Chronicles in Ordinary Time 41: Daddy

I haven’t checked the following numbers for accuracy, but they are in the ballpark of what Pete, my Pastor, talked about this morning. “Father,” in relation to the Creator, is used about 15 times in the Old Testament [about 80% of the Christian Bible]; Jesus used the term “Father” around 160 times in the four Gospels that tell the story of Jesus [about 20% of the New Testament in the Christian Bible]. Jesus also used the term, “Abba”–the English equivalent being, “Daddy,” when His disciples asked Jesus how they should pray. Jesus said, “Our Daddy, who is in Heaven…”

Our Daddy, not my Dad. Pete then showed a video clip of a girl running to her father at the opening of a baseball game. Her Dad was hiding behind a catcher’s mask as she was throwing the opening pitch of a baseball game. She thought he was still serving in Afghanistan. She sees him and automatically runs to him, her arms open to hug him…

My Dad:

Dad_3 Three ages of Robert C. Jones

   A good man, an honest man, an excellent provider for his family. He could also be harsh and unwilling to change, or to accept new ideas. He disciplined me with words, because [as legend has it] he lost his temper while spanking me, once, as a young child. He vowed he’d never strike me again. I’m inclined to think that he also decided never to touch me again. Probably not true, but recollections of ‘touch’ don’t come to mind.

I can’t even imagine running to my Dad, open-armed, for a hug. I can’t imagine this for my Mom, either. I don’t even remember ever being hugged by my parents. Good parents, emotionally-distant parents. Mom was Norwegian by birth, Dad was half-Swedish.
My understanding is that Scandinavians are often distant, by nature; but that’s mostly anecdotal. I haven’t ever been to Norway or Sweden. I have come to the conclusion that my parents did not know, because they also had not experienced.

So Pete’s teaching of how we are to approach our Heavenly Father does not match anything in my background. I have tried to model  for my children, by the Creator’s Grace, what I have only seen in others. To be the kind of father I wanted, but didn’t have. My adult children still come to me for ideas, solutions and help; I guess the modeling has worked. During the early years of our marriage, my wife and I created in my parents an expectation that the only time we came to visit was when we needed money.

Advent: the season of waiting. Expectant waiting. I talked with a young couple this morning; my kids’ ages, although I didn’t sense that I was talking with anyone a different age than myself. They are missionaries in Central Asia, among the Uyghur; a 15 million-strong ethnic-Muslim people. They are there to demonstrate the love of Jesus to a people that have never really heard of Jesus. The Uyghur understand the concept of Law; they don’t know the concept of Grace. Sadly, not unlike many in the US ‘Bible Belt.’

I asked them how in the world they ever ended up in Central Asia amongst people who, in theory, aren’t receptive to Christianity. The short version of their answer is, “it’s a God Thing” [my translation]. I understand God Things; I was raised as an agnostic/atheist; I finally surrendered to the Creator during my third year of college. It was God Things that brought me to Christ; things that happened only to me, that defied all laws of probability. A God Thing was the only ‘logical’ explanation-‘How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?‘ [Sherlock Holmes]. The annoying thing being that I couldn’t demonstrate my evidence to anyone, except by my life.

I live ‘in my cave’ most of the time; probably in the 90+%-of-my-time range. Doing everything is more painful and more difficult to do, compared with my life 4+ years ago; one way of dealing with the pain is not going anywhere I don’t need to go. A dear friend wants me to come to a Gospel Christmas performance; going there means ‘going there;’ which means discomfort. ‘Going there’ also means entering into the world of American Christmas, which, in spite of the caroling and good spirits, has very little to do with the life Jesus modeled.

I have trouble believing that Jesus really wants His birth [nor His death] celebrated; I think He’d prefer having His life celebrated. From the book of Micah, in the Older Testament: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God

For me, one of the ways I have tried to demonstrate this concept is to model for my children a love that I never really felt as a child. Where the modeling has worked well, it is probably by the Grace of the Creator; where it hasn’t worked well, it’s probably due to a history of ignorance. It’s hard to give what one hasn’t received. Where one hasn’t received it, there is a need for God, the Creator of all, to make up the difference.

 

Freedom of Worship-dwgcopy of Norman Rockwell’s “Freedom of Worship”

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