Who’s Your Daddy?

Reformation Sunday + October 27, 2013

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When I told the Wednesday Faith Night Bible Study group this week that my working title for this Reformation sermon was “Who’s Your Daddy?” their reaction was similar to yours. Admittedly it’s an unusual, maybe edgy title, but it reflects a central question in John’s Gospel today.

The people of the promise who believed in Jesus had just heard him say that by living out the word he’d taught them, they would truly be his disciples. Disciples who would experience the truth and the truth would set them free. Well they didn’t get it, claiming that as sons and daughters of Abraham they’d never been slaves to anyone. I wonder if Jesus laughed-out-loud because he, like most Sunday school children, know that the people had been enslaved, and more than once…

  • Remember Egypt, how the Passover and Exodus stories were all about God freeing them from slavery?
  • Remember when they were slaves to wandering around a dessert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land?
  • Or when years later they were defeated, taken away, enslaved from all they knew and had been promised during the Babylonian exile?

Descendants of Abraham never enslaved—I imagine Jesus smiling and maybe shaking his head as he asked them: “Who’s Your Daddy?”

Who’s Your Daddy according to that all-knowing web resource Wikipedia, is a slang expression that most often takes the form of a rhetorical question. It is commonly used as a slam, an insult, and a boastful claim of dominance over the intended listener. Perhaps the phrase itself comes from the 1968 song “Time of the Season,” by The Zombies (yes pastor used a zombie reference during Halloween week) that features the lyrics:

What’s your name? Who’s your daddy? Is he rich like me?

And as we struggle to keep our eyes open after watching the World Series game last night (especially if you’re a Red Sox fan), you may recall the phrase from the 2004 American League Championship Series when it was used as a taunt chanted by New York Yankees fans at Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez. Now Most of you know that I’m not a Yankees fan, but Pedro brought this on himself after losing a game against the Yankees when he told reporters:

They beat me. They’re that good right now. They’re that hot.  I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy.

I don’t care if you are the world’s biggest Yankees fan, or George Steinbrenner Jr., the Yankees are not your daddy. Nor is Abraham your daddy. Distant ancestor, biblical hero and father figure yes, but not  even daddy to the Jewish people Jesus was engaging in our Gospel story this morning. So “Who’s Your Daddy?” We are children of God, that’s who our daddy is!

Word. Jesus, God with us in the flesh came to remind us of that. Jesus tells us that as children of God, we are no longer subject to the world’s boastful claim of sin and dominance over us.

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Faith on Our Foreheads and in Our Hearts

When I was six or seven, we spent Easter in St. Louis with my cousins.  It was always fun as a kid to visit and stay with them in the big Dutch Colonial in Webster Groves.  You see I am the oldest of four, and our ages and gender matched the four youngest cousins.  But my aunt and uncle had eight children and it was the four older boys that “expanded my worldview” and always made visiting them an adventure.

And so it was on that Easter morning that there were a half dozen of us on the back porch, trying to stay out of trouble as we waited to go to church.  It had rained all weekend and the porch was above the walk-out basement and the biggest puddle I have ever seen.  As we looked down at the immense puddle, one of my older cousins wondered how big a splash we could make by dropping rocks into it.  Before I knew it a couple of them had snuck outside and gathered small rocks from the gravel driveway and so we leaned over the rail and dropped rocks into the dark puddle below.

We all wore shirts and ties to church back then and so imagine a row of half a dozen boys in starched white shirts dropping rocks into a churned up muddy puddle.  The gravel rocks became larger ones and as I leaned over the rail, one of my cousins dropped a huge rock and I had one of those “slow motion” moments.  As I realized how big the rock was, and that my more experienced rock dropping cousins had all backed away from the rail, I saw the rock hit and the plume of water shoot up above the porch floor, to the bottom of the rail and SPLASH… all over my shirt and face!

Squeals of laughter mixed with fright because we all knew we all were in trouble, deep trouble.  As we were scrambling to figure out what to do, our mothers appeared in the kitchen door and we were caught stuck in the mess we all had a hand in.  And that for me is the image I have of Baptism.  When we are bogged down by muck and mire of our lives, even when the mud on our faces is our own doing, there is the cleansing water to take away the mess of our lives, the forgiveness of a loving parent, and a new clean white baptismal garment to wear until we find ourselves stained again by the mud of our lives.        

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We gather this day to hear God’s Word and celebrate God’s promises through earthly elements of water, bread and wine.  Given the shared reality of our daily need for forgiveness and a clean start, it is fitting that we focus on the sacrament of Holy Baptism this day.  For it is through the washing of the Word and the hope of God’s promise to forgive and bring us new life both to ourselves and to all the baptized, that we can find comfort.

  • Comfort in God who loves and accompanies us always.
  • Comfort in God who pursues us, even when we wander off. 
  • Comfort in water that can terrify, representing flooding, drowning and death.  
  • Comfort in water that can cleanse, restore, refresh, renew and sustain life.  
  • Comfort in Holy Baptism, water and Word that is a gift of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

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