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Who's Your Daddy

Luke 24:36b-48

The Rev. Jon Roberts

26 April

2009

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

36 As they were saying this, Jesus himself stood among them. 37 But they were startled and frightened, and supposed that they saw a spirit. 38 And he said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do questionings rise in your hearts? 39 See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see that I have.”[b] 41 And while they still disbelieved for joy, and wondered, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate before them. 44 Then he said to them, “These are my words which I spoke to you, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.

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First day in heaven, Kerolos Safwat, 21st C.

When you reach your wit’s end, feeling like all is lost, remember you are a child of God, of the Father who loves you most.[1]

If you were told to open the eyes of your faith who would you expect to see?[2] Each of us has a picture in our mind of how we want heaven to be and how we want our Father to appear. The trouble is we can’t know for sure if we haven’t spent enough time with Him. We put our trust in someone we haven’t really seen. It gets really tough when times are hard, lonely and even abandoned. Faith is about all we have to go on. It is always leading, and we are always searching for the one who created us. It’s funny how faith works. Those who have it feel God’s presence and have peace in their hearts, although they cannot always articulate it. Those who want to know and to see more may wrestle with the unknowing and may reach their wit’s end. It is when we visit a familiar place or have a stranger remind us of someone from long ago when we feel that presence and know our purpose. The Father may let us get to our wit’s end so that the eyes of our faith are opened and we can see more clearly.

Once, there was a seminary professor who thought he had reached his wit’s end. He was tenured years ago, but now his goal was simply to retire. Only one more year, he thought. After his term was up, he and his wife went vacationing in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Both needed a break from all the heavy demands of work. One morning, they were eating breakfast at a little restaurant, hoping to enjoy a quiet meal. While they were waiting for their food, they noticed a distinguished looking, white-haired man moving from table to table, visiting with the guests. The professor leaned over and whispered to his wife, “I hope he doesn’t come over here.” But sure enough, the man did come over to their table. “Where are you folks from”, he asked in a friendly voice. “Oklahoma”, they answered. “Great to have you here in Tennessee”, the stranger said. “What do you do for a living”, he asked. “Well, I teach homiletics at a seminary”, the man replied.

”Oh, so you teach preachers how to preach, do you? Well, I’ve got a really good story for you.”
And with that, the gentleman pulled up a chair and sat down at the table with the couple. The professor groaned and thought to himself, “Great. Just what I needed…another preacher story.” The man started, “See that mountain over there,” as he pointed out the restaurant window. “Not far from the base of that mountain, there was a boy born to an unwed mother. He had a hard time growing up, because every place he went he was always asked the same question, “Hey boy, who’s your daddy?” Whether he was at school, in the grocery store or drug store, people would ask the same question, “Who’s your daddy?” He would hide at recess and lunchtime because the question hurt him so badly.

When he was about twelve years old, a new preacher came to his home church. The boy would always go in late, sit in the back, and slip out early. But on this one Sunday the new preacher said the dismissal from the back door instead of at the altar where he had always expected. It happened so fast that it took the boy off guard. When he went to slip out the back door he was met by the preacher head on. Not knowing anything about him, the preacher reached out and shook the boy’s hand. The boy could tell several waited for the exchange to end and then he felt them move in anxiously. They heard the preacher ask, “Son, who’s your daddy?” Well you can only imagine how he felt. He looked down with shame and he wanted to cry, never to return to church. But sensing this, guess what that preacher did? He bent down, looked that boy in the eyes and said, “Wait a second. Let me get a good look at you. I thought you looked familiar. I know who you are. You’re a child of God. You belong to our heavenly father. Don’t you?” With that, the boy felt that what had been missing, had now been filled.” After the stranger finished his story, the professor thought he saw a genuine tear in his eye. Before he bid them farewell he said, “You know, if that preacher hadn’t told me that I was one of God’s children, I probably wouldn’t have amounted to anything.” Stunned by this confession, they later asked the waitress, “Do you know who that man was who just left our table?” She grinned and said, “Of course, everybody here knows him. He’s the governor of Tennessee."[3]

We are always searching for our heavenly “daddy” and it’s funny how faith helps Him be revealed. He actually never left us. It is we, who travel far away from Him. Faith actually takes us back to a familiar place. It takes a stranger sometimes to appear with a friendly reminder. Pain, doubt, fear, sin, are the things that make us reach our wit’s end and take us far away. Just like those disciples from long ago, after Jesus was crucified they were lost. They needed to comfortable and encouraging words from a source of love, nurture and strength. Afraid, thinking they were seeing a spirit, a spook, a ghost, Jesus had returned.[4] He looked into their eyes and reminded them that if they kept their faith in him alive, then they would remember who they were. Revealed in mysterious ways, through His Son, by His Spirit, the Father continues to claim and sustain those who are lonely and feel distant. Whenever you feel like you have reached your wit’s end, have no fear, the peace of the Lord is always with you. You are a blessed child of the Almighty God.[5] Call out to Him when you need your faith restored, when you need a reminder of whom you belong. Let him touch your wounds of despair and share your hunger for truth. Retell the story of His sacrificial love sent into the world by His son Jesus and be a presence to others. When they see God working through you, they may just ask, “Who’s your Daddy?”

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Sermon revised from 26 April 2009 (JR).
[3] Fred Craddock, “Craddock Stories”, 2001.
[4] Luke 24:36-48
[5] 1 John 3:1-7

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