The quintessential Island question, “who’s yer father?” speaks to a quaint Island need to establish a connection with a stranger. That connection has the potential to bring people together. If I know your father, or someone who knows your father, or someone who saw your father do that thing your father is notorious for, then, well, we’re practically related. We are connected, come in and have a cup of tea.
The third chapter of Matthew’s Gospel has the story of the baptism of Jesus by John in the River Jordan. It is the event that begins the earthly ministry of Jesus. Matthew’s telling of the story includes an extraordinary element, the heavens opened up and the Spirit of God descended like a dove and a voice from heaven declaring that, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."
The extraordinary thing is the apparently audible voice of God. The perfectly ordinary thing is the declaration that Jesus is God’s son. I say perfectly ordinary because it is a cornerstone of the Gospel that we are all sons and daughters of God. The audible voice of God might have been missed at our baptisms, but it’s there, declaring each one of us as beloved children, loved and forgiven and prepared to do God’s will.
The next time some unexpecting Islander asks, “who’s yer father?” try saying, “God is!” Maybe the response will be, “Me too! Come in and have a cup of tea.” We are all connected in this way: God, our parent, loves us, forgives us and call us to be a people of justice. A tall order it is, to be a people of justice, but just think how many brothers and sisters we have, with whom God is “well pleased.”