Marana Tha!

Posted by me on Sunday, the 4th day of June, anno domini 2006 at 10:43 PM, local time.

A phrase that sounds so familiar, yet is in Aramaic. And all instances of it my Bible-At-Hand had it translated and the Aramaic relegated to the footnotes. But, I liked the phrase, and think it should be brought into the consciousness of us all a bit more. Marana Tha!

The phrase is simply a request: “Come, O Lord!” and was frequently used by Paul to end his epistles, after the final greetings, entreating Christ to return quickly. Often times I feel that way (surely I should and do wish for that day to quickly come always, but some days, even more so), for surely the burden of our earthly tribulations seems as though it could get no greater and sweet relief would be greatly appreciated.

But, while the wish for The Return to come quickly is certainly a good one, I wonder if it is not quite right to wish for The End merely to avoid one’s own trials and tribulations.

And so, Marana Tha! …but, in the meantime, help me deal with the problems and issues in my life constructively and in accordance with Thy Will, bitte, rather than just ending it all so I don’t have to. Seriously, its not called der finstern Todestal or Rissetal for nothing.

Other such ritualistic phrases are pretty common in the epistles as well as in modern (and ancient) Christian groups. A common one that is rather seasonal, though it needn’t be, is the greeting “He is risen!” during the Easter season. The proper response is, of course, “He is risen indeed.”

While I recognize that there is no real need to keep these sorts of phrases around for anything other than purely traditional reasons (no one’s soul is in mortal danger if they do not know or frequently say any of these greetings), I, being the traditional tradition-bound Lutheran of traditionality that I am, hope we can carry them on a bit longer. That is mostly done, I suppose, through strong family-church community.

On the subject of the epistles and common phrases used therein, Paul begins most of his letters with (variations depend on translation): “Grace be with you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Another phrase worth saying more often. For those of you wondering where I came up with that wording, its actual a translation of the German version. More common versions in English would be “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (KJV) or “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (NIV). Its a phrase reminiscent of the common Greek greeting wishing grace upon a person, and also reminiscent of the Hebrew greeting “Shalom,” meaning Peace. (Even more reminiscent of the longer phrase “Shalom aleichem,” or peace be with you, from which Shalom is the standard shortened version.)

At any rate, its a perfectly good farewell as it is a greeting, so grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

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