Fathers Day 2010
(20) And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
(21) And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
(22) But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
(23) And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate.
(24) For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate.
The first observance of Father's Day was on June 13, 1910, through the efforts of Sonora Smart Dodd of Spokane, Washington. After listening to a sermon about the newly recognized Mother's Day, Dodd felt strongly that fatherhood needed recognition. She wanted a celebration that honored fathers like her own father, William Smart, who raised his family alone when his wife died giving birth to their sixth child. It took over sixty years to make the holiday official. Mother's Day was received with enthusiasm; Father's Day was often the target of jokes and satire, and many people said that we did not need another holiday.
In 1957, Maine Senator Margaret Chase Smith wrote a proposal accusing Congress of ignoring fathers for 40 years while honoring mothers, thus "[singling] out just one of our two parents." In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson issued the first presidential proclamation honoring fathers, designating the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Six years later, the day was made a permanent national holiday when President Richard Nixon signed it into law in 1972. Many people do not realize how recent the official celebration of Father’s Day is. It is less than 40 years old. I guess that tells us how unappreciated fathers are.
A little boy, when asked to define Father’s Day, said, “It’s just like Mother’s Day, only you don’t spend as much on the present.” The telephone company tells us that the greatest number of long distance phone calls are made on Mother’s Day, and the greatest number of collect calls are made on Father’s Day.
A teenaged daughter wrote a list of "Things My Dad Would Never Say." Such as:
"Can you turn up that music?"
"Go ahead and take my truck. Here's 50 bucks for gas."
"I LOVE your tattoo. We should both get new ones."
"Here, you take the remote."
I heard about a young man who had just recently turned 16 and was out late with friends on Saturday night. Suddenly he realized the next day was Father's Day, and he had neglected to buy a card for dad. After much searching, he found an open store, but was disappointed to find only two cards left on a picked-over rack. Selecting one, he brought it home and presented it the next morning. Upon opening it, Dad read, "You've been like a father to me." He looked at his son, puzzled.
"Well, Dad," the son explained, "it was either that or the card that said, 'Now that I'm a father too!'"
Then there is the story about the father who was completely lost in the kitchen and never ate unless someone prepared a meal for him. When his wife was ill, however, he volunteered to go to the supermarket for her. She sent him off with a carefully numbered list of seven items.
He returned shortly, very proud of himself, and proceeded to unpack the grocery bags. He had one bag of sugar, two dozen eggs, three hams, four boxes of detergent, five boxes of crackers, six eggplants, and seven green peppers. (That sounds like the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”)
Another father was a former Marine who now works for United Parcel Service, so the mother bought their four-year-old son two stuffed bears -- one in a UPS uniform and the other in Marine garb. When the boy seemed confused, his father brought out a picture of himself in full Marine dress uniform. "See, son," he explained, pointing to the photo and then to the bear, "That's Daddy." The boy’s eyes went from one to the other; then he asked in a puzzled voice, "You used to be a bear?"
Then this one I heard from the daughter who received some paternal payback. She said, On the day I received my learner's permit, my father agreed to take me out for a driving lesson. With a big grin, he hopped in behind the driver's seat. "Why aren't you sitting up front on the passenger's side?" she asked. "I've been waiting for this ever since you were a little girl," Dad replied. "Now it's my turn to sit back here and kick the seat."
However, fathers can be thoughtful. I heard about a father who gave an old car to his daughter to drive to college and he loaded the trunk with soft-drink bottles filled with oil, coolant and transmission fluid. Sure enough, the car overheated. The daughter was scolding herself for not listening to her father's instructions. She looked at the engine and saw how well he knew her. The oil cap was labeled Dr Pepper, the transmission stick, Coke, and the empty coolant container, Diet Pepsi. She finished the trip safely.
In the movie The Godfather, there is a scene in the beginning where the godfather is talking to one of his sons. He says, "Sonny, do you spend time with your family?" Sonny said, "Yes, father." The Godfather says, "Good. Because a man who doesn’t spend time with his family isn’t a real man."
The older I get, the more I realize how true that is, yet, when you read through the Bible, it is hard to find decent dads. David, the man of God, the author of most of the psalms, the great warrior king, was an awful father. Solomon was so busy trying to please his 700 wives and his 300 concubines he did not have time for his kids. Samuel was no better. In I Samuel 8, when Israel asked for a king, Samuel said, “What about my sons?” The people of Israel replied, “No way! Your sons are a bunch of gangsters. They take bribes. They pervert justice. Forget it.” Samuel was a powerful prophet, but he was a failed father.
I read about a little girl who drew a special picture. She went in her father’s office, crawled on his lap, and said, "Daddy, come and see my picture." Daddy said, “Not now, honey. Dad’s busy." Ten minutes later, she was back. She crawled on his lap again, and said, "Daddy, come and see my picture.” The father got frustrated. "Can’t you see I am busy?” he said. “Don’t bother me right now. I’ll come and look at your picture later.” A couple of hours later, the dad came out. He was feeling guilty about treating his daughter so shabbily, so he said to her, “Can I see the picture now?” The girl showed him a picture of her and her brother and her mom standing on the lawn, with the family dog, with big smiles, on a sunny day, but the dad was not in the picture. So, dad said, "That is nice, sweetheart, but where am I?” The girl replied, "You’re working in your office, daddy." The dad was crushed. He realized that in the group of people that loved and cared for his daughter, he was not even in the picture.
When it comes to being a good dad, how can we make sure that we are in the picture? First of all, most of all, good fathers have time. Good fathers do not have confused priorities. They do not put their work ahead of their family.
I would like to tell you a story about a lawyer, not a joke and not a bad story. I realize that lawyers have a bad name in our society, but this was a Christian attorney. Yes, there are some. He was talking about the influence of his father on his life. He said, “The greatest gift my dad ever gave me was when I was a little boy. It was a small box. Inside the box was a note saying, ‘Son, this year I will give you 365 hours, an hour every day after supper. It is all yours. We will talk about what you want to talk about. We will go where you want to go. Play what you want to play. It will be your hour.’” The lawyer continued, “My dad not only kept his promise, but every year he renewed it. It is the greatest gift I ever had in my life.” That father gave his son the greatest gift a father can give, the gift of time. Good fathers do not find time for their kids; They make time.
Another thing that is true of good fathers is that they are Compassionate, like the father in the parable of the prodigal son. In Luke 15, Jesus said that there were two sons, and the youngest took his inheritance and left the family farm. He even left the county. He spent his money freely on wine women and song and he had a good time for a while, but eventually he spent every penny he had and wound up starving and alone in a foreign land. When everything else failed, he decided to go back home and ask his father for some kind of job, because he realized that his father’s hired hands were better off than he was.
But v20 says, that “while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.”
I suppose most people would say that father was too soft. Most people would say that father should have said, “You have got a lot of nerve showing your face around here, boy. I told you not to run off like that, but you did not listen. Well, that is just too bad. You made your bed. Now you can just lie in it.”
I suppose that most people would have said something like that, but that is not what the Father in the parable said. He said, “Wait a minute! I think I see my son. He is coming home. I know he made some bad choices. He ruined his life, but he is still my child, my flesh and blood. I love him with all my heart. It is like he is back from the dead, and I am so glad to have him in my life again.”
Of course, Jesus is making a point here. That is exactly how God feels about us. We also have made some bad choices. We have run away from God. Like the prodigal son, we too are a long way off from being what we ought to be, but every time one of God’s children comes back to God, the Lord says, “That is my child. I love you with all my heart, and I am so glad to have you back in my life again.”
Years ago, I knew a young man of great promise. He went away to college and did well. He was the apple of his parent’s eyes, but after graduation, he seemed to try to do everything that was dissolute, dissipated, and debauched. He broke the hearts of his parents. He moved to California. They lost touch with him. Then one day, they received a phone call. This long lost son told them, “I’m sick. I have AIDS. I am going to die.” His parents flew out west to be with him. They lived in a motel for weeks; they saw him every day. Finally, he passed on. At his funeral, his father said, “I am not a religious person, but I really believe with all my heart that my son is with the angels.” Then he broke down and cried. Whatever we might believe about that bad son, that was a good father.
Good fathers are compassionate, but they are also fair. One of the things I really like about the father in parable of the prodigal son is that he loved both sons equally. The eldest son, the one who did not run off and waste his money, was offended by his father’s joyous reception of his prodigal brother, but the father goes to him and pleads with him to celebrate with them, because the father also loves this other son.
This father shows no partiality. That is one of the things that so wrong in the Joseph story in Genesis. Jacob had 12 sons, but he loved only two of them, Joseph and Benjamin. The other ten, as far as Jacob was concerned, were dog meat. No wonder those ten sons hated Joseph. No wonder they tossed him in a well, and sold him into slavery. If you are looking for a bad guy in the Joseph story, he is the evil father named Jacob.
Fortunately, for us all, our heavenly father never treats us like that. Our Father loves all that exists, he loves all of us the same, no matter who we are or what we have done.
There is a neat story about Dwight L. Moody. Moody was a great evangelist back in the 1800’s. One night, he was preaching in a big circus tent in Chicago. His text was Luke 19:10: "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." After he had finished, a little boy was brought to the platform by an officer, who had found the boy wandering in the crowd, lost. Rev. Moody took the child in his arms and asked the crowd to look at him. Then he said, "The father of this child is more anxious to find the child than the child is to be found. So, it is with our heavenly Father. He has been looking for you to come back to him for many years." At that moment, a man with a worried look on his face elbowed his way to the platform. The boy saw him and ran to his father and threw himself into his outstretched arms. The crowd broke out into a mighty cheer. Then Moody said, "God will receive you in the same way if you run back to Him today." That is a great message, Run into the waiting arms of God, our loving father.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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