Sunday, February 28, 2010

Hallowed Be Thy Name

How do you take this line? I'll tell you, I've always thought we're saying at this point, God, we worship you. God, you are the Lord. Etc.

But I did a little reading around and it turns out, no, this is actually a petition. We're saying "God, let your name be hallowed. Let everyone worship you."

And why do we ask for that? Well, because we believe that if they did, if the whole world worshipped God, then that would mean we were all trying to be like God, that is loving and generous and self-sacrificing. And what a wonderful world we could have if that were the case.

Statue of Reconciliation, Northern Ireland

The Twist: One could take what I just wrote and say this is a prayer for the conversion of the world to Christianity. But remember, this was Jesus' own prayer. This was what he said to God. So, it would be more precise to say that the Our Father is a prayer about the conversion of all people's hearts to the child-like openness, trust and generosity that Jesus had. A very different thing.

And frankly, much more challenging for Christians. Because hallowing God's name becomes not a matter simply of whether we go to Church or pray at night, but how we live our lives. It puts me in mind of a quote from G.K. Chesterton: "Christianity has not failed; it has never been tried."

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