Dad - a Call from God

According to the United States calendar, today is Father's Day. A day in which we recognize the completeness and fulfillment of a very amazing life calling. For, just one month ago, we also honored mothers.

With the joining of a man and woman comes the wonderful gift of co-creation with God. The union of a man and woman produces new life. And this new life is not just a by-product of your love or an infant to oooh and ahhh over, to dress up and play with. But fresh, new life that has the potential to change the course of human existence.

And, so fathers….and mothers….you have the awesome responsibility and privilege to bring these lives to fruition. A calling that no one should ever take lightly. Because in your daily routine, your moments of nurture, playtime, teaching time, work time, alone time your role as parent becomes the most influential vehicle through which your child comprehends God.

We may think that the Sunday school teachers, VBS teachers and pastors are the most important influence. But when you think - when you think! - about how many times a child hears God called "father" (in scripture, in prayers, in sermons) you will begin to realize that we as parents profoundly influence for better or worse that child's relationship with the eternal force that will guide and direct him or her through life.


So, today is going to be a little different. There will be space and time for you to share your stories of how your father - or mother - influenced your faith in God. I invite you to talk about the spiritual example or the way you were able to envision God because of their life. For some this may be a difficult memory because they have already returned home to be with our Lord. Or maybe this is painful or impossible because your parents are divorced, separated, or just angry with one another or with you. But even that pain means you realize what this parent could be like in a world where we are not tempted and weak and loaded down with trials, in a world instead where we live side by side with Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the Father. Contemplate, too, the Father's pain as God has to endure estrangement from God's very own children.

Testimony of Hallie's Dad

I'd like to tell you the story of two dads, one named Ralph and the other one Joseph.

Testimony of Pastor Joan's Dad - I don't remember my Dad attending worship unless he came to see me recite the 23rd Psalm, or the Books of the Bible, or get baptized. Oh, he knew what a church was because he helped design the new building when the old one got too small. My dad was a draftsman that worked on aircraft carriers like the first Kitty Hawk and was more than willing to offer his expertise.

So, it certainly wasn't my dad's example of church attendance that made an impact on me. But rather how he handled life's challenges. Sometime during the years of WWII when so many doctors and nurses were overseas, I understand my mom got real sick. They operated on her for gall bladder but after they had already closed the incision they discovered she had a burst appendix and would have died if Dad hadn't appealed to all the folks at New York Ship to give blood for her transfusions.

Twenty years later, when she did die from a sudden heart attack, I know, in his heart, he longed to follow his soul mate but continued here until I had grown up - always present, always dependable.

Then one day during my college years a long hidden truth came to light. I heard from someone other than my Dad that I was adopted. And, in those moments when he and I sat across the kitchen table face-to-face - in tears - we both came to understand the depth of our relationship and the unspoken bond that transcended genes and chromosomes and legal documents.

And, when I lost him a couple years later and was set adrift alone in this wide sea of humanity, I had the dedicated love of my father as the prize to seek. I longed to experience God as this same kind of father and I DID years later when I was embraced by grace in a Lutheran Church. I came to know God as one who was my redeemer and my friend. My father's example of faith was not defined by rubrics and tradition. But rather by choice and free will he bound himself to my life that I might come to know unconditional love - and then he let me go so that I might fall (as all of us do). But I could rise up again because I knew who I was - I was his daughter. And I know who I am, because I have been claimed by Christ.

Father's Day Poem

Before I was myself you made me, me
With love and patience, discipline and tears,
Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,
Allowing me to sail upon my sea,
Though well within the headlands of your fears.

Before I was myself you made me, me
With dreams enough of what I was to be
And hopes that would be sculpted by the years,
Then bit by bit stepped back to set me free,
Relinquishing your powers gradually
To let me shape myself among my peers.

Before I was myself you made me, me,
And being good and wise, you gracefully
As dancers when the last sweet cadence nears
Bit by bit stepped back to set me free.
For love inspires learning naturally:
The mind assents to what the heart reveres.

And so it was through love you made me, me
By slowly stepping back to set me free

Jesus' Dad, Joseph

And then there was a man named Joseph. There is little written history of this father. He's really only mentioned briefly in the biographies told about his son. Yet throughout those pages, we hear through the stories and parables told by Jesus, the influence his dad had on his life, his message, and his ministry. Remember the parable of the house built on sand versus the house built on rock? Jesus spent his childhood learning the trade of his father, carpentry. He warned some about the beam of wood stuck in their eyesight compared to the speck of sawdust that would have been an everyday occurrence for Jesus and his dad.

Joseph must have been a kind provider for his family for Jesus talked about the other dads who played tricks on their kids. What father would give his child a stone when he asked for bread, or a snake instead of an egg?

Joseph adopted Mary and God's baby into his family and into their heritage. Because of political upheaval he had to flee to another country with this child and mother leaving behind his business, their home, and everything dear to them. Yet, instead of bitterness, they took advantage of their stay in Egypt. While there, Joseph began teaching this son the stories of Israel's past and its hope for the future. What better place than living in a home surrounded by the pyramids built by the effort, the sweat, and the very lives of his ancestors Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses? Joseph's little family experienced the bondage to exile and the freedom of deliverance by God first hand. Joseph honored this task so fully that we hear year's later of Jesus staying behind at the temple talking with the most educated of his people.

We soon hear nothing of Joseph after this important caravan adventure. Church tradition tells that he died before Jesus grew to be a man. And yet his and Mary's influence was at the heart of the foundation that prepared Jesus for the difficult and life changing journey that lay ahead.

We as parents have that same opportunity, that same privilege, that same responsibility. You young couples, remember, with every physical act of romance, you are inviting God to place into your care a life that will not only affect your future but the future of the world.

Today is Father's Day. We recognize, honor and support the men who have accepted that call from God - to be Dads - to be the foundation of our new generations giving them the wisdom of your experience and incorporation into your ancestry. At your children's birth you were charged by the Father above with teaching them of the Faith and introducing them to Jesus and the Holy Spirit who will sustain them through all of life's challenges.

We thank you.


Read other sermons by Pastor Joan