June 2017  
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Last Sunday's Sermon
Pastor: Harry M. Krolus

                                               HALLOWED BE THY NAME
                                                        MATTHEW 6:9

I am going to read to you several statements. After I am finished,, I want you to tell me what they all have in common.
Over 70% of the earth’s surface is covered by water.
The blue whale is the largest creature on earth.
The elephant is the largest land animal on earth.
Girls have two x chromosomes while boys have an x and a y chromosome.
A ton of concrete and a ton of feathers weighs the same.
Every day 6.7 million people commute to Manhattan.
Beavers can swim half a mile underwater on one gulp of air.
Virginia extends farther west than West Virginia.
Cleopatra married two of her brothers.
A 100 pound woman in stiletto heels exerts more pressure on the ground than a 6000 pound elephant.
Now, what do all of these statements have in common? They are all statements of fact.
Now, let's get to the first petition of the Lord’s Prayer, hallowed be thy name. In his meaning to this petition Luther writes, “To be sure, God’s name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may be kept holy among us also.”
As we look at this petition and what it means, we recognize that God’s name is indeed holy. It is an indisputable fact. It is not a point of debate. The challenge and point of this petition is not the fact that God’s name is holy, but in how we honor God’s name in practice.
To illustrate the point, I share with you a little known story from Grimm’s fairy tales.
Once there was a little old man. His eyes blinked and his hands trembled. When he ate he clattered the silverware, he missed his mouth with the spoon as often as not, and dribbled some of his food on his lap and the tablecloth. Now he lived with his married son, having nowhere else to live, and his son's wife didn't like the arrangement.
"I can't have this," she said. "It interferes with my right to happiness." So she and her husband took the old man gently but firmly by the arm and led him to the corner of the kitchen. There they set him on a stool and gave him his food in an earthenware bowl. From then on he always ate in the corner, blinking and shaking by himself.
One day his hands trembled rather more than usual, and the earthenware bowl fell and broke. "If you are a pig," said the daughter-in-law, "you must eat out of a trough." So they made him a little wooden trough and he ate his meals out of that.
Now, this couple had a four-year-old son of whom they were very fond. One evening the young father noticed his son playing intently with some bits of wood and asked what he was doing. "I'm making a trough," he said, smiling up for approval, "to feed you and Mommy out of when I get big."
The man and his wife looked at each other for a while and didn't say anything. Then they cried a little. They then went to the corner and took the old man by the arm and led him back to the table. They sat him in a comfortable chair and gave him his food on a plate, and from then on nobody ever scolded him when he clattered or spilled or broke anything.
What this story illustrates is what honor and lack of honor look like. It was not until the young parent’s reprehensible behavior was brought to light through their young son did they truly show the proper respect and honor to the elderly father that was due him all along.
As we look at this the first petition, we see that there are two aspects to it, just as is the case with the second commandment; you shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain. The first has to do with verbal usage. The words that proceed out of our mouths are never to dishonor the name of our God. And this does not just mean flagrantly misusing our Lord’s name in cursing. It also means carelessly using our Lord’s name as if it were a play toy, to be tossed about any way we like. For example, how many use the term OMG; either saying it, writing it, or posting it? Most who do, probably do not think about it, but should we be using the name of our God in such a flippant and casual manner? No, we shouldn’t.
And, what about foul or offensive language? We read in Ephesians 5:4 that there should not be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, coming out of our mouths. And, in Ephesians 4:29 we read,  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” Certainly, the testimony of Scripture does not say that any of us should be prudes. But, the words that come out of our mouths are always to be reflective of who we are, as people of faith, whether we are specifically talking about God or not.
The second aspect of this petition has to do with way of life. Let me ask this. What do we all call ourselves? We call ourselves Christians, do we not? Each and every one of us bears the name of Christ on our hearts. And, Scripture repeatedly reminds us that we are his witnesses; that we are his ambassadors to this fallen world. So, as people who hold up the name of Christ and who are to bear witness; we either bring honor or dishonor to the name of our Lord by the way we live our lives. The conduct of our lives is always to reflect the faith we profess and our identity as people of Christ, Christians.
Think about it. It’s all well and good that we are all here today. But when we leave this house of worship, what kind of people are we? Do we just blend in with the crowd, or is there something that distinguishes us from the rest? More than our intellect, more than our athletic abilities, more than our musical talent; our faith is that which is to distinguish us from the world in which we live. Our faith is something to be lived, which, when it is, brings honor to our God.
The reason why I sometimes try to slow down our praying of the Lord’s Prayer is not just for the sake of the children who are learning it and have a hard time keeping up, but more importantly because there is so much packed into each petition that we ought reflect on it, just a little, rather than rush through it.
Here, in the first petition, hallowed be they name, we are praying that neither our words or actions bring dishonor to God’s name. Rather, it is our prayer that we honor the name of our God with our words and that our conduct always be reflective of who we are as people of faith.