“Tell us a dad joke.”
It’s not a broken sentence; my kids didn’t mean to say “tell us a joke, dad.” No, the request is for a specific type of groan-inducing, pun-heavy, not-really-funny-but-we-laugh-anyway thing known culturally as a “dad joke.” I don’t know exactly when “dad joke” came to convey what it does today, but we all know one when he hear it.
Need some examples?
People who rob jewelry stores and banks are pretty bad, but people who rob bakeries really take the cake.
I hate jokes about German sausages, they’re the wurst.
What do you call a pony with a sore throat? A little horse.
Our wedding was so beautiful, even the cake was in tiers.
What did the buffalo say when his son went off to college? Bison.
I love dad jokes. I love being a dad. It’s not, of course, all jokes. Parents, dads and moms, have to do hard, sacrificial things each and every day. We’ve also seen changes to the cultural scripts of what dads and moms are responsible for in terms of work inside and outside the home. We also have increased awareness of homes and parental relationships that aren’t healthy places of love and grace. Some fathers are hard, always seeming disappointed, never satisfied with the things we do or the choices we make. These considerations lead many of us, in reading and teaching Scripture, to make sure we don’t use exclusively “Father” language for God; for people who didn’t have a father in their life or for whom that relationship wasn’t the healthiest, the language can be an obstacle to real connection.
Yet Jesus did teach us to pray to our Father in heaven. In his time of trial, he cried out “Abba!” Even when our own fathers (or when we ourselves) don’t live up to the standards we hoped to set, our Father in Heaven remains good. Not only that, God delights in you as God’s beloved child, independent of anything you’ve done or failed to do. You are delightful and you bring God joy just by being the person God created you to be. That is good news in which you can find rest today.
And sure, tell some jokes along the way.
“Dad, how do I look?” With your eyes, son. With your eyes.
Grace and Peace,
For your consideration:
I was there when he established the heavens,
when he marked out the horizon on the deep seas,
when he thickened the clouds above,
when he secured the fountains of the deep,
when he set a limit for the sea,
so the water couldn’t go beyond his command,
when he marked out the earth’s foundations.
I was beside him as a master of crafts.
I was having fun,
smiling before him all the time,
frolicking with his inhabited earth,
and delighting in the human race.
Proverbs 8:27-31 (CEB)