Sermon for Wednesday of Lent 1
March 14, 2019
Hallowed Be Thy Name
The Small Catechism reads thus for the Second Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: Hallowed be Thy name. Its explanation: God’s name is certainly holy in itself but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also. 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!
Should we never had come into being, the earth and the cosmos never had been created, God and His name would still be holy. If God had chosen never to send His Son to redeem sinners, had He decided we weren’t worth saving, He would still be just and His name holy. What we are asking in this petition is that we might know that God’s name is holy and honor it in our thoughts, words, and deeds so that it might be kept holy by us and we not be known as blasphemers in heaven or on earth.
From our reading where Jesus is teaching His disciples to pray, we see that keeping God’s name holy begins with praying to the one true God, who answers not because He wants you to stop pestering Him but because He loves you and wants to answer your every request giving you all that you need and more than you want.
This petition is closely tied to the Second Commandment, which requires us to use God’s name properly. You will soon receive a letter from me on this Commandment and a more detailed account of how we break it and how we are to keep it but here, as we have read from St. Luke, one way in which we hallow God’s name is by praying to Him for the things we need, for the wisdom of the Gospel, and for an open door to heaven.
We hallow God’s name when we ask, in faith, for the little things in life along with the big things. As we pray for daily bread along with good government and for gainful employment alongside faithful and devote families, we are hallowing God’s name by recognizing that He has the ability to give these things and the authority to say that they shall be so. We are hallowing His name because we don’t think they are provided by our own doing, given by an omnipotent government, or acquired through luck or any other superstitious means.
We hallow God’s name as we read the Scriptures, hear His Word read and proclaimed, engage in Bible study, discuss the content and meaning of the Bible, and speak of or about the Gospel in joy. In all of these ways we seek for more than knowledge, more than understanding, we look to enlarge and expand faith that believes that the entire content of his divine Word is Jesus Christ and the goal, our salvation. Seeking the Word of God incarnate, the man Jesus, crucified and risen, is to seek the one on who God has placed His name and thus hallowing God’s name in believing that He is the one through whom you must be saved.
We hallow God’s name when we knock at the door of the Church and enter into its fellowship through Holy Baptism, having the name of the Triune God placed upon us as we are commanded to do. Additionally, we hallow God’s name by living in that Baptism, trusting those promises long after the water has evaporated. We are hallowing God’s name as we live according to the identity we have been given, seeking to live holy but always renewing the promise given in confession of sins and absolution received and through the reconciliation of one Christian to another through mutual forgiveness of sins. We hallow God’s name as we knock at the door with hands outstretched and mouths open to receive the body and blood of our Savior, which has opened to us the door of heaven. And we hallow God’s name as we trust that it is through this Apostolic ministry given to the Church by which the Spirit shall bear us across the threshold of heaven’s door.
Hallowing God’s name comes by calling upon Him and Him alone for every First Article, Second Article, and Third Article gift.
Just as I finished penning this last sentence, a soft knock came at my door, which didn’t even rouse the dog. As I opened the door, I was greeted by two women bearing Bibles. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses. The leader asked if they may share a verse of Scripture with me. When I agreed, she opened and read Psalm 145:18, “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Before they departed, I asked if I might also share something with them. When they agreed, I shared that it was St. Peter that declared that, “There is no other name under heaven by which man must be saved” (Acts 4:12). According to their heresy, the leader disagreed and sought their escape. Without honoring the name of Jesus as “Lord and God” (John 20:28), there is no hallowing of God’s name.
God keep us steadfast in His Word and faith, that we may hallow His name now and unto eternity. Amen.