Pastor Scott Hannon
St. John Lutheran Church Amherst, NY
The craziest thing happened to me while I was washing dishes the other day. I was standing at the sink and my daughter Molly was playing at my feet. At one point she needed my attention (likely trying to show me the yucky piece of food she threw off her high chair an hour before and had now reclaimed) so she began pulling on my pant leg calling, “Daddy. Daddy. Daddy.” When I didn’t respond immediately she shouted, “Scott!”
That got my attention.
You don’t really realize the power of names until your daughter calls you by your first name. And here’s the thing… yes, it was kind of cute in the moment- sure, I’ve been called a lot worse- but, truth be told, I don’t want to be “Scott” to Molly. Not now. Not ever. I don’t even want to be “Dad” or “Father.” I just want to be “Daddy.”
In scripture when Moses asks God what his name is, God says, “I am who I am.” Later, God tells his people that his name is holy and should not be taken in vain. The Israelites so revered God’s name that they didn’t even attempt to say it. Instead, they simply said, “The Lord,” whenever they called upon him. In the New Testament Jesus takes our title for God and makes it even more personal. When teaching his disciples to pray he says: “This then is how you should pray: Our Father…” (Matthew 6:9)
What we call God is more than just a word. It is a title which announces a connection. When God says, “Call me Dad,” he is inviting us into a relationship. A relationship of intimacy, closeness, compassion and most of all, love.
I hear people take God’s name in vain all the time. Sometimes, I even make that same mistake. Slang phrases involving “Jesus” and “God” have become commonplace in workplaces, homes, schools, and the media. I’m sure God doesn’t like that anymore than I like Molly calling me “Scott.”
The Lord of the universe who created you and loves you does not want to be “Mr. God” to you, nor does God want us throwing his name around like a swear word. Rather, as God’s child God invites you to call him by the name that shows the intimacy of your relationship: Dad.
Let us pray.
Dear Father, thank you for naming us and claiming us as your children. Teach us to love and honor you at all times, and in all instances to treasure your holy name. Amen.
For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.