sermon notes from the Vineyard Church of Milan 11/04/2012
Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be your name… (etc.)
Observation: some see God-interested parts of the Lord's prayer (hallowed, kingdom come, will be done...), and self-interested parts of the prayer (feed, forgive, free...). (show of hands?). Try this perspective on for size, see how it fits: it’s all self interested at first, and only becomes God-interested as we become God-interested. Specifically, that ‘hallowed be your name’ is inherently self-interested, to start. Because Jesus is no fool; he knows exactly who he is teaching to pray, and what kind of people we are to start with. This is a real prayer, for real people. And the ‘hallowed be your name’ portion of the prayer is a portion worth praying whole-heartedly, whole-mindedly, a petition that deserves all the strength we can muster, the full attention of our soul.
When Jesus teaches his students to pray in Matthew 6, he's training them to be children in God's kingdom. Starting them off on a path on which you need to be like a child at first, in order to find your footing.
We're relatively sophisticated and worldly wise when it comes to living in the world right in front of our eyes. Like fully grown adults in this grown up world around us. It's become second nature to look out for ourselves, to see the threats around the corner, to know how to stand up for ourselves, to continually strive to get ahead. None of which are especially transferable skills when it comes to kingdom living.
When Jesus announces his coming, present, near, already and almost Kingdom, all that worldly maturity we've developed goes out the window.
Look out for yourself? Nope, that will only keep you from looking out for others with generosity in each hand.
See the threats around the corner? Nope, that will keep you from being open to God’s invitation to walk with him into fearful places with peace.
Stand up for and defend yourself? Nope, that will only keep you from trusting in God to defend you as you go about his business with joy.
Strive to get ahead? Nope, that will only make you miss out on opportunities to serve others while trusting God to lift you up as he desires.
Instead, we must become like children again when we receive his good news, when we put our feet on the path of his new creation. [playing "21" with Ronni's family]
Perhaps we should let those first words be a reminder to us: "Our Father..." This is a prayer for us: new children learning to grow up in a new family.
And now we are at the starting point of our conversation, the starting point of our activity together: “Hallowed be your name.”
“Hallowed” isn't word we use a lot, is it? Hallowed grounds, hallowed heroes, hallowed halls. All Halloweds' Eve (Halloween). It comes from a cool Greek word: "hagiastheto". All our English translations use "hallowed", because it really is the best single word, but it might really work better for us to use a bunch of different words combined together to translate it, even if it comes across a little less elegantly. Here are some plainer English words that reflect more clearly what Jesus was driving at:
· May your name be treasured and loved
· May your name be made holy
· May your name be made great
· May your name be honored
· May your name be uniquely respected
And by name, we’re talking more than just the word or title by which we refer to God. We’re including ideas like reputation, authority, underlying reality. More like what we’d mean when we say, “She dragged my name through the mud...” Or, “Richard Petty and Roger Penske are two of the most respected names in auto racing.” Or, “Stop! In the name of Love...", or alternatively, "You give Love a bad name..." (I played my part, and you played a game...).
Kid's are deeply attached to and affected by the reputation, the Name, of their parents. [Receiving line at visitation for my mom…]
“Your mama” jokes touch this place in kids. “My dad is better than your dad” contests come from this place.
At root, the desire for your parent's name to be treasured, loved, respected - "hallowed" - is a healthy desire. Parents are a child’s world, a child’s foundation. They need to be good, sufficient, have a certain level invincibility, for a child to have the confidence needed for learning to love others, for taking risks, for developing a healthy self-esteem. [Ken Wilson's Legendary Exploits...]
[calling mom a name...my dad understood that...]If a young child’s parents are pre-maturely perceived as weak and insufficient, the child’s world becomes uncertain, confused, scary. Opens the door for a child to be shaped by fear, not love, and fear wreaks all sorts of havoc down the road.
Taking that a step deeper, just as a child’s well-being depends on a recognition of the goodness and greatness of its parents, the human race’s well-being depends on the goodness and greatness of its Father. Our Father is the world’s foundation, its creator, its ultimate source. Learning to love others, taking risks that produce growth, developing a healthy self-esteem depends on our Father’s name being great.
If we human beings don’t fully understand and recognize the “hallowedness” of our Father in the heavens, then the basic order and foundation of our lives fall apart. Disorientation and confusion set in, other forces vie for our attention and love, other forces that cannot deliver on their promise of life and security. The human compass, as Dallas Willard calls that part of us intended to orient us toward God, spins unpredictably, unable to find true north. Lostness is the inevitable result.
The world we live in is a world full of orphans, of fatherless children, of children of less-than-fathers.
Jesus is teaching us to pray, then, that our Father’s reputation would be restored. That our Father’s name would be held by everyone, everywhere, to be unique, supreme, holy. That our Father’s name would be held in higher honor than any other name.
note: we’re not praying that people would stop saying “God!” or that God would take a more prominent role in public life, etc. Churches have a difficult enough time giving God a good name, let alone secular institutions...
Rather, we’re praying that when people’s eyes and minds and hearts and souls (ours included!) are directed towards God, that they, and we, would have the true God in mind, the Famous one, the one who shaped us with his bare hands, who breathed life into our lungs through a holy kiss, the one who delivered the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, the one who is a Father to the fatherless and a Husband to the Husbandless, the one who so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. That when we think of God we would think of him as generous, full of favor, abounding in life and joy and happiness and strength for the weak and justice for the oppressed and stronger than every evil thing any of us might face, alone or together.
And not just for His sake, so he can walk through the universe to praise and acclaim. [As if! when God wanted to change his reputation, he came and hung out with sinners, got arrested, and died. There are more direct routes to praise and acclaim, if that's all you're after, aren't there?] No, it's important that our Father's name would be held in high honor, at first, for our sake. This is the sanest, most intelligently self-interested prayer a concerned citizen of the human race can pray. So that we can have a foundation again for our lives. So that we can become healthy, re-oriented, settled. So that we can RELAX. Go to sleep without anxiety. Wake up with confidence. Peace. Joy. Hope. Anticipation of good. So that we can be generous towards one another. Encouraging. Loving.
Because that, more than anything else in this world, is what we and God are doing together. Putting right what has gone terribly wrong in us. Putting right what has gone terribly wrong in this world.
[recap the Lord’s prayer, Our Father in the heavens…]
When you are a child and the rules are being broken all around you, to whom do you go? When you are a child, and you’re hungry, to whom do you go? When you are a child and you’ve been wronged and need things righted, to whom do you go? When you are a child and it thunders and you’re afraid, to whom do you go?
Papa, make your name so great in my life that when everything is falling apart, my first instinct is to run to you instead of trying to hold it all together myself.
Papa, make your name so great in my life that whenever I’m hungry for anything, I see what you’ve got in the cupboard for me before I venture out into the cold in search of food.
Papa, make your name so great in my life that when things are taken from me by people who can’t or won’t pay me back, that I’ll come straight to you with my claim instead of becoming a full-time bill collector.
Papa, make your name so great in my life that instead of running from evil into the arms of fear and despair, I’ll look forward to seeing what you’re going to do about it.
Our Father in the heavens, hallowed be your name. May your name be treasured and loved by us. May your name, Father, be made holy to us. May your name be the greatest name we know. May your name be the name we honor above every other name. May your name, Abba, be uniquely respected by our hearts, our souls, our minds, and our bodies.
1. When you pray, make it personal. Identify the important roles you have in your life. Dad/mom/employee/employer/student/friend/teammate etc. (for me, it might be husband, father, pastor, for example.) Ask the Spirit to empower you to carry yourself in a way that lives up to your true Dad's name. Not so that you can be a great husband, or dad, or pastor. But so that your wife can know what a great heavenly Father she has. So your kids can know what a great heavenly Father they have. So that your congregation can know what a great heavenly Father they have.
Pray the prayer this way: May your name be treasured and loved by my wife/kids/brothers and sisters because of the way I reflect you to her/them/etc.
1b. Act like you've got a great dad. Which really means: Stop acting like you don't have a great dad. You know. Showing off. Being afraid. Worrying about the little stuff. Getting defensive about yourself. Gossiping. Seriously. You've got a great dad. Start acting like it.
2. Become part of the answer. Identify a favorite thing you've come to know about your Father in the heavens. Identify someone you know and care about who would be blessed to know that the way you know it. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you how you can cooperate with Jesus in revealing that aspect of the Father's name to the that person. Then do it, prayerfully. [My dad cares about the smallest things in my life, and he's bigger than my biggest enemies and challenges. I think it would bless my neighbors to know it...]
3. "Show me the money!" This one's for the men, especially those without kids of their own, or those whose kids are grown. Find a fatherless boy, and make yourself available to point him to the true Father in the heavens.