2022-06-19 Father's Day
Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
A Father and son went out fishin’ one fine summer day. When they returned home, the Dad was talking to a friend about the trip. When asked how the trip was the Dad said “It was terrible! Absolutely miserable! Probably the worst day of my life! We struggled to get all our gear packed up and the boat ready to go. We finally got out to the lake and realized we forgot to gas it up and had to drive all the way back to town because the gas station at the lake had no fuel! We finally got out on the water and the horse flies and mosquitoes ate us alive! It was a walking bonanza! Then, all of our best spots on the lake were already taken by other fishermen. We got our lines hung up in the weeds non stop and never even got a bite. And, it was +40C with a gale force wind! That day was literally Hitler it was so bad!” The friend then turned to the boy and asked him how the trip went. “Best day of my life!” said the boy, “I got to spend the whole day alone with my dad!”
Aw schucks, hey Dads?! Happy Father’s Day to all of our Dads in the congregation. We wouldn’t be here without you so we owe a debt of gratitude we cannot ever pay! Fatherhood, and parenthood is the highest vocation God has given the human race. Higher than Kings and judges, politicians and pastors, higher than celebrities and millionaires! Being a parent is the greatest vocation on earth. Dads, Moms, Parents, they are all whom God has put in place as His representatives. To help raise up the next generation of His baptized and faithful people. So important is this vocation that there is an entire commandment dedicated to Parents. “Honour your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Ex20:12). Luther took this one step further when he wrote in the Small Catechism “We should fear and love God so that we do not despise or anger our parents and other authorities, but honor them, serve and obey them, love and cherish them.” There is a lot of good stuff in that commandment to center our hearts and minds on this Father’s Day.
Our New Testament reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians conveniently centers on this idea of Fathers and family. Paul has spent a great deal of time in his letter driving home the idea that people aren’t saved by being “good people” or trying to earn salvation or trying to make God love us by our exemplary lives. Rather he’s saying again and again that people are saved, forgiven and healed of sin and death because we believe in the crucified Savior Jesus. He builds on this idea more and more today. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.”
Sons and Daughters of the King, this is who God makes us when we believe in the Savior and are Baptized into Christ in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. No longer slaves or servants, outsiders of the family, we are now sons and daughters of God’s family. When people are adopted into families, the first thing they usually get is the family name. The same thing with Baptism. God’s Name is given to us as we are sealed with His forgiveness and grace. This is a constant source of hope for us because we always know who we are and nobody can take this blessing away from us. No matter how bad we have messed up in life, no matter how great our sins and transgressions have been. God’s grace in Christ, given to us in our Baptism, make us His forgiven sons and daughters. And if we are sons and daughters of God, then we are heirs of His kingdom. All of this God has given to us in the fullness of time. Christ is incarnate, born of a virgin to redeem us and make us all God’s children by grace. As parents, especially Fathers, we have been given this vocation to teach our children this wonderful truth of God’s love. In fact, Proverbs says “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (22:6). Sadly today and in days gone past, we Fathers haven’t done this to best of our ability. It’s like little Johnny. He piped up in Sunday School and said “I never go fishing on a Sunday mornin’!” “Very good Johnny!” said the teacher. “Why don’t you tell the other children why you don’t go fishing on a Sunday?” Johnny replied “Because my Daddy won’t take me along!” … But hear me rightly here. Fathers, by all means, take your kids fishing! But just not before you teach them to be fishers of men first.
St. Paul speaks elsewhere in the Scriptures with instructions for Fathers when He says “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). God’s will for Fathers and children is this wonderful harmony of respect and honor shown to parents and endless patience and long-suffering shown towards children. This is the ideal, and if people walked in God’s ways, we would have harmony, we would have families where things would go well. The problem is that we are all sinners who have fallen short of God’s grace. But it is never too late to seek God’s forgiveness for our short falls, both as parents or as children. It is never too late for repentance. Maybe this Father’s day, the best gift you can give or receive will be those three little words “please forgive me!” or “I forgive you!”
A Dad was at the beach with his kids when his four-year-old son Ricky ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the edge of the shore. When they arrived, they saw a seagull, laying dead in the sand and being eaten by flies. “Daddy, what happened to him?” Ricky asked. “Well son, this poor bird died and went to Heaven,” the dad replied. Ricky thought a moment and then said, “Did God throw him back down?!”
Life can seem like that a lot, can’t it? It’s hard to soar with eagles when you’re a dead seagull in the sand! It’s just another reminder that this world truly is a fallen and sinful place, marred by death and problems galore. Expectations run high for us all, especially for Dads. How comforting it is for us that in the most trying times of this life, when our patience has been tested to the limit and we think we are going to snap, we can turn to our Heavenly Father and know that He is gracious and merciful. He richly gives us His strength, His patience and His love. Just as the Father of the Prodigal son ran out to greet His boy when he was a far way off, our Heavenly Father does the same for us when we return to Him. And such is His outstanding invitation for us for we are no longer orphans and outsiders. We are God’s children by faith, washed in the water and word of our Baptism, eternal sons and daughters of the King. Our Heavenly Father welcomes us all by faith and bestows upon us the riches of His Kingdom: sins forgiven and death destroyed and a joyous life without end. Thanks be to God and Happy Father’s Day. Amen!