’t underestimate the power of the little words you say. And make your amen hearty and robust and throaty to the glory of God. Amen!