Page 7, 26th June 1998

26th June 1998
Page 7
Page 7, 26th June 1998 — Abba Father
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Abba Father

DAVID TORKINGTON

Ioactust Jeremias the Protestant scripture scholar went to the trouble of counting the ber of times God is referred to as father in the Old Testament. There were only 13 occasions in all.

Each time the word referred to God the creator. In other words, God was a father in so far as he was responsible for his handicraft, in the same way that Herodotus was `the father of history', because he created the literary genre.

However, when Christ came he chose another word with which to describe the fatherhood of God. It was the Aramaic word abba, which means daddy, or its equivalent. 'Father' can have many different meanings, but the word daddy can only have one meaning. A daddy is someone who communicates his own life to his children.

When Jesus referred to God in this way he must have shocked his contemporaries for daring to use such a homely pet name to describe the almighty creator. Every time Christ prayed to God as his father in the Gospels he chose the Aramaic word for daddy.

This is entirely new, for no form of prayer in Judaism whether it was a formal liturgical prayer, or informal private prayer ever dared to address God as abba. To the Jewish mind it would have been irreverent and therefore unthinkable. It was something entirely new. Christ spoke with God as a child speaks with his father: simply, intimately, and securely.

There is no doubt then that the abba, which Jesus uses to address God reveals the very basis of his own communion with him.

Now Christ not only used this word abba to show how he relates to God, but to explain how God wants us to relate to him also. That's why when he taught us the greatest prayer of all he used this word 'abbe', or daddy.

It would seem that it's not only the ancient Jews who were shocked when Jesus told them to call God abba. Many of us would find it difficult to pray 'Our Daddy who art in heaven' even though that's what Christ himself tells us to do. is used in the translation we have become accustomed to, the actual word Christ himself used this Aramaic word for daddy, abba.

This single word sums up the meaning of the Gospel message more than any other used in the New Testament The reason that Christ gives for his coming was "that you may have life and have it ever more fully".

The life he was talking about was the same life that

filled him and which he experienced enveloping him

from the inside. The experience of God's own life within him made Christ feel loved, it was the source of his unique inner security and it gave him the help and strength he needed to do his father's will at all times.

That's why he wanted everyone to receive all that he had received, so that

others may feel this deep inner security and be tiven

the help they need to do for others what he has done. This can only happen if we freely choose to create space

and time in our lives to allow God's fatherly love to pene

trate us ever more fulla. until we begin to experience it welling up from witlan to possess every part of us.

Prayer is the traditonal word used to describe the way we regularly raise our hearts and minds to God so that he can use theirs as the

means of filling us to overflowing with what fillet his first-born son Jesus Cleist.

If we never, or rarely,have time for prayer, because we are "too busy about nany things", like Martha, then God's low can never ouch us deeply. it can Inver

become the ever-present driving force that CaXt =Ice us into the image arm:likeness of the man we are youd enough to say we follow.

Deep renewal will may take place when we ake

whatever steps are noicesary

to create all the time we can spare to open ourselve out

to receive and experiene the love of the almighty an: alltranscending God, varhe has freely chosen to becoxin our ever-loving dad.




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