A Guest Post by Ian Scott
This is the first in a series of posts engaging with the sermons in Leaps of Faith: Sermons from the Edge. This post is a reflection upon the first sermon in the book, entitled, “‘My Daddy Was a Pimp!’ and Other Skeletons from the Closet” (pp. 3-9). The Scriptural text for the sermon was Genesis 12:10-20.
In the autumn of 2008, I was part of a memorable preaching course at Wycliffe College taught by the esteemed preacher Fleming Rutledge from New York. Robert Dean had received special permission to audit the course in the midst of his doctoral work in theology. This was our first time meeting and from that meeting has come forth a budding friendship. Perhaps what aided our connection was the sermon, “‘My Daddy was a Pimp!’ and Other Skeletons from the Closet.” This was the sermon Rob chose to deliver to our class. It was about 2:00 in the afternoon when we all gathered in the chapel at Wycliffe to hear our classmates deliver their sermons. Surrounded by stained glass windows depicting missionaries from Anglican Canadian history, Rob preached the Word of God. Make no mistake about it, I don’t remember hearing anything about skeletons from the closet. Rather, I remember the haunting words that Father Abraham was a pimp! My memory of that sermon has yielded a hope that God’s faithfulness will endure (even to us).
This sermon aims at waking up hearers who have heard the gospel the same way for far too long. The notion of the gospel being incredibly scandalous is necessary for Sunday morning ears. This sermon offers shock value with the characterization of Abram (later Abraham) as a pimp. It’s not the language we want to hear applied to one of our “heroes of faith.” We want a more sanitized version than the stark details that are scattered through the pages of the Holy Scripture, with its “liars like Jacob, hookers like Rahab, adulterers like David, cowards like Peter and religious terrorists like Paul.”
The popular children’s refrain, “Father Abraham had many sons / I am one of them and so are you,” has new currency in light of this sermon. It’s a growing up in the gospel of grace when we can freely confess, “My daddy is a pimp!” Indeed, this calls for faith to admit that God will remain faithful in the face of my daddy deserting the promise of God, which he had responded to in faith earlier in Genesis chapter 12.
It’s refreshing to hear that our morality, or lack thereof, is not the last word on creation’s existence. We are defined by the gracious dealings of a loving God. The drama of Jesus’ birth, life and ministry, arrest, death and resurrection, and ascension show us God’s commitment to His church. As a local church pastor, it’s comforting to know that the myriad of divisive troubles of the church described in the sermon are not much different than my own. It is God’s decisive course with us in Jesus Christ’s faithfulness that forever marks saints and sinners alike.
Ian Scott is the English Pastor at Redeemer Chinese Evangelical Free Church in Scarborough, Ontario. He posts articles on his congregation’s blog at http://www.rcefc.ca/a-word-from-the-pastor.