I did a talk this morning to our All Age Congregation Kings Krew.
I asked them what they would call Prince Charles if he wandered in to Church?
They worked out that he’d be called “Your Highness” on first meeting and then after that you can go a bit more informal and just call him “Sir”.
If the Queen walked, she should be called “Your Majesty” -and we practiced bows and curtsies too, yet after first meeting you can call her “Mam, as in Jam, nor Marm as in Farm” -Always assuming the biopic film “The Queen” is right.
If Donald Trump, tragically the most powerful man on earth, his title is “Mr. President” and on no account is anyone allowed to call him “Donald”.
…I then asked what we call God, the one who threw stars into space, the once who created everything from nothing, a God who is a million times bigger than our biggest thought or concept of the infinite God.
What do we call him?
One kid put their hand up and said “Lord!”
Another kid put their hand up and said “Jesus”.
…both right answers… but I was thinking of a much simpler word “Father”.
Just imagine the ripple of consternation when Jesus this scruffy nomadic Rabbi suggested we call the Adonai, the Lord Almighty, “Our Father” at the start of his most famous prayer…
Perhaps as we have got so used to saying the Lords prayer that we forget the power of this opening line?
We forget that orthodox Jews don’t even write the word God, because it is too holier a word to write so they write it G-d. Yahweh or Jehovah were words too Holy to utter…
And yet Jesus allows us to call this God “Father”.
John says “See the love the Father has lavished his love upon us that we may be called children of God” (1 John 3:1).
Yet Father might still conjure up a sterner respectful image, yet the word used is “Abba” which is more intimate, a bit like “Daddy”.
I remember having a profound moment in London watching a Jewish family playing together and the kids were laughing with their dad calling out “Abba”, in fact it is a word do simple it is one of the first words a human child can say!
Paul says in his letter to the Romans “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. 15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Romans 8.14-16).
This image of being adopted is a wonderful Christian image of being taken into the heart of the family. I did think of correcting the above passage to something more gender non specific than “sonship”, but then realised that this word does more than indicates we are (beloved) children of God it has a concept more of being an heir, the one who inherits. The rules of adoption meant you inherited everything just like a ‘blood born child’. In Christ, we are sons and daughters of God, who inherit everything. A truth which is not just some theology for our brain but rather should be something experiential, a truth encountered, a truth permeating to the depth of who you are.
As a child we have access to God at anytime, rights of beloved children. My daughter does not have to make an appointment to see me, rather I try to move appointments so I can see her, a God who wants a relationship with us, a God who’d whose us at our worst and still loves us and even so he bids us come.
I’ll close with Prince Charles ‘ official full title
“His Royal Highness The Prince Charles Philip Arthur George, Prince of Wales, Duke of Cornwall, Duke of Rothesay, Earl of Carrick, Earl of Chester, Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Prince and Great Steward of Scotland, Royal Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, Extra Knight of the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle, Grand Master and Principal Knight Grand Cross of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Member of the Order of Merit, Knight of the Order of Australia, Companion of the Queen’s Service Order, Member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council, Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty… “
But to William and Harry he is simply Dad!
God of heaven, the Lord Almighty, King of Kings and yet he loves us and says call me dad!
Now, you might not have had the best experience of dads, but God isn’t like our earthly Fathers, he is like the worlds best and most perfect parent. A friend of mine was once asked whether we could call God ‘she’, she replied that God wouldn’t have an identity Crisis, God is waning to be known and loves us.
Can you hear him calling?