"Preach It, Pop-Pop"


I have never had the privilege of being addressed as “Dad,” or as “Daddy,” but, having entered into a marriage replete with three fully-grown stepdaughters, I have come to know the pleasure of being identified as “Pop-Pop” to my lovely little granddaughter.


I am often queried as to how I should be addressed, being a member of the clerical cloth that I am, so perhaps I should prefer a more formal title, a privilege that few even to this day would begrudge me.  It’s there; certainly if I want it.


Many Conshohocken residents will address me as “Father,” given that most are self-described Roman Catholics, but Baptist preachers have never applied such nomenclature.  I try to explain without wishing to confuse; many, though, continue to so address me.


Confused Protestants ask me the same question.  Are you “Pastor” or “Reverend?”  I try my hand at a “teaching moment:”  “Well; “pastor” is used in a conversational context – say; when you are speaking to me on the street or at the door – and “reverend” is used in more formal communication, as in the drafting of a written letter” … I shouldn’t bother! 


My Indian students were wont to address me as “the Rev. Dr. Lacey,” even though I am not a doctor of anything.  I tried to tell them, but they rather endearingly and stubbornly liked the title, so they continued to use it … Ok; fine!


I tell adults that they are free to call me “Brad,” but my favorite has become and remains “Pop-Pop.”  It’s not very ecclesiastical, but it does get to the heart of what any true and sober ecclesiastic, whether Roman priest, Protestant vicar, or plain-old Baptist preacher is supposed to be about, which is living and preaching the exquisite love of Jesus Christ.


Jesus addressed God as “Father,” and correspondingly taught us to pray, saying, “Our Father.”  The word that He uses actually translates into “Daddy” and, while I don’t advocate using such translated expressions with linguistic literalness, I implore every believer to recognize that our relationship with God is grounded in the deepest swells of love that are best likened to the love betwixt a father and his child – or that of a grandfather and his granddaughter.


“They could have called me, ‘Father,” was God’s rueful sentiment in response to His people’s rejection of Him, clearly indicating His preferred mode of relations with the Israelites of ancient times.  Noted author Brendan Manning has commented that the height of Christian maturity comes when one appreciates that God is (to use his expression) “head-over-heels” in love with His people.  The Holy Spirit attests to our hearts that we are the beloved children of God. 


And, one must add, is there any greater need today than a restoration of the concept and application of fatherhood?  Some will disagree; I know … Still:  Happy Father’s Day!   


Bradley E. Lacey (June 2017)