Hallowed is Your Name
Your Kingdom come
Your Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven
This part of the Lord's prayer makes three claims about God:
1. The holiness of God's name
2. The coming of God's realm
3. The hope God has for God's creation
The Jewish culture Jesus was immersed in thought of God's name as holy. For some Jewish people you would not even speak God's name, Yahweh. While we might see that as being superstitious, it also reminds us that when we talk about God the conversation should have a different feeling, tone, even words than when we are discussing the weather or the Packer's playoff chances.
In fact, there is a word to describe such conversations about God called "theology". That literally means, "God talk" or words about God. Each time we talk about God, we are engaging in theology. That does not need to be a stuffy as it sounds. Theology can be joyous and filled with laughter. We are after all talking about a God would could imagine, create and craft a platypus! Yet, I think it is good to pause and to be thoughtful about God. Too often today people (read "pastors") can get wrapped up in our own words about God that we forget this part of the prayer. A sermon (or blog post) is a chance to speak a word about God. In those moments, the question for those listening can be, "does this connect me to the holiness of God?" Does this connect me to the living God? If not, what words are distancing you from God? If so, which words are ringing true? That's one way of living this line of the Lord's prayer.
Second, we pray about the coming of God's realm. I'd rather talk about God's realm than kingdom. Partly because the word 'kingdom' has a lot of baggage. It brings to mind images of Kings and violence and battles over land. And even though in my heart I know that is not what God's kingdom is like, even though I think there is something subversive about using a word in a way that is completely counter-cultural and contradicts the norm, even though in Isaiah 11:1-10 describes exactly what God envisions what God's Kingdom will look like; the reality is most of us are much more familiar with King Arthur than Isaiah. Most of us know more about the men of the Bible than the Women who throughout scripture are usually more faithful to what God's realm will look like. And most of us just can't hear Kingdom without thinking of the final scene from Braveheart. So, making this shift to the word 'realm' can help remind us that what we are praying for is something entirely different than what we know here and know in the kingdoms of this world. What we are praying for is peace among the nations and unity amid creation.
Third, we pray for hope and for God's presence to move in our lives. Again, the word 'will' often is equated with force. Like with the word "Kingdom", force also has a lot of baggage. Rightfully so. Yet, as John Capato suggest, there is a weakness to God. Throughout Scripture, God does not smite nearly as many people as we think. In fact, the way God acts is usually not very forcefully at all. God works through blessed and broken people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Isaiah, Elijah, and David. God sends Jesus, not with a sword, but with parables and healing and love. To work through words and people rather than to wave God's divine hand to make everything better magically is a different sort of will. It is slower moving than we might think. And it is more dependent upon us than we usually talk about or are comfortable with. To pray for God's will or presence reminds us that we are on sacred ground.
All three of these claim culminate when we pray for heaven and earth to be one. To pray for God's presence recognizes that God is all around us and inside us. To pray for God's realm is to be open to the way God's presence is making a difference here and now. To pray for the words we say about God to reflect God's holiness is one way to live in God's realm and to sense God's presence. Heaven and earth as one. Even here and now.
So, may the One who is holy, whose realm is found around us and within us, and whose presence makes us different surround you and sustain you. May the traces of grace be with you.