May 20,2007 2nd Preparation talk for Confirmation A GENTLE GOD.

'Abba' is the actual word that Jesus used for God. In some places in the New Testament it is left as is, not translated, in other places translated as 'Father'. 'Abba' is a small child's word for Father, something like 'Papa'. Behind the word is a very deep truth, the very essence of all Jesus' teaching. That is, God is a loving, caring Father, we are his special children. This is a message from God for everyday life.

The strict Pharisees objected strongly to this intimate way of addressing God. They said "It is impolite, it is close to blasphemy." Jesus insisted; "God is Abbba. God is gentle, loving, caring, understanding of human weakness. He is not strict God, not a punishing God. He is the very opposite. You are his very much loved children."

Jesus spoke for 3 years so often about God as a loving Father that one day Phillip, disciple, said; "Jesus! Show us that Father. That will be enough!" (I use this request of Phillip's as a prayer.)

If we have a narrow, strict, fearful image of God, we are just not yet real followers of Jesus. Such as a fearful image will make prayer only formally polite words, with no joy or taste. Our everyday lives will be the same. Religion becomes mere obligation. God is my loving Father who accepts me as I am. This is the truth that can set me free, that puts joy and taste into our daily lives.

Open your Bibles and prayerfully read these suggestions.

Luke 15:11-24 emphasizes loving acceptance of Father, not the waywardness of the son.

Mark 14:36 'Abba...'

Romans 8:15 To really grasp this deep truth, human effort is not enough, we need light from the holy spirit.

N.B. When Jesus speaks of God as Father it is to emphasize God's gentleness, not that God is male. For God as gentle Mother, Isaiah 66:13.

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