For those of you who are interested in what we were talking about last week at Gathering here are my notes from the teaching segment:
Hallowed Be Your Name:
Gathering – Sept 11th, 2011
Teaching Segment by: Randell Neudorf
As part of our larger series on the life of Jesus we are doing a miniseries on one very small but profound teaching of Jesus, which church tradition calls The Lord’s Prayer. In a number of the stories we have focused on over the last 9 months we have read about Jesus taking the time to pray. Jesus’ disciples had seen their mentor time and time and again in quiet moments talking to God with such intimacy that He often referred to God as Father. After Jesus finished yet another of these private moments with his Father, one of his disciples asked him:
“Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his followers to pray.” 2So Jesus told them, “Pray in this way: `Father, help us to honour your name. Come and set up your kingdom. 3Give us each day the food we need. [k] 4Forgive our sins, as we forgive everyone who has done wrong to us. And keep us from being tempted.’ ”
(Luke 11: 1-4 Contemporary English Version)
Many of us remember saying something like this in school. I think Grade 6 was the last year I recited “The Lord’s Prayer” in my school. We used the traditional Shakespearean language:
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy Kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. forever and ever. Amen
I didn’t ever have that prayer memorized, yet I said it every day. I would mumble the words a millisecond after the voice on the PA system, the same way I would fumble my way through the National Anthem. In Grade 7 my school opted for the “spiritual moment of science” in place of The Lord’s Prayer. Everyone was allowed to pray by themselves in their head in whatever tradition they were from for a minute before the morning announcements. The school quickly saw that none of their junior high students were doing anything but feeling really awkward for this oh too long of a minute and by Grade Eight I was only faking my way through Oh Canada as we forgoed the minute of silent prayer.
Shortly after this I heard people at church saying “We need to get prayer back into our schools!” Being a good church going kid (and a pastor’s son), I repeated the sentiment to my Dad with equal conviction. I was kind of shocked by my Dad’s response. He said “Maybe the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t belong in the school. What good is it to force people to recite some words that they don’t believe?”
As I look back on that, I think he was right, mumbling your way through “the Lord’s Prayer” is not really in the spirit of what Jesus was trying to teach us. Over the next 4 weeks we are going to take this School Prayer line by line, and see what Jesus was trying to inspire in us.
The line that we are focusing on today reads: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.”
Hallowed be Your name! This should have been my first clue as to why forcing children to mumble a prayer at school was contrary to the lesson Jesus was trying to impart.
I can’t take credit for the idea for this series. My parents are going to get a lot of shout outs today. In a round about way we have my Mom to thank for the next four weeks. My mom doesn’t like to see magazines wasted so she passes on her old ones to Susan and I. These magazines are often covered in sticky notes with suggestions of which articles we might be interested in. One of the second hand magazines we get form my Mom is Focus on the Family’s “Thriving Family.” Now it can go either way when I decide to crack open something written by Focus on the Family, it is either really useful and practical or else it is so conservative and traditional that it makes me want to spontaneously break things just to be rebellious. Luckily after reading the summer of 2011 edition I didn’t feel the need to break anything. There was a short little article on the Lord’s Prayer that has helped me frame the topics for this series. The article said that,
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” brings worship to the Lord. When we pray we give praise for his character and thanksgiving for what He has done.”
(Thriving Family, Summer 2011. Pg 29)
Jesus was trying to teach us that we need to Worship God The Father, in our prayers and in our lives. Now on first glance it might seem a little ridiculous for us to tell God how great He is, but then I started thinking about how we are told to call God “Our Father” and that started to put things into perspective for me. It is only right and natural for a child to look up to their parents. When you are a little kid your own Dad is the biggest strongest guy you know. People don’t usually tell a kid “Your Dad is a jerk; you don’t need to get him a card on father’s day, you don’t need to tell him how great he is.” No, even imperfect fathers (myself included) are treated to cards that tell us how great we are on father’s day. It is good for kids to say nice things about their parents, even if those nice things are only thank you for giving me life.
We are God’s children and when we come to our Father in prayer it is good for us to lift him up. Jesus was telling us “You have a Heavenly Dad, and he is Hallowed, He is Holy. He is both the Good Dad who is taking care of his kids as well as the Holy Creator in charge of the entire universe.”
Worship is not something that is limited to Sundays or Singing, it is the acknowledgment that God is profoundly Holy and worthy of our praise. This sometimes gets lost in the day to day but we all have our moments of clarity where we can feel and know that God is Hallowed.
I want you to share a story of a time when I profoundly felt that God was Hallowed. We are all given these moments. For some it is coming across an amazing waterfall or getting to see a dear friend. For others it is a favourite song or book.
For my story to make sense I need to confide in you. I’m a worrier. This is a big thing for me. Often when I’m out of my house at least once during the day I wonder if today is the day that it will be broken into or possibly catch on fire. I always have a great sense of relief when I come home and see that my house is still there and all my stuff is still within it.
But there is one day where none of those thoughts and fears mattered. It was in a small town hospital almost 9 years ago. My Daughter had just been born and the nurses and midwives had bundled her up and passed her to me to hold for the first time. I don’t often feel the need to spontaneously pray, but holding my little girl in my arms and standing beside my wife, I remember thinking “Thank you God, You are amazing, I don’t care about anything right now but this, everything I need is right here, I don’t care if my house and all my instruments burn down.” I was in a moment that was holy and I had a spontaneous need to tell God that He is amazing. I was profoundly aware of God and his hallowedness.
I would encourage you to think about a time when you can sense that God is holy, and if you don’t have one, start to look for it. It can be small or it can be big but we all are given moments where we become aware of our maker.