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"Up. Daddy"
by Winnie Kaetzel  
6/01/2012 / Worship


A friend sent me a tape. It was a sermon tape. Not my favorite, but because the speaker had been a childhood friend I determined to listen to his tape all the way through. I can't tell you what the theme of his sermon was. I can only tell you the two words that captured my attention, "Up.Daddy."

I was raised in a very traditional church atmosphere. We had a rousing song service, a serious altar call, and a children's sermon that, though targeted toward the little ones, correlated with the pastor's sermon. We teens sat with our peers and were always conscious that Mom and Dad, who usually sat midway to the front were keeping tabs on our behavior. If it did not correlate with family (or was it society's) standards, we knew we'd hear about it when we got home, sometimes with reinforcement.

We used a hymnal and learned all the majestic hymnology of church theology by heart. We sung about raising our hands in worship but did not practice it. Nor did we shout or repeat verses any more times than there were stanzas of the song. The piano and/or organ accompanied us, and if some of us played a horn in our high school band and could transpose the key in which the song was written into the key of our horn, we formed a small band. Everyone in the congregation praised our bravery. They told us how much our playing added to the service. It was enough to keep us playing each Sunday night even if some of it was off-key. But drums? Heaven forbid! We were totally unaware that the Bible clearly states that drums should be used to praise the Lord, too.

There was plenty of spirit in our worship services. Our pastor had been a member of a quartet that toured on behalf of his college. He loved music and every service he asked us to sing our individual parts as a mammoth choir. We did and loved it. But we did not clap, or dance, or wave our hands before the Lord in worship as many congregants do today.

On the tape, my pastor friend illustrated his sermon with a story about a father walking with his very small daughter. En route she took a tumble. While still on the ground, and without tearing up, she lifted her hands to her father and said, "Up, Daddy."

Those words made an unforgettable impression on me. How many times have I fallen or stumbled, and cried out to my heavenly Father, "God, help me." Is that not the same as lifting my hands in the presence of my peers on Sunday morning and saying, "Up, Daddy. I need your help. Please come be my strength in this current challenge. Give me your peace in this tangled situation that I've gotten myself into. Let me be true to your Word. Give me courage to stand for what's right no matter where the chips may fall. Please. Up, Daddy."

Bending With the Bamboo, is the memoir of Winnie's life in Laos during the Vietnam War. Following Lao people from their mountain villages to the crowded Thai refugee camps, and on to resettlement in America, the Kaetzels ministered all the way.

Copyright 2011 Winnie Kaetzel


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