“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Pater Noster, Latin for “Our Father”.
“He must become greater, I must become less.” - John the Baptist, John 3:30
Worship. One of the best ways to get Christians fighting is to lock them in a room and get them to argue about what worship is and how it should be done.
In our church, we have people who have come from different points on the “worship” compass. The way in which we hold the creative tension around the issue of “worship” is by thinking of it in terms of “perspective”. Essentially, the effect of worship is that of “restoring perspective”. We can become overwhelmed by our own situation, circumstances and indeed our own sense of self importance.
God too is subject to our distortion and mutilation. God easily becomes our tool to be co-opted in our cause, modified to become a passive compliant huggy teddy bear attending to our damaged self esteem, or the towering angry figure who is utilised in order that we work out our angry, violent and hateful purposes, whether it be from individual relationships or scaling right up to causes involving large people groups or indeed other races and religions.
John the Baptist finds himself in an awkward position. He understands that his role is to herald the messiah. He is the messenger. To what degree he is conscious of the fact that he will usher in the messiah during his lifetime is unclear. So he finds himself essentially competing with Jesus. This “competition” ultimately results in his disciples defecting his cause and enlisting in the work and ministry of Jesus. John asks some of his closest coworkers to examine Jesus, asking them to determine whether or not Jesus is in fact the messiah for which John is waiting. John’s investigative committee return with the news that in effect, rates the work of Jesus as being more significant and more effective that that of the Baptiser.
In a world filled with men and women with broken ego’s, working out their needs for significance, acceptance and love in all sorts of destructive ways, John’s response is nothing short of breathtaking. “He must become greater, I must become less.”
In the midst of a profoundly difficult time in his life (remember, John is imprisoned and soon after this incident is beheaded by Herod’s servants for challenging Herod’s abuse of religious and political power) John manages a profound sense of perspective.
At the heart of his query is that of purpose.
John’s disciples told him about all these things. Calling two of them, 19 he sent them to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?”
When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind. So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy[a] are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.”
Jesus’ ministry and teaching are the response to John’s inquiry.
“These are the things that Jesus does and is.”
“I must become less so that he may become great.”
As I contemplated the many different ways in which one can understand the line in the Pater Noster “Hallowed be your name”, I think that this is the best definition possible.
Holiness is often understood in Christian contexts as “the act or process of being set apart”. It is then further understood in terms of contamination, ie: being set apart and therefore not in contact with things that can potentially taint the “special” thing that has been set apart. It was a concept that never quite cut the mustard for me.
I distinctly remember sitting in a class being lectured by my then missiology professor. “Holiness is being set apart to do something. If you’re understanding of being set apart is that you simply remain separate from the things of this world, you are not holy, you are simply useless.”
The critical aspects of holiness are not the things you say no to in order to be separate, it is the things that you can now say yes to because you have room in your life to prioritise other things.
The penny dropped.
I have never been the same since.
In second line in the Pater Noster is a statement affirming the Holiness of the name of God. Consequently it is an affirmation of who He is (a name in many cultures being viewed as a description of the nature of the person named). It is an affirmation of the activity and purpose of God. “He is who he is because he does what he does.”
It is vital to understand this because in the very next line of the Lord’s prayer, we are about to make some outrageous pledges to participating in this very same activity.
When Jesus instructs his disciples to “Hallow the name of God”, it is an invitation to remember who God is. We remember by reflecting upon what it is that he does. If we engage in this kind of process, it has the powerful potential to alter and restore a sense of perspective in us individually and communally.
The hallowing of the name of God also should take the wind out of our self important sails, or for those of us who beat ourselves up for not being good enough, restore some sense of hope and perspective.
Ultimately the hallowing of God’s name invites us onto the threshold of what is about to occur next in the Lord’s prayer.
This was something that was shared with me by a member of our church. She got it from the blog of a friend (who also happens to be the pastor of her previous church). I thought it was worth crossposting.
I was reading the ‘Quakers Handbook of Practice and Procedure in Australia’ and was struck with their preamble. It is everything which I would want to say…
Quakers in Australia acknowledge that we live and worship on the lands of Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander peoples, country which gives them physical and spiritual identity and is filled with the spiritpresence of their ancestors.
the sovereignty of Australia’s First Peoples over the land we inhabit;
that the land was taken from them at devastating cost, with no just resolution;
that this trauma is ongoing and diminishes us all;
that our testimonies call us to be in right relationship with all peoples, the land and ourenvironment.
Therefore we seek in our daily lives:
to educate ourselves about the true history and present reality of Aboriginal and Torres StraitIslander peoples, and uphold their right to self-determination;
to acknowledge within ourselves, and bring into the light, that which contributes to the debilitatingeffects of racism, insensitivity, lack of awareness and misrepresentation;
to work towards justice and peace, and healing for us all.