The last Harry Potter Movie comes out Friday! Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2. The story centers on recovering hidden magical objects in order to defeat Harry’s nemesis – Lord Voldemort; ending in a climactic battle between good and evil. In this story, Harry Potter and his friends are looking for magical objects called horcruxes. As long as these objects exist Voldemort can never be killed nor defeated. Looking for these horcruxes causes Harry pain, hardship, alienation and self-sacrifice in seeking to destroy them. In the end only goodness and virtue, purity of heart and courage can overcome these seemingly insurmountable powers. In the end, they do.
There is an element of prayer that stands up to the dark forces of evil too, but there is nothing hidden or magical about it. To pray to God as our Father is to gain neither power nor virtue; it is to claim weakness and our inability to defeat evil on our own.
Jesus urges us to pray a living hallow, “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.” When we pray “hallowed be thy name” we are calling upon the holiness of God – to meet us in time of trouble and stand up to the evil we can neither tame nor control. Unlike Harry Potter, overcoming evil and insurmountable odds is not about our purity or
virtue. Of these things we can only fall short. Yet the holiness of God will ultimately prevail. Praying to a holy God is to admit how unholy we are ourselves. To appeal to God’s mercy and faithfulness is to admit God’s judgment and strength (even as that judgment and strength stands against us). We pray to a holy God, we believe in a holy God, we speak of a holy God – only because we know our sin and unfaithfulness. We know where trusting ourselves has led us – to the pit of darkness and death. So Jesus teaches us, to relinquish our trust of ourselves and turn instead to God. It doesn’t take a horcrux – a symbol of power to escape death to do that – it takes a cross – a symbol of defeat and an instrument of death to meet evil head on. It takes a battle to engage evil, not with a sword and army, but with an empty grave and cloud of witnesses (of which we take part). God defeats evil not with magic and hidden power, but by a word, his word – placed upon our lips to call upon him.
Calling upon a Holy God, a Righteous Lord, a Hallowed Father, does something else too. Not only do we name our own lack of holiness; God invites us into his holiness. “Hallow” simply means – to make holy. The Greek word (agiazo) means –to separate, consecrate, cleanse, purify, reverence as holy. We who are sinful, broken, dying people are called into grace, forgiveness and new life. It is as if our lives become holy ground – not because we have chanted the right incantation, or set ourselves free, but because God’s word has broken the chains of evil’s clutches, and set us apart on account of Christ. This is the living hallow.
I leave you with a verse from Martin Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is Our God,” (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, #504),
“Though hordes of devils fill the land all threatening to devour us. We tremble not, unmoved we stand; they cannot over pow’r us. Let this world’s tyrant rage. In battle we’ll engage! His might is doomed to fail; God’s judgment must prevail! One little word subdues him.”
Hallowed: One little word. Speak it often.
Peace, Pastor Geoff
“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.” (Psalm 148:13)
Martin Luther’s Small Catechism:
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God.
What does this mean?
We are to fear and love God, so that we do not curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive using God’s name, but instead use that very name in every time of need to call upon, pray to, praise, and give thanks to God.
Lord’s Prayer: 1st Petition
Hallowed be thy name.
What does this mean?
It is true that God’s name is holy in itself, but we ask in this prayer that it may also become holy in and among us.
How does this come about?
Whenever the Word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as God’s children, also lead holy lives according to it. To this end help us, dear Father in heaven! However, whoever teaches and lives otherwise than the Word of God teaches, dishonors the name of God among us. Preserve us from this, Heavenly Father!