On weekends sometimes, I’ll have an impromptu dance party with our sons in our basement.
We’ll turn on the radio or one of my classic CDs and start jamming to the beat. We’ll do some random exercises, bend our knees, balance on one leg and jump high off the ground.
We’ll even dance in a circle holding hands and then I’ll pick them up and swing them around.
It’s all fun enough on its own, but what makes it even better is when the right music plays.
And what is that, you may ask?
One word: ABBA.
Yep, I listen to ABBA. I love ABBA.
In fact, I’m not ashamed to admit I was one of the many in audience who got up and danced in the aisles when I saw the musical Mamma Mia! years ago.
With songs like Dancing Queen and Super Trouper to grab attention, you’d be hard pressed to find a more electrified theatre atmosphere.
The Swedish pop group’s greatest hits album Gold always excites me and takes me back to an ABBA cover band concert held on campus during my frosh week, one of my favorite university memories.
But while the group’s name derives from the first letter of each member’s first name, one could wonder what the true meaning of Abba really is.
Well, the word Abba comes from the Aramaic language and translates to mean “father.” More specifically, though, it is used to denote warm affection and refer to God in a relation of personal closeness.
We cover the term in some of my Religious Education classes, studying the intimate relationship Jesus invites us into when He teaches His apostles how to pray. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus uses the term Himself in Scripture, calling for strength when praying in the garden of Gethsemane prior to being betrayed by Judas. (Mark 14:36)
St. Paul also addresses our Father in Heaven as Abba and calls us as Christians to embrace this connection with God by feeling His Holy Spirit within us. (Romans 8:15 & Galatians 4:6)
But even in a less Biblical or scholarly context, one can just imagine the impact of father and compare it to a term more comfortable and intimate, like dad.
While being addressed as “Father” by one’s children can carry a cold, distant or authoritative feeling, having them call you “Dad” (or “Daddy,” as young kids like ours tend to use) can suggest a close, loving and tender connection.
Many of us might even use names of endearment for our fathers, calling them anything from Pops to Big Guy, or referring to them with others as “my old man.”
And just as these names suggest a strong bond, God wishes to have such closeness with us.
After all, as a song by Catholic composer Carey Landry suggests, Abba is the potter and we are His clay, the work of His hands.
As evidenced by His becoming human in the form of Jesus and His constant Holy Spirit with and around us, God seeks to know us personally.
He longs to be with us entirely, sharing in our hopes and dreams, our fears and worries.
He wishes to be a part of our sports team practices and school performances, our family meals and activities, our jobs and our hanging out with our friends.
The question, then, is do we allow God into our lives and include Him in such a real and complete manner?
Believe it or not, in attempting to grow more intimately with God, we can even lean on the music of ABBA to help.
As the group sings a song titled S.O.S., we can look to Jesus as our rescuer in times of distress, encouraged by the meaning of His name as “God saves.”
Reminded of God’s desire to have relationship with us and for His children to be one with Him, we can apply this sentiment to ABBA’s Knowing Me, Knowing You.
Looking at Lay All Your Love on Me, we can consider how Jesus laid His life down for us and continues to show His love for us through our daily blessings. We can recognize our responsibility to give God our love and to blanket the world with His love.
Lastly, let us never forget how, in the beginning, God saw endless potential in each of us and created us perfect in His image.
God continues to help us realize our life possibilities each day and promises that if we devote our lives to Him, we will one day be with Him in Paradise. (Luke 23:43)
Taking this to heart, don’t we owe it to ourselves to Take a Chance on our Abba?