Message for Father’s Day 2010

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Father’s Day is one of the hardest Sundays of the year for me to preach because I do not know what it means to have a relationship with a father or to have a father who is a part of my life. It is one of the hardest Sundays for me to preach because I never knew my earthly father. He walked out of our lives when I was two months old; I saw him on three distinct occasions when I was sixteen for a total of less than ten minutes and today I do not even have a picture of him.

 

Another reason that Father’s Day is hard for me to preach is because I do not know what it means to be a father. The closest that I came to fatherhood are my two cats. I know that having two cats in my life does not even come close to loving a child that would be a product of the love and life that my wife and I share.

 

The bottom line is I do not understand the relationship between a father and a child and the closest that I can come to understanding what Father’s Day is and what it means, are my observations.

 

Today’s message however is not about the "poor me." Today’s message is about celebrating the commitment that many fathers make to their families and their contribution to rearing future generations and their input in shaping the future.

 

Every Sunday, as I start thinking about the message I ask God a question, "what is it about?" This Sunday, the question was, "Lord, what is Father’s Day about?" Other than feeling sappy, sentimental and nostalgic about "dear old dad," what is the message of the Father’s Day?

 

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There is a story of a Chicken and a Pig that lived on a farm. One day the chicken approached the pig and said, "let’s do something nice for the farmer…"

The pig, said, "what a great idea! What do you propose we do?"

When chicken suggested that they prepare bacon and eggs dinner for the farmer, the pig’s excitement cooled off somewhat. He replied, "making a breakfast is a fine idea, but while you’re making just a contribution I will be making a total commitment!"

 

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Much of our culture portrays fatherhood as a contributing relationship not as a totally involved commitment. Our culture often portrays fatherhood as a "chicken" involvement, not as a "pig" commitment. We see plenty of fathers portrayed as buffoons on TV and on the silver screen (i.e. Tim Taylor, Ray Barone, Jim from "According To Jim," Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, Peter Griffin). These fictional fathers have relationships with their kids but it takes mom’s total commitment and undivided attention to make sure that their children grow up well adjusted without emotional scars and mental instabilities. {i.e. Jill Taylor had to get a psychology degree to counter her husband’s "delightful and destructive" personality}

 

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TV is very effective in educating us. Media is very effective in telling us what we want and what we should think to be  right, true and beautiful. The time that an average American spends watching TV every day is measured in HOURS.

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By contrast, most of us do not bother opening our Bibles during the week and some of us do not think twice about skipping church on Sunday. That is why most of our ideals of what fatherhood ought be are not based on the traditions and ideas of our Judeo-Christian heritage but on pop-culture, on the commercials, movies and sitcoms that we watch.

 

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Yet contrary to what we see on TV and in the movies, everyone present here today knows fathers and father-figures (like uncles, neighbors, mentors and little league coaches) who are present in body and in spirit with their children, who spend time with their families, who nurture their relationships with their wives and children and extended families, who patiently put up with their in-laws, who tuck their children to bed every night, who put up with children’s pets and even clean their mess once-in-a-while, and who do it without expecting any recognition. I am talking about a total commitment; I am talking about being a "pig" and giving 100% to being a father. These fathers deserve a round of applause today!

To be fair, there are few admirable examples of fictional fathers (Mr. Weasley from the Harry Potter saga, Dan Burns from the movie "Dan In Real Life," Khalid from "Kite Runner" to name a few) but those few and far between.

 

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Today is set aside to celebrate our dads and our father figures; today is set aside to celebrate fatherhood. Today is set aside to honor fathers who make the "pig" commitment to their families and to pray for those fathers who only have enough energy to make the "chicken" commitment to theirs.

 

 

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In today’s Gospel reading we heard:

NIV John 15:9 "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.

12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

 

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Father’s Day is about the love of God for his creation and his human children ("as the Father has loved me, so have I loved you…"). Father’s day is about celebrating those fathers and father figures who model for us that love of God ("I no longer call you servants…"). Father’s Day is about the Impact that our father’s and father figures made in our lives.

 

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Father’s Day is about our own journeys, it is about recognizing God’s Love and Grace in others and learning how to be bearers of that Love and Grace in our own lives. Father’s Day is about the impact that we are making in this world.

 

Father’s Day is about journey from being "God’s servants" to becoming "God’s friends" (John 9:15).

 

(NIV John 15:15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.)

 

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As we are getting ready to leave this service today I want to wish all the fathers in our congregation Happy Father’s Day. May your lives be like beacons shining the light of God on those around you. Thanx for your impact on God’s world and on all our lives.

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