To God be the Glory

I honestly cannot tell you where or when I first heard this hymn, but it has stuck with me for several years now. I chose it as the first one to be played and sung as people came up to receive Communion during my ordination: “Thine the Amen” (ELW 826). I wasn’t overly comfortable getting so much attention that day. It turned out to be rather draining, quite honestly. Ministry as a whole, not just with pastors, but for all of us, can have that tiring effect. That isn’t to say some of us have our moments of appreciating being recognized for what we’ve done in the sacrifice department (some of us pastors have our rather egotistical moments, too).

And yet, in the midst of those times that try our souls, including when we wonder if we make any difference whatsoever, I appreciate how this hymn keeps the Center of it all in perspective. The words were written by Hebert Brokering, who graduated from my seminary alma-mater, and died just over a decade ago. The third verse:

Thine the truly thine the yes
thine the table we the guest
thine the mercy all from thee
thine the glory yet to be
then the ringing and the singing
then the end of all the war
thine the living thine the loving
evermore evermore.

Yes, we do all this serving and discipling and loving not for our own personal glory, or for some newfound source of energy (although it does give a good dose of soul-energy, quite often), but for the glory of God.

But it’s not just the words that serve their Gospel-centered focus role; it’s the music, too, from Carl F. Schalk, who died only a few years ago. It has a holy momentum to it, a holy momentum to remind us that no matter how much we grow weary or wondering our worth, the Holy Spirit will keep on spiraling forward with a relentless divine charge within us. This God is eternal, after all. This is the God for whom death stood no chance. This is the God who promises to stay with us, including to give us more than enough reason to do whatever we can in the mercy department.

 The title alone has its own power to it. I don’t know that it’s the most accurate definition, necessarily, but I always think the word amen means, “so let it be.” That, when we say the “amen” at the end of our prayer, not only are we asking God to bring all what we just asked and yearned for to fruition, but we’re making a commitment to God with that precious word for us to do our part, too. So, when we go through our usual prayers of intercession during Sunday morning worship, focusing on the Creation, peace, justice, healing, our church family, and more, we raise our awareness of those petitions as a calling for our respective ministries as disciples as well.

Granted, we lift up such prayers fully aware we desperately need God’s help in caring for all the above. We lift up the “amen,” knowing full well God has set the first table for Communion long ago, making it possible for the boundless tangible grace to be set again and again for eternity, not to mention knowing full well that God has brought all the “living” and “loving” to be. God has been, is now, and always will be the ultimate fulfiller of that precious “amen.” And yet, God also fulfilled a beautiful be-ing in us, too: that, empowered, by God’s “yes” to us in Jesus Christ, we can most certainly do our part in bringing a significant witness of “living” and “loving” to life as well. Amen (so let it be)!

In Chirst,
Pastor Brad

“Thine the Amen” from Trinity Lutheran Church (Reading, PA) June 17, 2016