Lent I Midweek (Matthew 6:9)

Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lebanon, OR
Lent I Midweek – March 8, 2017
Text: Matthew 6:9
The First Petition
“Hallowed be Thy Name”
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
There are countless descriptions of the Name of God in Scripture—Alpha and Omega, Blessed and Only Sovereign, Firstborn of the Dead, Immanuel, King of Ages, Lord of Glory, Our Righteousness, The One Mediator, the True Vine.[1]  Each of these is holy because they describe the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and His most exalted work.
Now, it seems strange of us to pray that God’s Name be made holy, because that’s what “hallowed” means.  After all, God’s Name is holy in itself.  God is the I AM, and doesn’t depend on us to make or keep Him holy.  This is why you don’t see Christians going around blowing up marketplaces in the name of their God.  God would be holy, even if nobody acknowledged that.
But God’s Name isn’t in a shrine up in heaven simply for adoration and greatness for its own sake.  God takes His Holy Name and graciously bestows it on His people.
“24         The Lord bless you and keep you;
                25      the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
                26      the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
27 “So shall [the sons of Aaron] put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”[2]
God put His same holy Name upon you when He received you in Baptism: “I baptize you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)  In the act of redeeming, forgiving, adopting, and renewing fallen human beings, God shows His Name to be true (all the titles above mentioned).
But this prayer is for each of us, that God and His works would be glorified by us and through us.  It’s a prayer that God would be manifest in the Church.  We who bear the Name of God are the very ones who are called to display God to the world which is turned away from Him.  Thus, St. Paul writes,
“I urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
The Name of God sets us apart as people who are to reflect Him.  But how often we fail in this!  Our sinful flesh turns us from humility to intractable pride.  Gentleness is replaced with brute force.  Patience is fine as long as God works on our time table.  Instead of bearing with one another, each chooses his own way and writes off those who disagree.
So we must pray God, who made us His own, to give us grace.[3]  We pray that He would blot out our ungodliness and give us His Holy Spirit to live lives which are according to the image of Christ.  That means no longer thinking or acting like the unholy people of the world.
A holy people are humble and reverent before God.  They don’t complain about how God treats them—whether he sends them momentary good or evil, because He has sworn eternal good despite what we deserve.  “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”[4]
A holy people are gentle toward others.  They don’t try to force their own way because God in heaven knows how best to order the world and because even against those who are evil God can quickly bring down even the mighty.  “He has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate.”[5]
A holy people are patient.  Even when they see the wicked prosper, the terrorists gain ground, the LGBT movement infiltrates the schools—they entrust these things to God’s longsuffering toward wayward sinners.  He knows how well to bring sinners to repentance and to deliver over His hardened enemies to their lusts.[6]
This is what it looks like, with God’s help, to rightly bear the holy Name of God.  So we pray not to add to God’s holiness, but that the glory, riches, and power of God would be shown to the world through us.
This happens not just with holy lives, but also through the pure preaching of God’s Word.  To pray for His Name to be hallowed is to pray against false doctrine and to support faithful ministers of the Word.  It’s only through the truth of the Gospel that we know of God’s Name and receive it on our foreheads and in our hearts.  God’s Name will continue to be holy, but thanks be to God that Name has come down to dwell among us, that Jesus shed His blood for us, and that He has received us as His own people.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
[1] Rev. 22:13, 1 Tim. 6:15, Rev. 1:5, Matt. 1:23, 1 Tim. 1:17, 1 Cor. 2:8, 1 Cor. 1:30, 1 Tim. 2:5, John 15:1
[2] Numbers 6:24-27
[3] Deuteronomy 9:4-7
[4] Romans 8:32
[5] Luke 1:52, also sung in the Magnificat after the sermon.
[6] Romans 1:24-25

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