Summary: A Father’s Day sermon written just 2 1/2 months after the passing of my Dad, but applies to all fathers.
This has been one of the most difficult sermons I have ever written and will be one of the more emotional ones I have presented, yet it is something I feel I need to do. Looking back over the past few months we have lost three fathers and one mother in this congregation. Special occasions, such as today, often reopen grief and mourning. Most of what I say this morning will be based upon the relationship I had with my father, but I want it to apply to all fathers. I realize there may be some here who did not have as good a relationship with their father as I had, and I do not mean to upset anyone by what I say about fathers.
During one of the worship services last week at Annual Conference we sang a song entitled “Come and Find the Quiet Center”; it is in The Faith We Sing songbook (page 2128). While singing this song several thoughts of my Dad crossed my mind. The song begins, “Come and find the quiet center in the crowded life we lead, find the room for hope to enter, find the frame where we are freed.” Throughout my life, especially in these later adult years I depended quite heavily upon my Dad to be the “quiet center” in the “crowded life I lead.” I knew I could come to him at any time and find that blessed quietness we all need ever so often. Through Dad’s faith in Jesus Christ he had centered his own life and was therefore able to provide that “quiet center” to the rest of his family. When I sat and had a serious heart-to-heart talk with Dad, or even during light-hearted conversation, I always found “the room for hope to enter,” I “found the frame where I was freed,” freed from whatever was bearing upon my mind or in my life.
Paul told the Galatians, “And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law…” Faith in Jesus is very important for us all and especially for a father or a father figure. I recognize not all of us are fathers, but we can be father figures to a lonely, hurting child. A father’s faith in Jesus Christ will do nothing but benefit all who are around him. A father may religiously bring his family to church every Sunday morning; he may tithe and make sure the rest of his family know the importance of giving to the church; but, if his faith in Jesus is weak all these works will have little or no effect upon his family’s spiritual growth. Paul said, “…a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ.”
The rest of the first stanza is, “Clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace and simply be.” Through that portion of his life which I can remember, Dad was always at peace with himself and with those around him; I just wish I could say the same for myself. Again Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” This is a challenge to all you Dad’s, let yourselves be crucified with Christ, then allow Him to live through us. Only then are we capable of becoming the father our family needs and deserves. It is when we have let yourselves, “Clear the chaos and the clutter, clear our eyes that we can see all the things that really matter, be at peace and simply be,” we will really see what matters most and that is the family. Too often we feel we must put in those extra hours so our family can have a bigger house, or fancier car, or designer clothes. These are not things which really matter. What good is it to have all kinds of stuff laying around if we don’t take time to ask our kids how their school work is coming along, or if we have to miss birthdays, recitals, or athletic events because we are working.
In the military I saw too many fathers totally ignoring their families because they were so busy seeking promotions. When asked what their motivation was, it was normally, “So, my family can have things.” Things are not important, relationships, knowing what color dress your daughter is wearing to the prom and whom she is going with, recognizing your son may be more gifted in music and art than football or baseball; these are the things which should be most important to us. Dads, you need to learn to take the time to spend with your family and learn these small simple nuances of their lives. Let them know what “really matters, be at peace and simply be.” Be a father to your kids and a husband to your wife.