Holiness, Lords Prayer., prayer

Harold be thy Name…

At our All Age Congregation, Kings Krew, we have been working through the Lords Prayer, last time we looked at the opening phrase “Our Father in Heaven” (see previous blog).

On Sunday we looked at the next section, which I used to think was “Harold be thou name”, although we explored this together we remembered it was “hallowed be your name”, but interestingly everyone knew the word, but no one actually knew what it meant (adult as well as kids!)

I was thinking of the question “Who Am I?”

-We answer by giving our name.

The name we are known by effects our relationship with them, Doctor Who, is known as the Doctor “the one who makes people/things better”.

God reveals himself as “Father”, the source of life, loving parent, head of the family, provider, protector and the one in whose image we are fashioned.

As we explored what Hallowed meant, we discovered that it meant Holy, “Holy is your name”, what does Holy mean? We got some interesting Churchy words for Holiness, but as we dug deeper we got, words like “precious”, “perfect”, “unblemished and untarnished”, “as it should be and without defect”, “completely right”, “as it should be”, “the best quality”, “flawless” this idea developed into the phrase (unintentionally quoting Tina Turner!) “simply the best, better than all the rest”.

In fact we though of the verse in Isaiah 6 which said “Holy, Holy, Holy” -which describes God, but the reason why the same word is given three times is because there is no word for “very”, so it is saying emphatically perfect, perfect, perfect, the best, the best, the best.

But then we wondered “may your name be Holy” is a funny phrase as God’s name IS holy, so perhaps this actually is a call for people to realise, acknowledge and honour the Holiness of God’s name. In other words “your name is Holy, and may it be honoured by all people”.

There are many names for God, but we can’t simply sum God up in one name, in fact one time when God is asked his name he describes it as “I am who I am”, which become translated to Yahweh, which was an unsayable name, orthodox Jews today consider God’s name to be so Holy they write “G-d”.

Knowing our name is too intimate for some people, teachers will introduce themselves as Mr or Ms, rather than by their first name, to be known by their first name would give a familiarity they don’t want.

Joan Osbourne asked “If God had a name what would it be? And would you call it to his face?”

Christians know that this God, whose name is too Holy to speak or write down, was given a name -a name which is above every name- -a name by which we are save- and that is Jesus, “the one who saves”, “Immanuel” or “God with us”.

Chris Cornell sung for the re-boot of Bond in Casino Royale, and sung “You know my name”, God who is Holy lets us know his name, let’s us know him, intimately, informally, personally and authentically.

May your name be revered and honoured, as people come to know you God. Amen.

Lords Prayer., Matthew 6:8, prayer

Just call me Dad!

I did a talk this morning to our All Age Congregation Kings Krew.

I asked them what they would call Prince Charles if he wandered in to Church?

They worked out that he’d be called “Your Highness” on first meeting and then after that you can go a bit more informal and just call him “Sir”.

If the Queen walked, she should be called “Your Majesty” -and we practiced bows and curtsies too, yet after first meeting you can call her “Mam, as in Jam, nor Marm as in Farm” -Always assuming the biopic film “The Queen” is right.

If Donald Trump, tragically the most powerful man on earth, his title is “Mr. President” and on no account is anyone allowed to call him “Donald”.

…I then asked what we call God, the one who threw stars into space, the once who created everything from nothing, a God who is a million times bigger than our biggest thought or concept of the infinite God.

What do we call him?

One kid put their hand up and said “Lord!”

Another kid put their hand up and said “Jesus”.

…both right answers… but I was thinking of a much simpler word “Father”.

Just imagine the ripple of consternation when Jesus this scruffy nomadic Rabbi suggested we call the Adonai, the Lord Almighty, “Our Father” at the start of his most famous prayer…

Perhaps as we have got so used to saying the Lords prayer that we forget the power of this opening line?

We forget that orthodox Jews don’t even write the word God, because it is too holier a word to write so they write it G-d. Yahweh or Jehovah were words too Holy to utter…

And yet Jesus allows us to call this God “Father”.

John says “See the love the Father has lavished his love upon us that we may be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).

Yet Father might still conjure up a sterner respectful image, yet the word used is “Abba” which is more intimate, a bit like “Daddy”.

I remember having a profound moment in London watching a Jewish family playing together and the kids were laughing with their dad calling out “Abba”, in fact it is a word do simple it is one of the first words a human child can say!

Paul says in his letter to the Romans “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8.14-16).

This image of being adopted is a wonderful Christian image of being taken into the heart of the family. I did think of correcting the above passage to something more gender non specific than “sonship”, but then realised that this word does more than indicates we are (beloved) children of God it has a concept more of being an heir, the one who inherits. The rules of adoption meant you inherited everything just like a ‘blood born child’.  In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God, who inherit everything. A truth which is not just some theology for our brain but rather should be something experiential, a truth encountered, a truth permeating to the depth of who you are.

As a child we have access to God at anytime, rights of beloved children. My daughter does not have to make an appointment to see me, rather I try to move appointments so I can see her, a God who wants a relationship with us, a God who’d whose us at our worst and still loves us and even so he bids us come.

I’ll close with Prince Charles ‘ official full title

His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Chester, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, Member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty… “

But to William and Harry he is simply Dad!

God of heaven, the Lord Almighty, King of Kings and yet he loves us and says call me dad!

Now, you might not have had the best experience of dads, but God isn’t like our earthly Fathers, he is like the worlds best and most perfect parent. A friend of mine was once asked whether we could call God ‘she’, she replied that God wouldn’t have an identity Crisis, God is waning to be known and loves us.

Can you hear him calling?