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2024-06-16 Father's Day

Updated: Jun 20

Grace, mercy and peace be to you from God the Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen!

It’s that time again! It is the day where we contrast the gifts for Mother’s Day with the gifts for Father’s Day! Some of our dads are chuckling. Others are saying “Gifts? What gifts!?” All kidding aside, happy Father’s Day to all of our Dad’s in the congregation. We wouldn’t be here without you! “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 ‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 ‘that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land’” (Eph 6:1-3). Here St. Paul quotes the great commandments from way back in Exodus 20. Just another reminder for us that all society since the dawn of time has been built on this fundamental arrangement and relationship of Fathers and Mothers. By God’s blessing, the 2 become 1 and multiply and grow, raising up the next generation of faithful Christians.

In fact, when you think about it, way back in Genesis, to the time of Noah’s flood, God preserved a family. 8 souls in all as we say in our Baptismal service. And then afterwards, the promise continued to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. A family who was was blessed to be a blessing. The Bible makes a big deal about family because it’s a big deal. It’s the foundation stone upon which society is built and thrives. When the family unit decays and breaks down, an entire host of ills results. We see this abundantly in our society today. And a lot of it has to do with the erosion of the Christian family and specifically the Christian father. I’m not a big TV watcher anymore. We haven’t had cable or satellite TV since before 2011 I think. But if memory serves, most TV dads were not the best of role models. Homer Simpson. Al Bundy. Archie Bunker. Tony Soprano. Darth Vader. Ok, Ok, maybe Tim “The Toolman” Taylor wasn’t all that bad. But by and large how dads have been depicted in TV and culture has been a bit, shall we say, lacking?

And even the Biblical witness of many a dad isn’t all that great either. Isaac showed favouritism and caused a pile of family issues. King David was an adulterer and a murderer. Eli didn’t discipline his kids and they grew up to be a bunch of schmucks. And this list goes on and on. Contrast to this is the Scripture’s witness that God is our Father. He is our heavenly Father. In fact 2 Corinthians really drives this point home for us when it says “I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty” (6:18). Here is the ideal template of Fatherhood that we earthly Fathers should aspire to. To be more and more and more like our Father Who art in heaven.

There is lots of instruction in the Scriptures about what this look like. “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph 6:4). Discipline. It’s the word from which we get our word disciple right? A ‘disciplined one.’ One who is taught and receives instruction from the Word of God. One of the cornerstone’s of Jesus’ great commission to “19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age”“ (MT 28:19-20). And in 2 Samuel we have this: “I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, 15 but my steadfast love will not depart from him” (7:14-15). Biblical discipline, teaching and mentoring. This is what is needed desperately needed in our society today. St. James also weighs in on this for us too. He writes “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (1:27). Provide for the needs of orphans and widows, the most vulnerable members of society. Be the protectors. Maintain discipline and good order. Don’t walk in the ways of the world.

A bunch of ladies got together for coffee and a visit at one of their homes. They were chatting away merrily when the husband of the hosting lady came home from work. He barged into the house with his work boots on and left a pile of mud and dirt behind him on the company-ready, spotless kitchen floor. The ladies all gazed on in shock at the sight when one of them piped up and said “His boots sure do bring the dirt in!” The wife smiled as she walked over to the broom closet and replied “Yes. But they bring him in too.” St. Peter reminds us that “love covers a multitude of sins” (1Pet 4:8). That verse just got elevated to a whole new level, didn’t it ladies!?

The scriptures show us that above all else, our Heavenly Father is merciful. Psalm 103:13 says “As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear Him.” This kind of mercy and grace and compassion is seen chiefly in the cross of Christ our Lord. There our sins are removed from us as far as the East is from the West. And that grace and mercy is what changes us from the inside out. It allows us to be filled with compassion for our families and our coworkers and our neighbours and even, our enemies. These are the kinds of virtues we want to grow in ourselves and in our homes as God’s people.

And growing is a wonderful way to speak about the Christian life. In fact our scripture readings for today are chock full of these growing analogies. Our Ezekiel reading speaks about propagating cedar tree from a tiny, tender sprig. This little plant will root on a lofty mountain and grow into a massive tree with loads of branches and fruit, becoming a home for birds to nest and take refuge from the world. Truly this is an image of the Christian faith. It starts out as a tiny seed and grows and flourishes by the power of God. It’s like every baptism we do. The seed of faith is planted. And as that seed is fed and watered, it grows. And as it grows, it produces good fruit. And that fruit becomes a blessing to the world. This is our goal as Christians. This is our goal for our children as Christian parents.

A family was gathered around the supper table and ended up talking about Daddy’s upcoming birthday. Little Todd, age 5, piped up and said, “I know how old Daddy is - He’s 34.” The rest of the family was impressed that the wee gaffer could remembered his dad’s correct age! His mom asked “Todd, how did you know that?” To which Todd replied, “It’s easy! It says so on his underwear!”

The wonderful vocation of Fatherhood. By God’s design, it is of the utmost importance for our society and our families. Thankfully, our heavenly Father is gracious, forgiving our fatherly failures and causing us to grow into the men He has called us to be. May our Heavenly Father continue this good work in us now and always. Happy Father’s Day! Amen!

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