Summary: Dads will find their wisest counsel for fatherhood from the way God Father’s humanity.

Father’s Day Sermon for CATM – June 21, 2009

A Father to the Fatherless is God - Luke 15:11-24; Psalm 68:4-6

I love being a father. I’ve loved it since day one when Jared was born. I loved it from the moment I got use to the idea that we were going to have a child, 4 years in to the 7 year plan Barb and I had.

Some of you know that I had a jolting entry into fatherhood. It’s really more of Barb’s story of a 30 hour labour followed by a caesarian section that went horribly wrong because an anesthesiologist wasn’t paying attention.

I was told Barb was in crisis and I was wisked away to a waiting room. I was told Barb and the baby were in grave danger. A while later a nurse told me Jared was born by caesarian and was ok but they couldn’t vouch yet for Barb’s survival. I told them I didn’t want to see Jared yet.

Honestly, I was afraid that if she died, I might resent him, as crazy as that sounds. A while later I was told Barb was stable. Those were the worst hours of my life up to that point. Bill Ryan, known to many of us, talked me through that whole experience. He will forever be a dearly loved friend because of it.

Fatherhood. Honestly, it seems weird to talk about as though it can be separated from motherhood. In my experience it can’t be. If I’ve been a good father (my kids will let you know in 20 years) it’s only been because they’ve had an amazing mother.

So in my mind I can’t really see fatherhood as a distinct thing. I’m not sure it’s suppose to be. It’s suppose to be, I believe, part of that bigger thing called parenthood.

And parenthood is something I can talk about as relates to children and family life, but also as relates to the way that God parents you and me.

Let’s look at our first passage for today. Hear the Word of the Lord.

Psalm 68: 4 Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds -- his name is the LORD-- and rejoice before him. 5 A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. 6 God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.

Our first passage today speaks of God as Father, a strong Father who is deserving of praise for being such a great father. God, our passage says, is a father to the fatherless. God has the care and concern and compassion of an adoptive parent. He treats those who have been mistreated, those who have had no dads, as His own children.

He compensates for those who lack and becomes, Himself, the One who steps in and finds a way to make up for that which human fathers fail in. That is hugely important because all dads fall short.

No matter how great a human father, he will fail. No matter how attentive a man is toward his children, there will be some lack that will be felt by his child. And that lack CAN, and is INTENDED to point people to God, the Father of all.

God is not only a father to the fatherless, but He is One who defends widows. A widow especially in ancient times was powerless. The law of God in the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament, had all kinds of provisions for widows:

Deuteronomy 10: 17-18 For the LORD your God …defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing.

Deuteronomy 24: 19-21 When you are harvesting in your field…when you beat the olives from your trees…when you harvest the grapes in your vineyard…leave what remains for the alien, the fatherless and the widow.

Deuteronomy 26: 12 When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.

Deuteronomy 27: 19 "Cursed is the man who withholds justice from the alien, the fatherless or the widow." Then all the people shall say, "Amen!"

God made provisions so that widows and other who needed to be defended WOULD be cared for. Even the tithe…even the tithe was intended to be given to, among others, the fatherless and the widows.

So God defends the cause of the fatherless through His law…and His law conveys what He values, what He protects. What he expects to be honoured among His people. The law of God represents God’s concern for you and for I.

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