A young boy had just gotten his driving permit. He asked his father, who was a minister, if they could discuss the use of the car. His father took him to his study and said to him, "I'll make a deal with you. You bring your grades up, study your bible a little and get your hair cut and we'll talk about it." After about a month, the boy came back and again asked his father, if they could discuss use of the car. They again went to the father's study where his father said, "Son, I've been real proud of you. You have brought your grades up, you've studied your bible diligently, but you didn't get your hair cut." The young man waited a moment and replied, "You know Dad, I've been thinking about that. You know, Samsom had long hair, Moses had long hair, Noah had long hair, and even Jesus had long hair!", to which is father replied, "Yes, you're right, and they also WALKED everywhere they went!" I feel like my life has been full of these little comments like this from my father- and that they have made my life that much more rich. It was never a dull moment. I have learned to cherish and remember these little bits of wisdom that often come out in one joke or another. There is a lot of talk about fatherhood and being a father figure in the bible. Although it may not be as explicit as we would sometimes like. However, we can always read into it and discover what the qualities are of a good father and how they are perceived by others. Maybe you are now wondering, well, what do the readings have to do with Father’s day? And you’d be right, but, correct me if I’m wrong---- The story of creation is almost like growing up as a child with your parents. Dad pays the hydro, brings food and if you’re lucky and responsible enough he gives you dominion over your brother and sister when you babysit…. I think that the story of creation found in Genesis says something about the very nature of Dad’s.
First of all, many of us know of a father figure who would create and perhaps has created a world for us. That is to say that he has given everything he possibly can to ensure your well being and happiness. No, he did not create beasts or the sun or the moon. But he did put a roof over our heads, food on the table and joy in our hearts. And we know that being a father isn’t always as glamorous as we hear about the creation narrative about our father in heaven. But that’s just it. Fatherhood, or at least how I see it from a child’s point of view is never just cut and dry, or black and white. It’s an ever changing situation that brings out the very best from these loving individuals. In addition, my dad never takes a day off. We read that on the 7th day God rested, well, the dad’s I know never take a day off- no matter how much we think they may deserve it or need to take it off. Their primary concern is the well being of their family and estate. Even when they do take a day off, I can just picture them worrying about all kinds of things. Are my kids okay? Is my wife doing well, what will work be like tomorrow etc etc. The job a father has is more than a 9-5, 24/6 job. It is a job while being a hobby at the same time because of the amount of love, time and energy most dads put into their relationships with everyone around them. And that’s why my dad is my role model. I figure if I can be half the man my dad is, I’ll be a heck of a guy.
In the reading from Psalm 8 that is attributed to King David we are able to get a glimpse into the adoration and veneration he or the author had for God. How majestic is your name o God. The very name just, well, at the time oozed majesty and power. The word and name of God was just a powerful name that commanded love and respect. We know this because all that which is written about God but also because of the amount of times that we hear about the praising of God in the Psalms in addition to the other Scriptures. We read that God has founded bulwarks in the mouths of infants and babies to silence our enemies and our avengers. He doesn’t want any bad to come of us. (A quick note: A bulwark is defined as a “defensive wall”. ) This is undoubtedly to prevent the children from speaking ill about others, about themselves or cursing. You see, God didn’t want any sort of corruption on his children so the author wrote that a wall was built to keep those types of emotions or phrases out. It is an image that we can more readily believe in. Instead of writing “And God said to all the children, do not speak like your enemies or use language that involves hate or evil the author writes that God built a wall in the mouths and minds of the children. This is presumably without their permission because quite frankly it’s hard enough to fit braces in a mouth…. But in all seriousness there is a tremendous amount of love there. God presumably does not want his chidlrent to go down to the level of their enemies and engage in te type of conversation or belittling that may be taking place. I mean, it’s no bar of soap that some people here may be familiar with but it certainly does the trick.
“When I look at your work (such as the stars and the moon)… what are humans, what are mortals that you care for them…? The psalmist is asking God what makes human beings so special that he sets them apart from all the other creatures that swim, crawl, slither or fly. Because God did set us apart from the rest of creation. If we take a moment and just imagine the author gazing up into the night sky and seeing the glittering stars, the bright moon and just wondering how did he get so lucky to be blessed and created by God. I think that that is a beautiful image. Amidst all the glory around us, we sometimes lose the ability to perhaps appreciated the wonders of God’s work that is all around us. But the author of Psalm 8 captures it beautifully. I mean, the beauty of the stars and moon way above in the night sky have mesmerized the author into a trance of sorts and we can imagine him being so grateful to be alive, to be mortal and to be loved by God. We read that us mortals have been given a crown of glory and honor and through that have been given dominion over the works of God’s hands, that is, His creation. That is quite a task, quite a job that we have been given. We have been tasked with taking care of the world and sort of ruling over it. Not in the tyrannical or royal way that we read about in books. But we are meant to be princes and princesses to the Lord our God on earth. There is so much beauty and so much majesty in the world and we have been blessed by the grace of God to not only dwell among the soaring birds, the galloping horses and the lush forests, but we have been given dominion over it. We have a sort of VIP card to creation that God saw fit to bestow upon us. I don’t know if I can imagine this, but if we can just for a second try and put ourselves in the mindset of God or what we think he may have been thinking. Right, so picture God, sitting, feet up on the coffee table (Which is a huge no-no at my parents place by the way) and he has just finished looking over his creation. He looks around and sees the Milky Way, the twinkling stars and the comets that shoot across the night sky as if it was an artists canvas. He takes a closer look and sees animals and their families making their way in the world. They are playing, hunting and what have you. He takes an even closer look and even in the leaves and rivers there is this unmistakable beauty. Then, he’s like, this could use something more and He creates humankind. After all the beauty that has been given man is then created. Amongst all the majesty of nature and His works he saw it fit to create us in HIS image. That’s something. If we may draw parallels to our modern world. We can perhaps imagine that newlyweds are in their honeymoon phase, perhaps have a new apartment, new stuff to fill that apartment and they are happy. But then they decide to bring a new life into the world. Because of their love for one another and for children they decide, that amongst all their happiness they should have a child. And it is this decision that has the potential to upset the seemingly perfect balance that has been created beforehand. But it doesn’t. With guidance the child grows up to be strong thanks to the teaching of its mother and father. God so loved the world that he created humankind to take care of it, to raise it and to nurture it. And that’s what father’s do isn’t it. They raise their children. They have this relationship with their kids that is simply beautiful. And I am not saying that mothers don’t. But today, given that it’s Father’s day I would like to highlight the dads.
In the reading from the Gospel of Matthew we heard that Jesus reportedly said that all authority and heaven and earth had been given to Him. And this is in response to those who wroshipped him and those who doubted him. Jesus Christ was the Lord of two worlds if you will. For his kingdom as we read in the Scriptures was not of this world, yet, he reigned here for a little while, living the life of a mortal being. And in Matthew he commands the disciples to go out and make disciples of all the nations. Bring them to be disciples of Christ. He wants everything to be part of the goods news that is life so that he wants eberyone to be a part of it. He didn’t get a guestlist and be like, oh Bob from Samaria? Yeah… don’t tell him about me. No, he said to the disciples go and make disciples out of ALL THE NATIONS. He didn’t just love his immediate family which was the disciples, nor did he only care for the inhabitants of Nazareth, but of all the nations. No one is to be left behind.
And the disicples in this case are thinking “Yeah, maybe we can do this… but we’re going to be awfully far from you Lord, like, more than a donkey ride and boat trip away… And like, what happens if we get lost or get sick or get old while we are making discples out of everybody? Jesus responds with one of my favorite lines in the entire Bible, both Hebrew Bible and the New testament. He says, “Remember, that I am with you to the end of the age”. Beautiful. Do not worry about distance, sickness, sadness or longing to be with someone… why? Because Christ is with us to the very end, to the end of time. That’s a heck of a long time, we cannot even imagine that measure of time. We just know it’s a really long time. I mean, often times we have problems committing to going to class for a week… I mean… ummm… scratch that. Dad, you heard nothing. But seriously, we hear about people who have been married for 50, 6- + years and we are like .. geez, that;s a logn time. They’ve committed for over half a century. And what does Jesus do? He commits himself to be a part of not only the disicples lives, but of all the nations lives TILL THE END OF TIME. That’s a huge commitment to show how much love and how much faith he had not only in the disciples but in mankind.
Fathers, they’re in their relationships for the long haul too. Night or day, dad is always there if you need something. It does not matter whether it is in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn he will always be there for the his wife and kids, or at least in my experience. My dad has always said how much he loved us and that he would do anything so that we would be happy. And although I don’t necessarily understand why or exactly what that means all the time, the meaning of it is not lost on me. I have been blessed to able to have the Father, role model and friend I have. He asks that I treat others the way I want to be treated, to go out and practice what I preach… And I know that he will love me, my siblings and my mother till the end of our time. And that is something which I know and hope that everyone here has as well.
A young boy once asked “Dad, are bugs good to eat?” asked the boy.
“Let’s not talk about such things at the dinner table, son,” his father replied. After dinner the father inquired, “Now, son, what did you want to ask me?” “Oh, nothing,” the boy said. “There was a bug in your soup, but now it’s gone.”
Jim Valvano once said “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me.”