Thesis: Fathers will never be perfect, but they can be a blessing to their children.
1. Today is the day recognized in our society as FATHER'S DAY.
a. Fathers, we want to honor you today!
b. Strong Biblical basis for this activity (Eph. 6:2).
2. This AM's sermon is directed toward the fathers in our midst.
I. FATHER'S DAY: A TIME FOR GUILT.
A. There's a difference in our society between the way Mother's Day & Father's Day are perceived, promoted and celebrated.
1. MD: Sentimental, corsages, restaurants & florists advertise big; FD: Less sentimental, no flowers, men's clothing stores advertise.
2. Illust. There's an element of humor that surrounds FD that is just simply not present at MD. Big question at this time of year is: "What kind of tie are we going to get him?" A couple of years ago a local store even had a post-FD "ugly tie" contest with special consideration for the ugliest!
3. Often there's even a difference between typical MD & FD sermon.
a. MD: Directed toward non-mothers, we are urged to appreciate Mom!, take her out to dinner; emotional time.
b. FD: Directed toward fathers and subtly produce (reinforce) guilt for the inadequate job we all realize we're doing.
B. You see, for many of us Father's Day is a time of guilt.
1. Illust. Lucille Ball, shortly before her death, did a remarkable TV interview with Merv Griffin. He asked her a very serious and pointed question: "Lucille, you've lived a long time on this earth and you are a wise person. What's happened to our country? What's wrong with our children? Why are our families falling apart? What's missing?" Lucille Ball answered without hesitation--"Papa's missing. Things are falling apart because Papa's gone. If Papa were here he would fix it."
2. Daddy is missing from many American homes.
a. Consider these sobering statistics:
1) 1 in 4 children has no father at home at time of birth.
2) 1 million children a year are victims of divorce--9 out of 10 of these are with their mother.
3) From 1950--1980 the illeg. birth rate increased 450%!
b. Illust. Feeling smug? Researchers set out to find out how much time middle-class fathers spend with their small children. Asked them how much time did they spend each day. Answer: 15 to 20 minutes. To verify, the researchers attached microphones on the children. Results are shocking. Middle-class fathers have an average 2.7 encounters daily, each lasting 10 to 15 seconds! Total time: 37 seconds. This is from our friend JAMES DOBSON who adds, "That, so it seems represents the contribution of fatherhood for millions of America's children."
3. The guilt can come in other ways.
a. Illust. When we lived in Ohio I remember passing one of those churches that has marquees out front with a saying of the week. The week before FD I remember one message saying, "The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother." Remember thinking, "Bad enough just dealing with the kids, now we've got to worry about how we're treating our wives! How much trauma am I causing with a good old-fashioned dinner table argument?
b. Illust. Fathers, as well as mothers, have become new objects of blame. A kind of scapegoat for the 90's. Is your life messed up? Father is likely to blame! Remember the cartoon of a huge auditorium with a convention banner reading: "Welcome Adult Children of Normal Parents." And there were only two people present!
< In the midst of all this paternal guilt, there is, however, a hunger. A deep-seated hunger. A hunger that will not go away. It is the hunger for a father. >
II. THE REALITY OF FATHER-HUNGER.
A. Erma Bombeck, in an uncharacteristically serious FD column, wrote about that hunger: "One morning my father didn't get up and go to work. He went to the hospital and died the next day. I hadn't thought that much about him before. He was just someone who left and came home and seemed glad to see everyone at night. He opened the jar of pickles when no one else could. He was the only one in the house who wasn't afraid to go into the basement by himself. He cut himself shaving, but no one kissed it or got excited about it. It was understood that when it rained, he got the car and brought it around to the door. When anyone was sick, he went out to get the prescription filled. He took lots of pictures ... but he was never in them. Whenever I played house, the mother doll had a lot to do. I never knew what to do with the daddy doll, so I had him say, "I'm going off to work now" and threw him under the bed. The funeral was in our living room and a lot of people came and brought all kinds of good food and cakes. We had never had so much company before. I went to my room and felt under the bed for the daddy doll. When I found him I dusted him off and put him on my bed. He never did anything. I didn't know his leaving would hurt so much." (Erma Bombeck, The Ties that Bind ... And Gag! [NY: McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1987], p. 2)