Friday, 15 June 2012

A Sermon on the occasion of Father’s Day


God our Father,
in your wisdom and love you made all things.
Bless these men,
that they may be strengthened as Christian fathers.
Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.
Grant that we, their sons and daughters,
may honor them always
with a spirit of profound respect.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.

2.The Introduction:

On the occasion of Father’s Day it becomes important  for all of us to examine the significance and the meaning of Father as Christians living in the twenty-first    century! As children we have always viewed our fathers as superhuman, all powerful, with immense strength, as epitomized by the advertisement with the catch line, “my daddy strongest!”  As we grew up we realized that our father was as human as we were, with the usual human weaknesses, tiredness, mood swings, mixed with  concern , a desire to sacrifice for his children and a readiness to go that extra mile for us.There would have been moments when he would be strict with us, and reprimand us when we did wrong! The ideal father, appears to one with a judicious mix of strictness and kindness as exemplified in the passage in 1 Corinthians 4:14-21, written by Paul to the church in Corinth:

“I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church. Some are arrogant, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I will find out not the talk of these arrogant people but their power. For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. What do you wish? Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love in a spirit of gentleness?”
This passage may be viewed as the Biblical Model of what fatherly intervention, correction and discipleship should be in the context of effective parenting!
As we grew up, we began to examine instances from the Bible describing the qualities of effective fathers.  In the Bible  ideal Fathers are seen as those fathers who have displayed immense patience and forgiveness, fathers who have been a source of inspiration and encouragement and support. The Father in the Holy Bible forms part of the Trinity of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit! In the Book of Genesis 1:1 we view God the Father as the Creator who made not only the world, but also Adam and Eve, “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth.” But then we also see an angry Father  when he banishes Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, in Genesis 3:23-24, “Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of Eden...he drove out the man.”
The coming of Jesus Christ however, shows us a Father who is forgiving.  In the prayer of penitence we are reminded of how  “God so loved the world that he gave his only son Jesus Christ to save us from our Sins”.  Jesus’ unquestioning faith in a Father he loved is reflected throughout his life and specially in the words he said before surrendering his spirit on the cross: “ And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my Spirit”-Luke 23:46. So, then what is it in a father that commands so much trust and faith in a child?
3.Some important Father figures in the Holy Bible:
The Holy Bible also has mentioned some important Father figures who act as important role models for all fathers. Some of the noteworthy Father figures mentioned in the Bible are as follows:
1.      Noah, whom God liked  so much that he and his family was selected to be saved from the flood.
2.      Abraham, whose immense Faith in God is reflected in his unquestioning readiness to sacrifice his son Issac. This obedience to his Maker is a victorious affirmation of faith and trust. When God saw that Abraham was about to sacrifice his son Issac, then God stopped Abraham’s hand saying, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad...for now I know that thou fearest God seeing thou has not withheld thy son thine only son from me”-Genesis 22:12
3.      Lot was a righteous family man, an excellent Father, so it was only his family that was saved from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah!
4.    The Father of the Prodigal Son: Part of the answer to the question I asked in the Introduction, “ What is it in a father that commands so much trust and faith in a child?” might be found in the Parable of the Prodigal son. The Father welcomed back a son whom he had lost with arms held wide open. The son who had fallen into bad ways, squandered all his money, and became a caretaker of swine. He later repented and set up on a path of reformation, accepted his wrongdoing and decided to return to his father. His father gave him his ring, got the servants to bathe him, dress him in fine clothes and hosted a sumptuous feast honouring his son’s return! How many fathers are ready to let go of their vindictiveness and ego to forgive their sons?
4.What does the Bible say about the role of Fathers?
A large number of verses provide guidance and suggestions about the challenges and difficult roles played by Fathers especially in today’s context.
Malachi 4:6
“6 And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, And the hearts of the children to their fathers, Lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
In today’s times of stress, struggle, and material responsibilities it becomes very important for fathers and children to connect together. It is important for fathers and their children to spend quality time with each other. The lack of communication, empathy, and understanding between fathers and children is known to alienate them from each other, often resulting in children straying from the path of Righteousness and joining bad company, resorting to drugs and other harmful habits!
Psalm 103:13
“13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;”
A model father should have compassion for his children. He should display immense patience for his children, guiding them on in life, sharing with them his love, and showing to his children that he really care for them!
Ephesians 6:4
“4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.”
Fatherhood is about patience and love. It is about training children to be good human beings, righteous, and honest without being too harsh, hostile and  overly aggressive with them. Excess harshness is known to provoke aggression in children, and makes them stubborn!
Proverbs 3:11-12
“11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, Nor detest His correction; 12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, Just as a father the son in whom he delights.”
Chastisement, training, and discipline are important duties and challenging roles for the father. While no doubt compassion and love play important roles in fatherhood, training and disciplining of children should not be  ignored otherwise children will turn out to be pampered and spoiled.
How should we treat our Fathers?
Exodus 20:12
“12 “ Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”
It is clear that true success, longevity, and prosperity depend on honouring our parents. Children who respect their parents are blessed! This is also an important commandment which is also a promise.
Psalm 112:1,2
“1 Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. 2 His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed”
The same sentiment is echoed in the above passage as in the previous one.
Ultimately the challenges before all fathers, and of course their children are numerous in today’s times of technological advancement, dissemination of information and the impact of Globalisation as a result of the Internet. Fewer and fewer children are going to church today. In many western countries, a large number of people attending mass are the middle aged or the very aged! Today Youth fellowship is dwindling in Churches across the country. The ideal father should try to be more involved in the lives of his children. He should try to share the fact that his success in life is the result of his Faith in the Almighty Lord, and what God has done for him! Ultimately it is the Father’s responsibility to bring his children up in the Christian Faith, and Christian Spirit.

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