Monday, June 07, 2010

5/30 Sermon--Part 1 of Sermon Series on Lord's Prayer: Hallowed Be Thy Name

Sermon Texts:
Exodus 3: 1-15
Matthew 6: 5-10

Sermon Notes

Growing up, I always knew the name of God.  I thought it was a funny name, I didn't really understand why we insisted every Sunday that "Hollow Ed" be thy name.  Perhaps that's why they made the Chocolate Easter bunnies hollow in the middle, in order to pay homage to "Ol' Hollow Ed" who was the reason for the season anyway.  

I also knew God was an artist, and frequently pictured God at an Easel with a Mortimer Ichabod Marker that Bill Cosby used on "Picture Pages" that made funny sounds as he drew.  My best friend Brandon had one of those pens.  He got it by being a member of the Pickles book club.  I figured God was probably the chief of the Pickles Book club, and thus must have the best one of those pens.  He probably let Bill Cosby use his special pen for the t.v. show since it was the best.  Or, perhaps he was like Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings, since all that he drew came true.  I knew all of these things about God, because I knew the Lord's prayer.  Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  

We'll be focusing on prayer this summer in worship.  I plan to offer a sermon series starting today and lasting through July that will each week bring up different themes raised by prayers that are found in our Holy Scriptures.  

Name of God: the name of God has always been thought of as the most sacred thing anyone could say.  
In the movement Imiaslavie ("Name glorification") opposed by the Russian Orthodox Church, the name of God is God Himself and can be used to evoke miracles.[citation needed]
Shangdi 上帝 (Hanyu Pinyin: shàng dì) (literally King Above) is also used to refer to the Christian god in the Standard Mandarin Union Version of the Bible. Likewise, Korean Christians and Vietnamese Christians also use cognates of this name, to refer to the Biblical god.[citation needed]
Shen  (lit. Godspirit, or deity) was adopted by Protestant missionaries in China to refer to the Christian god. In this context it is usually rendered with a space, " ", to demonstrate reverence. (An alternate explanation for adding a space is that doing so simplified typesetting with two versions carrying or 上帝 made parallel.)[citation needed]
ZhuTian Zhu ,天主 (lit. Lord or Lord in Heaven) is translated from the English word, "Lord", which is a formal title of the Christian god in Mainland China's Christian churches.[citation needed]rase it if it is written. (SeeExodus 20:7) The tetragrammaton (HebrewיהוהEnglishYHVH or YHWH) is the name for the group of four Hebrew letters which represent the name of God. The Tetragrammaton occurs 6,828 times in the Hebrew text in the Biblia Hebraica and the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Neither vowels nor vowel points were used in ancient Hebrew writings.
Instead of pronouncing YHWH during prayer, Jews say Adonai ("Lord"). Halakha requires that secondary rules be placed around the primary law, to reduce the chance that the main law will be broken. As such, it is common Jewish practice to restrict the use of the word Adonai to prayer only. In conversation, many Jewish people, even when not speaking Hebrew, will call God "Hashem", השם, which is Hebrew for "the Name" (this appears in Leviticus 24:11).
A common title of God in the Hebrew Bible is Elohim (Hebrew: אלהים); as opposed to other titles of God in Judaism, this name also describes gods of other religions, angels, or even humans of great importance (John 10:34-36).

 Because Judaism forbids pronouncing the name outside the Temple in Jerusalem, the correct pronunciation of the Tetragrammaton may have been lost, as the original Hebrew texts only included consonants. The Hebrew letters are named Yod-Heh-Vav-Heh: יהוה. In English it is written as YHWH, YHVH, or JHVHdepending on the transliteration convention that is used. The Tetragrammaton was written in contrasting Paleo-Hebrewcharacters in some of the oldest surviving square Aramaic Hebrew texts, and were not read as Adonai ("My Lord") until after the Rabbinic teachings after Israel went into Babylonian captivity.[2]
In appearance, YHWH is an archaic third person singular imperfect of the verb "to be", meaning, therefore, "He is". This explanation agrees with the meaning of the name given in Exodus 3:14, where God is represented as speaking, and hence as using the first person — "I am". It stems from the Hebrew conception of monotheism that God exists by himself for himself, and is the uncreated Creator who is independent of any concept, force, or entity; therefore "I am that I am".
This introduction to “Yahweh” as the personal name of God associates the divine name with the Hebrew verb “hayah” meaning “to be”.[29] “I will be what I will be” indicates “[m]y nature will become evident from my actions.”[30] Later in Exodus, God frequently declares that from his actions (such as the ten plagues) Israel and Egypt “shall know that I am Yahweh.”[31] Thus, as God, Yahweh is revealed by both his personal name and his mighty deeds in history rather than a list of characteristics.[32]
Moses askes God to tell him His name, God says, in a sense, Wait and See!”

Beliefs and practices surrounding the name of God

One the Ten Commandments is "You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God". This is sometimes interpreted to mean that it is wrong to curse while making reference to God (ex. "Oh my God!" as an expression of frustration or anger)[citation needed]. Another interpretation of this passage is in relation to oath taking, where the command is to hold true to those commands made 'in God's name'. God's name being used in vain can also be interpreted as trying to invoke the power of God, as a means to impress, intimidate, punish, condemn, and/or control others. This can also be used to refer to the idea of saying that one acts "in God's behalf" when doing things that are clearly personal actions.
The Lord's Prayer contains the line "Hallowed be thy name", in reference to God the Father.[4]
Some Christians capitalize all references to God in writing, including pronouns. (ex. "The Lord, He is God, Holy is His Name.")
Most observant Jews forbid discarding holy objects, including any document with a name of God written on it. Once written, the name must be preserved indefinitely. This leads to several noteworthy practices:
§                     Commonplace materials are written with an intentionally abbreviated form of the name. For instance, a Jewish letter-writer may substitute "G-d" for the name God. Thus, the letter may be discarded along with ordinary trash. (Note that not all Jews agree that non-Hebrew words like God are covered under the prohibition.)
§                     Since the Divine presence (or possibly an appearance of God) can supposedly be called simply by pronouncing His true name correctly, substitute names are used.
§                     Copies of the Torah are, like most scriptures, heavily used during worship services, and will eventually become worn out. Since they may not be disposed of in any way, including by burning, they are removed, traditionally to the synagogue atticSee genizah. There they remain until they are buried.
§                     All religious texts that include the name of God are buried.

"Our Father, which art in Heaven"

Together, the first two words—Our Father—are a title used elsewhere in the New Testament, as well as in Jewish literature, to refer to God the Father. It also implies the close personal nature of the relationship between God the Father and those praying, like a father and child, as taught by Jesus in each of the four gospels. Nontrinitarians may take this line to refer to the positioning of God as the father of all things including Jesus who is normally positioned as the son.

[edit]"Hallowed be thy Name"

Having opened, the prayer begins in the same manner as the Kaddish, hallowing the name of God, and then going on to express hope that God's will and kingdom will happen. In Judaism the name of God is of extreme importance, and honouring the name central to piety. Names were seen not simply as labels, but as true reflections of the nature and identity of what they referred to. So, the prayer that God's name be hallowed was seen as equivalent to hallowing God himself. "Hallowed be" is in the passive voice and so does not indicate who is to do the hallowing. One interpretation is that it is a call for all believers to honour God's name. Those who see the prayer as primarily eschatologicalunderstand the prayer to be an expression of desire for the end times, when God's name, in the view of those saying the prayer, will beuniversally honoured.

[edit]"Thy kingdom come"

The request for God's kingdom to come is usually interpreted as a reference to the belief, common at the time, that a Messiah figure would bring about a Kingdom of God. Traditionally the coming of God's Kingdom is seen as a divine gift to be prayed for, not a human achievement. This idea is frequently challenged by groups who believe that the Kingdom will come by the hands of those faithful to work for a better world. It is believed by these individuals that Jesus' commands to feeding the hungry and clothing the needy is the Kingdom he was referring to.[11]

[edit]"Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven"

The prayer follows with an expression of hope for God's will to be done. Some see the expression of hope as an addendum to assert a request for earth to be under direct and manifest divine command. Others see it as a call on people to submit to God and his teachings. In the Gospels, these requests have the added clarification in earth, as it is in heaven, an ambiguous phrase in Greek which can either be a simile (i.e., make earth like heaven), or a couple (i.e., both in heaven and earth), though simile is the most significant common interpretation.

Ended last week’s sermon with a recording of the Lord’s prayer in Aramaic, which is the language Jesus hath spoken.  The congregation seemed moved by it. 
Didn’t say it should be their only prayer, do you think Jesus, a practicing Jew, would have expected that his Jewish disciples would quit practicing the traditions given to them by the very God who was redeeming them through him. 

But, the focus of the Lord’s prayer, which he gave to his disciples as a daily prayer, is all about the present and future.  Guide us, shape us.  The most common form of prayer in the Scriptures Jesus and his disciples practiced in their religion grounded themselves in historical references.  There was a significant change in focus between those prayers and the prayer that Jesus taught his own disciples. 

We lose something when we are solely focused on the present and the future, but I don’t think that Jesus intended for us to ignore our history and the stories of our faith, instead, he saw that a person’s daily life is focused on the here and now and what will be.  If we dwell in the past, we can be chained to the past.  We can get stuck in the past and forget about the possibilities that are before us. 

Prayer of Praise and Prayer of Intercession.

The Lord’s prayer has it right—the idea of God’s name being holy is followed immediately by the idea that God’s Kingdom is Coming, and that God’s Will should be done.  “I am that I am.”  I am that I become. 

Perhaps taking God’s name in vain, by this line of thinking, is more about what we expect to happen and less about saying the wrong thing.  Maybe it’s more about expecting too little of God.  If God IS who God will be, then perhaps the proper way to honor God’s name is to really expect God to do great things.  For “thy Kingdom to Come,” and “thy Will to be done, in earth as it is in heaven.” 

How can we hallow God’s name? By hallowing our lives.  By making our actions Holy.  Because that’s how God’s name is spoken—God is what God will be.  And though God “Is” completely independent from us and everything else in the universe, God chooses to be known in us.  God chooses us for his Temple.  So, keep God’s name Holy by striving toward the Kingdom and the Will of God in this day and time.  Amen

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