By Wil Triggs
Just in time for Father’s Day, the summer book group starts and kind of gets in the way.
We’re reading The Prayers of Jesus by Mark Jones. In chapter two “Jesus Prayed ‘Abba Father,’” he writes, “Referring to God in prayer as ‘my Father’ was virtually unheard of during Christ’s time. Jews typically referred to God in prayer as ‘Yahweh,’ ‘my Lord,’ ‘my God,’ or ‘God of my father.’ The words of Christ simply have no precedence: ‘At that time Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…’"
Calling God “Father,” doesn’t seem like a big deal these days, but it was a big deal for Jesus. No one did that. It wasn’t just the Roman-influenced pagans who lived with all kinds of gods who didn’t talk to their gods like that. The religious people wouldn’t dare.
It’s part of Jesus’s distinctive identity that he did.
Being able to pray “Father” in our prayers to God is just as big of a deal for us. Stop and think about it.
Jones adds “…The Son of God to whom we are united by faith makes this special title for addressing God possible. Christ’s eternal and natural sonship provides the foundation for the adoption of believers, who call upon God as Father as part of his family (Eph. 1:5; 2:19).”
Whatever your relationship to your father, or (if you’re a dad) how you relate as a father to your children, these connections are a core part of who you are. And those people have a place in your heart unlike any others. And yet, there’s something better going on than any of that. So it kind of messes up the steaks-on-the-grill Father’s Day. Don’t get me wrong. I like steak.
But thinking about this Father, this Son, and the family that they’ve made possible along with the Holy Spirt, I’ve been imagining an alternate universe, my own private twilight zone.
It’s a alternate universe where Jesus is at church. When I say at church, I'm talking about College Church. Literally.
He is physically with us. When Pastor Moody preaches, (or this week, Pastor Fallon), Jesus is there, listening, whispering thoughts to different ones of us about how God’s Word matters in relation to what just happened at the job, that critical thought you had about the choice of a hymn or what you said to your spouse, or that person you’re mad at, that crime you committed, the thing you looked at, the thought you had that no one knows, how you responded to your child, your neighbor, the refugee, that homeless guy, or the neighbor who has more money than you. And the thing is, when Jesus says this stuff, we start to actually listen to him. I mean, it’s Jesus. We kind of have to, and we don’t just listen, but we start to change, to be more like Jesus and less like, well, us.
Word gets around. Hey, did you hear, Jesus is at College Church. Let’s go! There’s a line of people going down the street toward the public library, everybody just waiting to get in, to see if it’s really true, to get a glimpse of who he really is. There are people who want him to heal them or a loved one. Some want to say that they're sorry for everything. Some are baffled by life and seek him out to talk about what's really troubling in their life, their pain. Others just want to be near him, to know him, to see him for real. He is true and here for everybody. At College Church, our little corner of suburban Chicago. He’s for real and he’s here.
Well, maybe it’s not a whole universe. And maybe not so much of an alternate one as a possible one. A church like College Church, a Sunday like tomorrow. Jesus and us. Ears to hear. Eyes to see. I can’t wait for the Father’s Day.