The Heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church

1 - Psalm 116

Alexander A-Malek and Ragy Sharkawy
May 18, 2011

Contemplations on the hymn of Psalm 116 (Ni-ethnos Teero).

Introduction

The Holy Psalmody consists of the Prayer of the Vespers hour, the Vespers Raising of Incense, the Midnight Psalmody, the Prayers of the Prime Hour, and the Prime Raising of Incense. The Holy Liturgy is then prayed after the Holy Psalmody.

As with all other Services in the Coptic Orthodox Church, the Holy Psalmody begins with “Doxa Patri”, “Epchois nai nan”, the Lord’s Prayer, the Thanksgiving Prayer, and Psalm 50.

Thereafter, on non-fasting days, the prayers of the 9th, 11th, 12th, (and the Veil in monasteries) services of the Agpeya are prayed. For fasting days, the prayers of the 11th, 12th and (Veil in monasteries) service are prayed.

This is the part we are concerned with now – it is here that the congregation chants the introductory psalm, “Nee Ethnoc Teero”, which is Psalm 116:

Glory be to God.

Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever, Alleluia.

Glory be to the Father and the Son,
And the Holy Spirit,
Now and forever,
And unto the ages of ages, Amen.

Alleluia, Alleluia, Glory be to God.

Then, they proceed to the Fourth Hos, the Psali, the Theotokia of the day, the Antiphonarium or the Exposition (Adam or Watos), and then the conclusion of the Theotokia (Adam or Watos). Finally, the Vespers Raising of the Incense is prayed.

Glory of God

As we look at the meaning of the hymn “Nee Ethnoc Teero”, we see that it is focused on the GLORY OF GOD. We also see that it is not only focused on the GLORY OF GOD but on how All NATIONS and PEOPLE around the world should rise at that special moment of prayer to focus and praise God with sincerity.

Individual Comtemplation: Do I, as a Christian and servant of God, strive for purity through my prayers, whether they are in the Liturgy, the Praises, Raising of Incense, or any other form of prayer?

THE GLORY OF GOD IS THE MANIFESTATION AND REVELATION OF HIS LOVE!!!

This passage from the Book of Exodus is Amazing – showing the Glory of God – I really liked it. I hope you do to. Please read it slowly and with thought.

“The Lord said to Moses, ‘I will do the very thing that you have asked; for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.’ Moses said, ‘Show me your glory, I pray.’ And he said, ‘I will make ALL my goodness pass before you, and will proclaim before you the name, ‘The Lord’; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy’” (Ex. 33:17-19).

Notice the close relationship between God and Moses - between God and His servant. They were so close that they were even calling each other by Name. However, the amazing part is that Moses’ request as a loyal servant actually had an influence on God, leading to an immediate response due to the close relationship. Even better, God promised to cause ALL, yes ALL, His goodness to pass in front of Moses, proclaiming His Name. Are we any different as we request and proclaim His Glory through this hymn?

“The Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name, ‘The Lord.’ The Lord passed before him, and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for the thousandth generation, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, yet by no means clearing the guilty, but visiting the iniquity of the parents upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.’ And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped” (Ex. 34:5-8).

Did God just come down from heaven on a cloud and actually STAND beside Moses? When Moses heard all of what God said regarding His Love, faithfulness, anger, forgiveness, etc., he fell to the ground and worshipped. Wouldn’t you?

I will simply conclude with these verses from the bible that directly apply to us – I like them because they both call for action on our behalf.

+ “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31).

+ “If the word of the LORD is with them, then let them intercede with the LORD of hosts” ( Jer. 27:18).

Remember this:

THE GLORY OF GOD IS THE MANIFESTATION AND REVELATION OF HIS LOVE!

On Prayer

As we continue to learn the hymn “Nee Ethnoc Teero”, we begin to realize more and more how deep and beautiful its musical tune and spiritual words can have on our LIFE OF PRAYER.

Self-contemplation: I must stop and ask myself: have I recognized the true depth of the Liturgy, this hymn, and others we have already learned, whether it be from our teachers or just on our own at home?

In my opinion it is good and healthy to ask ourselves these questions so that we may confront and isolate our weaknesses, working at them bit by bit with the Grace of God. This also applies to other areas of our life.

Of course a life of prayer is challenging, but it is essential to one’s personal growth, and the persuing of being in communion with God. We even learn and witness in the book “The Way of a Pilgrim” that a life of prayer must come through:

  1. Hard Work (Holy Zeal),
  2. Persistence (not giving up when one has failed),
  3. Spiritual curiosity (asking a lot of questions),
  4. Practice (repetition),
  5. and finally, guidance from a Spiritual Father.


However, as one strives to have a life of prayer by practically doing all of the above, we come to the conclusion that like any other ‘Gift of the Holy Spirit’, prayer is fundamentally given by God to the simple and loving hearts, “for unto everyone who labors over these Divine Gifts, so shall it be given, and he shall have abundance.”

A life of prayer my friends is not only dialogue with God but it is:

  1. Purification,
  2. Illumination, and
  3. Union of our very nature with our loving Creator.

Basically, there is no LIFE without Prayer (Gal. 2:20). This is because while we are united with God in our prayer we truly have life, as the source of all life is God, and we in our prayers have life through Him. Through our prayers here on earth we partially partake of the Tree of Life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God (Rev. 2:7).

Prayer is our first and incomparably most important means of fighting. Learn to pray, and you would not just have found LIFE, but you also get rid of all evil powers that could prevail against you in your life on earth. In another sense prayer is one wing, faith the other, and both lift us towards heaven. With only one wing no one can fly: prayer without faith is as meaningless as faith without prayer. Think about this.

I will simply conclude with these verse that say it all,

+ “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (Js. 4:8).

The Merciful Lord

Indeed, the Lord God Most High is merciful towards us His humble servants. Christ, our Lord and Savior, on the glorious Cross, stretched out His blessed arms, accepting the suffering on our behalf, the sinners, so that we may not perish eternally. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16). He has saved us all from eternal death, by dying for each and every one of us. What is this love You offer to us, O You who is without sin? How great is Your Mercy, O Lord of Hosts?! Despite our numerous sins and countless faults, He displays His mercy on us on the altar everyday, His holy Body and Blood, reminding us of His sacrifice for our sakes. The angels praise you, O Lord, and we, whom you saved, how can we not praise you for your great mercy? The Lord is truly deserving of praise and glory, for He is our Savior.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!” are the first two verses in the Psalm that are chanted. Praise continuously, because the Lord is merciful; “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:1). We must be saying in one accord, “Have mercy on us, O God, and have mercy on us” (The Prayer of Every Hour).

And as we always recite in the Divine Liturgy, let all pray saying: “According to Thy mercy O Lord, and not according to our sins.”

May the Lord have mercy on all of us, and may we always continue praising His Holy Name, Amen.

Brotherly Kindness

“For great is his steadfast love toward us.”

After contemplating on the greatness of the Lord’s mercy on our weak souls, we look further into the verse, and realize that the Lord is also the source of kindness to all who love Him. Kindness is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, Whom His gifts we were all granted through the Sacrament of Myron. Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has sent to us the Comforter, so that we may bear fruits of kindness, so that we may experience it in our lives.

While on earth, the Lord displayed His kindness to those who seek Him, the lame, the blind, the poor, and most of all the sinners. How often are our hearts cruel towards those who hate us, and have done wrong towards us? Despite the sins which mankind has fallen into, the Lord did not seize to be kind to His Creation. How dare I not be kind to those who hate me, while the Lord himself is kind to me the sinner who has sinned against Him, Who bore the Cross for me?!

Kindness is a result of a humble loving heart. Thus, just as God is the source of kindness, Who is Himself Love (1 Jn. 4:16), so should our hearts be – a source of love to those around us, and thus of kindness. For St. Paul says, “live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2), and “Let mutual love continue” (Heb. 13:1).

May fruit of kindness, which is born through the grace of the Holy Spirit, dwell in our hearts and be applied in our lives, and may He grant us a life of love towards each other always, amen.

“Make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love” (2 Pet. 1:5,6).

Greatness of Salvation

“For great is his steadfast love toward us.”

My dear brothers in Christ, as we continue to contemplate on Psalm 116, and in particular the above verse, we find ourselves focusing our attention on the word “great”, as it describes the merciful kindness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The word “great” may be used in more than one context. In some cases, it is used to describe something of large magnitude, in other cases it is used to describe the excellence or perfection of something or someone. Also, we find that the word “great” can describe something of importance.

When we look at this word in the context of the verse, it strikes us that all three ‘meanings’ fit in the description of the merciful kindness of the Lord Christ. Christ died on the Cross for the salvation of the whole world, for every single human being from the past, in the present and the future. “I have come to call not the righteous but sinners” (Mk. 2:17). How many sinners are there? Who could have taken such a “great” task of this magnitude? Who could save all of mankind from the sin of Adam?! “What is impossible for mortals is possible for God” (Lk. 18:27). Indeed, His mercy towards us was exhibited through the salvation on the Cross for all the world.

In another context, we see the “greatness” of Christ’s salvation in its perfection. “For as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22), and “Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven” (1 Cor. 15:49). It is only through Christ that the sin of Adam was, in all greatness and perfection, removed from our sinful bodies, which we are born with. “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13,14).

Finally, the salvation of Christ is in no doubt of great importance to all of mankind, for each and every one of us. As St. Paul mentioned in his letter to the Romans, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7:24). For Christ offered Himself up on the Cross so that I may be saved from eternal suffering and death, and has given me the opportunity once again to receive the Kingdom of Heaven, of which I am not worthy.

May the Lord bless us, and have mercy on us all.

“Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near” (Js. 5:8).

The Truth of the Lord

“And the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”

The faithfulness of the Lord has great meanings towards us. We acknowledge our faith, that indeed and in truth Christ our Lord died on the Cross and brought salvation to all the earth. The faithfulness of the Lord is evident in the continuous salvation by the sacrifice of His Body and Blood on the altar, by which our weak souls may be nourished with the Heavenly Gifts. The Lord tells us, “my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them” (Jn. 6:55,56).

The faithfulness of the Lord is evident is His endless love and care for us, His servants, for He watches over us, guides us in our lives and accepts our prayers, for He proclaimed to His disciples saying, “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Mt. 28:20).

The truth of the Lord is evident in fulfilling His promises and the all the prophesies of the prophets in the Old Testament, for “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13,14), and “the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one” (2 Thess. 3:3).

May we always proclaim the faithfulness of the Lord in our mind, our hearts, our souls, and our prayers, remembering that the Lord Christ is “not slow about his promise” (2 Pet. 3:9). His love to us, the sinners, is greater than any man can perceive. May the Lord bless us all, keep us at peace, and guide us to His Kingdom. Amen.

Glory be to the Father

At the conclusion of the hymn “Nee Ethnoc Teero”, we chant in one accord, praying and saying: “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” In fact, this is always chanted in several hymns in the Church. Let us take a few minutes to examine the meaning of the words that we pray. Let us contemplate on the Holy Trinity in all His glory, who’s unlimited and wonderful mystery of love we will never come to fully understand, yet we as children of God believe in the One Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Glory be to the Father…. Why do we glorify God the Father?

First, He is the Creator of all things, seen and unseen. He is the Creator of the heaven and earth, for “In the beginning… God created the heavens and earth” (Gen. 1:1). Because of His Creation, we are able to live and survive. The sun provides light for the daytime and the moon for the night. Water is needed to quench our thirst. Plants are needed to feed us and feed the animals, of which we also receive our food, and until today, our clothing. The soil is needed so that we may build shelters for ourselves. Not only is the Creation in itself glorious and wonderful, but its mechanism, and how everything comes together is glorious too. For example, the sun’s rays evaporate the water from the earth to form clouds, that later provide rain to water the plants, so that animals and man may feed of them. How glorious is Your creation, O God. For it is this reason that all the creation is called upon to praise His Holy Name in Psalm 148 as we recite in the midnight praise. In fact, we may come to realize that the existence of all things created in themselves is a means of praising God, for they all “obey” what they were created for.

We give glory to God because He is our Creator. His love towards us is beyond our perception. His love towards Mankind gave us the grace of being created in His own Image saying, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness” (Gen. 1:26). The Father’s love is also striking when we realize that we were the last of His creation. Because of His love to us, He prepared for us what we needed before our creation so that we may not suffer… plants, the seas, animals, everything… He even gave Mankind dominion over the fish, the animals, and the birds. How great is Your Love, O God, that you have given me the sinner all this authority and love? “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good” (Gen. 1:31).

We give glory to God the Father for sending His only-begotten Son to take away the sins of the world, and grant us salvation on the Cross. Despite the fall of Adam, and the “destruction” of the creation by Man, He still loved His own who are in the world, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life” (Jn. 3:16).

  • We glorify God the Father for hearing our supplications: “In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears” (Ps. 18:6);
  • For answering our prayers: “I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him” (1 Sam. 1:27);
  • For guiding us to path of Righteousness: “Teach me Your way, O Lord” (Ps. 27:11);
  • For creating us in the Coptic Orthodox Christian faith: “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit” (Jn. 3:5);
  • For protecting us: “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31);
  • For loving us, for “God is Love” (1 Jn. 4:16);
  • For teaching us to praise His Holy Name: “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare Your praise” (Ps. 51:15).


We can write hundreds of thousands of words to express why we glorify God the Father, but it would be endless. The Almighty Heavenly Father is limitless in His love and wonders, and to Him indeed is all glory forever. Amen.

Glory to the Son

Let us continue to contemplate on the verse saying: “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Why do we glorify the Son?

The first reason is simple, because He himself is God, the Second Hypostasis of the One Holy Trinity. For the Father glorified the Son when saying, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:17). Indeed Christ proclaimed His Oneness with the Father when saying, “The Father and I are one” (Jn. 10:30), and “Before Abraham was, I AM” (Jn. 8:58). The words “I AM” in the Old Testament were only used by God Himself, and Christ repeated this phrase several times in the Gospel of St. John, signifying that He is God. How can we then seize to worship Christ, God Incarnate, Who has said to the world “I am the bread of life” (Jn. 6:35), “I am the good shepherd” (Jn. 10:11), “I am the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12), and “I am the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25). Indeed, Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God is truly our Lord and God, and is worthy of all glory.

Christ is our Heavenly King, who humbled Himself to take the form of a servant for the sake of Man’s sins. For “He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things” (Eph. 4:10). St. Paul also teaches us through the first letter of Timothy saying, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the foremost… To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:15,17). How then can we ignore our true King, who is worthy of all praise and glory, who has ascended to prepare for us the coming of the Kingdom of God? Who then dares not to give glory to the King who has authority over all the creation, who knows the hearts of all, who knows the thoughts of all. What joy will one get when he stands at the feet of Our Lord and King, and hears those wonderful and comforting words saying “Well done, good and trustworthy slave” (Mt. 25:21).

Jesus Christ is our Savior, Who accepted death on our behalf on the wood of the Cross, so that the world may not receive eternal death, but be reconciled to God’s Kingdom once more. What love is this, O Lord, that you give Your life for mine, the sinner?! What great love is this, O King, that You sacrifice Yourself in all humbleness, carrying your own Cross, when it is I who deserves this punishment?! “Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:23-26).

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42).

Glory to the Holy Spirit

Let us continue to contemplate on the verse saying: “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”

Why do we glorify the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is the Third Person of the Trinity, who proceeds from the Father as we proclaim in the Orthodox Creed. Thus, just as we glorify God the Father and God the Son, we also give glory and praise to the Holy Spirit; “the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son is glorified.” O, how beautiful and magnificent if we were to have witnessed the Epiphany at the Baptism of the Lord Jesus, seeing the “Spirit of God descending like a dove” (Mt. 3:16), or as tongues of fire on the disciples in the Upper Room. We give glory to You, O Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter and Guider. Christ promised His disciples saying, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf” (Jn. 15:26), and “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth” (Jn. 16:13). It is the Holy Spirit who guides us in our life, and strengthens us in our spiritual struggles in life.

Upon Chrismation (Myron), we receive the seal of the Holy Spirit, thus granting us the chance once again to enter the Kingdom of God, for St. Paul teaches us saying, “[you] were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13,14). It is through the Holy Spirit that we are able receive the gifts of which we not worthy, “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the discernment of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are activated by one and the same Spirit, who allots to each one individually just as the Spirit chooses” (1 Cor. 12:8-11). It is only through the Holy Spirit that we are able to bare His fruits, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control” (Gal. 5:22,23).

Indeed, the Holy Spirit is worthy of all glory with the Father and the Son, the One Holy Trinity, forever and ever, amen. May we always praise together saying, “Glory be to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, One God, amen.”

“Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Gal 5:16).

Glory be to the Holy Trinity.

God is Forever

“Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (Psalms 90:2).

I would like, through the guidance and will of our Savior, and your prayers, talk to you about God, His existence, and our role in praising Him forever like the angels in Heaven.
My friends, God is forever and always existed, even before the beginning of all things. But everyone and everything in the universe, even in hell and in heaven, depends on God for its existence. Creatures stay alive because God provides all that is required to sustain them. On a higher level, mankind also needs families, friends, food, shelter, animals, plants, and societies of people – all made by God according to His plan and purpose.

So, all exists for God’s purpose and glory; He made it all according to His will.

On a different level, every person, creature and thing exists by God’s will and power. Nothing in the universe, heaven, or hell – absolutely nothing aside from God Himself – is self-sufficient and self-existent. All came from God and depends on God for its existence. Only God Himself existed before all things, He was never created or brought into existence, and needs no one or anything to exist.

Because of this, God must choose, God must train, and God must send – all things according to His will and not according to our own. This even applies to how and where we praise Him and our service for Him.

Love, that is God, is the fire which burns forever. God is Love. In the end, we will all have to go through the fire (judgment), and the fire will know it’s own… and that which is not one with the flame (Holy Spirit), will be consumed, because “God is a devouring fire” (Deut. 4:24; Heb.12:29).

Take some moments to think of this word what it really means: “Jesus Christ who is the eternal flame of God’s Love.”

Such knowledge is humbling, is it not? Does it not make you feel small and nothing compared to God? The reality is that we are very limited creatures, completely dependant on God for all things, even our very existence. Mankind lives in a small world for a short time. We can never become self-existent and live forever like God, nor independent from God in our existence. Nor can we earn or demand anything from God, for all we have and all we are came directly from Him. All we do is done because He gives us the body, mind, spirit and circumstance to do it. God owes us nothing. But we owe God all we are and all we own. We rely entirely upon a God who does not need us in any way. Sometimes this truth aggravates the pride of the wicked. However, as children of the Light, all we can do is receive His grace through His mercy, and live to serve and praise Him every moment of our lives.

When God even spoke to Job, most of His dialogue was about His pre-eminence, about how He created and sustained all things, about how He existed before all things, and how all things relied upon Him. So He admonished Job in this knowledge, telling Job not to question what He does.

  • God knows better than man, and does all for good purposes.
  • In the knowledge of God’s self-existence, and knowing that all depends on God for its sufficiency and existence; we can bear all trials and suffer with greater patience and confidence in God. THIS IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER.
  • We must all learn what God said to Job, because we all have suffering and trials, too. When we trust in God’s sufficiency and existence, we find true peace. Therefore, we must walk in the name of our Lord and God joyfully, always praising and calling upon His name forever and ever. Amen.


God is Forever, We Praise Yet We Are Limited

“Now and forever, and unto the ages of ages, Amen.”

As we continue to reflect on Psalm 116, “Nee Ethnoc Teero”, and upon the certainty that God exists forever, and our everlasting role of praising Him forever, I wish to touch on one simple point.

That is, that we are TRULY LIMITED.

Does God need servants? No! God can convert the whole world without a single servant. Does God need us to fight against the forces of evil? No! God could instantly destroy all mankind, and send all men to hell forever, if He willed. And God can defend Himself very well, without our weapons. God does not need us in any way.

However, God still takes pleasure in working with us and through us.

He rejoices in His intimate involvement with His creation, though He rules as King of kings. He delights to speak out of the mouth of His mere fallible, mortal children. He wills us to engage in priestly labor for each other, as He willed His own labors on earth in a body of flesh. By sweat and blood, Jesus served us, even in beatings and torture on the Cross. He loves us so that we may love in the same way, His way, as He has loved us and served us when He lived with us. He has served us even from the day He created us.

Likewise, God rejoices in the works (our praise and service) of His servants, whom He allows to share in His work. God never needs our work (praise or service) in any way whatsoever, but God loves to share all things, even His work. How then can we not love and praise Him with all this Knowledge. The Knowledge of His very existence, His love and suffering for the whole creation. It is only natural that the whole creation returns with praising and service, forever and ever.

My friends, our God, who is spirit and lives forever, created and maintains the material creation (Heb. 11:3). Since He created all for His own purposes, and since He is spirit, all was ultimately created for a spiritual purpose. Thus, even all the material problems stem from a spiritual source, and ultimately need spiritual solutions from the source of all sources. As a monk in St. Antony’s monastery had once told me: “evil or bad things cannot exist by its self, but rather exist only from the spoiling of good.”

This is why God tells us, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2).

+ Our service is so important and greatly needed. Our praise and service really has a distinct and focused purpose. This is to help the creation by pointing them to their Creator.
+ As devoted Christians and limited beings, we as individuals and as a group, must reject the world’s wisdom, because it holds no meaning without reference to the one true God.
+ And likewise, our lives have no meaning apart from God. We can only achieve oneness and fullness with God through our praise. Through this hymn and many others we become complete in God.

This is my only hope and prayer. Amen

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known his deeds among the nations; proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel” (Is. 12:4-6).

Amen (Facts First, Contemplation Later)

I was just thinking: before we attempt to contemplate on the word “Amen”; I feel that we first need to examine the facts. This involves its origins and different uses.

What is the first recorded use of “Amen” in the Bible?

Answer: Numbers 5:22.

“Amen” is one of the most familiar words to Christians. It originates from the Old Testament Hebrew word pronounced “aw-mane,” meaning ‘sure,’ ‘truly,’ or ‘so be it.’ The New Testament Greek word, pronounced “am-ane,” is derived directly from the earlier Hebrew word, with the same meaning. Although the word “Amen” is most commonly used for prayer, it had other uses in the Bible and likewise in our daily lives.

+ In Isaiah 65:16, most Bible versions use “the God of truth” to translate the original Hebrew which literally says “the God of Amen.”

+ Jesus Christ Himself often used the original word “Amen,” which most Bible versions translate as “verily,” “most assuredly,” “truly,” or “I tell you the truth.” He often used it at the beginning of what He was saying, rather than at the end. For e.g. “For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished” (Mt. 5:18).

+ In Revelation 3:14, “Amen” was used as a title for Jesus Christ: “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation.”

+ “Amen” was used at the end of prayers to affirm the words and evoke the bringing about of them. (e.g. Ps. 41:13, 72:19, 89:52)

+ “Amen” was also used to affirm an oath (e.g. Num. 5:22, Deut. 27:15-26, Neh. 5:13, 8:6, 1 Chron. 16:36).

+ Worshippers in the early Christian churches said “Amen” at the end of prayer (e.g. 1 Cor. 14:16).

+ “Amen” was also used to represent God’s promise: “For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 1:20).