Brother Smith’s ‘Amen’

    “Brother Smith’s ‘Amen’” Friend, Feb. 1993, 44

    Brother Smith’s “Amen”

    Christ is called “the Amen, the faithful and true witness” (Bible Dictionary—Amen).

    “And now I’d like to end my talk with my testimony,” the speaker in sacrament meeting was saying. Sarah and her younger sister, Beth, were sitting with their family near the back of the chapel. Dad leaned forward on the bench and eyed a clear warning to both of them. They weren’t being bad or noisy, but Dad knew what was coming—the family was sitting right in front of Brother Smith.

    The speaker finished, “in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.” Sarah bit her lip and closed her eyes in anticipation. Then she heard it—everyone in the whole county must have heard it—Brother Smith added his “AMEN!”

    Sarah tried not to giggle, but when Beth started to, she couldn’t help it. Dad rolled his eyes, and Sarah felt bad. She knew that they shouldn’t giggle in church. “It’s Brother Smith’s fault,” she mouthed to her father while she tried to calm Beth down.

    Everyone in the ward said “Amen” after a prayer or talk, but everyone else said it quietly, almost to themselves. Brother Smith belted it out as if he were at a football game.

    “He is older,” Dad had explained before. “He doesn’t hear very well.” Sarah knew that people who are hard of hearing often shout. But still, when Brother Smith said “amen,” she was sure even people driving by could hear it.

    After church, when the family was riding home, Sarah expected another lecture from her father about reverence. But he didn’t say anything.

    Beth broke her silence, “Sorry I laughed again, Daddy.”

    Sarah poked her leg and frowned at her for bringing it up, but Dad just said, “After lunch I have something I want to show you girls.”

    When the family had eaten, Dad took the two girls into his study. “This is something that belonged to your great-grandfather,” he said, pulling a fist-size metal object out of a box.

    “What is it?” Sarah asked. “It looks like a clamp.”

    “It’s a seal.” Dad pulled out a sheet of typing paper from his desk and placed the paper between the seal’s two round plates. Using both hands, he squeezed the handles together, then released them and pulled the paper out. “See the imprint it leaves on the paper?”

    The girls looked at the intricate design and fancy writing embossed on the paper. “Cool!” Sarah exclaimed. “May I try it?”

    “Sure.” Dad smiled and got out another sheet of paper. “Great-grandfather was a very important man in the town where he lived. He was a leader, and people trusted him. This seal was his very own; there were no others like it.”

    Sarah pushed the handles together this time, then both girls rubbed the texture now on the paper with their fingertips.

    “That’s the way Great-Grandpa sent important messages to others,” Dad told them. “He put his seal on the messages, and the people getting them knew without a doubt that the messages were really from him. You see, if people got married or did things that needed a witness, Great-Grandpa used his seal. People everywhere knew that if his seal was on something, it was true.”

    “Wow!” Beth said.

    “That’s awesome!” Sarah added.

    Dad looked at them. “You mean you wouldn’t laugh at Great-Grandpa’s seal?”

    “No way,” Sarah said. “It’s an important thing.”

    “Yeah, no way,” Beth agreed.

    Dad smiled. “Now, did you know that the word amen is also a seal?”

    Sarah had known that something like this was coming. Dad made a lesson out of everything. She waited for him to continue.

    “Well, that’s what it is—our own personal seal that we put on ordinances, testimonies, prayers, and talks. It means that we know we have done or said or heard something true. Saying ‘amen’ is our seal that tells everyone that we agree and approve.

    “Now,” he said, easing the tension, “who wants to use Great-Grandpa’s seal on some of her things?”

    “I do! I do!” both girls squealed happily.

    All that week Sarah put Great-Grandpa’s seal on the first pages of all her books and everything else she could find. She made special note cards for her friends and even put a seal in her journal.

    The following Sunday, Sarah’s family got to church a little late. Dad found a half-empty bench near the back of the chapel, and they sat down just as everyone was bowing his head for the prayer.

    In the prayer, Sister Carter said, “We thank Thee for this beautiful day …” As Sarah listened carefully, she thought of Great-Grandpa’s seal. Would she put her seal on these words? “We are grateful for this chapel to meet in,” Sister Carter was saying now. Could Sarah witness that these words were true? “And please bless the prophet and the missionaries.” Did Sarah approve? Did she agree? Sister Carter ended her prayer, “In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

    Picturing herself stamping Great-Grandpa’s seal on Sister Carter’s prayer, Sarah said right out loud, “Amen,” just as she heard Brother Smith’s bellowed “AMEN!”

    Sarah didn’t laugh. Beth didn’t laugh, either. Dad patted them approvingly. Sarah moved closer to him and whispered, “It’s just his seal, Dad—his BIG seal.”

    Illustrated by Jerry Harston