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“Hallowed Be Thy Name”
Matthew 6:9

Pastor Kevin Vogts
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
Dakota Dunes, South Dakota
Midweek Vespers—January 14, 2009

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

We continue our Midweek Vespers sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven.  Hallowed be Thy name.”

“Hallowed” is a word we don’t really use in everyday conversation.  Five hundred years ago, Luther commented that “Hallowed be thy name” sounds strange to German ears, and it sounds strange to our modern English ears too.  There’s an old joke about a little girl who has just learned the Lord’s Prayer, and she prays with great sincerity: “Our Father who art in heaven.  Howard be Thy name.”   

The word “hallowed” means “to be holy,” without even the slightest imperfection, the smallest sin, the least fault or failure.  Luther explains in the Small Catechism, “God’s name is certainly holy in itself.”   Only God is inherently holy.  As we confess in our liturgy, we are all by nature sinful and unclean, and so we justly deserve God’s present and eternal punishment.

But, Hebrews tells us the Good News, “We have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  Jesus own holiness covers your sin in the sight of God.  As Peter says in Acts, “Everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

“God’s name is certainly holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.”  God bestowed his holy name upon you in Holy Baptism.  Baptized into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, he reclaimed you as his child, you belong to him. We are made holy by his name, and so we pray in this petition that we would live up to his name, that God’s name would be kept holy among us also.

There are two gross blasphemies against God’s name: false doctrine and ungodly living.  If you think about it, false doctrine really is lying in God’s name.  Because you are saying, “God says this,” when in fact God never said any such thing.  And ungodly living blasphemes God’s name by bringing disgrace upon the name Christian, which you bear. 

So, when we pray “Hallowed be Thy name,” we are really saying, “God, help ME to hallow your name, in MY life.  Help me to change my life, to conform it to your Word, both in what I BELIEVE, and how I LIVE.”  You are asking God to intervene in your life.  To give you the power to defeat the devil, the world, and your old sinful self, which do not want us to hallow God’s name.

That’s what it means to live a “Christian” life.  Not that you are perfect, but that you are struggling every day, with God’s help, to be more a saint and less a sinner.  In Galatians, Paul talks about this struggle to hallow God’s name in your life: “For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.”  When you pray “Hallowed be Thy name,” you are asking God to help you personally in your struggle to hallow his name in your everyday life.

“Our Father who art in heaven.  Hallowed be Thy name.”  “God’s name is indeed holy in itself; but we pray in this petition that it may be holy among us also.”  What does it mean for YOUR life when you pray, “Hallowed be Thy name”?  How does God want you to hallow his name in your life?  By following the truth of his Word, both in what you BELIEVE, and how you LIVE.

Luther continues his explanation of this petition in the Small Catechism: “How is God’s name kept holy?  God’s name is kept holy when the Word of God is taught in its truth and purity, and we, as the children of God, also lead holy lives according to it.  Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven!  But anyone who teaches or lives contrary to God’s Word profanes the name of God among us.  Protect us from this, heavenly Father!”


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