Summary: This is a Fathers’ Day Sermon with the primary text being Ephesians 5:15-6:4 with the supportive Old Testament text coming from Genesis 2:18-24.
HUSBANDS AND FATHERS
I still deeply love and respect my Dad even though next month he will have been with Jesus for nineteen years. Dad was forty-three when I was born and Mom was forty-one, they had lost their only other child and son at birth sixteen years and two days before I was born; therefore, I was raised as an only child. If he were living today my Dad would be 101 years old.
Dad and I had little that we shared in common. He was a hard worker and served the Central Illinois Public Service Company in Marion for forty years most of the time as the Supervisor for the gas construction crews. Dad was a handy man who could do anything around the house. My interests were always in academics and music. While I always did well in math, social sciences, and English; I never inherited Dad’s mechanical abilities. My idea of a good time is an evening spent solving algebraic equations, diagramming English sentences, writing an essay or a sermon, but I have no idea how to repair a car, and I certainly can not rewire a house. These were Dad’s passions.
Dad only finished the eighth grade. His Mother never attended school and was never able to read nor write her name. Yet there was never a kinder, more caring, loving, Christian Gentleman than Corum Reynolds. He was loved and respected by everyone in our home Church Marion Aldersgate United Methodist, and Ida Bell Reynolds was the ideal grandmother. From earliest childhood my Dad, and Mom too, instilled in me that I would go to College, and they sacrificed to see that I finished Asbury College and Asbury Theological Seminary without owing any debt.
Growing up in Southern Illinois in the 1950s and 60s we seldom had a good snow, one deep enough to go sledding or make a snowman. I remember one year that we did I was home sick with the flu and unable to go outside. I can still see Dad making the snowman for me, as I watched from our living room window.
He was the best when it came to being a Christian father and husband. I sill have the love letters he wrote to my Mom when they were dating before their marriage in 1926. My Uncle Ralph, Dad’s younger brother, was nine years his junior. I have deep appreciation for our Pentecostal brothers and sisters in Christ and the renewal the Charismatic Movement has brought to the Universal Church including United Methodism, but around 1926 the infant Pentecostal Movement was a new Christian phenomenon. So Dad closed one of his love letters to Mom by writing, “Ralph is making fun of the Pentecostals,” something one of my cousins later told me was a common practice among mainline denomination Christians during the 1920s and 30s in Williamson County’s Carterville, Illinois.
Dad lived the sermon I am preaching today to the fullest. Throughout God’s Word the Holy Spirit gives us explicit commandments in being Christian husbands and fathers , but our passages in Genesis and Ephesians have always been personal favorites for me.
As Christian husbands and fathers God calls us to be the spiritual leaders in our home, but this never implies that the male is in any way superior to the female nor that God ever intended that we men ever treat any woman as a second class citizen. God’s words in Genesis 2:18 are proof of that fact: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” The old King James Version says, “I will make him an help meet for him.” “An help meet” is simply a helper, a partner.
The same word, fellows, that Scripture used to describe our wives as our helpers is also used to express that our greatest helper of all is the Lord our God. God’s plan from the beginning has been equality of the sexes; Christian marriage we have the union of two equals both who have been created in the image of God.
We do have different functions. Only women can bear children, but not without a male contributor. That’s not the only distinction. As I discovered on the recent Walk to Emmaus when Liz served as the Lay Director, Sue was one of our pilgrims, and I was privileged to serve as the Spiritual Director. This was my eleventh time to be either the Spiritual Director or an Assistant Spiritual Director on a Walk to Emmaus, but the very first time to do so for a Women’s Walk. I found out on this weekend that even though we share the same format for a Men’s and Women’s Walk, women just act, think, and react differently than we men do; there is a completely different dynamic between a Women’s Weekend and a Men’s. We fellows have a lot of fun on our weekends, but these Women on Central Illinois Walk #193 were “totally crazy.”