We begin right away with Adult Bible study at 8:30 am. See and read the topic down below to prepare for the discussion. Worship will be at 9:30 am.
Call God ‘Father,’ Pope Tells Audience
The Wired Word for the Week of June 18, 2017
In the News
Earlier this month, at his weekly general audience, Pope Francis told a crowd of 15,000 gathered in St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican that calling God “Father” rather than simply “God” can deepen their spirituality and nourish their Christian hope.
“The entire mystery of Christian prayer is summed up here, in this word: to have the courage to call God by the name of Father,” the pontiff said.
“Calling God by the name ‘Father’ is not something that can be taken for granted,” the pope said. “We are tempted to use the highest titles, which are respectful of his transcendence. But calling him ‘Father’ puts us in his confidence, like a child talking to his dad, knowing that he is loved and cared for by him.”
Referencing the parable of the prodigal son, Francis said, “God is a Father in his own way: good, helpless before man’s free will, only able to conjugate the verb to love. God is a father who does not apply human justice and is ready to forgive and embrace his long-lost son.”
Pope Francis, whom many people, whether Roman Catholic or not view as an open-minded and understanding leader, concluded the audience by urging his listeners to think about their necessities, their problems, and to turn to God in confidence and hope, He then led them in praying the Lord’s Prayer, which Catholics often refer to as “the Our Father.”
More on this story can be found at these links:
Applying the News Story
Protestant and other Christians have long used “Father” as a way to address and speak about God, along with several other scriptural titles, including God, the Lord, the Almighty, Everlasting God, Lord of Hosts, Sovereign, Lord of All, I Am, Heavenly Shepherd, Judge, Abba, Rock, Fortress and others. When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he had them begin “Our Father.”
And, to not limit thought about God to the masculine gender, some people address God as Heavenly Parent or Father-and-Mother God or something similar, names which, while not used directly in scripture, are supported by biblical assertions or metaphors about God. (Some Christians take exception to this practice, and believe that when this is done as a rejection of calling God “Father,” it is also a rejection of God as portrayed in scripture.)
The point is, however, because God is more than any single name can encompass, scripture and Christians have used many names for God, with Father being one of them. As the hymn “Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud,” puts it:
May the church at prayer recall that no single holy name
but the truth behind them all is the God whom we proclaim.
The Big Questions
- To what degree do you find addressing God as “Father” to be helpful to your praying and spiritual life? Are there any ways in which that title is a hindrance to you? Why?
- To what degree is the way you address God colored by experience with one or both of your parents?
- Consider the pope’s statement that “God is a Father in his own way: good, helpless before man’s free will, only able to conjugate the verb to love.” What can he mean that God is “helpless” before our free will?What does it mean that God is “only able to conjugate the verb to love.”
- What, if anything, is the difference between reciting and praying the Lord’s Prayer?
- If you prefer to address God using a title other than “Father,” what title do you prefer and why?