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March 2012

Holy Name

For the Third Sunday in Lent

From “Sitting on the Rainbow”

Artwork by Elsa Ingulsrud
Scripture Reference: Exod. 20:7

Does everyone here have a name? Names are important aren’t they? Everybody has a name. Let’s hear some of your names. (Let children respond.) How do you feel about your name? Do you like it? (Children may share.) You should feel good about your name. It is very precious. When you were just a tiny baby, you received your name. The best name for you that could be thought of was picked.

What names does God have? Tell me all the names you can remember. (Responses may vary.) Lord, Father in heaven, Jesus, Christ, Holy Spirit; those are all names that refer to the one God whom we worship. God’s name is very special, too, isn’t it?

How would you feel if someone wrote your name on a piece of paper, held it up for everyone to see, and then stepped on it? That wouldn’t feel very good, would it? Has anyone ever teased you about your name or used your name to say something mean? That’s not a nice thing to do, is it? You wouldn’t want someone to misuse your name and step on it or say something mean about it. It would be just like they were being mean to you.

Have you ever heard someone using God’s name in bad ways? In the middle of a conversation, you might hear someone say something like, “Oh, God! I was so embarrassed!” Or if someone is angry, they might say, “Jesus! That hammer hit me right on the thumb!” Are those people really thinking about God when they use his name that way? No. It’s like stepping on the name of the Lord. When someone uses God’s name in that way they are not honoring God’s name; instead, they are being careless with it.

God gave us Ten Commandments, and the Third Commandment is a very important one. It says, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Exod. 20:7 RSV). Another translation reads, “Do not misuse the name of the Lord your God” (NLT). Using God’s name without thinking about God, or using his name to say something bad, is misusing God’s name. This is something that displeases God.

It’s sad when people misuse God’s name. It’s just the same as being mean to God. But you’ll probably hear people doing just that. Sometimes even Christians forget and misuse God’s name. You won’t be able to stop everyone from stepping on God’s name. But if, for example, you have friends over to play, and you hear them using God’s name carelessly in your house, you can politely ask them to stop. You can tell them that in your house, God’s name is special.

Prayer: Help us to honor your name always, Lord God, in all of the words that we speak. Keep us from using your name in a careless way.

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