I will never forget seeing Luke Skywalker engaged in a fierce duel with Darth Vader in a movie theater with my family, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. I had been a young boy when Dad took the family to see Star Wars, but it reeled me in. I had the action figures and everything. Saturday mornings would find my brother and I dueling with lightsabers (sticks+imagination) in the backyard after cartoons. I had been looking forward to Empire Strikes Back for what seemed like forever. But that scene at the end, the big reveal, “I am your father.” followed by Luke screaming, “no, no, that’s impossible. Nooooo!” I had no experience with the idea of the bad-guy being a good-guy’s father. I have a great relationship with my father, but he is very human. Yep, my father is a sinner too, it’s something he and I have in common. I thought my dad was a great dad, though he referred to himself as an “unconscious competent”. So these two father figures seemed at odds in my head, though as I listened to Darth Vader to, “search my heart”, I knew it was true. My dad was not always the “good guy.”
Years later my father and I sat on the deck having a beer and talking about life, my dad apologized. He was confessing his wrong parenting and times he had “gone to the dark side” (my words not his). But partway through I cut him off, “I love you dad, I don’t remember any of that stuff.” And it’s true. I don’t remember my dad as Darth Vader, but I do remember he took me to every Star Wars film in the movie theaters. Until I became an adult and had to start paying for myself, but then I got to start taking my kids to see Star Wars.
As Jesus teaches us to pray, He leads us to the Father, “Our Father in Heaven…” With all the names and characteristics of God, the Son of God introduces us to the Father. I recognize that not everyone had a good experience with their fathers, but I did. From church to camping, from communion to ice cream, my dad has been pointing me in the right direction. I know my dad loves me, I always have and that’s a privilege I hold precious. And I know all too well that many people have had very different relationships with their dads. My best friend growing up didn’t see his dad much, Danny’s parents were divorced. I don’t know what happened, but I know he didn’t like his dad. Jesus introduces us to His dad, but instead calls him, “our Father in heaven.” I like that Jesus includes us, God isn’t just His Father, God is “our Father.” Jesus has the best Dad ever, but He doesn’t keep His Dad all to himself. Jesus shares His Heavenly Father with everyone who believes in Him.
The introduction to Jesus in the Gospel of John tells us in just the second paragraph: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:12) and in Galatians, Paul explains that our relationship to the Father is made possible through the Son, “for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” (Gal 3:26-27)
We go to God the Father in prayer, confessing our faith in Him, and hopefully recognizing our need. Our need for everything both physical and spiritual.