One of my early thrills of grandparenting was choosing a grandparent nickname.
Now, I called my own grandparents Grandpa and Grandma. Titles, really. So imagine my excitement when my son and pregnant daughter-in-law recommended that I choose a nickname as an improvement to Grandpa. Yes!
The selection process involved a Google search and eliminating grandparent nicknames existing elsewhere in our family. It was decided. Call me Papi (sounds like “poppy”) and my wife Gigi (pronounced “jee jee”). I’m smiling right now just thinking about it.
A term of endearment offers something a bit more special than a title, doesn’t it? Don’t get me wrong. Titles aren’t bad. They can promote a sense of respect and awe. That’s a good thing. But not the only thing.
Jesus both respected his Father and also talked to him intimately, using a term of endearment. “‘Abba, Father,’ he said, ‘everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will’” (Mark 14:36).
Abba is an affectionate term easily pronounced by toddlers learning to talk, like Papa. It wasn’t common in the Old Testament, considered by Jewish religious culture as a bit too chummy to be appropriate for the Lord God. That changed when the Son of God himself chose to use it. The Bible encourages us to use it too, enjoying intimacy and closeness with God (Romans 8:15).
Abba is smiling right now just thinking about it.