There is a word in Aramaic for father. (I know, it’s mother’s day, I’m getting to that) The root of that word is AB.
One expression of that root is ABUD. To use this word for father is to show great respect, reverence, and honour. Like, here’s the Father, way up and high above me, and here’s me, way down here at the bottom. A little like addressing a supreme court judge. A benevolent judge, but way up there. It’s a term of endearment, but there is distance.
Jesus called God ABBA, from the same Aramaic root word AB, for father, but this is a much more intimate term, meaning “father, you are right beside me. I know you and you know me”. AB is a term of endearment, but it’s all reverence and respect. “I love you, but you’re over there”. ABBA, says “I love you, and I know that you are right beside me". It’s intimate.
With ABBA, the emphasis is not on the gender, it’s on the intimacy of the relationship. ABBA is never about gender. God has no gender. ABBA is about relationship that is so close there is nothing that can ever change it, or destroy it.
Here’s something I love to think about. You know how much your Mom loves you. The teaching is that God loves you even more that your Mom loves you. How is that even possible?
In the Bible, this parent love is called Hesed. It’s one of the oldest words in the Bible and it means “the steadfast love of God.” This kind of love is probably the single most important characteristic of being a parent, isn’t it? Having a love for your child that is steadfast. And, whatever mistakes you’ve made in your life can never separate you from that love.
When we think of Moms, we think of this love. I know, not all relationships are perfect, but that’s what a lot of us think of first when we think of Mom.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was at the foot of the cross. Everybody left Jesus. His best friends ran away. It was an awful thing to have to go through. But when things got bad, mother Mary doesn’t run away.
My Mom has been at the foot of all the crosses of my life. Through tough times. Through all the growing pains of a wayward youth. Through a divorce. Through me having to live with her and my Dad in my mid-thirties as a single parent with two young boys while going to seminary. Through everything, my Mom never left me. She never even thought of leaving.
It's true that some of us might have grown up with parents who just didn’t do the job all that well. And so, father, or mother, is not a good image for you.
But imagine the perfect parent. Wisdom to always know the right answer. An ability to always provide for needs. A home full of hope for the future, even through the darkest storms of life. This is a love that cannot be affected by any darkness or human weakness.
Imagine the perfect parent, and what an influence that would have on your life. In the last moments of this life, we need to know that what we will be standing before is love, greater than we ever could imagine.
This is the image the bible gives us of God. And we’re asked to trust in this God, and to give our lives to her care.