Hosanna! Rescue us!

Amen, Hallelujah / Alleluia, Full Gospel

Christian Spirituality define Hallelujah and Amen


Can I get an amen?

What Is 'Amen'?

Amen : Hebrew, meaning 'let it be so'. It is a plea to God for a response to prayer. Also, 'amen' is an affirmation of what will be done by God, a 'Yes' to God's vision, and a statement of confidence in God. In African-American and Pentecostal circles, amen is a celebration of what will come from God, even before God gives it. In the Bible, amen also has an adverbial form that means 'truly' or 'it is so'.

Hallelujah and Alleluia

Hallelujah! : [Heb hllwyh "Praise be to Yah"] Also, in Latinized form, alleluia. It's the time-honored way of using our voices to give God some small part of what God is due. It's not supposed to stop at our lips, however: as Augustine of Hippo put it, "The Christian should be an alleluia from head to foot!" We are to praise God with lips, with body, with heart, and with deed.

Most folks in my own denomination are Alleluia people : they draw their worship and prayer life from something which has its roots in the alleluias of Latin Mass. While that's also my own main heritage, I draw heavily from Jewish worship, past and present, and much from African-American worship. Those roots are more Hallelujah. It is the same word, and the same meaning, but by a different road. (To that I say, amen!)

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What is Hosanna?

Hebrew hoshi'annah means 'rescue us!'. It's in an imperative mode (-nh), which is like a command, demand, or (as in this case) very urgent plea. 'Hosanna' was originally the cry of a desperate people toward their hero. By Jesus' time, it had already become a less-agitated term of adoration. It signified that the one they were hailing was the one they expected to get rid of the Romans. Hosanna had become a greeting of praise and support for a leader who was expected to cause major changes. Today, most Christians have no idea of its original thrust, and think it's just another praise word like hallelujah. The churches lost touch with the original, fairly political meaning of hosanna thousand years ago, maybe more. The crowd in Jerusalem likely had not even a thought that Jesus was there to save them from something even worse than Rome: death.

What Is Maranatha?

Maranatha is made of two Aramaic/Syrian words, maran'atah, meaning, "our Lord comes," or (treating the -a(h) ending as if for energy or speed) "Lord, come quickly". Some early Christians greeted each other with "maranatha!". Its meaning for the faith comes from Revelation 22:20, the very end of the book, where it is used as a plea or prayer. This hope is the same one as found using different words in the Lord's prayer, "Your Kingdom come". In Revelation, however, maranatha is said with a different backdrop, one where the immediacy of persecution strips away whatever comfort they had about the world they were living in. In that setting, the coming of the Lord and His Kingdom seems more of a matter of life and death in the here and now.

In 1 Corinthians 16:22, the line reads, "Our Lord is coming, and he will judge those who have tried to stop Him." It is used here in context with the Greek term anathema ("put away, throw out"). Because of this tie between the 'coming' and 'judgement', some preachers take 'maranatha' to be a short form of an implied curse. Not so. All it means in Corinthians is that the Lord's coming will end all rebellion against God -- the 'curse' is not in the coming but in the 'anathema', and even that is more of an assertion of justice. The coming is the most happy event of all. Thus, 'maranatha' is said with joy and relief.


Catechesis is education, not a disease.

What is Catechesis?

catechesis:

  1. Definition: Catechesis is formal instruction, mostly by hearing and speaking, to teach core or central matters, including doctrines and dogma.
  2. Other words for catechesis: education, instruction, schooling, to teach, to edify, [Luth] 'what's that?'.
  3. word origin: Greek katekhesis (teaching by spoken words) < katekhein (to teach by spoken word) < kata- (out, down) + ekhein (to sound)
  4. purpose: To pass to new believers the most important matters of the Christian faith so that they can live it better.

To today's church, catechesis means teaching new believers a Christian way of thinking and behavior. It refers to the formal process of education and training that comes before a non-infant baptism, making sure they know the core teachings of the faith. It is, of course, only the beginning part of life-long learning, and it goes along with mentoring and repeated practice, plus other less formal ways to learn. It is one of the tools the Spirit uses to transform us, and to lead us to live the faith in a disciplined and deliberate way.

A catechist is someone who teaches in that formal process. A catechumen is an adult or older child who is being prepared for Baptism. The catechumenate is the classification or status category of the new Christian who is preparing for baptism. A catechism is a book designed to teach "official" church teachings within the process.

These words are used almost exclusively among "liturgical" churches, most especially the Roman Catholics. Martin Luther wrote his own catechisms Large and Small, to teach people about Christ. The Small Catechism became an educational classic because of its question-and-answer format. That made it simple to use and understand, and more apt to be used by families and in self-study. In the early church, catechumens were sent out of worship gatherings during Holy Communion. They were not yet deemed ready for the sacramental mysteries of the church. This practice ended when Mediterranean society had become Christian. Converts were few, and most people were baptized as infants. Today, it's understood that some catechumens have as good a grasp of those mysteries as those taking communion, maybe even the officiating ministers. The Spirit is always schooling us. Those who care about following Christ feel a thirst to learn more. This may include going back to the catechism regularly to both learn and re-think those core teachings teachings, as Luther recommended.

mousecheesis (pronounced "maus-e-cheese-iss"): [Northeast US] the educational preparation for becoming a church mouse. (The process for cats goes by the same name as the human one.)


What is Consecration?

Consecration is a liturgical act in which an object (like a building, room, communion ware, etc.) is dedicated or 'set apart' solely to God and God's work. This also applies to people: in some traditions, an ordained minister is consecrated as bishop, or a lay person is consecrated as a deacon. Consecrating someone or something does not make it superior. It just means that it is being put to use for a divine purpose.

What Is a Font?

font : in traditions that do infant baptisms, a font is the basin that holds the water which is poured or sprinkled onto the infant. The font is usually somewhere up front and to one side, though some newer churches sometimes leave it near the entrance to the worship hall in order to serve as a reminder of what happens in baptism. Those which baptize only adults usually do so by immersion, which is done in a pool or tub, sometimes in a stream or lake. Those churches have no fonts.

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Ohhhh, you make me want to SHOUT!

What Is A Shout?

shout : A 'shout' is both an individual thing and a thing of the gathered worshippers. While worshipping at a service or event, the worshipper starts to experience the presence of God, and it builds up inside until it can't be restrained and bursts forth in loud noises (whoops, stutters, short praise phrases and such, with raised arms and shaking hands) in praise to God. The noises are often followed by dancing, running, singing, or even fainting. There is no calm or quiet shout. In many African-American and Pentecostalist churches, it is an accepted and even cherished act of worship at certain times during the event or service. It becomes extra-special when people all over the sanctuary/auditorium/tent break out in shouts, losing themselves fully into praise. When that happens, it's full of both fun and joy.

Some churches work hard to stage-manage a shout, which often leaves worshipers who are familiar with shouts wondering 'what's this?'. And then there are individual worshippers who shout praise on most worship services, to the attention of all. In either case, if the Spirit isn't moving the soul to shout, then what good is it?


What is 'Full Gospel'?

'full gospel': The term refers to the idea that the Spirit has restored the gospel message in all its power. Pentecostalists use the term where the 'manifestations' or 'signs' are taking place. They connect the Gospel message and the full power together very tightly; where one is, so is the other. The trouble is, the focus quickly shifts from the gospel to the power, from the fruit of the Spirit to the signs. The power itself does not signify that the gospel is any more 'full' than it's ever been. The gospel is very short and simple: the Executed and Risen Jesus is here for you and for all, to re-create the relationship between God and humanity. Many believers discover through experience that God is eager to fulfill Jesus' promises to those using their gifts to do the tasks God gives them. The gospel is full wherever it is shared and lived, whether quietly or with powerful effect. When that happens, God knows what will happen next!

Some mainline-Protestant church leaders feel offended by the Pentecostalist claim of 'full gospel'. They see it as being an implied criticism of their churches. Well, it is an implied criticism. While it's not accurate to apply it to all mainline-Protestants, it is an accurate critique of a large proportion of them. Pentecostalists measure it by the too-judgmental standard of there being little visible and effective power for Christ coming from them. But Christians also come up short by the more reasonable standard of not living and sharing what Christ has given. Even more, the critique also applies to the ones who made it. Many of them too are sharing and living a message which runs against the full gospel in key ways. In both places, much of the Christian church is full of, er, something else.