“HOLY, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”.
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What is God’s Name?
We are taking a short journey into the past, looking at how Jesus taught people to pray. No one who has ever walked the earth is more qualified to teach this lesson. Here is a prayer that, as Christians, we learn from our earliest years. Many of us recite it daily as The Lord’s Prayer. Many of us hear and recite it weekly as part of our order of worship. I venture to guess, ALL of us, here reading, KNOW it.
But for several weeks, in my own life, the Lord has returned me to this… this… Marvel. This “Singularity” in the cosmos. He has placed it on a pedestal, like a precious stone in a museum, and shone a brilliant light upon it, bringing me to focus upon these few and simple lines as being one of the most extraordinary gifts He has ever granted to man. It has become like a Rose in the garden of my spirit, slowly, gradually, and beautifully unfolding before me. And I have invited you, Gentle Reader, to find this Rose anew… Your Rose… anew in your own garden, and examine yours as I examine mine.
He granted this Gift, the Lord’s Prayer, in two different forms to us. One rendering was for the Multitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. This form has more words to it, more of a “setting to the gem”.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’] [Matthew 6]
The other rendering was the direct response to His Disciples request that He “teach them to pray”. This second form is more stark, fewer words, more directive, less explanatory. Why should He waste words on explanations and commentary, when there He was, 24/7, DEMONSTRATING the context for them?
“When you pray, say:
Father, hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
And forgive us our sins,
For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” [Luke 11]
In our little process of Lectio Divina here, slow and prayerful reading, allowing time and silence for the Spirit to speak and teach, we will only highlight one phrase. This phrase appears in both versions, and thus it is a “critical instruction” of Jesus teaching on prayer, not a matter of amplification or commentary truth.
“Hallowed be Your name.”
Jesus has just “named God” for His listeners, telling us “how to address Holy God”, and there is no way around the fact that the shock must have been beyond imagining. The Name of God was considered SO sacred, SO holy, that it was not to be spoken or written. It was written in “code” only, a four letter acronym of what God spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush. It was spoken only as “The Lord”. Even in English, in English Bibles, the custom has remained of translating this notation simply as “The Lord”, rather than “Yahweh” (pronunciation of YHWH, the Tetragrammaton acronym of “I AM WHO AM”.)
Like pronouncing the name of “Voldemort” in the Harry Potter stories, and the insistence of most of referring to him only as “The Dark Lord”… even to pronounce these syllables was to invite destruction and wrath.
And then here’s Jesus saying, of all things, “when you speak to Almighty God, you address Him as ‘Dad’, as you would in your home…” Somehow I just see multitudes of listeners standing or sitting there blinking in utter shock, trying even to process the words!
But He goes on, immediately with, “Hallowed be Your Name”…
As earlier, as I sense His leadership throughout this little trip, Gentle Reader, I am NOT going to detail all the nooks and crannies these words have carried me to in spirit. I leave you and the Holy Spirit to explore on your own.
But here’s just a thought or two, a question or two. “Hallowed… Holy… Name of God…” But for myself, for so many years, I could only see “Holy” as an adjective, or an adverb. It was a modifier. It gave some quality, some description, to a noun. The Noun was meaningful and central, the adjective just helpful and descriptive. Hmm? So… “God’s Name has a holy and sacred quality or nature.” Right? That’s what Jesus was saying here, right?
Well, yes. That is very true. But many years later, one day, He challenged… “What if those weren’t just ‘adjective’, but Noun?” That is, what if Jesus was saying that God’s NAME…. was “HOLY”… like “I AM WHO AM”… or “LOVE”… or “FATHER”… or any of the other names we know of God? And what if ALL names, this one included, are all Infinitely Equal and Correct and Expressive of God? That is… God = Love, Love = God, God = Holy, Holy = God, Love = Holy, Holy = Love, and so on? Really gave me pause for quite a while. That was one thought.
The other thought, or question I would leave with you… “What if ‘Father/Dad = Holy”? What if that all encompassing, protective, providing, nurturing, raising-up-a-prince-or-princess-of-Kingdom Love… is ‘Holy’?” What if it is part of the essence of God’s very Holiness, that He loves us as His children? What if it is His love for Children that empowers His essence as Father, and Father is His Holy Name? That probably makes no semantic sense, and I’ll just stop there.
Just see where your Rose unfolds now for you. And I rejoice in that, wherever it leads and whatever it looks like.
Grace to thee, beloved brother or sister. — The Little Monk