Hallowed be Thy Name

Matthew 6: 9

January 26th & 27th, 2008


            Usually there is a good deal of deliberation when it comes to picking out a name for a child.    Some like to use family names, and very often ones middle name has a family connection.  Some large families will use names that each start with the same letter.  Today you will even find couples that will create and make up their own name.   There are also trends when it comes to names.    In 1900 the most popular girl names were Mary, Helen, and Margaret.  In 1950 the three most common names were Mary, Linda, and Patricia.  According to one source today’s most popular girl names are Emily, Emma, and Madison.  Former favorites like Mary, Linda, Patricia, Helen, and Margaret do not even make the top 25 on today’s list.   In 1950 the most popular boys names were James, Michael, and Robert.  While Michael is still number two, Jacob and Joshua are now first and third most popular boy names. .    

Last week, we heard that praying to “Our Father who art in heaven” shows that he is merciful, and that as ruler of the heavenly domain he is powerful.  Our God also has a name which can be called upon.  This shows that our God is also personal.    Remember in the O.T. when Moses first came to the burning bush, he was asked to take of his shoes.  Why, because he was standing on Holy ground.   Why was it holy?   The name of God, Yahweh, the personal God was present.    The name of God is powerful, and deserving of honor.  The second commandment says that we are not to use it in vain, but instead to use it properly.   The name defines who God is. Remember when the angel said to Joseph, “and you shall name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  In this statement, this angel told us not his name, but at the same time what he would be doing as one who carried that name.   Today we continue our series on the Lord’s Prayer where Jesus teaches us to say “Hallowed be your name “or in modern English “Holy be your name”. Another translation says “May your name also be holy among us”. How does this happen? 

God’s name is where he chooses to be present for us.  In the Old Testament his presence was in his temple.    Solomon, Israel’s third King, after building the temple questions whether almighty God would really dwell in a temple he said “The heavens, even the highest heavens will not contain you, How much less this temple I have built”.  Yet God said “My name will dwell there”.    God no longer works through the temple system, but rather he shows himself to us through Jesus who broke the curtain in the temple after he bore our sins on Calvary.   This presence of God is found is now also placed on those who have been named in baptism.  “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”.     Our identity is now in him and what he has done for us.  This is why we start out every service with the invocation “the Father Son, and Holy Spirit”, as a reminder that Almighty God dwells here among us.  The bible says that wherever two or three are gathered in his name there he is in the midst of us.

  What does it mean to keep his name holy?    First, that what is said about him is truthful. We are keep his name holy by teaching true doctrine.  Secondly, our lives are to reflect the one in whom we have been named in our baptism.  In other words we would live our lives, worthy of the calling we have received.     Our lives are to be engulfed in his forgiveness for us, and our forgiveness of others.  

God’s name is not kept holy, when    teachings about God are peddled.   In the bible there are numerous examples.       In Paul’s letter to the Galatians, they were dishonoring God’s name, by     abandoning the free Grace and liberty given them in Christ, because some leaders wanted to follow the ritualistic law of the Old Testament.     The letter to the Hebrews shows how God’s name was not hallowed because people were calling upon angels rather than Christ, or emphasizing Moses over Christ.  Luke, when writing his Gospel, knew new many accounts of Jesus life were misusing his name, and so he writes to Theophilus to clarify the truths of Jesus.   In Corinth they are slandering God’s name by their many divisions and unethical lives, their confusion over the Lord’s Supper, and their  abusing the gifts of the spirit by saying their gift was better than someone else’s.   The list goes on and on.  The point is we honor God’s name by teaching and believing his word.  That is why it important to study the bible, proclaim the bible and hear his word.  Let me use my neighbor for example, when I say the word Jim Tyberendt all sorts of things come into your mind.  I’m going to assume   99% good (by the way I got permission from him to use this as an example).  WE won’t talk about the other 1%.   How wrong it would be if I started saying things about him that simply didn’t represent him or weren’t true.  For example, how much he despises any sort of work, and how he doesn’t keep his yard up.  If I said he is sick and tired of teaching, and if he had his druthers, he would retire so he could sit and watch TV all day.        Obviously, this wouldn’t represent his true feelings; many voices to the contrary would chime up, and place him in a much more truthful, positive light.  Yet all of this spoken of by your minister may     make you wonder.    It is also so with God’s name.  May we also know his Word so well, that we to can refute and hear what is true and not true concerning God’s word.      When religions overly emphasize   good deeds by giving the impression that through good deeds you’ll have a better shot at heaven,  they   speak poorly about God’s name.   If we use God’s name to speak damnation on someone, this not only reflects badly upon us, it speaks incorrectly of our God who wants all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.   To say that little babies cannot benefit from baptism, and that it isn’t really important until one is older, is to say something about him that simply isn’t true.  It is to dishonor the name of the one  who said go to all “Peoples” or nations and baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Spirit.   To speak the truth of God’s name, is to proclaim clearly that though we are sinners, Christ died and rose on our behalf, and we are complete in him.       

             This truth of God’s name, is very important because he has literally named his people through  baptism, which connects us to Jesus death and resurrection.  It identifies us.  Too often we try to make a name for ourselves.  We want to be glorified, rather than God be glorified.  The account of the building of the “Tower of Babel” is a classic account of this.  I quote “Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.  Did you hear the lack of trust?  The only way to keep chaos from reigning was to make a name for themselves.  They wanted to stand up and say look at us, we have importance and significance because we built this building that is up to the sky.  We do the same thing today.  We are so very concerned about our reputation, our own name, our own fitting in, that we can do many things to “save face”, rather than trust in God and his powerful name.  

To keep his name holy, also means our lives reflect this God in whom we have been named.    While good works do not save us, they do bring honor to Christ’s name.  Colossians 3:7 puts it well “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of our Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the father through him.   Ephesians 4:1 says “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy o the calling you have received”.  May our lives, by the grace of God reflect and bring honor to God’s holy name.  That folks may see our good deeds, and honor our father in heaven.      

             We honor God’s name by teaching and hearing the truth of his teachings, and by living as people who are the children of God.  We honor his name by calling upon that name in every trouble, by praying, and by praising him.           

            What’s in a name?  More than meets the eye, especially when it is the Lord’s name.  It is who he is, and through that name we find out who we are as his dearly loved children.  The name of God is very important, very powerful, very personal, and very real.  Help us Lord, to keep it holy in our lives.  Amen.